Lake District via train
July 23, 2009 11:28 AM   Subscribe

Will be taking train from Edinburgh to the Lake District and staying there one night before I take another train to London. Which part of the Lakes should I visit (and how), that will provide maximum convenience and gorgeousness?

In other words, I am looking for information on which part of the Lake District will be the most convenient to get in and out of by train, and will be the most rewarding if I can spend only one day and one night there. I will probably be booking a B&B instead of camping, and I cannot drive. Will be carrying one rather cumbersome luggage bag so I'd rather not have to take many buses.

I'm not asking people to do my research for me -- I have Googled and wiki-ed and am now suffering from information overload. I am posting here in the hopes that people with more knowledge of the area can help me narrow down the dauntingly huge pool of available options.

Preferences: Since I'm travelling alone and an inexperienced hiker, I probably will only climb mountains that have mild ascents with established, non-deserted footpaths.

posted by swimmingly to Travel & Transportation around London, England (10 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Personally I'd get the train to Penrith and take a bus (40 mins) to Keswick for northern Lakes awesomeness, rather than all that Windermere crap. But it's all a matter of taste.

An alternative idea (which I can't vouch for, having never done it) would be to go Edinburgh > Leeds, hop on the Settle-Carlisle Railway which is apparently a joy in itself, and get off somewhere like Armathwaite. Then, the next day, back east for Leeds > London.
posted by game warden to the events rhino at 11:57 AM on July 23, 2009

game warden's right: while Oxenholme is the standard interchange for the Lake District, and the branch line west takes you all the way to Windermere, it's packed out this time of year, and not the prettiest spot. Keswick's going to be busy, too, but it's less touristy. I have a soft spot for Grasmere, which you can reach from either direction, but if you're going north, things get prettier the further you go.

There are a few nice one-day bus itineraries that give you room to wander, and would either work as a loop (Oxenholme-Windermere-north lakes-Keswick-Penrith) or with Keswick as the start and finish point.
posted by holgate at 12:12 PM on July 23, 2009

You've only got one night? Stay in Keswick. It's the most honest and unspoilt of all the lake district towns, though at this time of year don't expect too much. X5 bus from Penrith.

Take the Honister Rambler's spectacular route down the lake district's most beautiful valley to Buttermere, where you can eat homemade ice cream from Sykes Farm, and enjoy the excellent beers at either the Bridge Hotel or the Fish. Stay here if you can, but they are both likely to be booked.

You say you're travelling alone and an inexperienced walker. Keep off the fells, seriously - don't become a statistic. Walk around the lake for unbelievable tranquillity and spectacular views.

If it's your sort of thing, get off the bus again at the top of the Honister Pass and visit the ancient, and recently reopened slate quarry.

I'd like to be buried at Buttermere.
posted by genesta at 1:23 PM on July 23, 2009 [1 favorite]

Hmmmm. One link didn't.

posted by genesta at 1:38 PM on July 23, 2009

This is what I'd do... train to Penrith, X5 coach to Keswick (timetable), stay in Keswick, spend a day in Borrowdale - it really is gorgeous. Or you can walk up Latrigg or Walla Crag from the centre of town if you want to walk up an easy hill with clear footpaths and get maximum view for mimimum effort. If you want to stay low then take a boat round the lake and walk back. Then you can head out of town on the 555(timetable) bus which will take you to Windermere station (for Oxenholme and onto London). Not only do you get the views but you can stop off in Grasmere for the real tourist experience. You'll see more mountainous scenery up here in the north lakes, especially as you only have one day. (please note slightly biased as I live in Keswick!)
posted by badrolemodel at 1:46 PM on July 23, 2009 [2 favorites]

I liked Grasmere, home to William Wordsworth. You can get there through Windermere.
posted by blue_beetle at 2:11 PM on July 23, 2009

You don't mention when you would be visiting. In the Lake District that can make a big difference in terms of the chances of finding accommodation, the overall speed of moving about and the weather. You also mentioned that you are looking for a solution which will combine gorgeousness with convenience of getting there. Be aware that these factors can be mutually exclusive in the lakes during the height of holiday season (July and August). Finally - given your limited speed of travel you don't have long.

Some great suggestions above (I would go with Buttermere myself) - however if you are interested in an interesting alternative place to stop at overnight en-route from Edinburgh to London I would suggest an alternative on the east: Berwick upon Tweed. Reasons: quick and easy to get to from Edinburgh, interesting but lightly touristed, some good options to visit on an easy day trip - such as Lindisfarne - which you should be able to reach on a local bus.
posted by rongorongo at 3:50 PM on July 23, 2009

Be prepared for drenching rain.

I would probably try one of the bus itineraries. Carry the timetables and hop off anywhere you happen to fancy and explore there (or sit and admire the view) until the next bus comes along.

I would not use up my time just walking up one fell, I would use the buses to see much more of the area.

Unfortunately neither Penrith nor Oxenholme railway stations seem to have a left luggage facility. You should be able to leave your bag at the B&B and collect it at the end of the day, but check before booking.
posted by Idcoytco at 3:58 PM on July 23, 2009

I spent several days there a few years ago and stayed in Windemere, which has convenient bus and rail service. My favorites were:

Taking the bus to Hawkshead,visiting the school Wordsworth attended and the Beatrix Potter gallery, then walking 2.5 miles to Beatrix Potter's home.

Visiting the other Wordsworth sites, especially Rydal Mount.

Be sure to get some Kendal Mint Cake--and if you eat meat, Cumberland sausage is amazing.
posted by brujita at 10:15 PM on July 23, 2009

Response by poster: oops, I forgot to mention that I'll be looking to go there on the 12th of September this year, which is hopefully after the height of the tourist season madness. Thanks for pointing that out rongorongo!
posted by swimmingly at 11:02 PM on July 23, 2009

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