Best time to visit: British summer but we have a feeling it’ll look great in fall.
Top tip: Don’t make Bowness the focal point of your Lake District trip. The park is spread out across a large geographic area & it gets more scenic the farther you travel from Bowness.
Reasons to visit
Amazing verdant landscapes: Based on our limited travel within England (Peak District, etc), we had felt that Scotland’s natural beauty surpassed England’s by a fair bit but England’s countryside was much more accessible. Lake District turned out to be the best of both worlds with great rail & bus connectivity coupled with landscape views comparable to those in Scotland. It’s many peaks looked much more imposing than those of the “Peak” district. Old Dungeon Ghyll in Great Langdale was especially great as it’s within a great valley with imposing hills on 3 sides.
Lakes everywhere: Outside of Lake Windermere (which is the longest of all the lakes), there are 8 other large lakes within the National Park. I got a chance to see Thirlmere, Buttermere, Crummock Water & Derwent Water during my trip. All of them were picturesque. Do attempt to see as many of the large lakes as possible during your visit, they’re generally are next to other attractions (villages, hikes, pubs, etc) making it worth the trip.
Literature buff’s paradise: Grasmere in Lake District has *the* William Wordsworth’s grave. Wordsworth lived in this village along with Samuel Taylor Coleridge & Robert Southey to be the founding members of “The Lake Poets“. Writers of iconic British children’s literature Peter Rabbit (Beatrix Potter) & Postman Pat (John Cunliffe) also lived in the Lake District. A village near Kendal in the Lake District is the inspiration for the village of Greendale seen in the Postman Pat series. The World of Beatrix Potter in Bowness (where else) is a huge draw with families who grew up reading Peter Rabbit.
Food & Drink
One of the Lake District’s famous food products is Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread based in Grasmere (next to the Wordsworth family graves). The gingerbread is delicious & so is the rum butter. Aditionally, the building the shop is located in was the primary school upto the 1700s!! It is very quintessentially English. 🙂
The pub at Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel has ok food but scenic surroundings. I kicked back with a baked potato & half a pint, classic pub grub.
The Cornish Bakery in Bowness has a great end-of-day deal for pasties where all items are £1.5 (instead of £3+).
Campsite review: Park Cliffe Campsite
Quite an expensive site but in return you get top-notch facilities (showers, toilets, etc), a reasonably-priced onsite cafe & great views. The small hill Moor How behind the campsite is a small climb with great views.
Cost (tent only, no car, 1 person): £16/night
Distance from public transit: 10 min uphill walk from the request bus stop at Birks Road.
Bathrooms & Showers: Free, unlimited hot water for showers. Big toilet & shower block.
Laundry Facilities: Has 1 washer and 2 (or maybe 1) dryer. Coin operated.
View from tent
Public Transit Logistics
- The main way to get into Lake District is getting to Oxenholme Lake District by a West Coast mainline train (Virgin Trains or Transpennine Express) & then changing to the Northern service to Windermere.
- Other ways to get into the National Park is to take a bus from Penrith station (also on the West Coast mainline) to Keswick or a bus all the way from Lancaster to Windermere & Keswick.
- Within the National Park, Stagecoach Cumbria operates a bus service that has more buses in summer than winter.
- There is a very frequent service running from Windermere to Grassmere (20 minute frequency) which is open top & popular with tourists. All buses not on this route are infrequent (hourly at best, 5-6 buses a day at worst).
- The day ticket of choice is the seemingly pricey £10.80 Northwest Explorer that is just incredibly good value if you want to see many corners of Lake District in one day (the best day of bus travel in my life).
- Buy a return ticket if just going to a place & coming back (e.g. campsite to Bowness).