Lake District without a car – top 5 car-free days out from Ambleside

Wednesday, July 10, 2024 by Tom Willcox

If you’re looking for things to do in the Lake District without a car and you are staying in Ambleside or at nearby Low Wood Bay, we’ve got plenty of ideas for a great day out.

So do you need a car in the Lake District? Once they get here, many of our guests and visitors wish for nothing more than to leave the car in the car park, pull on their boots and go exploring.

Car free days out in the Lake District are becoming increasingly popular, especially for the more environmentally conscious. Many of us now go out our way to get off the road and ditch the car once we’ve got to our holiday destination.

If you’re in the Lake District without a car, or you don’t want to drive anywhere, how about these top 5 car free days out?

No car Lake District – Stagshaw Garden

For places in the Lake District that you can visit without a car, Stagshaw Garden is a quiet gem. Just off the main road into Ambleside, this rambling and informal woodland garden is a blaze of colour and beautiful scents in spring and summer.

Visitors love the ‘secret garden’ feel with winding paths and unusual trees and plants. You can also sit and enjoy views out over Windermere and the Lake District fells.

Created by Cubby Acland, a former National Trust agent, the garden has an outstanding collection of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas and a stunning carpet of bluebells in the spring.

Grasmere via the stepping stones over River Rothay

Where is the best place to visit in the Lake District without a car? Well how about this for a walk from the middle of Ambleside?

As well as the famous stepping stones across the River Rothay, this walk provides stunning views over Rydal Water and Grasmere. There are caves to explore under Loughrigg, and tearooms and art galleries aplenty in Grasmere village itself. Explore Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount (both former dwelling places of William Wordsworth) and St Oswald’s parish church where you can view the grave stones of Wordsworth’s family. For a car free day out in the Lake District, this one is chockful of heritage, culture and history in the middle of some of the area’s most spectacular natural scenery.

Windermere Lake Cruises boat trip to Bowness-on-Windermere

Getting out on the water is an obvious antidote if you’re visiting the Lake District without a car.

Hop aboard with Windermere Lake Cruises from the pier in Ambleside and in just half an hour or so you can land at Bowness. This bustling tourist centre has a distinct holiday feel.

There’s a lovely ten-minute walk from Bowness pier along the lake shoreline to Cockshott Point. And of course Bowness is home to the famous World of Beatrix Potter attraction which is hugely popular with families.

There is nothing better on a summer afternoon to break the journey on the way back at Brockhole and walk around the lovely gardens. Drop in at the visitor centre or, for the more adventurous, have a go at the Treetop Trek aerial adventure.

Car free days out in the Lake District – Zeffirellis in Ambleside

It’s often sensible to have a wet weather plan in the Lake District if you don’t have the car. So how about visiting an award-winning food, film and music venue?

Zeffirellis is not only a cinema featuring contemporary movies and selected art house films, but it’s also got a sparkling live music scene.

Keep an eye on its special events page as it regularly features live and recorded shows from the world of theatre, opera and dance.

Lake District without a car – Bike boat to Wray Castle

Another fantastic no car Lake District day out is to take the ‘Bike Boat’ from Brockhole over to Wray Castle on the western shore of Windermere.

And if you haven’t brought your bikes, you can easily hire them from Brockhole Visitor Centre. Wray Castle is a mock-gothic castle with turrets and towers. Kids will love the big empty rooms they can dress up and let imaginations run wild.

There’s a choice of cycle routes from Wray. Why not try the car-free shoreline path to Harrowslack, suitable for all ages and abilities? And there are also quiet roads and bridleways for the more experienced cyclist. From Harrowslack, it’s a short ferry ride back across the lake to Bowness where you can get the Bike Bus back to Brockhole.

How do you get around Windermere without a car?

With a bit of sound planning, visiting the Lake District without a car can still provide a world of opportunity. If you decide to come to Windermere by train and you want to explore the area without a car, there are plenty of reliable bus and cycle routes, walking trails to explore as well as ferry and cruise options on the lake.

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