Discover the delights of The English Lake District by vintage motor vessel, steam train and steam yacht on this feature-packed holiday tour to Cumbria.
Thursday 17th September
First Class rail travel to Windermere
Your holiday begins in the First-Class lounge at London Euston Station before boarding a mid-morning 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. 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 will be the MacDonald Old England Hotel & Spa located at the lakeside. You then have some leisure time to explore Bowness before dinner at your hotel in the evening. (D)
Friday 18th September
Lake Windermere cruise; Steam train on the Lakeside & Haverthwaite Railway
After breakfast 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, 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 at your hotel this evening. (B D)
Saturday 19th 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 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 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 20th 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 Grasmere, where there will be a coffee stop. Continue by coach from Grasmere to Keswick, travelling via Dunmail Raise and Thirlmere. On arrival at Keswick, you enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant before your road coach takes you on to Pooley Bridge. Here, you have an afternoon cruise on one of the celebrated Ullswater ‘Steamers’ on the second largest lake in the Lake District. Ullswater is one of the most beautiful English lakes, comparable 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 Pooley Bridge to Glenridding. You rejoin the road coach for the return journey via scenic country roads to Bowness and dinner at your hotel in the evening. (B L D)
Monday 21st 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 fellow guests at your hotel this evening – a fitting climax to a fabulous tour. (B D)
Tuesday 22nd September
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.
All prices shown are per person based on two persons sharing.
Meals included each day are shown as:
B = Breakfast - L = Lunch - D = Dinner