Day 1: Trip Orientation and Welcome Dinner
Travel to Windermere (independent arrival) and meet your guide at 6:00 p.m. for an orientation and welcome drinks, followed by your first delicious dinner in your charming hotel.
Day 2: Beatrix Potter Walk
Today’s adventure is a Beatrix Potter Walk on the other shore of Lake Windermere and over the wooded fells (hills) to take in the sights that inspired her works. We’ll walk from the hotel to the ferry and take the boat across Lake Windermere, after perhaps strolling through the lovely woods of Cockshott Point which Potter bequeathed by Potter to the National Trust. Good that we’ll take the ferry by day since the boat was once the scene for the “night walker ghost." In near-by Sawrey we’ll visit her house, Hill Top, a time capsule of this amazing woman’s life, and then walk through the wooded fells of Claife Heights to Latterbarrow. The view from the top of Latterbarrow is stunning, and takes in Hawkshead, Lake Windermere, and Wray Castle where Beatrix Potter, at the age of 16, spent her first holiday in Lakeland.
After enjoying the Latterbarrow view we’ll drop down to the town of Hawkshead. Hawkshead is a delightful village, originally a medieval marketplace, and steeped in the history of William Wordsworth, who went to school here, and Beatrix Potter, who married a local solicitor, William Heelis. Potter, who was known locally as Mrs. Heelis, preserved thousands of acres of land, which she bequeathed to the National Trust. Several farms preserved by her are in the area. We may visit the Old Grammar School, which Wordsworth attended, leaving evidence of his initials carved into the desk. From here we’ll take the bus back to the ferry or the minibus back to the hotel. Distance 12.5 km (8 miles), including walk to ferry. Ascent 400 meters (1300 feet). Time 5 hours, excluding any stops and visits. It is possible to shorten this route.
Day 3: Grasmere and our Wordsworth Day
After a hearty breakfast today we’ll walk from Ambleside to Grasmere via Loughrigg Terrace, enjoying wonderful views of Grasmere, Dunmail Raise and surrounding mountains. We’ll stroll around the idyllic hamlet of Grasmere, visit Wordworth’s Dove Cottage, and will stop for a treat at Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop. Grasmere is an intimate cluster of gray-stone houses on an old packhorse road along the River Rothay. With a population of under a 1000 and just a few roads, it retains the character of what the Poet Thomas Gray called the “white village” on the water in this “unsuspected paradise." His groundbreaking tour of the Lakes did much to attract broader attention. Grasmere is seen as the “eye of the Romantic storm." We’ll return to our starting point along the medieval Coffin Trail, the route over which coffin bearers struggled with their load on the way to church before there was a church in neighboring Rydal. (Our load will thankfully only be our day packs and our mood certainly much more cheerful than that of our predecessors on this pretty route.) Distance 15km (9 miles), Ascent 350 meters (1140 feet), time 5 hours (excluding stops). Possible to reduce by two miles if starting from Rydal.
Day 4: Easedale Tarn
Easedale Tarn is one of the must-do Lake District hikes. While not in the mountains, it provides an exceptional mountain feeling, with a climb up to Easedale Tarn. It was very popular with the Victorians and there even used to be a cafe there, though no sign of it now remains. Just before getting back to Grasmere there is a pretty stroll through the woods called Poet's Walk that Wordsworth and his wife Mary used to love. We’ll stop at an idyllic hotel to have tea (read scones and clotted cream) on the lawns with spectacular views. If we wish we can also hike Helm Crag (also known as The Lion and Lamb) on the way back. Distance 8km (5 miles). Ascent 270 meters (880 feet). Time 4 hours. If Helm Crag included, add an extra 1.5km (1 mile), 270 meters and 1.5 hours.
Day 5: Coniston Day: Coniston Old Man or Visit to Brantwood
Today we’ll either hike Coniston Old Man, or visit Brantwood, home of John Ruskin, the leading art critic of the Victorian Era, walking from here past Lanehead and Bank Ground, inspirations for one of Arthur Ransome’s "Swallows and Amazons” books, to the north end of the lake. (“Swallows and Amazons” is a series of 12 children’s books involving adventures by groups of children almost all during school vacations and mostly in England and Scotland, between the two World Wars. The series helped to create the national image of the English Lake District.) From here we pass through the grounds of the Monk Coniston Estate, once owned by Beatrix Potter, and continue through the woods to the beauty spot Tarn Hows. After walking around the Tarn we head back along a bit of the Cumbria Way, the famous long distance north/south Lake District hiking trail, to Coniston. In Coniston, if time permits, we can visit The Ruskin Museum (where Donald Campbell's Bluebird, the speedboat that was used to break world records in the Lake District, will hopefully be residing by then), or visit a local hotel where Donald Campbell stayed while attempting the water speed record on Coniston Water. Distance 11.5km (7 miles). Ascent 370 meters (1200 feet). Time 4.5 hours, excluding visits and stops.
Day 6: Keswick, Castlerigg Stone Circle and Wall Crag
We’ll hike from Keswick to Castlerigg Stone Circle by a disused railway following the river. Castlerigg is an evocative Bronze Age circle of massive stones, a beautiful, mystical, ancient site, and while soaking in the atmosphere we’ll make our own guesses as to the purpose of the stones. We’ll then follow a route to Walla Crag with stunning views over Derwentwater, one of the main and most scenic area lakes, to the mountains beyond, descending steeply to the lake and following it to Keswick, where there should be time to look around. Keswick is the major center of tourism in the northern Lakes and is known for its shops with outdoor gear. Granted its market charter in 1276, the market continues to this day. Another option for Day 6 would be a walk in Borrowdale returning on the west side of Derwentwater into Keswick along the Cumbria Way. Distance 13.5km (8.5 miles). Ascent 440 meters (1430 feet), Time 5 hours.
Day 7: Farewell to Lake District
After breakfast we say good-bye to the Lake District (independent departure) and head for home or other adventures.
Please bear in mind that this is a typical itinerary, and the actual walks and sites may vary due to season, special events or weather. We reserve the right to alter the itinerary since tour arrangements are made up to a year in advance, and unforeseen circumstances that mandate change may arise. Itinerary changes are made to improve the tour and your experience. We also always strive to provide a pleasant surprise or two.