As the summer fades away and the crowds disperse, Autumn is a wonderful time to explore the ever scenic Lake District. There is still a bit of warmth in the sunshine which also hugely enhances the wonderful autumn colours as they slowly appear through October and November. It is well worth a trip just to see this colourful spectacle against the backdrop of the lakes, although this time of year is also well known for its storms which can dump most of the leaves on the floor in a matter of hours!
No doubt the Lake District remains one of the most popular places to visit in the country and despite everything else that is going on in the world at the moment the beautiful scenery is always there to warm the heart. There are still issues with local staff shortages meaning some venues struggle to stay open or perhaps buses are cancelled more regularly but if you can manage a Lake District Drive then it seems the perfect tonic to get out and enjoy this fantastic area.
There is one notable ongoing set of roadworks in the area which last most of the autumn and significantly affect the Ambleside-Keswick-Ullswater drive and the Ultimate drive. This is on the A592 around Glenridding and Ullswater. Moving steadily northwards but often closing that road especially through the week between 8am and 5pm. I believe it is passable outside those hours and weekends and October half term. The alternative diversion is long winded indeed, basically heading back the way you came to Keswick and then southwards to Ambleside. Hopefully it will not affect those drives after 18th November, further details here.
Those roadworks have also forced me to suspend my Ambleside-Keswick-Ullswater audio drive but my new Windermere-Coniston-Hawkshead audio drive can still be done and I would highly recommend it to learn all about the area, its history, culture, Beatrix Potter and even some spooky stories!
Another drive I would recommend at this time of year to discover a quieter part of the Lake District with wonderful open roads, attractions and autumn colours is the Keswick-Bassenthwaite-Caldbeck drive. This explores the northern extremities of the National Park by doing a loop around the Skiddaw mountain range, a beautiful area often overlooked by visitors. Starting in Keswick, the capital of the north Lakes, you will find a good selection of shops, pubs, cafes and attractions in the town and some fabulous lake and mountain scenery around Derwent Water where you can also take a cruise on the lake. The drive heads northwards from Keswick and soon arrives at the 17th century Mirehouse with its interesting mansion house and lovely grounds extending down to Bassenthwaite Lake. Technically this is the only ‘lake’ in the Lake District, the others are all called ‘water’ or ‘mere’! On the opposite side of the road is Dodd Wood where you can walk upwards through attractive forest and you might see rare red squirrels, although the famous local Ospreys have now disappeared for the winter. At the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake it is worth a detour to the Lake District Wildlife Park, the only attraction of its kind in north Cumbria and a treat for the whole family.
From here a minor road heads steadily upwards through the village of Uldale to the lofty heights of Uldale Common with spectacular surrounding views, including the ‘Back o’ Skiddaw’ fells. Then descend to the picturesque and historic village of Caldbeck, the most northerly village in the National Park and one of the most remote. Not far beyond is another attractive village at Hesket Newmarket before the road climbs and opens out again onto Caldbeck Common, again with wonderful surrounding views. Beyond here there is a short detour up beautiful Mosedale, which must be one of the most secluded valleys in the Lake District, before heading through Mungrisdale village and following the interestingly named River Glenderamackin to the main A66. As you head back towards Keswick you can see the mighty Blencathra mountain and its Saddleback in all its glory before a detour to the quirky Threlkeld Quarry & Mining Museum where you can learn all about local quarrying and mining and have a ride on a small train around the historic machinery. Not too far beyond here is the impressive prehistoric Castlerigg Stone Circle with its magnificent surrounding views. Finally, it is a short trip down the hill back to Keswick where you can finish off the day with a well earned meal at one of the many local eateries.
Hope you can enjoy a Lake District autumn!