If a destination or hub does not appear on this list that means I have as yet had no experience of it. I welcome comments on this page from anyone who wants to add information about these other places, or about those which do appear here. This page was last updated in July 2016.
This is a significant hub for buses and probably the best place to stay if you want to walk in the south of the district. The bus station is on Kelsick Road, opposite the library. Buses from here link with Windermere, Grasmere and Keswick, as well as Dungeon Ghyll/Langdale and Coniston. Walks round the Fairfield horseshoe, up to Kirkstone, Loughrigg Fell and, if you fancy a longer one, into Langdale can also terminate here.
The nearest pub to the bus station is Churchill’s, which is uphill from the station then turn left on the main road – it’s OK, but nothing special. The best pub in Ambleside is the Golden Rule, but this is at least five minutes’ walk from the bus station.
Bassenthwaite (or Bass) village is a useful terminus for walks into the Uldale fells and Skiddaw Forest (pictured). Its pub, the Sun Inn, hides away at the back of the village. The bus stop is on the main road, and you should leave 5-10 minutes to get there from the village. This stop is served by #X4 (Workington – Cockermouth – Keswick -Penrith) and #554 (Carlisle – Keswick) buses. Through the sort of lunacy which proves that no one responsible for public transport in the Lakes gives a toss, both these buses tend to arrive within minutes of one another, and then there isn’t another one for two hours.
Bootle village is in the west of the District, south of Ravenglass. Its station is about 1.5 miles north-west of the village, so check maps and the time carefully if intending to use it. Walk 85 and walk 111 started and/or finished here.
Borrowdale burrows into the heart of the district and fells from many volumes (Central, Southern, Western and North Western) can be easily reached from there. It is well served by the #78 bus from Keswick which runs all year, and #77 summer-only (these buses run up the other side of Derwentwater, below Catbells). Note that if ending a walk in Grange, the #78 does not actually run through the village, but stops at the end of the lane, at the other end of the double bridge.
#78 buses turn round at Seatoller, the stop being to the east (downhill) side of that village. If heading for Seathwaite, get off at Mountain View, the line of cottages just before Seatoller, to save walking on the busy and narrow road – the lane on the opposite side of the road (signposted Thornythwaite) goes to Seathwaite. Remember there is no pub in Seatoller, and the cafe there seems to have closed permanently.
Walks starting and/or finishing in:
- Ashness Gate (landing stage: see picture below): walk 69
- Grange: walk 4, walk 11
- Rosthwaite: walk 33, walk 54
- Stonethwaite: walk 4, walk 19, walk 45, walk 68
- Seatoller: walk 13, walk 34, walk 56, walk 60, walk 107, walk 108.
Good terminus for walks in the North Western Fells. The Royal Oak is a decent pub – I don’t recommend the Coledale Inn (even if you can find it). #X5 buses link it with Keswick, Penrith and Workington all year, and there are also extra summer buses – though note that by the time it gets there, the #77 may be very full.
This village lies north of Kendal, on the rail line to Windermere. It is not worth a visit in its own right but the station serves as the start or finish point for a few (very long…) walks in the far east of the District: walk 93, walk 102 and walk 117 start and/or finish there.
Buttermere (pictured at the top of the page)
This major walking centre is served by #77 buses (Keswick – Borrowdale – Honister – Buttermere – Whinlatter). Though I believe that a winter weekend service would be a good idea, at the moment they only run in the summer (March – October) and always tend to be crowded. On Bank Holidays and other busy weekends they can run terribly late. The buses enter the village and turn around at the green in front of the Fish Hotel, so there is no need to wait on the road.
See Dungeon Ghyll.
Cleator Moor is served by regular buses from Whitehaven. For the fells to the south of Ennerdale, get off at Wath Brow and walk down the lane by the side of the Little Arms pub and the rugby clubhouse. If finishing here, walk slightly up the hill from the Little Arms (as if turning right when coming out of the lane described above), then left, then the buses can be caught just down there. The Little Arms is a slightly rough-seeming pub, but it’s decent. There are other pubs down the road in the town centre, but to be honest none of them are that great.
