- Start Keswick
- End Keswick
- Length 28 miles; three to four hours
This is one of the Lakes' most beautiful road trips, taking in the unspoilt scenery of the Borrowdale, Buttermere and Lorton Valleys. It's a perfect day trip out of Keswick.
Begin with breakfast in Keswick, then head along the B5289 into Borrowdale. First stop is Lodore Falls, a pretty cascade at the southern end of Derwentwater. Next, detour to the little hamlet of Grange-in-Borrowdale, where a trail leads up the slate-strewn sides of Castle Crag, a small fell with great views over Borrowdale.
From Grange carry on to the huge boulder known as the Bowder Stone, shifted into position by the long-gone glacier that carved out the Borrowdale Valley. Pootle on to Rosthwaite for tea and cake at the Flock In Tea-Room, or continue to Seatoller for lunch.
In the afternoon tackle the steep crawl up to Honister Pass, where you can pick up some slate souvenirs, take a tour into the depths of the old slate mine or venture out onto the hair-raising via ferrata.
From here the road drops down into the beautiful valley of Buttermere. Spot the zigzag peaks of High Stile, Haystacks and Red Pike looming on your left-hand side over the lake, stop off for a drink at the Fish Inn and remember to pay your respects to hiker and author Alfred Wainwright inside St James' Church.
Continue along the shore of Crummock Water past Loweswater, where you could make an optional but very worthwhile detour via the excellent Kirkstile Inn. When you reach Low Lorton, a right-hand turn carries you over Whinlatter Pass to Whinlatter Forest Park. The park makes a good spot for a late-afternoon stop. There's a pleasant cafe at the visitor centre, as well as informative displays on the local wildlife – look out for red squirrels frolicking in the treetops.
There are a couple of great options for dinner on your way back to Keswick, such as the Cottage in the Wood just before Braithwaite, or the traditional Pheasant Inn on the shores of Bassenthwaite Lake.