Several Lake District businesses and charities are promoting the Drive Less See More campaign this year, encouraging visitors to self catering cottages in the Lake District to explore what is on the doorstep and leave the car at their accommodation. You don’t have to do much to join in apart from make a conscious decision to go exploring without your car.
When I am about and about I see lots of people parking up near the foot of Catbells to climb to the top and back again, or wandering down to the edge of Derwent Water and not going beyond Friars Crag. There is so much more you can see when you free yourself from having to decide where to park the car. Until you step off the usual paths, you never know what you could be missing and only your legs can take you there.
Here is a list of our top five things to see in the Lake District and Eden Valley without using a car.
Force Crag and the old mine
This is a favourite bike ride of mine, apart from the first bend of the Whinlatter Pass where you might want to hop off an push, this is a nice undulating ride along the old miners path. The real treat is the expansive Force Crag that rears up in front of you as you turn the final bend. There are interesting mine tours during the year run by the National Trust. There is no vehicle access to the mine so you will need to arrive at the mine under your own speed.
St Herbert’s Island
Hire a canoe or kayak and head out on the water to this island on Derwent Water. There is a lovely shingled beach on the island and it is simply perfect for a picnic. Taking a boat out on the lake is a truly unique way to enjoy the view. You can hire boats and canoes from PlatyPlus at Lodore or the marinas in Portinscale.
Honister and Whinlatter Pass
Between Easter and October there is a bus service from Keswick to Buttermere. The route travels through Borrowdale, over Honister, through Buttermere and over Whinlatter before returning to Keswick. On a sunny day it can be tricky to get a seat, as the service is so popular. The route covers some jaw dropping scenery that you would almost certainly miss if you were driving. Take the Rambler and enjoy gazing out the window. You can buy a ticket that allows you to hop on and off – as long as it is safe to do so, the driver can drop you off anywhere on the route.
Travel along the Cumbrian coastline on the Northern Rail service. You can buy a Dayranger ticket that allows you to hop on and off anywhere between Carlisle and Barrow in Furness. My preferred section of coastline is between Maryport and Ravenglass. Once you have passed the urban areas of Whitehaven and Workington, the train hugs the coastline and there is plenty to see and several interesting coastal villages to explore.
Above Stock, Ambleside
The town centre of Ambleside is busy all year round. Traffic comes through the town on the one-way system and the streets are packed with walkers and shoppers. What most people don’t know is that there is an interesting town trail that leads you uphill to a part of town that was known as Above Stock before Ambleside formerly existed. The unusual ginnels and cobbled streets are inaccessible to cars and are best explored on foot. There are some fascinating old properties to see, beautiful stained glass, and a glorious view across the roof tops as you climb higher.
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