Featuring the best attractions in the South West Lake District that are accessible by public transport
The Lake District and Cumbria are home to some of the best scenery and visitor attractions in the country. In the south west Lakes, this includes the popular village of Coniston with its picturesque lake, the famous beauty spot of Tarn Hows and the lovely Duddon and Esk valleys. The area also includes the only coast in the Lake District National Park, around Ravenglass.
There are various bus, train and boat services through the area which will transport you to all of the popular attractions described below. Each attraction includes a brief description, photograph, link to website (where available) and any facilities such as shops, cafes and toilets. Public transport services that stop nearby (within 1 mile) are listed and the location of each stop in relation to the attraction is described. Further information on each transport service, including route maps, timetable links and other attractions visited on route, can be found by following the transport service link.
South West Lake District
Select attraction for further detail
* Blawith Common – Attractive lakeshore access area at southern end of Coniston Water
* Boot – Pretty little village in the Eskdale valley
* Brantwood – Historic house and gardens on the eastern shore of Coniston Water
* Broughton-in-Furness – Attractive small town at the bottom end of the Duddon valley
* Brown Howe – Attractive lakeshore access area at southern end of Coniston Water
* Coniston – Picturesque village at the northen end of Coniston water
* Dalegarth Station – Inland terminus station for Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
* Muncaster Castle – Historic castle and gardens overlooking the River Esk
* Ravenglass – Attractive coastal village and terminus for Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
* Tarn Hows – Picturesque tarn and access area to the north of Coniston Water
* Trough House Bridge and Stanley Force – River gorge and waterfall natural wonders in the Eskdale valley
South West Lake District - Attractions Map
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South West Lake District - Attractions
Blawith Common, Coniston Water
Blawith Common is a large area of attractive Common land either side of the A5084 road. Towards Coniston Water, a picturesque and peaceful lakeshore access area has some open grass and shingle beaches overlooking the southern end of the lake. The lakeshore in the vicinity has open access and is a great place to explore with rocky outcrops and trees overlooking the appealing shore. From the road it is a short walk down a rough path to the lakeshore. The area is a real hidden gem being quite secluded and well away from the road. Across the road some wonderful footpaths through bracken take you up into the low hills where you will find fabulous views, Beacon Fell and Beacon Tarn. No facilities.
Buses stop on request on the A5084 road. Boats call at Lake Bank jetty, approx 0.5 mile walk to the south.
Boot is a pretty little village in the wonderful Eskdale valley with a small shop and a couple of pubs providing refreshments at the Boot Inn and the Brook House Inn. At the far end of the village, over the ancient packhorse bridge, is the fascinating Eskdale Mill which still maintains its historic working machinery and is one of the oldest water powered corn mills in the country.
There are some wonderful easy local walks towards the picturesque River Esk and the quaint old church of St Catherine’s which is in a lovely secluded riverside setting with some benches from where you can appreciate the surroundings.
Boot is approx 0.3 miles walk from Dalegarth station.
Brantwood is a beautifully situated country house overlooking Coniston Water. The historic house was the home of the famous English art critic, artist and social commentator John Ruskin who lived there from 1871 until his death in 1900. Ruskin filled the house full of artwork and objects during his time and nowadays the house is basically a fascinating museum of his life.
Outside, as well as fabulous views across the lake, there are extensive and varied gardens within the 250 acre estate which stretches from the lakeshore up the wooded slopes behind the house. Adjacent to the house is a cafe and toilets. The house, gardens and cafe are open daily from March to November and February school holidays. Also, Wednesday to Sunday over the winter. Admission fee applies to house and gardens.
Brantwood jetty is nearby where the boats stop. It is a fairly short but sharp climb to the house from the lake.
A peaceful town with an attractive central Square and some interesting historical features. This old market town has a long history and the Tourist Information Centre is now housed in the old Town Hall overlooking the old Market Square. The obelisk in the centre of the Square was erected to mark the golden jubilee of King George III in 1810. The adjacent stocks are a reminder of what happened to miscreants in bygone days.
The town is far enough away from the central lakes not to attract masses of visitors but is worth exploring. The town centre has a few small shops and three pubs for refreshments. Public toilets can be found just off the north east corner of the main Square and just beyond these is Wilson Park which provides a good open area of grass for recreation. Beyond the park are some pleasant easy walks, including the old railway line.
Buses stop in the main Square. The town is a little over 1 mile from Foxfield railway station, walk or bus.
Brown Howe, Coniston Water
Brown Howe is a wonderful public access area on the shores of Coniston Water. There is a good area of grass bordered by trees and shingle beaches with fabulous views up the lake towards the central Lake District mountains. The area is perfect for a picnic, play and paddle in idyllic surroundings. Walks are available across the road, up the pleasant lane onto Blawith Common. Seasonal toilet facilities at the car park.
