How to make the most of a Lake District day trip

Becky blog author avanti social team

By Avanti Web Team

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7 mins read | May 20, 2023

The Lake District is loved by locals and visitors alike. Full of beautiful lakes, mountains, forests, quaint villages and historic attractions, it’s no wonder Lake District day trips are so popular.

But with so many landscapes, attractions and activities to choose from, it’s hard to know where to start. Should you drive or go by train?

If you want to plan the perfect Lake District day trip, here’s everything you need to know.

Why visit The Lake District?

Home to England’s largest national park, The Lake District is a huge area with a lot to offer. As well as beautiful landscapes, The Lake District is rich in culture and history. One of the most appealing things about day trips to The Lake District is that you can see and learn something new every time.

You could do a day trip to The Lake District every weekend for a year and still only cover a fraction of the amazing things on offer.

Where exactly is The Lake District?

The Lake District is located in the North West of England. Historically, The Lake District was spread across Cumberland, Westmorland and Lancashire. By today’s geography, it’s all located within Cumbria.

Is The Lake District the same as The Lake District National Park?

The Lake District refers to the general area. The Lake District National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site within that area. It’s governed by The Lake District National Park Authority but land ownership varies across the park.

Some areas are privately owned whereas others (around 25% of the park) are owned by the National Trust.

Is The Lake District good for activities?

Love water sports? There are 76 different bodies of water to choose from. Need to entertain the kids? There are countless museums, wildlife parks, and castles to explore.

Enjoy a challenging hike? The Lake District National Park includes ten of the highest peaks in England. There are also many other beautiful hikes and trails in The Lake District.

If you want to enjoy some fresh air without breaking a sweat, there are endless options for gentle outdoor activities in The Lake District. You can take boat trips, go on a historic steam train tour, or just wander around one of the many villages and pick up some souvenirs.

Are there any mountains in The Lake District?

Despite its name, The Lake District is also home to many different mountains and peaks. This includes England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike.

Places to go on a Lake District day trip

This is a big place. So, when planning Lake District day trips, it’s important to narrow your search down to specific destinations and activities. Having a Lake District itinerary is important.


Kendal is a market town situated on the edge of The Lake District. It has a golf course, an indoor climbing centre, and a club for skiing and snowboarding lessons. It also has a castle, historic buildings, and a vibrant arts and culture scene.

This bustling town is only a couple of miles from Oxenholme Lake District station. This, and many other reasons, makes Kendal a perfect destination for a day trip to The Lake District.

Killington Lake

Killington is a 37-acre lake around five miles from Oxenholme Lake District Station. The man-made lake is a popular spot for fishing, windsurfing, paddle boarding and canoeing.

Access is limited to Killington Sailing Association club members, but it is sometimes possible to get temporary day passes.

There are many other activities on offer nearby. From clay pigeon shooting to quad biking, there are plenty of outdoor activities to enjoy around Killington Lake.

Lake Windermere

If you’re looking for a busy hub with panoramic views or amazing lakes, Lake Windermere is a safe bet. From lake cruises to tea houses, there is something here for all ages. Measuring 17km, Windermere is England’s largest natural lake and is definitely worth a visit. It is also easily accessible by train.


About a mile south of Windermere town, Bowness-on-Windermere is another hub for outdoor activities. It’s about a 25-minute walk from Lake Windermere or a 10-minute bus ride. This makes it a great second stop on your daily itinerary.

The Windermere Jetty Museum could make for a nice stop along the way. After a £20 million revamp in 2019, it’s full of all sorts of boats from as far back as the 18th century. Well worth a visit for boat enthusiasts and history buffs.

From Bowness on Windermere, you can get a tour of the lake or try your hand at some watersports. There’s also The World of Beatrix Potter for Peter Rabbit fans and children in general.

Wordsworth Grasmere

Many believe that The Lake District’s popularity as a tourist destination is in large part thanks to William Wordsworth. The poet moved to Grasmere in 1799 and published ‘A Guide Through the District of the Lakes’ in 1820.

