A British beauty that inspired the words of Beatrix Potter, Arthur Ransome and Wordsworth, discover the natural landscapes that make up the unforgettable Lake District. There’s so much to explore on this carefully crafted tour, from the history of Levens Hall, Muncaster Castle and views of The Old Man of Coniston, through to the historical voyages of the Steam Yacht Gondola and Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway. But of course the one thing you can’t miss is the breathtaking landscapes around every turn, driving through iconic scenery and exploring on foot with chances to get to the heart of each destination on guided woodland and lakeside walks around Coniston Water and Buttermere.
Make your way to your well-appointed hotel in Kendal for around lunchtime, surrounded by the breathtaking views of the Cumbrian countryside, and make yourself at home. For those who drive, there is a free car park available for you to use. If you’d like us to arrange train travel or a private car, our helpful team will be happy to help.
This afternoon, enjoy a visit to historic Levens Hall and gardens. The house is mainly Elizabethan with fine oak panelling, ornate plasterwork and a beautiful collection of furniture and paintings. The 10-acre 17th-century gardens have many original features including the world’s oldest topiary gardens, and the herbaceous borders are considered to be some of the finest in England.
Today is a chance to explore one of the Northern Lakes, beautiful Buttermere. The mountains that ring Buttermere sweep straight up from the lake in steep unbroken slopes, but the path we follow is on the valley floor. This lake is particularly unusual as it’s the only one of the famous district’s lakes that you can take a path all the way around. And so we follow this picturesque route around though the woodland, hugging the shores and wildlife spotting along the way. Lastly, we stop at Buttermere village itself for refreshments.
Buttermere Lakeshore Walk
With a mix of lakeside paths and woodland, this circular walk takes us around Buttermere and through Burtness Wood with brilliant vistas of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks fell. As you trace the shoreline, you’ll be sure to see stunning views of Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head too. The other half of the walk is through more woody and muddy areas (so be sure to bring good walking boots) but it’s a level path and a wonderful loop back to Buttermere village.
Easy walk - Duration: 2.5 hours / Distance: 4.7miles / Terrain: shoreline paths, stones, rough and narrow in places with possible muddy areas
Heading as far west as we can in the lake, our first stop is a return journey on The Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway, one of the oldest and longest narrow-gauge railways in England. “La’al Ratty” as it is affectionately known, meaning little railway in old Cumbrian was built in 1873. The journey itself was one of Alfred Wainwright's favourites due to the beautiful scenery and was immortalised in his guidebooks. We then continue to Muncaster Castle a jewel in the majestic western lakes setting. Inhabited for 9 centuries continually, thought to have been built on Roman remains. We have a guided tour of the castle, before having a private group lunch. The rest of the afternoon is free to explore the gardens and maybe visit the Hawk and Owl Centre.
This morning we head to Coniston Water, steeped in history and settled since Neolithic times. The village nestles in the lee of The Old Man of Coniston - likened by Wainwright to the position of the Zermatt and the Matterhorn and is surrounded by spectacular rugged crags and foaming waterfalls. It truly illustrates the turbulent geological complexities of a valley born of violent volcanic fire and sculpted, even as ‘recently’ as 10,000 years ago, by unimaginable depths of ice.
We arrive at the lake and take the beautifully restored Steam Yacht Gondola, and cruise across Coniston like the Victorians did before us. Enjoy a guided commentary from the captain of the yacht, who will tell us about the history of the lake and what we can see. Look out for Brantwood John Ruskin’s home on the shores of the lake, a visionary thinker and pioneering conservationist, who foresaw the ‘green-house effect’ more than a century ago. Ruskin also inspired the establishment of The National Trust, and the founders of the National Parks movement.
We can also spot Arthur Ransome’s cottage - he used Coniston as the setting for his every popular children’s book series Swallows and Amazons, which since published in 1930 has been made into numerous series and films. Most people will of course associate the lake with Donald Campbells water Speed record attempt, which ended in tragedy. He reached speed of over 300 mph on his craft “Bluebird”.
Today we are joined by a local walking expert for our insightful walk. We disembark at Monks Coniston, walking through Lake District farm and woodland, as well as the walled garden and tree collection of Monk Coniston Hall. The estate was bought by Beatrix Potter as she loved it so much and was bequeathed to the National Trust on her death so it could be protected for all to enjoy. We continue onto to Tarn Howes, the views are some of the best in Lakeland, before tasking the Steam Yacht back to Coniston. There will be some free time to explore the pretty village itself, or to visit the Ruskin Museum to find out more about Coniston, Ruskin and Donald Campbell.
Monk Coniston and Tarn Hows Walk
Your journey begins with the calming surroundings of broadleaf and coniferous woodland, just a stone’s throw from the Monk Coniston walled gardens. You’ll be sure to spy lots of fascinating wildlife as some of the most gorgeous views of Coniston Water come into sight. Look out for distinctive Herdwick sheep, rose deer and hares. You might even spot a red squirrel or two – an endangered species who have made this stunning landscape their home.
Moderate walk - Duration: 3 hours / Distance: 3.5 miles / Terrain: forestry tracks and paths with benches along the way
Today we take a scenic drive to explore Ullswater, passing through Pooley Bridge and Glenridding. We then continue across the breathtaking Kirsktone pass to Windermere with time to explore at your leisure.
Finally, we return to the hotel to collect cars before your departure or transfer to the train station.
The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement. The price includes:
Just like our classic tours, with 25 or fewer people in your group.
On a range of tours we are delighted to offer the option to travel in a small group of up to 25 people.
You’ll enjoy the same sociable atmosphere of a typical Riviera Travel holiday - but with a smaller number of travellers and a touch more exclusivity.
Available across our range of UK, European and select Worldwide tours; just look out for the icon on holiday pages.
We want to ensure you make the correct choice before you book your holiday with us. If you have any concerns regarding the suitability of the holiday due to reduced mobility we would encourage you to call us to discuss these concerns. General information on mobility in connection with our tours can be found here.
Good quality walking shoes or boots are a must. We also recommend a waterproof jacket, comfortable rucksack, hat, sunglasses, sun cream, water bottle and clothes that can be layered easily. Hiking poles are not necessary, but you may wish to take them.
Most of our walks are guided by accredited local professionals, who have intimate knowledge of the routes and can offer meaningful information about the history and nature of the area.
On each walk we prefer an intimate atmosphere, so you can expect around 10 to 15 people. Depending on the nature of the walk, the group may occasionally be slightly larger. The wider group size will be around 25 people, mainly during coach transfers.
While we will always try to adhere to the route as advertised, we may be required to modify the itinerary due to local conditions. Our guides may also make minor changes to tailor the walk to the group.