Fantastic car-free winter days out in the Lake District

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On these short cold days it can be very tempting to spend your time sitting by the fire looking out of the window at the blustery winter weather. 

However, although the outdoors may not be quite so inviting at this time of year, there are still plenty of attractions you can reach by bus which allow you to enjoy what the Lake District has to offer while staying dry and warm. 

Here are a few of our top picks for winter days out you can enjoy while leaving the car at home. 

Visit Wordsworth Grasmere

Bus route: 555, Keswick to Kendal

Bus stop: Grasmere Daffodil Hotel for Dove Cottage

A bus ride to the beautiful Vale of Grasmere is always a great way to spend the day and even better when you combine it with a visit to Wordsworth Grasmere, which incorporates Dorothy and William Wordsworth’s home at Dove Cottage alongside a museum revealing more about their lives and work. 

The site, which recently underwent a £6.5m revamp, includes woodland trails, a cafe, gardens and a viewing platform to get your poetic juices flowing. Wordsworth Grasmere has events including poetry readings and family activities planned through the winter. 

The 555 Stagecoach bus between Keswick and Kendal stops right outside Wordsworth Grasmere, making it even easier to enjoy the latest exhibition or a hot chocolate in the cafe.

Discover Cockermouth

Bus route: X5, 600

Bus stop: Cockermouth, Main Street

The beautiful market town of Cockermouth is blessed with a really special community of independent traders who take pride in offering a great experience for visitors. It’s easy to wile away many happy hours popping from shop to shop and dropping into its pubs and cafes.

It is also home to William Wordsworth’s birthplace at Wordsworth House, as well as films, theatrical performances and live music at the Kirkgate Centre. 

Indulge yourself in Hawkshead

Bus route: 555 (from Keswick) and 505 (from Ambleside)

Bus stop: Hawkshead, Tourist Information Centre

Few things are better than chocolate when it comes to warming you up on a winter’s day. The Chocolate Factory in beautiful Hawkshead is the ideal place for a family day out which the kids will love while you relax and enjoy a few delicious treats yourself. Children get to tour the factory making their own creations to take home. 

Get a warm glow at the Lakes Distillery

Bus route: X4

Bus stop:  Dubwath, Lakes Distillery

Perhaps the adult equivalent of a chocolate factory, the Lakes Distillery, near Bassenthwaite Lake, is an award-winning attraction producing a fine selection of gin, vodka and whisky, including the Lakes single malt collection. 

Take a tour to learn about the distillation of gin and vodka and discover how master blender Dhavall Gandhi creates the unique flavour of the Lakes range of whiskies. You can even pick up a bottle in the shop and treat yourself to a tipple in the bistro; after all the Lakes Distillery has its own bus stop so you can catch the bus home.

Take a cosy cruise across an enchanting lake

Bus route: 508 (Penrith to Pooley Bridge)

Bus stop: Pooley Bridge, The Crown Hotel

The fells and lakes may be cloaked in snow and ice, but there is still a way to enjoy the grandeur of the scenery and stay toasty at the same time. Both Ullswater ‘Steamers’ and Windermere Lake Cruises continue sailing throughout the winter, with fully heated saloons allowing you to enjoy the wintry spectacle of snowclad mountains without getting cold feet. 

Windermere Lake Cruises’ fleet travel the length of the lake, stopping at attractions including the Lakes Aquarium, at Lakeside, and the Lake District Visitor Centre, at Brockhole, while the Ullswater ‘Steamers’ head from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge, offering the option of visiting the stunning Aira Force waterfall. 

Get high and dry (and stay warm at the same time)

Bus route: 

554 (for Kong Adventure)

555 (for Ambleside Climbing Wall)

X6 (for The Wall, Ulverston)

43A (for Kendal Mountaineering Centre)

Bus stop: 

Keswick, Bus Station (K) (Stand 1) (for Kong Adventure)

Ambleside, bus interchange (Stand 2) (for Ambleside Climbing Wall)

Ulverston, Booths (for The Wall, Ulverston)

Mint Bridge, Morrisons (for Kendal Mountaineering Centre)

Heading up a mountain in the middle of winter may seem like a daunting task for some, but you can still spend the day climbing at one of the Lake District’s many indoor walls. 

Kong Adventure, in Keswick, offers indoor climbing for all ages, alongside a number of activities for children, while Ambleside Climbing Wall and The Wall, in Ulverston, are great options for burning off some steam. Kendal Mountaineering Centre is the county’s most extensive climbing wall, with long indoor routes, a large bouldering area and a dedicated clip-and-climb attraction for children. 

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