Keswick to Penrith
Discover a beautiful journey through the Lake District National Park
Follow the route - Keswick to Penrith
> From Keswick take the A66 for 4 miles (6.5km), then turn right on to the B5322 through St John’s in the Vale and then the A591 south to Grasmere.
Grasmere’s hills and lakes are a real tourist magnet. William Wordsworth wrote much of his greatest verse here, and his friends Coleridge, de Quincey and Southey were inspired by the location. Dove Cottage, where Wordsworth lived with his sister Dorothy, is open to the public and contains relics of his life and times. A few miles further along the A591 is Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth lived from 1813 until his death in 1850. It houses many of the family’s belongings and has a beautiful view of tranquil Rydal Water.
Places to stay in Grasmere
> Continue to Ambleside.
Ambleside is a major Lake District centre at the northern end of Lake Windermere. Its many stone houses include Bridge House, the smallest in the Lake District. Built on a tiny bridge over the Stock Ghyll, it is now owned by the National Trust and is open to the public. In the town library are the relics excavated from the Roman site of Galava Fort, at Borrans Park, and the woodland gardens of Stagshaw, just south of the town, have superb views of the lake.
Places to stay in Ambleside
> Leave on the A593 to Coniston.
Coniston Water is famous as the place where Donald Campbell set a new world record and later died in 1967. The Steam Yacht Gondola, an 1859 steam launch, has been restored, and now takes passengers on regular scheduled trips around the lake. A little further on, at Hawks-head, is the Beatrix Potter Gallery; at Hill Top, in Near Sawrey, Potter wrote some of her world-famous children’s stories. The house is open to the public.
Places to stay in Coniston
> Take the B5285 to the Windermere ferry.
Visiting Bowness and Windermere
The ferry across Lake Windermere to Bowness was restored in 1990 and leads to this small town with its narrow streets and fine 15th-century church.
Windermere, just north of Bowness, is a focal point in the Lake District for sailing and boating. The Steamboat Museum, at Rayrigg Road, has a collection of Victorian and Edwardian boats, many of which still float and are in working order. The lake has 14 islands, including Belle Isle, a privately owned estate with a round 18th-century mansion house.
Places to stay in Windermere
> Take the A592 north to Patterdale.
Patterdale was named after St Patrick, who is said to have walked here after being shipwrecked on Duddon Sands in ad 540. St Patrick’s Church, built in 1853, is notable for its tapestries by embroideress Ann Macbeth, who lived here until her death in 1948. This attractive village is at the head of Ullswater, a popular boating lake. A steamer plies from the pier at Glenridding to the opposite end of the lake, and the scenery is dominated by 3,117-foot (950m) Helvellyn. At the foot of the sheer eastern slopes is Red Tarn, a corrie lake in a hollow scooped out of solid rock during the Ice Age. Two miles (3km) from Glenridding is Aira Force, and it was here that Wordsworth was inspired to write of his ‘host of golden daffodils’.
Places to stay in Patterdale
> Take the A592 alongside Ullswater to Penrith.
Penrith was the capital of Old Cumbria, and there are remains of buildings suggesting its former importance. The 12th-century ruins of Brougham Castle are just outside the town, and remnants of a Roman fort built by Agricola are nearby. The Gloucester Arms, dating from 1477, is one of the oldest inns in England, and the Duke of Gloucester, later Richard III, is said to have lived here. Three miles (5km) north at Langwathby is Eden Ostrich World, with rare farm animals, tractor rides and feeding programmes. The wild, open spaces round Penrith may be bleak, even in summer, and crossing the Pennines can prove difficult in winter.