Today, his home, Dove Cottage, is a tourist attraction in itself. It’s part of a larger centre called Wordsworth Grasmere. This tourist hub has recently undergone a multi-million-pound restoration. It has a museum, a garden, an orchard, a woodland, and a cafe.

Even if you’re not a history lover or a poetry fan, this is a great place to spend a few hours. The museum has several interactive elements and activities, great for keeping children and adults engaged.

Located just nine miles from Windermere, it’s a perfect half-day activity. It’s also situated just nine miles from Scafell Pike. So if you fancy staying overnight before tackling England’s highest peak, this is a great option.


Derwentwater is a great place to enjoy a day on the lake. There are several spots along the lake where you can hire paddle boards, kayaks, canoes, and rowing boats. Some places even have Dragon Boats and Viking Boats.

This is also a popular and safe spot for swimming, especially in the summer months. Just make sure you stay safe and follow local guidelines.

Derwent is also pretty close to Castlerigg Stone Circle. This is worth the visit if you have some time in your day itinerary. Castlerigg is believed to be one of the oldest British stone circles (about 3000 BC). It also has some breathtaking panoramic views from the hilltop.

Pooley Bridge

Lined with tea shops and greystone houses, this small town is brimming with character and charm. This makes it perfect for a day trip to The Lake District. Within easy reach of Moor Divock and Askham Fell, this is a hiker, trail runner, and mountain biker’s paradise.

Just six miles from Penrith North Lakes Station, Pooley Bridge is easy to get to by public transport. Once you get to the train station, it’s just 25 minutes by bus or 11 minutes by taxi.

Organised tours

If you want to cover a lot of ground and activities, booking an organised tour is a good shout. Depending on the operator, they may even pick you up from the train station.

Half-day tours are great if you want to enjoy a specific activity. If you’d like to try a few activities or explore different areas of The Lake District, look for a full-day tour.

Half-day tours are great if you want to enjoy a specific activity. If you’d like to try a few activities or explore different areas of The Lake District, look for a full-day tour.

Day trip to The Lake District by train

The Lake District is a very large area with many amazing sights and activities to explore. Having a car is useful if you want to spend a few days exploring different areas. However, it can get very busy, especially in the summer months.

To avoid car parking, traffic and navigation issues, it’s worth considering a train to The Lake District.

London to The Lake District

Direct trains run regularly from London Euston to both Oxenholme Lake District and Penrith (North Lakes) stations. Travel times vary but the quickest train from London to Oxenholme takes around two hours and 40 minutes. The train from London to Penrith takes between three and three and a half hours.

For day trips to Windermere, you can also travel from Euston to Lancaster and then connect there for a train to Windermere. Trains depart as early as 5:30 am but travel time can vary between three and four and a half hours.

Manchester to The Lake District

There are direct trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Oxenholme that take between one and one and a half hours. Trains from Manchester Piccadilly to Penrith (North Lakes) take between one and a half and two hours.

Manchester is perfectly located for day trips to Lake District towns. But, if you want even more inspiration, check out these ideas for day trips from Manchester.

Glasgow to The Lake District

Direct trains run from Glasgow to The Lake District. The fastest direct train from Glasgow Central to Penrith takes around two hours and 20 minutes.

The fastest direct train from Glasgow to Oxenholme takes around two hours and 40 minutes. Trains and buses from Oxenholme can then connect you to hubs like Kendal and Windermere.

Blackpool to The Lake District

Although there are no direct trains from Blackpool to The Lake District, the journey can take as little as one hour. To travel from Blackpool to Windermere, Kendal, Oxenholme or Penrith, you can get a train to Preston and change there. Journey durations can vary significantly depending on connection times, so make sure you plan ahead.

Book your day trip to The Lake District

Ready to start planning your Lake District day trip? Use our handy online journey planner and find the best train route and ticket price. You can also book in advance, ensuring you get the cheapest train tickets possible.

Also if you’re travelling with young people, children, or as a family, you can get up to 50% off your tickets with the right Railcard or a Family Ticket.

Buy train tickets for your next journey here:

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees. To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance and booking as a group visit our ways to save page.

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