Lake District Drives

The best drives and attractions within the Lake District and Cumbria

Derwent Water from Friar's Crag

Lake District Drives describes some wonderful driving routes in and around the Lake District and 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!

More drives will be added in the near future. Watch this space....

If you don't have a car or just want to leave it behind for the day, our sister website Lake District On Board describes all the best attractions across the Lake District and Cumbria and how to reach them via public transport.

Driving Routes

Ambleside - Keswick - Ullswater drive

Ambleside-Keswick-Ullswater route description 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

Keswick-Borrowdale-Buttermere route description A drive that starts with the delights of Keswick and Derwent Water before passing through the majestic valley of Borrowdale. Then up and over Honister Pass to Buttermere before a return through Newlands valley. 33 miles.

Ambleside - Windermere - Coniston drive

Ambleside-Windermere-Coniston route description A drive around Windermere lake taking in various attractions before heading to Hawkshead, Tarn Hows and Coniston. There is a Beatrix Potter theme with the drive visiting a number of locations associated with the famous author. 37 miles.

Coniston - Duddon Valley - Eskdale drive

Coniston-Duddon Valley-Eskdale route description 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.

Penrith - Middle Eden Valley drive

Penrith-Middle Eden Valley route description 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.

Kendal - Grange - Windermere drive

Kendal-Grange-Windermere route description 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.

Ulverston - Barrow - Furness Peninsula drive

Ulverston-Barrow-Furness peninsula route description 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. 44 miles.

Cockermouth - Whitehaven - Maryport drive

Cockermouth-Whitehaven-Maryport route description 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

Carlisle-Brampton-Hadrian's Wall route description 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.

Ravenglass - Wasdale - Eskdale drive

Ravenglass-Wasdale-Eskdale route description 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.

Keswick - Bassenthwaite - Caldbeck drive

Keswick-Bassenthwaite-Caldbeck route description 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.

Ullswater - Lowther - Haweswater drive

Ullswater-Lowther-Haweswater route description 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.

Kendal - Sedbergh - Arnside drive

Kendal-Sedbergh-Arnside route description 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.

Hawkshead - Coniston - Grizedale drive

Hawkshead-Coniston-Grizedale route description 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.

Drive Centres

Detailed route maps can be found in Route Description pages

Hill Top, Near Sawrey

The Attractions

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.

Newlands Pass, Buttermere

Route Discription

Each route description page has an interactive map showing the route and the attractions plus a brief description of the route between each attraction.

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 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.

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.

If you want to print the route description page, that should be displayed without any photographs in order to be a little more printer friendly.

Keswick centre

Satellite Navigation (Sat Nav)

Each route description page has the facility to download the sat nav coordinates for the attractions as Points Of Interest (POI) files. Coordinates can be downloaded as .csv (Garmin) or .ov2 & .bmp (TomTom) allowing simple upload to your sat nav.

To install the POI coordinates on your sat nav, Garmin owners need to follow the instructions here and TomTom owners need to follow the instructions here (TomTom files firstly need to be extracted from .zip file).

If you want to download all the attraction POI coordinates for all the drives then click the relevant link below;

Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway

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!