Lake Windermere
Lake Windermere
NEW FOR 2019

Steam in the Lake District with Country Living

The haunting, evocative sound of steam whistles still echo round the hills and dales of the English Lake District. Whether it’s the full size steam engines on the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway, the small but powerful narrow-gauge locomotives of the Ravenglass and Eskdale or the elegant steam yacht Gondola slipping across the calm waters of Coniston, there is steam aplenty in this most beautiful corner of England.

There’s a whiff of romance in the air at our first visit as we call in at Carnforth Station, the location for David Lean’s classic film Brief Encounter, before we continue to our luxurious 4-star country house hotel on the shores of Lake Windermere.

We spend the next day on and around Lake Windermere, as we see a unique collection of historic steamboats, cruise on the lake and take a nostalgic trip on the standard gauge Lakeside and Haverthwaite heritage railway.

The following day we travel into the hills once frequented by Roman soldiers aboard the little trains of the Ravenglass and Eskdale narrow-gauge railway, a highly scenic journey. The afternoon sees us at Coniston Water where we board the lovingly preserved steam yacht Gondola and cross to Brantwood House, the former home of critic and artist John Ruskin.

Our return journey is broken with a visit to the fascinating Anderton Boat Lift, a marvel of Victorian engineering, where we enjoy another boat trip before returning to our original departure points.

What's included?

  • Accommodation
  • Services of a professional tour manager
  • Comfortable coach travel throughout
  • Meals - as per the itinerary
  • Train travel

Today's Price

Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £285

Tour highlights:

  • Romance and nostalgia in the tea room at Carnforth
  • Historic steamboats and motorboats at Windermere
  • Two steam-hauled train journeys
  • Boat trips on Windermere, Coniston and the River Weaver

Tour details

Dates 4 October 2019 - 7 October 2019
Duration 4 days
Today's Price
Deposit: £100 Single supplement: £285 Balance due by 12 July 2019
Activity Level
Tour code BWSCL19A

Departure Points

Location Depart Return
Tothill St, Westminster
0730 2030
Luton Parkway
Railway Station
0900 1900
Railway Station
1000 1800
Victoria Square
1130 1630
Railway Station
1230 1530
Railway Station
1300 1430

Please note pick-up points are subject to minimum numbers and all timings are approximate and may be changed. They will be confirmed when the joining instructions are sent out, approximately ten days prior to departure.

It is also possible to join and leave this tour at Crewe Railway Station - quotations for rail connections available on request. Passengers from Scotland may also join the tour at Carnforth Railway Station and leave at Crewe.

Call for availability

4 October 2019: Itinerary

Depart by coach from our pick-up points in London, Luton, Northampton, Birmingham and Crewe (connecting rail travel to/from Crewe can be arranged on request). Our first visit is to Carnforth Station Heritage Centre where the original LMS station has been restored to its 1940s glory. The station was used as the location for David Leans’s 1945 film Brief Encounter with filming taking place at night so as not to interfere with daytime train operations. As well as an exhibition on the film, there is a growing collection of railway memorabilia and artefacts relating to the days of steam and a small museum. You can also have a cup of tea (“the sugar’s in the spoon”) in the Brief Encounter Refreshment Room which has been faithfully restored to resemble the film set where Laura and Alec first meet.

We continue to the 4-star Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa at Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District. The hotel is set on the shore of Lake Windermere itself with unrivalled views over mature lawns to private jetties and moorings on the lake. Guests enjoy free use of the leisure facilities during their stay, which include a 20-metre heated pool, thermal suite and gym. Dinner will be served in the evening.

Meals include: Dinner

Hotel: Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

Today, following breakfast, we travel the short distance to the Windermere Jetty, a spectacular new museum that showcases the sights, smells and sounds of life on the lake. Steam launches, sailing yachts, motor boats and record-breaking speed boats are exhibited in the boathouse, on the water, and in exhibition galleries, while at the live conservation workshop we can see the collection of historic boats as they are painstakingly restored. We will hear tales of workers and boat owners, their lives and adventures, and discover the fascinating developments in design and technology that drove boat-building in the Lake District.

