The English Lake District is all set to be “the place to be” again this spring and summer, with the warmer weather calling all Staycationers to our lake shores, water and mountains for swimming, sailing, walking, picnics and ice creams. At a time when we are still being encouraged to enjoy ourselves outside where possible, what better than an open top bus ride through some of the finest scenery in the UK?
The 599 offers breath-taking views of England’s largest lake (do you agree with Stagecoach Cumbria’s claim that the view from Low Wood Bay across Windermere towards Langdale is the best view from a bus?) as well as the chance to jump on and off to explore, rejoining the bus further on. There’s a range of popular low, high, short and long footpaths between Rydal and Grasmere: among them, the Coffin Route on the hillside above Rydal Water, the lakeshore path on the north side of the lake and the Loughrigg Terrace path above the southern side of Rydal Water and Grasmere. Bring swimwear for a spot of wild swimming from the beach at Rydal Water, or head for the delightful café Faeryland at Grasmere for delicious scones and finest quality loose leaf teas just yards from the shore. Enjoy the swans from a safe distance – they like a tasty scone as much as you do! – or perhaps a paddle boat, to get out on the water.
The 599 also stops in Ambleside where you might want to jump off for a closer look at the iconic Bridge House, before heading off through the cooling woods surrounding Stock Ghyll Beck and its waterfall. A short hike from there up the hillside of Wansfell offers spectacular views of the fells and Windermere, and, since coming by bus means there’s no need to head back for a car, you’ve the option to walk down to Troutbeck, Beatrix Potter’s favourite valley, for the stunning pub garden at The Mortal Man, or an indulgent cream tea outside The Old Post Office.
In the mood for some culture and a good walk after your lunch in Troutbeck? Then head out for Town End, a Lakeland farmhouse with a past, welcoming visitors from 17 May in line with government guidance, or the little and lovely Jesus Church en route to Holehird Gardens – home of the Lakeland Horticultural Society. Jesus Church boasts a spectacular stained glass window designed in 1873 by William Morris, Edward Burne-Jones and Ford Madox, and Holehird’s Walled Garden is a must-see in late spring when rhododendrons, azaleas and camellias set the Upper Garden ablaze, and the summer months, when the flaming reds and golds of crocosmia and rudbeckia reach peak heat.
From Holehird, proceed to Orrest Head to drink in the view that famously triggered 23 year old Alfred Wainwright’s 61 year old love affair with the fells of the Lake District, inspiring him to write the iconic Pictorial Guides that have brought millions to the region.
Please remember to double check opening times for all venues and attractions listed while these remain subject to change and click here for advice on how to stay safe in the hills before heading out on any adventures in the Lake District.
Note also that as with all public transport at the present time, you must wear a face covering unless exempt when travelling by bus in the Lake District.