Obvious terminus for walks in the Coniston fells (pictured). The #505 links it with Ambleside and Windermere. Another non-Stagecoach service, the X12, links with Ulverston on the Cumbrian coast rail line, and also goes through Torver, a good starting/finishing point for walks up Dow Crag and the Old Man.
A slightly obscure village, but walks in the northern sector of the Eastern fells can terminate here, and it’s convenient for Aira Force. Since 2012 there is now a bus service, the #208, which connects it with Keswick and – if you change buses en route – with Penrith. There is a reasonable pub here, the Royal Hotel. I caught the bus by going to the right outside the hotel, across the bridge, and waiting there.
Walk 58 ended in Dockray.
Excellent terminus for walks in the Langdale Pikes and Scafells. The #516 bus links it with Ambleside and runs all year: the service is better on Saturdays and in school holidays (specifically, there is a more usefully timed bus back to Ambleside at the end of the walk). It turns around at the end of the lane leading to the Old Hotel. This bus also serves the villages of Elterwater and Chapel Stile.
See Dungeon Ghyll.
Unfortunately the #217 bus to Ennerdale Bridge, connecting with Frizington and Cockermouth has been severely cut back and now only runs on Wednesdays, and not at times convenient for walkers.
There are no buses to Eskdale but there is ‘La’al Ratty’ – the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (see their web site). This is not cheap – but note if you are staying in the area, you can buy a multi-trip ticket and save money. Starting at Ravenglass (see below), it runs as far as Dalegarth, which is near the village of Boot; though this is still quite a long walk from the mountains at the head of the valley. Unless you are very fit, it is unlikely you will be able to do a substantial walk in between the arrival of the first train from Ravenglass and the departure of the last one back.
It’s worth planning to spend the night here, therefore. Another nice thing about Eskdale is that it still has plenty of pubs. Note that the Woolpack Inn, the one highest up the valley, may be persuaded to use its ‘minibus’ (an old army truck) to run you back to Dalegarth.
Try not to walk on the road between the Woolpack and the lane to Brotherilkeld – it is busy and runs in between hedges with no refuge for pedestrians. Use the river path (linking Jubilee Bridge, Penny Hill, Low Birker etc) instead.
This is a station on the Cumbrian Coast Line (pictured) and near enough to serve as a base for some walks in the Outlying Fells, like walk 82 and walk 91. The pub just outside it (the Prince of Wales) is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Since the axing of the bus to Ennerdale Bridge this is the best terminus for walks to the north side of Ennerdale, but a fairly long preamble is now required. Regular buses connect this village with Whitehaven. I started walk 60 in Frizington.
Glenridding is served by #108 buses from Penrith (weekdays all year) and #508s to Penrith, Kirkstone and Windermere (weekends March – October and daily in the 6-week school summer holiday). The buses – in both directions – stop at the bus stop outside the Fairlight restaurant, on one side of the green, opposite the Ullswater hotel. Note you can also get to Glenridding by lake steamer from Pooley Bridge and Howtown.
This relatively sizeable village is a useful terminus for walks in the Ennerdale and Wasdale regions, and is blessed by no fewer than four pubs, three of them in the same square. However, it now seems to have completely lost its bus service: the nearest option remaining is to start at Seascale (see below). Walk 62 began in Gosforth, and walk 43 and walk 100 ended there.
Grange-over-Sands Too far south to be useful for the main District but walks in the Outlying Fells – like walk 72 – can start or end here. The railway station (see picture above) is served by regular trains from Lancaster and Barrow, and stands to the east of the town, right on the promenade (though don’t expect to be able to dip your toes in the sea, for reasons which will be obvious once you get there). There is a bus stop right outside the station from which X6 services can be caught between Barrow and Kendal. These buses allow access to walks like walk 95 and walk 98.
Ideal terminus for walks in most of the Central Fells and anywhere in the Eastern Fells south of Helvellyn. In the summer many buses link it with Ambleside and Windermere, and there are two an hour to Thirlmere and Keswick. These stop at various points in the village and also on the main road by the Swan Hotel.
