Lake District public transport timetable information 2023
The joys of spring are upon us and public transport timetables across the Lake District and Cumbria are in full swing as the new tourist season bursts into life. As public transport slowly regains its feet following Covid it is certainly the best way to get around and appreciate this wonderful area. You can relax and fully appreciate the scenery as you go, plus it means less cars on the already busy Lake District roads and car parks.
The ‘summer’ bus timetables start at Easter and run right through till early November with a number of seasonal services visiting parts of the area not accessible over the winter. This includes a couple of additional shuttle buses covering popular places and peak periods, subsidised by the National Park Authority. One is the Cockermouth to Buttermere shuttle bus which provides an alternative way to access beautiful Buttermere, Crummock Water and Lorton Vale. You can also connect with the 77/77A service. The other is the Wasdale shuttle bus described below. In 2022 there was an additional Cat Bells shuttle bus between Keswick and the popular hill but that is not running in 2023. The route is covered by the 77/77A bus service anyway. A bus service that unfortunately still hasn’t returned post Covid is the 525 from Ferry House, on the western shore of Windermere, to Hawkshead. There is now no way to access the ever popular Hill Top (where Beatrix Potter used to live) by public transport. Windermere Lake Cruises offer a boat service from Bowness to Ferry House, from where they recommend a 1.8 mile walk to Hill Top which is an enjoyable route if you don’t mind a few ups and downs, then returning the same way. Or you could continue the walk another 2 miles to Hawkshead from where you can get a 505 bus back towards Windermere.
The Wasdale shuttle bus provides an excellent way to see this awesome valley. The bus will run every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday in June, July and August for 2023. It regularly travels between Nether Wasdale and Wasdale Head, mainly for drivers parking at Nether Wasdale, but it also runs from Ravenglass in the morning and returns there in the evening, thus allowing connections with mainline trains at Ravenglass on the west coast. The unspoilt and jaw dropping Wasdale scenery is certainly amongst the best in the Lake District and the road alongside Wastwater provides magnificent views and lake access. For the more adventurous there are many walks up surrounding mountains, including Scafell Pike which at 978m altitude is the highest mountain in England. At the end of the road, there’s not a lot going on at the small village of Wasdale Head, but it’s in an epic remote location and a good base for walking with a popular pub.
There are additional seasonal boat cruises available on the four main Lake District lakes of Windermere, Derwent Water, Ullswater & Coniston Water. Always a great way to appreciate the real beauty of the area from out on the water with unrestricted surrounding views. Probably the most famous boat in the Lake District is the historic Steam Yacht Gondola. Operated by the National Trust, this magnificent vessel provides seasonal daily cruises on picturesque Coniston Water and you can also learn more about the boat and the area from the interesting commentary. This includes Donald Campbells water speed record attempts, Brantwood (the former home of John Ruskin), plus author Arthur Ransome and his famous book ‘Swallows and Amazons’ which is largely based around the lake.
Mainline trains in and around the Lake District run similar timetables all year round but the two heritage railways at Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway and the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale railway have many more services in season. The latter is also affectionally known as ‘La’al Ratty’ and provides another excellent day out from Ravenglass on the west coast. You can get to Ravenglass on the main Cumbrian Coast railway line, either from the south via Barrow-in-Furness, or from the north via Carlisle. There is some beautiful coastal scenery from the train from either direction. Ravenglass is the only coastal village inside the Lake District National Park and a very pleasant and peaceful place to explore. From there you can take a trip on the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale railway where tiny steam locomotives take you inland up the wonderfully scenic and unspoilt Eskdale valley. There are various small stations along the way where you can alight if you want to explore further or walk a section. It’s about 7 miles and 40 minutes to the terminus of the railway at Dalegarth and here you will find some magnificent scenery and attractions. Boot village is nearby with its historic watermill and a couple of pubs. There are some good footpaths up nearby hills and also along the valley floor following the crystal clear River Esk. Nearby is Trough House Bridge where the river squeezes through a deep gorge and not far beyond that Stanley Force waterfall which plunges down a very deep gorge with an impressive new overhanging platform high above giving some awesome views. You can return back down the valley by train or via the popular footpath over Muncaster Fell.
Video clip of Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway below.
Hope you enjoy exploring the Lakes by public transport this season!