Buses stop on request on the adjacent A5084 road.
The village of Coniston is in a picturesque location between Coniston Water and The Old Man of Coniston, the mountain directly behind. The village has a few tourist shops, cafes, pubs and access to some great walking country. The Ruskin Museum contains a wealth of local history including the ‘Bluebird Wing’ extension housing a display relating to Donald Campbell’s exploits on Coniston Water and his boat ‘Bluebird’.
Although close to the lake, it is a short walk of just over 0.5 miles from the village centre down to Coniston lakeside area. Coniston Water is a scenic and relatively quiet lake made famous by Donald Campbell’s demise during his water speed record attempt in 1967. There are a number of attractions at this lake shore access area including Coniston Boating Centre, operated by the National Park Authority, which has a good choice of boats and bikes for hire. Alternatively, you can sit back and enjoy a cruise on the lake, either aboard the National Trust’s Steam Yacht ‘Gondola’ or the Coniston Launch, although winter services are limited. Both boats stop here and at various points around the lake. The Bluebird Cafe provides refreshments with a lovely view over the water and there are several picnic tables adjacent to the shore with nearby toilet facilities.
Buses stop at the Tourist Information Centre in the village where there are also toilet facilities. Boats stop at the lakeside area jetty.
Dalegarth Station, Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway
Dalegarth Station is the terminus for the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway and is often a hive of activity with regular trains coming and going during the summer (less so during the winter). The line was originally opened in 1875 to transport Iron Ore down the valley. A ride on the small train is a great way to see the picturesque valley with several minor stations along the way to the coastal terminus at Ravenglass which is about 7 miles away.
The valley surrounding the station is very picturesque with plenty of footpaths up the hills or more local valley walks. Other local attractions are described on this page. The station building has a cafe, picnic tables by the river, a small play area and toilets.
Muncaster Castle & Gardens
Muncaster Castle is the impressive residence of the Pennington family who have lived there for over 800 years. The Castle has been extended over the years and you can wonder around its elegant rooms, historic furnishings and works of art. The Castle is reputedly haunted and the tour takes you to a haunted room with some creepy stories.
Outside, the Castle has some wonderful gardens, terraces and woodland overlooking the attractive Esk valley. There are plenty of walks around the grounds which are particularly good for Rhododendrons. Also in the grounds is the Hawk & Owl Centre which includes some spectacular birds and flying displays.
There are various other family attractions, cafes, gift shops and toilet facilities. Generally open daily, except Saturdays, between Easter and October. Weekends in November and December. Admission fee applies
Approx 1 mile walk from Ravenglass railway station, mostly uphill.
Ravenglass is an attractive village overlooking the estuary of the Esk, Irt and Mite rivers. It is the only coastal village within the Lake District National Park. You can stroll through the village on the normally quiet road and along the foreshore admiring the views across the estuary. The main attraction in the village is the terminus station for the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway where tiny steam trains will take you on a wonderful 7 mile journey through the Esk valley to Dalegarth station. Ravenglass station also has a cafe and small museum telling the interesting history of the line. Next door is the main Ravenglass station on the Cumbrian coast line where you can catch national network trains.
Ravenglass was also the site of an important Roman Fort and naval base from about AD130. A short walk to the south of the village are the remains of the old fort bath house, one of the tallest surviving Roman buildings in the country.
The village also has a selection of pubs and cafes for refreshments and some public toilets. The two train stations are adjacent to each other in the centre of the village.
One of the wonders of Lakeland and a beauty spot not to be missed. The tarn and surrounding woodland are very picturesque, set in a natural bowl with far reaching views to the surrounding hills from the higher paths. The wonderful walk around the tarn is just under 2 miles in length on well made paths although it can be very busy. The area is owned by the National Trust but was owned by Beatrix Potter before that. Toilet facilities at the main car park.
The nearest bus stop is at Hawkshead Hill which leaves approx 1 mile uphill walk along the narrow Tarn Hows access road.
Trough House Bridge & Stanley Force
A couple of natural wonders lie a short distance away from Dalegarth Station.
Firstly, is Trough House Bridge access area which is quite a small rocky and wooded riverbank where the River Esk passes underneath the bridge via a deep gorge. The water immediately downstream of the bridge is very deep and clear and ideal for bathing. Further downstream is some shallower water for paddling.
Secondly, is Stanley Force waterfall which is just over half a mile walk from Trough House Bridge along the track. Once you meet Stanley Ghyll, the path becomes narrower and rougher but is still quite reasonable until you reach the final section which is more treacherous and some caution is needed. The 60 feet high falls are within an impressively deep and lushly vegetated canyon and are well worth a visit.
Trough House Bridge is approx 0.3 mile walk from Dalegarth Station. There are various other easy local footpaths.