Number 555 Lancaster – KeswickLancaster - Kendal - Windermere & Bowness - Grasmere - Keswick
The 555 is possibly one of the most renowned scenic bus routes in the UK. It penetrates the very heart of the Lake District.
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6 places to visitView journey Attractions
1 hour 34 minutes
Lancaster bus stationHow to get here
The play Ladies That Bus was written by Joyce Branagh and based on 400 interviews with customers on the 555 route.
The 555 is possibly one of the most renowned scenic bus routes in the UK. It penetrates the very heart of the Lake District. For those who might not have the time to fully explore this incredible region, a trip on the 555 provides the most essential insight of the sights and life in the Lake District. Or for those who really are on a whistle-stop tour and are just looking for a glimpse of the Lake District, but an unforgettable one, then the 599 open top bus which covers the main scenic part of the 555 route between Bowness and Grasmere is a fabulous, ‘bite-sized-chunk’ alternative, taking only 50 minutes and with a lovely commentary and of course, the opportunity to hop on and off. It’s a great introduction to the Lake District, with a taste of everything, including the idyllic Bowness and Ambleside piers, stunning views of Windermere, the Langdale Pikes as well as great walks, heritage and some fab shops, restaurants and cafes, as well as the opportunity to go one-way by bus and return on a cruise down Lake Windermere.
If it’s the longer sojourn that tickles your fancy then the 555 is the bus for you and it starts in Lancaster with its great connections from the mainline railway between London-North West and Scotland. However, the service can also be picked up at Kendal, (accessible by Northern Trains) and that’s when the already fab scenery really notches up a gear as the bus arrives in the quaint village of Windermere with its connections onto the iconic boat trips down to Bowness and Windermere lake.
The 555 travels alongside the edge of the lake and through the trees, there can be jaw-dropping, tantalising views of the paradisical lakeside setting. Passing the Lake District National Park Visitor Centre at Brockole, it arrives at Waterhead with its unbelievable views of the Langdale valley mountains. Ambleside then follows before the bus twists and turns through beautiful Rydal Park as the views of Rydal Water give way to Grasmere Lake and vale.
Then it’s a slow clim up over Dunmail Raise and a descent along the woodland through Thirlmere, passing the lake and with the incredible views of Blencartha, which are truly awesome, so too the areas of fells crowding above Derwent Water. The delights of Keswick await – a quintessentially Lake District village, with its museum, shops, cafes and watersports on offer. It’s the ultimate denouement to the ultimate and unforgettable journey.
A Fab Day Out!
Shortly before you arrive in Keswick, you are treated to an awesome sight – the fabulous areas of fells crowding above Derwent Water; this is Lakeland supreme.
From Waterhead you can take a trip on a Windermere Lake Cruise or hire a rowing boat. Almost immediately after Waterhead you arrive in Ambleside, a busy little town with a wide array of outdoor clothing shops as well as various attractions, such as Bridge House, Adrian Sankey Glass Makers, and a cinema.
After Ambleside, the bus winds its way through idyllic Rydal Park, passing Rydal Water and soon Grasmere lake and vale appear. The quaint village of Grasmere is famed for its connections with the poet William Wordsworth and here you can visit his home and a museum dedicated to his life.
Upon leaving Grasmere, the bus steadily climbs up over Dunmail Raise and then drops down along the wooded slopes of Thirlmere. Once the lake is passed, the walled fields reappear, and marvellous views return with the towering ridge of Blencathra in the distance.
Stopping off at Windermere is ideal for a browse round the shops or just to relax and gaze out at the lake, soaking up the atmosphere. Or, one of the hour long return trips on the Lake are hugely recommended, potentially all the way to Grasmere to pick up the 555 again. Boats can also be hired at Windermere or a range of watersports enjoyed. There’s also the World of Beatrix Potter Attraction which is a fascinating family attraction that brings to life the author’s enchanting tales in the heart of the Lake District landscape, including the delightful Peter Rabbit Garden.
The bus continues to Ambleside and the exhilarating Stock Ghyll Force Waterfall, which is a short and well-sign posted walk from the village. The waterfall is a 70m, spectacular drop, surrounded by trees and in spring time a beautiful carpet of daffodils. There’s also the Armitt Museum in Ambleside, showcasing the history and heritage of the Lake District.
Back on the bus and this time as far as Rydal and the famous Lakeland beauty spot of Rydal Caves which is a large cavern on the north side of Loughrigg Fell, above Rydal Water. Remember to take a torch so you can see where you are going when you take the stepping stones through the narrow and dark lake!
After this great adventure at Rydal, the bus arrives languidly at Grasmere where a visit to Dove Cottage and Wordsworth Museum is a real treat. Dove Cottage was poet Wordsworth’s home from 1799 t0 1808 and the inspiration for some of his most famous journals. No trip to the Lake District would be complete though without a visit to the site of Victorian cook Sarah Nelson’s creation in 1854 of the world renowned Grasmere Gingerbread and it’s here where visitors can gorge on the delightful aroma and then purchase and devour this fantastic culinary delight in the shop run by third-generation owners Joanne and Andrew Hunter. The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop also sells its own award-winning rum butter and a range of ginger-themes food – from toffees to fudges, chocolates to conserves!
With tastebuds sated, it’s one final sojourn on the 555 to Keswick, with its array of shops and brands of mountaineering and hiking clothes and equipment, as well as Cornish pasties, crazy golf, fabulous market and Keswick Museum which provides a fascinating insight into the social and industrial heritage of this great town. For those planning maybe an overnight or longer stay, there are also some amazing walks, including a 2-3 hour return trip climb up Latrigg with jaw-dropping views at the summit over Keswick, Derwentwater and nearby fells.