The Lamb Inn (part of the Red Lion hotel) is the only pub in the village itself, though there are some licensed cafes too. The Swan Hotel is a few minutes walk from the centre. The Travellers’ Rest is the best one of the lot, but is a mile away to the north, and note that only the #555 bus passes here.
Walks that have started and/or ended in Grasmere (up to and including the Travellers’ Rest and Dunmail Raise): walk 8, walk 10, walk 23, walk 30, walk 31, walk 36, walk 39, walk 45, walk 68, walk 105, walk 113.
Hartsop village is a beautiful place and well-positioned for walks into the Far Eastern fells and the Fairfield group. The bus stop is at the end of the lane, on the main road. However, two disadvantages: first, that stop is served by the #508 which runs only at weekends March -October, and daily in the school summer holiday. (The all-year #108 does not call here.) Also, there is no pub in the village. Beyond a seasonal caravan offering teas and ice creams, the nearest refreshments are at the Brotherswater Inn, a mile south – and the road is a busy one. Consider finishing walks in Patterdale instead.
There is no public transport to Mardale Head. There is still a #111 bus to Burnbanks, at the foot of the Haweswater dam, but this only runs on Thursdays and now seems to bypass Penrith entirely, making it almost useless, though it did save the day on walk 117.
Attractive village with lots of little nooks and crannies; not close to the main action but several Outlying fells can be easily reached from here. Buses can be caught to Ambleside, Coniston and, in the summer, the ferry across Windermere to Bowness. They all stop at the south side of the village, opposite the Tourist Information Centre. Walk 76 and walk 98 terminate here. Walk 114 passes very close by though does not actually enter the village.
Honister (pictured) is an obvious starting point or terminus for walks into the Western and North Western fells – not least because of its elevation. But though served by #77 buses in the summer, it is not a particularly welcoming place for the non-driver; I would not want to wait here half an hour for a bus on a day of bad weather. Start a walk here by all means, but finish somewhere else.
Howtown is a useful terminus for walks in the northern part of the Far Eastern Fells (Wainwright’s volume 2). There are no buses there, but you can reach it by lake steamer from Pooley Bridge and Glenridding – see the timetable here. The Howtown Hotel is a terribly cute place to have a drink, but leave 5 minutes to get to the pier from here. Walk 42 ended in Howtown and walk 84 started there.
Apart from some of Wainwright’s ‘Outlying Fells’ (walk 77), Kendal is probably too far from the action to serve as a walking terminus. Nor is there much point alighting at the train station (stay on until Windermere) unless you want to catch the 0910 bus to Shap. If you do want this one, no need to go all the way to the bus station – just walk down the access ramp, turn left, and wait at the bus stop below the railway bridge.
A few years ago there was a bus linking Kentmere with Staveley rail station, but this no longer exists. You therefore have to walk there, which takes around 90 minutes – each way. Nor is there a pub in the village. For walks round here see Staveley below.
For walkers in the Lakes, Keswick is probably the best base of all: only some of those in the far west cannot easily be reached from here, particularly in the summer when the #77 bus is running. Note also the non-Stagecoach #208 service which has just started providing a link to Ullswater and Patterdale in the summer. There are plenty of things for non-walkers to do as well. There is no train station (thanks to Dr Beeching), but regular buses link it with Penrith, Windermere and Workington stations, and occasional ones to Carlisle. The bus station is in the centre of town, by Booths supermarket (there are toilets and a cafe in there). Connections between buses have recently improved. You can also reach fells such as Catbells, Skiddaw and Bleaberry Fell by simply walking from town, without needing a bus.
The nearest pub to the bus station is the Bank Tavern; standing outside Booths, turn to the left, then right at the mini-roundabout, and it’s along there on the right. If you keep going you come into the market square where there are plenty of other pubs and shops. I recommend the George, which can be found by going to the far end of the square, then bearing left (past Greggs).
