The NW Explorer ticket offered by Stagecoach (shown below) is the most powerful bus day-ticket we have ever seen for the sheer coverage it provides.
Below is the map of the UK with the blue lines representing a broad coverage of the NW explorer ticket. This single ticket covers 10% of the country including the entirety of Lake District making it the best way to see the Lake District in 1 day.
Day 3 Travel Map
Costs: £16 (campsite) + £10.80 (day ticket) + £20 (taxi from windermere to the campsite) + £8.50 (lunch) = £55.30 ($72)
- Lake District really begins after Ambleside is crossed. I wish I could have seen the west side of the park but sadly no buses let you do that. Browse through the pics below & see if they make a convincing argument for not making Bowness the focal point of a Lake District trip.
- Spontaneous plans sometimes really work out. I had no plans for the whole day outside of seeing Old Dungeon Ghyll. I picked a destination Buttermere because it sounds like Butterbeer. I got off at Grasmere as a local on the bus told me to & in return stumbled upon William Wordsworth’s grave.
- Talk to locals while solo traveling. As this was my 1st solo traveling trip and I am generally not a social person, I had some of the socially awkward jitters when chatting up a local on one of the buses. However, this experience bolstered my belief that I should be doing so often in this trip.
- Lake District is green. Very, very green. Just like Scotland ❤
- I generally do not like travelling in buses but spending 5 hr 15 minutes over 9 buses didn’t seem like a chore as it was so scenic throughout. My favourite day of bus travel in my life is described below ordered chronologically by buses taken (with timing details to help readers timetable themselves).
Bus 1: Park Cliffe Campsite to Windermere Station
Bus number: 6 (only a few a day)
Departure time: 6:42 AM (18 mins)
Views from the bus: As the bus passes through Bowness, you’ll get views of the Bowness Pier as described in a previous post.
Views at the destination: Nothing really, this journey is just to transfer to another bus.
Bus 2: Windermere Station to Keswick
Bus number: 555 (one every hour)
Departure time: 7:05 AM (1 hr 1 min)
Views from the bus: Passed by north Lake Windermere, Ambleside village, a reflective Lake Thirlmere & a brief view of the Derwent Water. This is the bus ride where there is a visible shift from the manicured & flat area around Lake Windermere to dramatic landscapes.
Views at the destination: Transfer, again
Bus 3: Keswick to Buttermere
Bus number: 77A (A = Anticlockwise circular bus)
Departure time: 8:30 AM (51 mins)
Views from the bus: This was the pick of all the buses I had taken. Not only where the views 100% dramatic, there was a part of the bus ride at a 15% grade through a mountain pass with a stream flowing next to the bus. This was goosebumps zone for me. Instead of going insane after taking 3 straight buses for the last 3 hours, I instead felt very energised & happy.
Views at the destination: Finally, I will fill this section as Buttermere was the only destination that I had pre-decided to visit that day. That is because it sounds like Butterbeer. I used the 45 min between buses to see Lake Buttermere & a waterfall. Very scenic. Also sheep with #swagger live in these parts.
Bus 4: Buttermere to Keswick
Bus number: 77A (completing the rest of the circular bus journey)
Departure time: 10:24 AM (53 mins)
Views from the bus: By this time, I was sated by the views & would have been happy if my travel day ended. So I did not touch my camera at all through this leg. (did that make any sense?)
Views at the destination: Again used Keswick as a transfer point.
Bus 5: Keswick to Grasmere
Bus number: 555 (again)
Departure time: 11:30 AM (28 mins)
Views at the destination: Grasmere was a town suggested by a local while onboard on the 555 due to the famous Sarah Nelson Grasmere Gingerbread. I got off the bus having planned out the remaining day & went straight to get some gingerbread. Came out of the store with a jar of rum butter as well that was part of my breakfast during my camping trip. Stumbled to the cemetery to see William Wordsworth’s grave making Yoda (a book nerd) & another friend jealous. A very scenic & romantic village. I could not manage to go to the Wordsworth cottage where he lived but have promised to come back here with Yoda & shall visit then.
Bus 6: Grasmere to Ambleside
Bus number: 599 (super frequent summer bus, open top, every 20 mins)
Departure time: 12:55 PM (15 mins)
Views from the bus: The weather had turned by then but still took a pic from the open top bus for irony purposes.
Views at destination: Transfer again.
Bus 7: Ambleside to Old Dungeon Ghyll
Bus number: 516 (5-6 buses a day)
Departure time: 1:30 PM (32 minutes)
Views from the bus: More gorgeous verdant landscape
Views at the destination: Hands down, the most scenic place seen the entire day. I had trouble capturing the essence of the spot which marks the end of a valley with mountains on all sides (except the valley & the road). The pub is quite famous mostly because of the scenic location. Did a small climb to try to take panoramas which was quite nice. This area is very popular with hikers & was worth the 2.5 hour gap between buses (the longest the whole day).
Bus 8 & 9: Old Dungeon Ghyll to Windermere Station
The last 2 buses (516 & 555) on the way back to the campsite after a great day of travel. There was supposed to be a 3rd from Windermere station to the campsite but horrible traffic on the 2nd bus, I missed the final bus & had to take a £20 taxi back. Still my favourite single day of sightseeing by public transit.
Departure time: 4:05 pm (45 mins in theory, over 1 hr 15 mins in practice)