Lake District Drives

The best drives and attractions within the Lake District and Cumbria

Elterwater & Langdale
Lake District Drives describes a series of 15 wonderful driving routes which between them visit all the main lakes, towns, villages and attractions within the Lake District and also many just outside the National Park but still within Cumbria. The area has some of the best scenery and visitor attractions in the country and the routes are designed to take these in and provide great days out for all the family.

The routes are generally 30-50 miles in length and can easily be done in a couple of hours without any significant stops. Alternatively, why not spend some time visiting a few of the many attractions described within each route. The choice is yours!

The routes can also be cycled or if you want to visit the attractions using public transport our sister website Lake District On Board will help you do that.

Central Lakes Drives

Ambleside - Keswick - Ullswater drive

A drive along the main Lake District artery from Ambleside to Keswick which then returns via Ullswater and Kirkstone Pass. Several lakes are visited and there is a Wordsworth theme including a number of locations associated with the famous poet. 47 miles.

Keswick - Borrowdale - Buttermere drive

A drive of many natural wonders starting from Keswick visiting some of the most beautiful lakes, valleys and mountain passes in the Lake District. Highlights include Derwent Water, Borrowdale, Honister Pass, Buttermere, Crummock Water and Whinlatter. 38 miles.

Windermere circuit drive

A drive of contrasts around Englandís largest lake, Windermere. The route visits some of the most popular attractions in Lakeland and also some relatively remote and peaceful parts on the western shore. The scenery is fabulous throughout. 31 miles.

Hawkshead - Coniston - Grizedale drive

A drive based around Hawkshead which includes two separate loops. One visits beautiful Tarn Hows and the many delights of Coniston Water, the other passes through Grizedale Forest and includes some wonderful forest attractions. 35 miles.

Windermere - Coniston - Langdale drive

A drive around central Lakeland through some of the best scenery in the area. There is a Beatrix Potter theme, visiting a number of locations associated with the famous author. A short car ferry trip across Windermere lake is also included. 37 miles.

South Lakes & Cumbria Drives

Kendal - Grange - Windermere drive

A drive around the south east corner of Lakeland including some varied and interesting attractions. The popular towns of Kendal and Bowness, a number of famous historic houses, the beautiful Cartmel peninsula plus England's largest lake, Windermere. 48 miles.

Coniston - Duddon Valley - Eskdale drive

A drive that includes the most challenging mountain pass roads in the Lake District along with some remote and beautiful scenery. The drive also visits a number of historic attractions and allows a glimpse of bygone industry in the area. 42 miles.

Ravenglass - Wasdale - Eskdale drive

A drive around the remote western Lake District which includes the only coastal village in the National Park and some good beaches before heading inland to explore the dramatic and beautiful valleys of Wasdale and Eskdale. 46 miles.

Kendal - Sedbergh - Arnside drive

A drive around south east Cumbria which includes a number of interesting old market towns, picturesque rivers and valleys within the Yorkshire Dales National Park and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty around Arnside. 56 miles.

Ulverston - Barrow - Furness Peninsula drive

A drive around the Furness peninsula, an area heavily influenced firstly by the monks of Furness Abbey and later by steel maunufacture and ship building. The route visits a number of associated attractions and also some wonderful coastal scenery. 43 miles.

North Lakes & Cumbria Drives

Keswick - Bassenthwaite - Caldbeck drive

A drive from Keswick around the Skiddaw mountain range visiting the northernmost reaches of the Lake District. As well as beautiful lakes and mountains, attractions include picturesque villages, historic buildings and some unique wildlife. 41 miles.

Penrith - Middle Eden Valley drive

A drive around Penrith and the unspoilt Eden Valley that features a number of historic buildings and prehistoric monuments. The scenic and gently undulating route also leads through some lovely old sandstone built villages, typical of this area. 45 miles.

Ullswater - Lowther - Haweswater drive

A drive around the eastern Lake District, including some remote and beautiful parts of Ullswater and Haweswater lakes. Also featured are the attractive Lowther and Lyvennet valleys, some picturesque villages and historic places. 55 miles.

Cockermouth - Whitehaven - Maryport drive

A drive of contrasts that encapsulates all that is West Cumbria. From the natural beauty of Lorton Vale and Ennerdale to the industrial heritage of the West coast with its interesting towns, landscapes and coastal scenery. 54 miles.

Carlisle - Brampton - Hadrian's Wall drive

A drive which includes Cumbriaís capital city Carlisle, Hadrianís Wall and the attractive Irthing valley. The area has a fascinating history and plenty of associated interests, the highlight being some of the best preserved Roman remains in the country. 46 miles.

Drive Centres Map

Detailed route maps can be found in Route Description pages

The Attractions

Brantwood, SY Gondola, Coniston Old Man

The main attractions en route have brief descriptions and often a photograph. The attractions cover a variety of interests and although it would be a very long day to visit each one, there should be something for everyone and a few stops along the way will help maintain interest levels.

Attractions include; local towns and villages, historic buildings, museums, picnic sites, viewpoints, lake, river and coastal access areas, boat cruises and train rides. Facilities at each attraction are included such as toilets, shops, cafes and whether car parks are free or not (National Trust car parks are identified and are free for members). Some minor attractions are listed within the route description (Travelling) section as are refreshment stops including hotels, pubs, restuarants and cafes. Links to websites are included where available.

For a map and listings of all attractions visited by Lake District Drives, click here.

Route Description & Sat Nav

Mardale Head, Haweswater

Each route description page has an interactive map showing the route and the attractions plus a brief description of the route between each attraction. The route description normally starts at a convenient centre and forms a clockwise loop thereby returning to the same centre. Of course you can start the route anywhere along the loop or do it in reverse although route descriptions and mileages would need adjusting. Also bear in mind that the mileage figures given are based on visiting every attraction along the way. If any attractions are bypassed, the total mileage is likely to be reduced.

In addition, for those with sat nav devices, the attraction description includes the Northing and Easting coordinates for the entrance which can be input to your sat nav device for stress free navigation. Due to the quirks of sat nav route finding, no guarantee can be given that the sat nav route will be the same as the route described especially if not all attractions are visited.

Each route description page has the facility to download the sat nav coordinates for the attractions as Points Of Interest (POI) files. POI files are included for the most common formats; Garmin (csv), TomTom (ov2) & Google Earth (kml). Your device instructions should explain how to upload the relevant file. Other file formats can be created from these files using a suitable POI converter tool, for example here.

You can download all the attraction POI coordinates for all the drives using the link below. The zip file contains the different POI file formats;

PDF Lake District Drives

All 15 drives are available as individual PDF documents which can be saved to your device so they are always accessible even without internet connection. The remote beauty of the Lake District & Cumbria means that many areas have no WiFi or phone signal. The documents have been carefully formatted and include map, pictures and links, all of which are normally missing from a regular 'Save as PDF'.

The 15 PDF drives can be obtained for a small payment of £3 through Paypal. Once the purchase is confirmed an automatic link will take you to a separate web page where you can download all 15 PDF drives. You will need to save the web page address for future reference. If the link is lost please email me so I can resend it. Please select the 'Buy Now' option below.

So you can see what the PDF looks like you can download the Keswick - Bassenthwaite - Caldbeck drive for free below.

The Blame

This website has been produced by Martin Wilson, a local lad with a passion for exploring the Lake District. A great deal of time and effort has been spent researching the information given. Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this information, the author accepts no liability for any errors which may occur.

It is always worth checking timetables and opening times of attractions which may well vary depending on the season. The same is true for facilities such as toilets which may be subject to closure overnight and out of season.

If you have any questions or comments please email

Happy driving!