Lake District seasonal public transport services 2024

Spring has sprung in the Lake District with lambs and daffodils and even the odd bit of warm sunshine. One highlight for many are the new public transport timetables which normally start at Easter and run right through till the end of the October school holidays. Whatever the weather, the Lake District suddenly becomes a lot busier at Easter and many attractions also open up for the new season or increase their opening hours. Below is a summary of the main changes to each transport route for the 2024 season.

Buses

508 bus, Kirkstone Pass

The all year round bus services tend to offer more frequent buses in the summer season, but it is the seasonal bus routes that can cause more excitement with previously inaccessible places now accessible by public transport. The 2024 seasonal buses are mostly rejigged from previous years with some slight differences. One personal highlight is the reintroduction of the 525 bus from Ferry House on Windermere to Hawkshead via Hill Top. Thus providing a fabulous cross Lakes link with other transport services.

The main changes to the seasonal buses this year are as follows (check timetables for details and times):

77 Bus

Service 77C has been introduced this year and normally runs between Cockermouth and Buttermere along Lorton Vale. Previously it was known as the Buttermere shuttle bus. From 4th May to 1st September on weekends and public holidays it runs several times daily between Cockermouth and Buttermere. This year, from Easter to November, some 77C services also run between Buttermere and Keswick via Borrowdale, therefore covering much of the route that the seasonal 77 & 77A services do. I always think this 77 service is underestimated and is arguably the most scenic in the Lake District, and therefore the world! It allows access to some fabulous villages, lakes, mountains and scenery across the Borrowdale and Buttermere valleys. It seems a shame it doesn’t run through the winter as well, although Honister Pass can be treacherous in bad weather, so probably sensible not to try. All three 77 services are affectionately known as ‘The Honister Rambler’ and are a wonderful way of exploring this beautiful area.

 

Ullswater

Service 509 has been introduced and runs between Penrith, Keswick and Ullswater. There are 2 parts to this service. Part 1 runs between Penrith and Keswick, going via Lowther Castle, Pooley Bridge, northern Ullswater and Aira Force. Some of this was covered by the Ullswater shuttle bus last year and it is great to see Lowther Castle, Lowther Park and Askham linked to Penrith and Keswick as they are well worth exploring. Part 2 runs between Keswick and Patterdale via Aira Force, southern Ullswater and Glenridding. This was covered by service 73 last year and allows easy access to the upper Ullswater valley from Keswick. Both parts operate every weekend and public holiday between Easter and November with a few trips each day.

Service UB1 is an additional Ullswater service, based on last years Ullswater shuttle bus. It runs around the northern end of Ullswater, between Aira Force and Howtown via Pooley Bridge. It is mainly designed to service the many holiday parks in the area and for local walkers. It operates every weekend and public holiday between Easter and November with a few trips each day.

Hill Top house
Hill Top house

Service 525 makes a very welcome return, running from Ferry House on Windermere to Hawkshead via Hill Top and operated by Mountain Goat. This service was suspended for Covid and never returned until this year but now again forms part of a fabulous cross Lakes route between Bowness and Coniston, linking with the Windermere Ferry at Ferry House and the 505 bus service at Hawkshead. It also finally allows you to reach the ever popular Hill Top on public transport. Hill Top of course being the famous farmhouse in Near Sawrey village where Beatrix Potter used to live and work. You can also use it to access many excellent walks, including Claife Heights, Esthwaite Water and Tarn Hows. It operates daily, except Fridays, between Easter and November with regular trips each day. Also Fridays in school holidays.

Other seasonal buses include the 553 from Carlisle to Keswick via lovely Caldbeck village, the extended 508 service from Patterdale, over Kirkstone Pass to Windermere, and the fabulous Wasdale shuttle bus which allows you to access the majestic Wasdale valley from Ravenglass mainline railway station.

Boats

Steam Yacht Gondola

There are also a few additions to the all year round boats for the 2024 season as follows;
Windermere – Windermere Lake Cruises. The green cruise around the northern end of the lake visiting Waterhead (Ambleside), Wray Castle and Brockhole visitor centre. Plus the Fell Foot passenger ferry between Lakeside pier and picturesque Fell Foot Park at the southern end of the lake.
Derwent Water – Keswick Launch. Many more round the lake cruises.
Ullswater – Ullswater Steamers. Many more length of the lake cruises, plus the restart of the Aira Force shuttle between Glenridding and Aira Force waterfall.
Coniston Water – Coniston Launch. Additional cruises around the southern part of the lake.
Coniston Water – Steam Yacht Gondola. Restart of this famous and beautiful boat which offers various cruises around the lake, daily in season.

Trains

Ravenglass & Eskdale Railway

Mainline timetables remain largely unchanged but the two visitor attraction trains provide many more services daily in season. That is the Lakeside & Haverthwaite railway and the miniature Ravenglass & Eskdale railway. Both provide wonderful rides through magnificent scenery and link to other public transport and many excellent walks.

 

Of course we all want to protect our fabulous Lake District and using public transport is a significant way of doing that by reducing the amount of cars. The buses, boats and trains allow you to explore most corners of the area as well as being able to enjoy the magnificent scenery on route and not worry about the roads or parking. I hope you can enjoy some days out around the Lake District, and perhaps try one of my itineraries or town audio walking tours along the way!