With good rail and flight connections to the rest of the UK and Europe, Manchester is the ideal gateway to Northern England’s Lake District. Using the city as a springboard means that you can combine the natural beauty of the National Park with some cultural attractions in one of England’s coolest cities, which is exactly what we did.
We’ve only ever used public transport to explore the area, and when it comes to traveling between Manchester and the Lake District without your own set of wheels, you’ve got several options. Read on for the best ways to travel between the two areas.
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How to Reach England’s Lake District From Manchester
Manchester to the Lake District by Train
One of the most comfortable options to get to the Lake District is by train from Manchester’s Piccadilly Station. The problem is that the only destinations you can reach that way inside the National Park are Winderemere, Staveley and Burneside in the southernmost part of the Lake District.
Using the train is an excellent (and definitely the most scenic) transport option, if you’re planning to base yourself in Windermere at the beginning or end of your trip, but you’ll have to switch to the bus network for any destinations further north, like Grasmere or Keswick.
Luckily, Windermere’s Train and Bus Stations are right next to each other in the northern part of town. A direct Northern Line train from Manchester’s Piccadilly Station to Windermere takes about 2 hours and costs about £15.
You can check connections and book tickets on the Northern Rail Website.
Manchester to the Lake District by Bus
The Lake District has a well-developed bus network that doesn’t only help you to get around between the towns and villages of the National Park, but also connects the region to surrounding cities.
When traveling from Manchester’s Central Coach Station, you’ll have to first make your way to Lancaster by National Express Bus (about 1.5 hours), where you can board the 555 Bus (also National Express), serving key Lake District towns such as Windermere (about 1 hour 15 minutes), Ambleside (about 1.5 hours) and Keswick (about 2.5 hours).
It’s definitely the cheapest option, as England at the moment has a £2 fare cap on rides with many bus operators (including National Express), which at the time of writing is said to be extended until 2025. This also means that using the bus network inside the Lake District is also very affordable at the moment.
You can check for bus connections on this site.
Private Transfer from Manchester to the Lake District
If you prefer a private and comfortable option and don’t mind spending a little more, you could choose private transfer services from Manchester Airport to destinations in the Lake District available, including Keswick and Windermere. Have a look below for some options.
Organized Tours from Manchester to the Lake District
Finally, if you like the convenience of an organized tour with a knowledgeable guide, there are various day tours to the Lake District from Manchester available. This is a great option if you’re short on time, but still want to see a lot of the National Park’s worthwhile sights.