Discover the delights of The Cumbrian Lake District by vintage motor vessel, steam train and steam yacht on this feature-packed holiday tour.
Experience the rural serenity that makes the Lakes one of Britain’s favourite holiday destinations. Based at an elegant waterfront hotel in the resort town of Bowness-on-Windermere, you’ll enjoy cruises on vintage vessels on Lake Windermere, Coniston Water and Ullswater. Steam train highlights include a trip on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway and an exclusive day ticket exploration of the legendary 15-inch narrow gauge railway ‘La’al Ratty’. Other tour highlights include a visit to the Victorian neo-gothic Wray Castle and the Haverthwaite engine shed. With outstanding scenery as a backdrop coupled with the convenience of short point-to-point travel distances on your private road coach, you’re sure to enjoy this relaxed holiday, packed with steam transport attractions in England’s idyllic ‘Lakeland’.
Thursday 26th September
First Class rail travel to Windermere
Your adventure begins in the First-Class lounge at London Euston Station, greeted by your tour manager before boarding the 10:30 Virgin Trains Pendolino service. You’ll travel in sumptuous comfort at a top speed of 125mph along the West Coast Main Line (WCML) to Oxenholme in the Lake District. Here you change trains and take a First TransPennine Express service for the journey to Windermere. Tour participants from other parts of the country will join here. From Windermere station you’ll have a short coach transfer to the delightful village of Bowness-on-Windermere, located on the banks of Lake Windermere. Your hotel for the duration of the tour is adjacent to the boat pier at the lakeside. You then have some leisure time to explore Bowness before a group dinner at your hotel in the evening. (D)
Friday 27th September
Lake Windermere cruise; Steam train on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
After breakfast at your hotel you board the stylish vintage motor vessel ‘Swan’ for a forty-minute cruise through outstanding Cumbrian lake scenery to Lakeside at the southern end of Lake Windermere. This triple-deck ship was originally built by Vickers in 1938, and is now an iconic fixture on England’s largest lake. The lake pier is adjacent to Lakeside Railway Station and here you join a connecting steam train on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway, a former branch line of the Furness Railway (FR), originally opened in 1869. You’ll travel the entire length of the line to Haverthwaite with plenty of time to visit the impressive engine shed there, with its collection of historic steam and diesel locomotives. Crossing the footbridge to the woodland viewing and picnic area you can buy souvenirs in the gift shop and sample the delights of the licensed Station Restaurant, replete with locally sourced produce and homemade speciality dishes. In the afternoon you return by steam train to Lakeside and from there by connecting ship to Bowness. You’ll dine with fellow guests at your hotel this evening. (B D)
Saturday 28th September
Steam boat cruise on Coniston Water; Wray Castle
Today you visit Coniston Water, the third largest lake in the Lake District, for a lake-themed cruise on the superbly restored Victorian steam yacht ‘Gondola’. Originally launched in 1859 to carry railway passengers, The Illustrated London News at the time described it as: ‘a perfected combination of the Venetian gondola and the English steam yacht…the most elegant little steam vessel yet designed’. The preserved steamer is now cared for and operated by the National Trust. Following the cruise, you’ll have lunch at ‘The Sun’ in Coniston, a 400-year-old pub with exposed beams, stone walls, flagstone floors and a local Brathay slate bar top. It’s situated beneath the Cumbrian Fells and has an elevated view over the village of Coniston. Later you transfer by road coach to Ambleside for the ferry to Wray Castle, a Victorian neo-gothic building with grounds that include part of the shoreline of Lake Windermere. There will be a guided tour of the castle after which you can explore the adjacent gardens at your leisure. You return to your hotel in Bowness for dinner. (B L D)
Sunday 29th September
Scenic cruises on Lake Windermere and Ullswater
This morning you explore the northern half of Lake Windermere on board a classic motor vessel sailing from Bowness to Ambleside at the northernmost extremity of the lake. MV ‘Tern’, is a steam powered yacht built in 1891 and converted to diesel in 1956. After the 30-minute voyage to Ambleside Pier you’ll join a private road coach for the onward journey to Glenridding on Ullswater. Here you stop for lunch at the Fairlight Guest House. After lunch you’ll enjoy an afternoon cruise on one of the celebrated Ullswater ‘Steamers’ over the entire extent of the second largest lake in the Lake District. Many regard Ullswater as the most beautiful of the English lakes; it has been compared to Lake Lucerne in Switzerland because of its mountainous backdrop. You’ll see the spectacular waterfall of Aira Force, midway along the lake on the western side and cruise the length of the lake from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge and back. You rejoin the road coach for the return journey via scenic country roads to Bowness and a group dinner at your hotel in the evening. (B L D)
Monday 30th September
Steam train on the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway
A tour highlight awaits today as you travel by road coach to Ravenglass, a small coastal village with Roman connections located at the estuary of the rivers Esk, Mite and Irt. The famous 15-inch gauge Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (La’al Ratty) has its terminus adjacent to the Cumbrian Coast railway line station. The line runs for 7 miles (11.3 km) from Ravenglass to Dalegarth Station near Boot in the Eskdale Valley. You’ll be given a day rover ticket for use on the line, which operates an intensive timetable of steam and diesel trains, so you can explore at your own pace. Options include alighting at intermediate stations to film or photograph the passing trains, and it’s only a short walk from the terminus at Dalegarth to the village of Boot and its two pubs. The railway is popular for its open carriages providing superb sightlines of the surrounding scenery, but there are enclosed carriages depending on the weather. After your day on the railway you return to Windermere by road coach in the late afternoon. You dine with other guests at your hotel this evening – a fitting climax to a fabulous tour. (B D)
Tuesday 1st October
After breakfast at the hotel you transfer by road coach to Windermere Railway Station. Those passengers who joined the tour at Windermere will travel home independently, the remainder will join a train to Oxenholme Lake District for the return to London Euston again in the First-Class comfort of a Virgin Trains Pendolino. (B)
*The First Transpennine Express trains running the short distance between Oxenholme Lake District and Windermere have insufficient First Class seats to accommodate our party.
All prices shown are per person.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner