Lake District audio tour: Lake District Driving Tour: A Guide to Scenic Ambleside, Keswick and Ullswater

Lake District Driving Tour: A Guide to Scenic Ambleside, Keswick and Ullswater

Driving Tour

150 mins

About the Tour

Follow in the footsteps of the famous poet William Wordsworth on this Lake District driving tour from Ambleside, through the heart of the region to Keswick and back via Ullswater and Kirkstone Pass. You will see some of the best scenery and attractions in the National Park and I’ll share some of the area’s most important history. Along with Wordsworth and his fellow poets, you’ll also hear about feisty conservationists like John Ruskin, and I’ll tell you the story of King Dunmail and the legend of the ghostly warriors who, every year, try to reawaken their fallen king.

We’ll travel through parts of the Lake District National Park, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2017, and visit several towns and villages including the historical mining village of Glenridding, and Grasmere, made famous by Wordsworth. Of course, no Lake District tour would be complete without a few lakes to admire! I’ll show you the way to Rydal Water, Grasmere, Derwent Water, Ullswater, and Brothers Water where you can potter, paddle and picnic. You’ll also hear about the controversy surrounding Thirlmere lake, which was dammed to become a reservoir for growing industrial cities like Manchester.

Other highlights on this tour include:

• Finding out how two million sheep have helped to create the Cumbria landscape
• Learning about the ancient craft of dry stone walling and why it is still so important
• Spotting tell-tale geographic signs that glaciers encompassed this landscape during the last ice age
• Hearing about the Castlerigg stone circle established by Neolithic farming communities over 4,500 years ago
• Identifying some of the areas most majestic mountains as you meander between them
• Seeing Rydal Mount and Wordsworth’s other former homes

Our tour is around 45 miles long with magnificent lake and mountain scenery throughout. There are 15 main attractions where you can stop and learn more before deciding if you want to linger longer. Of course, you can also stop anywhere else along the route if you see something you like, it’s your adventure!

Refreshments and toilets are available at all the main towns and villages, additional facilities on route are also highlighted. Car park and attraction entry fees are not included in the price of this tour.

This webcam shows current weather conditions on Kirkstone Pass which is the highest point of the tour.

Tour Producer


Martin Wilson

Hi. My name is Martin Wilson, I’ve lived in and around the English Lake District for most of my life and I’m passionate about exploring the area, discovering new local places and stories as I go. Over many years I have travelled across every part of the area, always in awe of the magnificent scenery, but also discovering different attractions along the way, many of which give us fascinating insights into local history and culture. I wanted to put my local knowledge to good use so have produced a website This contains 16 different drives and visits all the best towns, villages, lakes, rivers, valleys and attractions across the Lake District and also those just outside the National Park but still in the county of Cumbria. I hope you can join me in exploring this wonderful area and discovering its stories.

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Major Landmarks

  • Ambleside

  • Rydal Mount

  • Rydal Water

  • Dove Cottage

  • Wordsworth Museum

  • Grasmere

  • Thirlmere

  • Keswick

  • Castlerigg Stone Circle

  • Aira Force Waterfall

  • Ullswater

  • Glenridding

  • Brothers Water

  • Kirkstone Pass

Directions to Starting Point

Rydal Road car park, Rydal Road, Ambleside, LA22 9AY.

The main car park for Ambleside, to the north of the town centre on the main A591, just beyond Bridge House.

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Places to stop along the way

The following two main attractions have restricted opening times as follows;
Rydal Mount - Open daily from March to October, Wednesday to Sunday in winter (closed January).
Dove Cottage - Open daily except Monday from March to October, also open daily in winter except Sunday & Monday, closed most of January.

Toilet facilities are highlighted but may be subject to closure out of season, overnight or during inclement weather.

Car parks can be busy at peak times, especially at the main towns and villages. The following website is useful for a list of available car parks and their current status. If you find an alternative car park at an attraction, bear in mind you will still need stop at the tour car park to hear the description.

Best time of day

The Lake District is beautiful any time of year! Spring is relatively quiet with new plant and animal life on show. Summer is the best weather in theory but can be busy. Autumn is relatively quiet with autumn colours on show. Winter can be stunning with snow on the mountains but bad weather can cause difficult driving conditions.

Best time of day is early morning to avoid the crowds and stand a better chance of parking.


In wintry or very wet conditions some of the roads may be impassable and it is recommended you don’t attempt the tour.


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Lake District Driving Tour: A Guide to Scenic Ambleside, Keswick and Ullswater