Traveline (0870 608 2608; www.traveline-cumbria.co.uk) provides travel information. Tourist offices stock the free Getting Around Cumbria booklet, with timetables for buses, trains and ferries.
Windermere, Coniston Water, Ullswater and Derwent Water all offer ferry services, providing time-saving links for walkers. The Cross-Lakes Shuttle (015394-45161) runs shuttle boats and minibuses between Windermere, Esthwaite Water, Grizedale and Coniston Water; cyclists and hikers are welcome. See the Windermere & Bowness, Coniston and Keswick sections for details.
The park authorities are very keen to cut the amount of traffic that clogs up the region, especially on summer weekends, and it’s entirely possible to get around the Lakes without a car, thanks to the extensive bus network and the main rail link to Windermere. Parking can be a real headache during busy periods anyway, so you might well be thankful you left the car at home.
The main operator is Stagecoach (www.stagecoachbus.com). The Explorer ticket (1/4/7 days £8.50/19/26.50), available on the bus, gives unlimited travel on services in Cumbria. There are also Dayrider tickets to various districts in Cumbria, including Carlisle, Barrow and the West, East and Central Lakes.
Stagecoach operates several useful cross-county buses, including bus 555/556, (Lakes-Link) between Lancaster and Carlisle, which stops at all the main towns; bus 505 (Coniston Rambler), linking Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside and Coniston; and the X4/X5 from Penrith to Workington via Troutbeck, Keswick, and Cockermouth.
The free Lakesrider booklet has comprehensive timetables.
Aside from the Cumbrian Coast Line and the branch line from Oxenholme to Windermere, there are several steam railways. If you fancy a ride on a steam train, try the Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway or the Ambleside/Bowness to Haverthwaite Steam Railway.
Oh there is blessing in this gentle breeze
That blows from the green fields and from the clouds
And from the sky: it beats against my cheek,
And seems half-conscious of the joy it gives.
from The Prelude (1805)