Train at Windermere station copyright LDNPA

Getting to and around the Lake District

Help us look after this spectacular landscape by leaving the car at home and choosing alternative ways to explore the national park. In a bid to reduce the number of visitors arriving by car, we are encouraging people to walk, cycle, travel by boat, rail or bus when exploring the Lake District. From sitting back watching the landscape go by on a train to connecting with the National Park by boat, plan your visit using our suggestions below.

The Lake District is in the North-West of England, with Manchester to the South and Carlise to the North.

Map of the UK showing where the Lake District National Park is located

Best ways to get to and around the Lake District:

Trains

The West Coast mainline runs to the east of the Lake District, connecting Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle with London and Glasgow. A direct train runs from Manchester to Windermere. Local trains call at Kendal, Staveley and Windermere. There is also a route following the Cumbrian coastline.

Search and book trains across the UK at National Rail

Search and book trains across the UK and Europe at Omio

Buses and coaches

National Express run coaches to various towns in the Lake District from all over the UK.

Bus routes and timetables

Stagecoach run buses across the Lake District.

Plan your journey at Stagecoachbus.com

Or download the Lakes by Bus guide, with maps, timetables and details of bus and boat trips and open-top bus tours, it has everything you need to explore the Lake District.

Download Lakes by Bus guide

Minibus tours and bus explorer tickets

There are many companies offering you the chance to sit back and watch the scenery, with half day, full day and bespoke tours around the lakes and fells. Take a look at our Minibus tours and bus explorer tickets page.

Steamers and boat cruises

Taking a cruise is a great way to experience the beautiful Lake District views. Combining a one-way cruise with a bus, walk or cycle can be a great way to travel around a lake in a day.

These lakes have passenger boats with muliple stops:

Windermere:

Windermere Lake Cruises - stops at Lakeside, Ferry House, Bowness-on-Windermere, Windermere Jetty, Bark Barn Pier, Wray Castle, Brockhole on Windermere and Ambleside.

Windermere lake guide shows piers, jetties and towns around the lake

Cross Lakes Experience

Combine boat and coach ticket to travel from Bowness-on-Windermere across lake Windermere to Hill Top and Hawkshead. With cycle and walking routes to complete a full day exploring!

View routes and timetable

Ullswater:

Ullswater Steamers - stops at Glenridding, Aira Force, Howtown and Pooley Bridge.

Ullswater lake guide shows all piers, jetties and boat routes

Coniston:

National Trust Gondoloa - stops at Coniston Boating Centre, Brantwood and Lake Bank Jetty.

Coniston Launch - stops at Coniston Boating Centre, Waterhead, Brantwood, Sunny Bank, Lake Bank Jetty.

Coniston Water lake guide shows all piers, jetties and boat routes

Derwentwater:

Keswick Launch - stops at Keswick, Ashness Gate, Lodore, High Brandelhow, Low Brandelhow, Hawes End, Lingholm and Nichol End.

Derwentwater lake guide shows all piers and jetties

Cycling

Cycling

Our cycling in the Lake District page has details on taking bikes on buses and boats, as well as places to hire bikes and some ideas for great cycling routes.

Cycling in the Lake District

Walking

Walking

Walking is a wonderful way to explore the Lake District landscape. 

Try our Miles without Stiles routes, a collection of easy access routes suitable for all.

Book a guided walk, from family rambles to high fell summits.

Walking in the Lake District

Driving

The M6 runs to the east of the Lake District National Park:

  • Take Junction 36 and then A590 for the southern end of the Lake District
  • Take Junction 40 and the A66 or A592 for the northern end of the Lake District

Average journey times:

  • London and the south east to the Lake District is about five hours
  • Manchester to the Lake District: 1 and a half hours
  • York to the Lake District: 2 hours
  • Kendal to Keswick: 1 hour
  • Windermere to Keswick: 40 minutes
  • Kendal to Wasdale: 1 and a half hours

Check out our sat nav codes for places in the Lake District but beware of following the sat nav at all costs on small country roads

See a map of our car parks across the Lake District

By air

The nearest airports are Manchester to the south and Glasgow to the north. There is a railway station at Manchester airport with services that run to Oxenholme next to Kendal, Kendal, Staveley and Windermere.

Carlisle Lake District Airport is now open, offering flights from Dublin, Belfast and London Southend.

Need holiday accommodation?

Cottage near Coniston - copyright Charlie Hedley

Booking here, supports here

We've cosy holiday cottages, quirky boutique hotels, friendly bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels.

Our commission helps keep the National Park special: Browse and book Lake District accommodation online