Walks up Red Screes and Caudale Moor can start or finish here, and unlike at Honister Pass, there are refreshments, at the very atmospheric Kirkstone Pass Inn. #508 buses serve this point (and often wait here for a few minutes), but only run weekends March – October and daily during the school summer holiday, connecting Windermere rail station, Patterdale and Penrith. Walk 66 passed (but did not start or finish at) Kirkstone.
Loweswater village (sometimes known as Kirkstile) is a good terminus for walks in the northern part of the Western fells (e.g. Mellbreak, Fellbarrow), and it has a great pub, the Kirkstile Inn, but it is not served by buses. The nearest bus stop is at Lanthwaite Green, on the road between Lorton and Buttermere. From the pub you need to leave at least half an hour to get to the bus stop. Buses (summer only) stop by the little car park near the farm of Lanthwaite Green.
This tiny village — mostly just a couple of big hotels — sits just off the A590 near the southern tip of Windermere, and is a useful base for several of the Outlying Fells (e.g. walk 75, pictured, walk 86, walk 95). It can be reached on X6 buses from Grange-over-Sands station. The main problem here is getting across the road — ensure you use the traffic island.
Excellent terminus for walks throughout the Eastern Fells and most of the Far Eastern. The #108 bus links it all year with Penrith, and the #508 runs weekends March – October and daily in the school summer holiday, providing an additional link then to Kirkstone Pass and Windermere. The bus stop is just north of the Patterdale Hotel. Note that the #208 bus – a non-Stagecoach service – provides a connection to Keswick.
Walks starting and/or ending in Patterdale: walk 12, walk 23, walk 32, walk 55, walk 113 , walk 120. Walk 36 starts at Bridgend, which is just down the road, towards Hartsop (itself not very far away, and nor is Glenridding: see the separate entries for these two villages).
I did manage two walks from Penrith – walk 42 and walk 88 -but otherwise it’s a bit too far out to serve as a base for walking. You will find yourself here often enough, however, because it’s one of the two truly convenient rail stations for the district. Bus/train connections have improved in the morning thanks to the new 07:58 Preston –> Penrith service, although sometimes one still has to wait a while in the afternoon. There is a bus stop right outside the train station, as well as a McDonalds – not a bad place for a morning cup of tea – and two pubs. However, not all buses stop at the rail station, and the bus station is a good 10 minutes’ walk away, and not signposted.
I have started or ended a couple of walks from here (walk 20, walk 40, walk 101), but it’s a long way out. It’s more useful as the interchange between the Cumbrian Coast rail line and the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway, which share the same station (see Eskdale). There is also a pub here, the Ratty Arms, and a couple more down in the village, towards the sea. If walking from here, don’t walk on the road at first: instead, go up to the footbridge, near the kids’ playground, and take the path from there.
Useful terminus for walks up Blencathra and the fells nearby. The White Horse is a reasonable pub, though last time I ate there the portions of its food were ridiculously big. There may be some doubt as to where to catch buses (linking Keswick and Penrith); they seem to stop if you hold your hand out at the layby to the east of the pub.
This windswept little village on the coast has a rail station; it used to have a bus to Gosforth, but this now seems to have disappeared. I haven’t yet actually started or finished a walk here, but unless a bus reappears, I might have to in the future.
See Borrowdale. There is another Seathwaite, to the west of the Coniston fells, but I have not visited that one yet (and there’s no public transport there anyway).
Just about useful as a terminus for walks in the far east of the district, into Mosedale and Swindale. The bus which connects it to Kendal and Penrith (#106) has been cut back to one a day in each direction, serving the schools, and occasional other ones: what this means in actuality seems to vary all the time, but at the moment there is a 0910 on weekdays from Kendal station. It’s getting back from Shap that’s the problem: you just have to check the timetable. Shap is just one long street, really, so I’m sure you can find a bus stop on it somewhere. Walk 65 and walk 88 started or ended at Shap. Walk 80 and walk 81 ended at the Shap Wells hotel, which is a mile or so south of the village; take the lane at the back of the hotel up to the road and wait for the bus there (when it runs).