After an opportunity for lunch (not included) in Bowness-on-Windermere we board one of the characterful lake ‘steamers’ for a cruise from Bowness to Lakeside, enjoying the views from this, the largest lake in England. On arrival at the Lakeside terminus we board a train of BR Mark I coaches in 1950s livery for a trip on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, a short section of preserved railway line, operated by steam engines whenever possible, which provides some gentle nostalgia for the pre-Beeching days of old.

We return to our hotel, where dinner is served in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

After breakfast this morning we travel round the Cumbrian coast to Ravenglass, the starting point for our journey on a narrow-gauge railway that was originally built in 1875 to transport iron ore from mines around Boot down to the main line. When the mines closed the line fell into disuse before being re-gauged in 1917 by two well-known model makers, who ran trains hauled by scale-model steam engines. Closure threatened again in 1960 but locals and railway enthusiasts formed the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway Preservation Society to save the line and it continues to run with the backing of the society, using 1/3 scale models of mainline steam and diesel locomotives. The scenic route takes us through woodland and up into the hills, passing through a sequence of little stations to the terminus at Dalegarth, where there is a café and gift shop which we can browse while the locomotive is turned. If there’s a hint of ‘Thomas the Tank Engine’ about this delightful railway it’s no co-incidence – author Rev W Awdry wrote a couple of stories in the series based on his experiences here. On our return to Ravenglass there will be time for lunch (not included) and a look round the museum.

This afternoon we take to the water once again, this time on Coniston, the third-largest of the lakes here. We board the elegant Victorian steam launch “Gondola”, an excellent way to enjoy the breath-taking scenery on our way to the house & gardens at Brantwood.  Home of the late John Ruskin, Brantwood House was largely conceived as a “living laboratory” for social and environmental issues, each incorporating a careful, aesthetic mix of seemingly natural effects embellished by man. The “Hortus Inclusus” – a medieval-style garden, contains an extensive collection of British native herbs.  Behind the house over 270 different British hardy ferns thrive beneath the tall oaks of the Linton Fern Garden.  Closer to the house is the Professor’s Garden, Ruskin’s cottage garden experiment, which has been restored in the spirit of its creator. A selection of herbs, cottage flowers and 19th century varieties of fruit thrive in this small plot. 

Dinner is served in the evening back at our hotel.

Meals include: Breakfast, Dinner

Hotel: Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa

Following breakfast we check out of the hotel and begin our homeward journey, with time for one more visit en route. The magnificent Anderton Boat Lift is a 19th century equivalent of the Falkirk Wheel in that it provides a vertical link between two waterways. Our visit includes a boat trip along the Weaver Navigation as well as an ascent (or descent, depending on the time of the trip) on the Lift itself. After these trips there will be time to look at the special exhibition centre describing the lift and its restoration.

We then continue to our original departure points, beginning with Crewe Railway Station for those with rail connections and arriving back in London in the evening.

Meals include: Breakfast

4 October 2019: Additional Info

4 October 2019: Accommodation

On the shores of Lake Windermere, Macdonald Old England Hotel & Spa has an award-winning restaurant, a beauty spa and scenic views. Windermere centre is a 20-minute walk away. Surcharge valet parking is available on site.

The rooms at Old England Hotel each have a flat-screen TV and tea/coffee facilities with mineral water. The bathrooms feature fluffy robes and free toiletries, and some rooms have lake views.

With 2 AA Rosettes, the restaurant serves a modern menu featuring quality local produce and organic ingredients. Terrace Bar and Lounge offer light meals and traditional afternoon teas.

The modern leisure centre features a fully equipped gym and 20 yards swimming pool. Guests can relax in the ice room, sauna or aroma steam room, and try indulgent treatments in the beauty salon.

In Bowness-on-Windermere, the Macdonald Old England Hotel is set in mature gardens, and has its own private boat moorings. Beatrix Potter Exhibition is 200 yards away.

4 October 2019: Enquiries

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