This road trip from London to Lake District begins travels across England, soaking up the very best of northern England’s countryside, towns, and cities.
This road trip heads north to Lake Windermere in the mountainous Lake District, east through the Pennines to the historic city of Durham, and then south along the coast to the seaside town of Whitby.
From here, wind back west to Manchester with the option to explore the Howardian Hills and call in at York on the way.
The first stop on this itinerary from London to Lake District is Manchester! Home to the world’s longest-running soap - Coronation Street, a vibrant live music scene, and a number of famous museums, England’s second-biggest city have a lot to offer.
What’s more, Manchester’s bar scene is an eclectic mix of craft beer breweries and secret gin bars!
To brush up on England’s history head to the Manchester Museum where you’ll find 4,500,000 relics gathered from across the country and around the world! If you’re more of a culture vulture, check out the Manchester Art Gallery, or if you’re a football fan pay a visit to Old Trafford, the famous ground of Manchester United. Take some time to appreciate some of the city's coolest bars including Dusk Til Pawn and The Fitzgerald.
Manchester is also a great starting point for exploring the north-west of England, so make sure to research the best places to explore from Manchester before you leave.
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from our Manchester depot
Science and Industry Museum
Science museum, historical exhibits
Green oasis, urban park, farm animals
Flight Club Manchester
pizza resto, lounge bar, quirky
Blue Nile Cafe
Home-cooked Ethiopian food in cosy setting
Metrolink Radcliffe Park and Ride
Catch a metro to the centre
Giants Seat Scout Camp
Outer-city, remote camping, woodland
From London, you finally arrive in Lake District and the glorious Lake Windermere, the largest lake in England. On the east coast of the lake, tucked into Bowness Bay, sits the small town of Bowness-on Windermere; a destination popular with outdoor enthusiasts, hikers, and adventure seekers alike.
If you’re itching for a water-based adventure or a road trip through the mountains, this is the place to be.
From Bowness-on-Windermere, you can sail across Lake Windermere on a traditional steamboat, brush up on Beatrix Potter at the World of Beatrix Potter Museum, or take to the mountains on an adventure hike to Orrest Head or Brant Fell.
Other popular peaks nearby include Langdale Pikes, Pike of Blisco, and the Old Man of Coniston; all of which require a full day to tackle.
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Scrambling, abseiling, and rock-climbing adventures
Windermere lake Cruises
Rowboats, self-drive, lake excursions
Hearty British dishes, muddy boots welcomed
The Crafty Baa
Laid back, cheese and meat platters, craft beers
Broad Street Car Park
Multi-tariff parking, 5-min walk from centre
Lakeside campsite, base for exploring town
The next stop on your London to Lake District round-trip is the historic city of Durham. Both quaint and charming, Durham is packed with character, and the entire city centre is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Get ready to explore the town on foot and marvel at the famous Romanesque Durham Cathedral, 13th-century buildings, and stunning botanical gardens. While Manchester is hip and urban, Durham is full of cultural history and tradition.
Add a little variety to your road trip activities with a visit to Durham Castle, a 14th-century stronghold that today houses part of Durham University’s campus. From here head to the Oriental Museum to view archaeological finds from the Far East or, if you prefer to brush up on local history, add the Durham Heritage Centre and Museum to your to-do list.
The Living Museum of the North is also a must as this outdoor museum showcases Durham in the Georgian, Victorian, and Edwardian eras.
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High Force Waterfall
Stroll through Durham Dales to impressive waterfall
Durham University Botanical Garden
10 hectares of green, glasshouses and outdoor art
Romansque architecture worth contemplating
Pub roast and ale near cathedral
Juicy burgers in low-lit hipster joint
Durham City Park and Ride
Easy access, park and ride
Durham Grange Caravan and Motorhome Club Site
Small shop, spacious pitches, great facilities
The seaside town of Whitby has a rich maritime history and has been a popular holiday spot with Brits for centuries. It was here that Bram Stoker based his novel Dracula and Captain James Cook carried out his fishing apprenticeship.
History aside, this beach town is a fantastic spot for coastal walks, sea excursions, and fish and chips! Before you depart Whitby to return from your London to Lake district journey, consider calling at the market town of Helmsley or the Viking city of York.
Head straight down to Whitby Beach to dip your toes in the sea or simply take a walk on the sands (nearby Sandsend Beach is also glorious). From here head over to Whitby Harbour, home to bobbing fishing boats and a string of pubs, cafes, and fish & Chip shops.
Walk off your fish and chips by climbing the 199 steps from Church Lane up to St Mary’s Church; you’ll be rewarded with fantastic sea views at the top too.
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Iconic landmark and views over town
Falling Foss Tea Garden
Outdoor cafe in green garden near waterfall
The Starr Inn The Harbour
Seasonal fish and meat, fine dining
Best fish & chips, takeout and outdoor dining
Marina Back Car Park
Central location, busy
Broadings Farm Caravan Site Whitby
Sheep farm, mile from centre, 70 pichtes