It’s quiet season in the Lake District but that doesn’t mean it’s any less attractive to visit. Yes, the weather can occasionally be a bit treacherous, to be fair it can be at any time of year! But if you are lucky enough to see some winter sun the conditions are often superb with snow covered mountains and bright blue sky and lakes, a colour sensation! Some attractions are closed and others have reduced opening but there’s still plenty to see and do across this beautiful area. The roads are obviously a lot quieter than in main holiday season so it should be easier to travel and also to park. You also get better views, with no leaves on trees or hedgerows, meaning you can see through them to distant scenery beyond.
If you are heading out on a drive this time of year it is worth checking the weather and road conditions in advance and there are various websites and apps which help. There are a number of specific road webcams around Cumbria showing conditions at those points. The camera on Kirkstone Pass is useful, being the highest road in the Lake District. If that is open then most roads probably are, although that does have the benefit of being on a gritter route, unlike some of the other more minor mountain passes such as Honister, Hardknott and Wrynose. You can also see which roads have been gritted in Westmorland & Furness and Cumberland council areas. ‘Cumbria Road Watch’ on Facebook is good for significant live traffic incidents and for forthcoming roadworks. Forthcoming roadworks are also listed in the local council website here, you can select today, the next 2 weeks, 3 or 12 months ahead. Sometimes roads are closed completely and diversions are highlighted. It does seem like there are more roadworks at this time of year, probably with the roads being quieter so less disruption. Utility companies are often to blame!
Personally, I always use Google maps app when planning a journey. It seems very accurate at calculating best routes and journey times, also knowing where the hold ups are, how long you might be stuck and any viable alternatives. Apparently, it knows this as it gets speed data from peoples Android phones who are travelling in their vehicles with Google maps and GPS enabled. The traffic layer gives colour codes through green, amber and red to indicate how free flowing the traffic is on roads where there is sufficient data. Although sometimes it seems a bit of amber or red might just be someone stopping by the side of the road briefly or maybe a cyclist! ‘Being watched by Google….’ as Kasabian once sang, but if you don’t mind that it is a hugely useful app!
One forthcoming roadwork worth noting is another lengthy closure of Kirkstone Pass, hopefully the last of the full closures for road safety improvements which have been ongoing intermittently for the last 18 months or so. This time it is apparently 3 weeks in March, dates to be confirmed nearer the time.
Finally, don’t forget to try one or more of my three audio driving tours which use the fabulous VoiceMap app and GPS, allowing my dulcet tones to guide you around the most popular drives in the Lake District. These are the Ambleside-Keswick-Ullswater drive, Windermere-Coniston-Hawkshead drive and the Keswick-Borrowdale-Buttermere drive. Fantastic scenery and you can learn all about the area, its interesting history, stories, culture and characters as you go.
This Lake District Drives website also contains many other drives that are all a pleasure to do at any time of the year.