How to get to the Lake District from Manchester

Tuesday 11 July 2017

So you’ve done all the city sights of Manchester? Now it’s time to explore the amazing scenery of the Lake District, which is a mere 1-2 hours away from Manchester and super-easy to reach by public transport or hire car. They don’t call Manchester the Gateway to the North for nothing…

Getting to the Lake District

Here are 4 amazingly easy ways to get to the Lake District from Manchester:

Getting to the Lake District by train

The Lake District is served by mainline railway stations at Windermere and Penrith, both handy gateways into the region’s hotspots. Windermere is, sure enough, by Lake Windermere – one of the most popular visitor spots in the Lake District. Here you can base yourself for trips across the lake, visit Beatrix Potter’s home Hill Top, Wordsworth’s homes at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount, as well as set off on lovely hikes into the hills.

Trains go regularly throughout the day to Windermere, taking 1 hour 39 minutes from Manchester Piccadilly station with one change at Oxenholme.

From Penrith you can easily reach Keswick (30 minutes’ drive or by bus X4/5), which is a great base for the northern lakes like Derwentwater, Ullswater and Buttermere and famous peaks like Cat Bells (the summit of which is pictured below), Skiddaw and Haystacks.

Trains to Penrith take 1 hour 36 minutes direct from Manchester Piccadilly station.  They go roughly once an hour. There are other trains you can catch which take 1 hour 56 minutes, with one change at Preston.

Check National Rail Enquiries to plan your rail journey with current timetables and ticket prices. You can buy train tickets in advance (when they can be cheaper) or on the day of travel from the station. If you’re doing lots of train journeys in England, it’s worth investing in a BritRail England Pass.

Getting to the Lake District by car

Sheep on a road in the Lake District

You can hire a car in Manchester and reach the Lake District in as little as approximately 1 hour 30 minutes.

The M6 motorway runs to the east of the Lake District National Park: take Junction 36 and then A590 for the south Lake District. Take Junction 40 and the A66 or A592 for the north Lake District.

The Lake District makes for scenic drives, and there are among the steepest roads in England here.

Getting to the Lake District by bus

You can take a National Express bus from Manchester Coach Station to Carlisle (2 hours 40 minutes) where you can connect with buses going into the Lake District. The region is well connected with local buses.

Getting to the Lake District straight from Manchester airport

Summit of Cat Bells, Lake District

If you want to hit the lakes first before exploring Manchester, you can travel direct from the terminal by train with First TransPennine Express to Grange-over- Sands, Ulverston, Barrow-in-Furness, Oxenholme, Kendal, Windermere, Penrith and Carlisle.

If you’re hiring a car, drive times from the airport are: Keswick 2 hours 10 minutes and Windermere 1 hour 40 minutes.

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