Lake District Explorer: Tour 2
This is a journey to one of the wildest regions of the Lake District. Practically everywhere you stop there are beautiful walks to be had.
Leaving Keswick, the road winds alongside peaceful Derwent Water, under the twisted boughs of a forest which used to spread all the way down the west coast of Britain. First stop is Ashness Gate Pier where you can take a dip or jump on the ferry to Hawes End Pier. From there you can take one of the most popular hikes in the Lake District: up to the summit of Cat Bells.
An optional dog-leg from Ashness Gate Pier takes you to the most photographed pack-horse bridge in the region then on through beguiling woodland to Surprise View and the tranquil hamlet of Watendlath.
Rejoining the loop, follow the River Derwent to 'The Land That Time Forgot'. The Borrowdale valley couldn't be accessed by road until the mid 19th century and mains electricity didn't arrive until the 1970's. You can feel the difference as you sip tea in the garden of the Langstrath Inn in Stonethwaite, surrounded by beautiful peaks, before hiking along a crystalline river climbing up past myriad waterfalls to the stunning vistas of High Raise.
If it's a day hike you're after, you can park in nearby Seathwaite for the most popular route up to England's highest peak: Scafell Pike.
From Seathwaite it's on to the dramatically situated Honister Slate Mine, the last working mine in the country. It's also the starting point for the Via Ferrata: an exhilarating protected mountain climbing route that uses metal rungs and rope bridges. Not for the faint-hearted!
Back in the car, the road snakes dramatically down the desolate Honister Pass as you learn about a legendary Viking king before arriving at the stunning twin lakes of Buttermere and Crummock Water with sleepy Buttermere Village between.
On the homeward straight, stop off at Whinlatter Visitor Centre to explore England's only mountain forest with much to do for kids (young and old) then visit Bassenthwaite Lake with its majestic Ospreys and connection to Arthurian legend.
Finally, it's back to Keswick to recharge and take stock of a magical ride!