This past weekend (specifically Friday night and all of Saturday) I went down to Windermere where I also took a guided tour of the lake district. This article is especially tailored to students at Lancaster (specifically exchange) that would like to do the same trip. On Friday, I started by taking the 555 bus from Lancaster Bus Station to Windermere. This bus runs quite frequently and includes stops at Bolton le Stands, Carnforth, Minthorpe, Haversham, Leasgill, Levens Hall, Sizergh Castle, Kendal, Staveley, WINDERMERE, Ambleside, Rydal, Grasmere, Thirlspot, Dalebottom, and Keswick. Many of the towns near the end of that list are beautiful as well (as they are also situated in the Lake District); however, the 555 bus is an excellent means of transportation by road down to the lakes. The full bus timetable for all the buses at Lancaster Bus Station can be found here. This link/site is an excellent resource that I highly recommend and also one I use almost every day (especially when traveling). If you want alternative transportation, you can also take a train to Windermere (you will be dropped off in the same exact spot as the train and bus stations are connected) and it will save you about 5 pounds. However, I did quite enjoy seeing the country side through the slower moving bus. For total travel time, the bus will take around 105 minutes, while the train would take around 40-60 minutes depending on which line. But enough about transportation…
Upon arriving in Windermere I checked in to the Lake District Backpackers Hostel (which can literally be seen from the bus station and requires about 100 yards of walking). I ended up being the only person in the hostel that night (which was very nice) and it cost me around 22USD…so essentially I got a whole house for 1/6 of the price of a regular hotel in that area (and closer to the station as well). Some quick photos of the hostel can be seen below:
I also took a quick tour around the building as well which can be watched here:
After checking in, I walked down to “The Crafty Baa” which is an excellent little pub/restaurant with multiple floors! The pub also has an excellent backstory as it was hand built by the family that runs it…not to mention the food and cider is excellent as well. Their website can be found here. The atmosphere of the pub is unique as well as their was constant smooth jazz music playing. Most importantly, the food and cider was excellent and cheap (by my standards), for chicken pesto and 1/2 pint it was around 12GBP (which is not that much). My order can be seen below:
Other photos of the restaurant are shown below:
The next day (Saturday), I woke up early to get to my guided (Mountain Goat) tour of the lake district. The tours leave from the Information Centre (which is basically attached to the bus station) around 9 a.m. and conclude around 5-7 p.m. depending. The tour I participated in was the “10 Lakes Spectacular” hosted by Mountain Goat tours. The tours are completed on a 16 person mini-bus accompanied by a tour guide. My guide was excellent and a complete wealth of knowledge on the area and its vast, vast history. A link to the tour can be found here. The tour costs around 44GBP but is well worth it as a student. Given the fact that exchange students do not have a car, it would be impossible to see this amount of the Lake District in a day…unless you do a tour such as this one. While I am not going to talk about every step on the itinerary, I will hit my high points. The whole itinerary can be found in the link above, along with a lot of pictures of what you can expect.
An example of the tour bus you will be on:
First, a lake ferry ride is included in the price of your booking. I cannot recall which lake we sailed but the experience was authentic and beautiful. The ferry includes outdoor and indoor sections as well as a bar and toilets. Pictures of that portion of the tour can be found below:
Next, I really enjoyed seeing Castlerigg stone circle. Oftentimes, when it comes to landmarks such as this, people only think of Stonehenge. While the rocks at Castlerigg are not quite as massive, the site actually predates Stonehenge and was an excellent glimpse into the past:
Next we had a quick stop at Ashness bridge, which is the most photographed bridge in the lake district. Pictures can be seen below; the area is absolutely beautiful (especially when visibility is high):
Next we headed up to “Surprise View” for a quick stop and to grab a couple shots of the lake below:
I also enjoyed going up through Honnister Pass (one of the highest in the area) and seeing the last remaining shale mine/quarry in the country (I believe is what the guide said). Pictures of this can be seen below:
My tour group also got quite lucky given that the Saturday we went was also market day in Keswick (the town you stop in for a one hour lunch break). This essentially meant that all the vendors had tents in the street and you could get all kinds of random things and foods. I purchased some fudge, homemade marmalade, and some chocolate orange rum (specially brewed in individual batches in the Lake District).
Additional photos from the stop in Keswick can be seen below:
The gingerbread shown in the picture above comes from Grasmere (another town stop on the tour) where it is sold by Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread. Supposedly only two or three people alive know the recipe; the gingerbread itself is excellent and has a nice, spicy flavor. More pictures of the shop can be seen below:
The snapshot I have given here is just a smidgen of what you will actually see on the tour. The whole trip cost under 150USD and is well worth the 1 1/2 days it takes to complete everything in this post.
I hope you’ve enjoyed! See you next weekend.