I have started and finished some walks in the Far Eastern fells at Staveley – it’s the nearest public transport terminus to Kentmere (though that’s not saying much). Do note that not all the trains on the Windermere-Kendal-Oxenholme line stop here. There appears to be only one open pub in the village, though it’s a good one – the Eagle and Child. It’s a few minutes walk back to the station from here, but #555 buses stop right outside it.
Walk 7, walk 35 and walk 53 begin or end at Staveley station and it’s worth noting these are three of the longest walks I have done (15.6, 17.8 and 16.1 miles respectively). Staveley is also useful for many of the Outlying Fells – see walk 71, walk 97, walk 109.
If walking in the Helvellyn range, this is a good place to start or finish: it is on the route of the #555, Keswick – Grasmere – Ambleside – Windermere. Refreshments are available either at the King’s Head pub or the Lodge in the Vale, about a mile north at Legburthwaite (also on the bus route, though here note that you have to get onto the main road, not the road the cafe is on). Walk 11 ended at Thirlspot; walk 47 at Legburthwaite, which was also the start of walk 51.
This is a useful terminus for walks up Blencathra (walk 110). It looks useful for Clough Head and the northern Helvellyn range as well, but it actually isn’t that easy to get through the fields and lanes between the two. There is a good (if expensive) pub in the village, the Horse & Farrier, and another called the Salutation Arms that I have not tried. Buses to Keswick and Penrith stop right outside. Walk 51 ended here. Walk 49 and walk 50 took place while we were staying at Doddick Farm, a short way east along the A66.
Walks in the southern part of the Far Eastern fells may terminate here, but buses (#508) run only on weekends March – October, and daily in the six-week school summer holiday. They stop to the north of the Queens Head – be careful on the road here. If these buses aren’t running, you will have to walk the two miles back south – it’s better to head for Troutbeck Bridge (north of Windermere) as the road is much less busy. There used to be a pub at Troutbeck Bridge, but recently it has turned into a Mexican restaurant (for some reason). It’s a good 20 minute uphill walk from here to Windermere train station.
Too far out for much walking, though I gave it a shot with walk 90 (pictured). It’s a useful connection between rail and bus. Ulverston is on the Cumbrian coast line. From here you can get the X12 up to Torver and Coniston; the only bus to service the length of Coniston Water. To get to the bus stop from the railway station, leave it along Conishead Road, cross straight over at the top of the slope, continue down Conishead Road then take the next left, under the railway bridge, and the bus stops (with refreshment kiosk) are there on the left.
There was, for a time, a Saturday-only minibus service from Seascale station to Wasdale Head, via Gosforth, but I never experienced it and can now find no information to confirm its continued existence. Wasdale Head was where I stayed overnight during the two-day hikes that were walk 20 and walk 43.
This is the most useful rail station for the district. Buses run from here to Ambleside and Keswick. The Booths supermarket outside the station (in fact, this is the original, Victorian station building) has a reasonable cafe and clean toilets. Connections between buses and trains here are, in general, sensibly timed. It is also just about feasible to start or finish a walk at Windermere train station if your destination is in the Far Eastern fells (walk 12 began here, walk 115 ended), and walk 83 goes round the immediate vicinity.
The forest and mountain biking centre at Whinlatter was for a while linked directly with Keswick, Grasmere and Windermere by a new ‘bike bus’, the #800, which ran weekends from March – September and then daily in the six-week school summer holiday, but this seems to have disappeared again. The #77 Honister and Buttermere buses stop here though. There is a cafe at the centre. Walk 18 began here, walk 116 passed through.
Too far to walk to or from, but regular buses to Cleator Moor and Frizington make it the best rail terminus for walks in the far west of the district. I’ve never been quite sure whether buses stop just outside the train station and tend to head for the stops on Duke Road – walk out past the filling station onto the main road, turn right and then follow the one-way system to the left, then left again. Coming back to the station make sure you don’t miss it (look for Tesco); the bus then goes a long way up a steep hill before there is another stop.
Wythburn is a good terminus for walks up Helvellyn and parts of the Central Fells, and is on the route of the #555, Keswick – Grasmere – Ambleside – Windermere. But there are no refreshments to be had here. Walk 47 began here.
Other pages in this guide: