How to get to Cumbria and the Lake District

See coronavirus updates

The county of Cumbria, which contains the Lake District National Park, part of the Yorkshire Dales National Park, the Eden Valley and part of the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is in northern England, and is easily accessible by train, road, air or sea.


Getting to Cumbria and the Lake District by Train

The UK has an excellent railway network including both an east coast and west coast main line rail service running from London to Edinburgh and Glasgow.


The West Coast Main Line runs from London though Preston to 3 stations in Cumbria –
Carlisle, Penrith and Oxenholme.


There is a connecting service from Oxenholme to Kendal and Windermere.


The famous Carlisle and Settle Railway brings you to a variety of stations in Cumbria from its starting station at Leeds.


There is a route from Newcastle to Carlisle – roughly following the route of Hadrian’s Wall, and a slow but scenic route up the west coast from Lancaster and Carnforth, through Barrow, Whitehaven, Workington and on to Carlisle.


The following network railways operate in Cumbria:


Carlisle and Settle Line Carlisle,
Kirkby Stephen,
Hellifield,and stations to Leeds.

West Coast Main Line Carlisle,
Oxenholme (& to the midlands, the south, & Glasgow)

Cumbrian Coast Line All stations from Carlisle to Barrow along the coast via Maryport, Workington, Whitehaven, Sellafield,
Millom and Foxfield,Continues to Carnforth via Ulverston, Grange-Over-Sands and

The Lakes Line Oxenholme,
Burneside, Staveley,

Tyne Valley Line Carlisle,
and stations to Newcastle.


Typical journey times by train to Penrith (approximate centre of Cumbria) from:

  • London – about 3.5 hours
  • Birmingham – about 2.5 hours
  • Manchester – about 2 hours
  • Newcastle – about 2.5 hours
  • Glasgow – about 1.5 hours

Getting to Cumbria and the Lake District by Road

By Car


The UK’s network of motorways, and other major roads means that Cumbria can easily be reached by car.


The M6 motorway (from London to Glasgow) travels north through the centre of Cumbria – with junction 36 near Kendal, junction 40 at Penrith and junctions 42-44 at Carlisle.


The A66 trunk route is the main way through Cumbria from East to West, from Scotch Corner to Workington, passing Brough, Temple Sowerby, Penrith, Keswick, and Cockermouth.


The AA Magazine has chosen the winding A686 road from Penrith in Cumbria to Corbridge in Northumberland, as one of their ‘Ten Great Drives’.


Some of the roads in the more popular locations in the Lake District can get congested at busy times, and some of the roads are quite narrow, winding and steep. Beware of the passes listed below! Don’t even think of taking a caravan or articulated lorry over Hard Knott Pass – you will get stuck!


See Roads and Passes for more information.


Typical journey times by car to Penrith (approximate centre of Cumbria) from:

  • London – about 5 hours
  • Birmingham – about 3 hours
  • Manchester – about 2 hours
  • Newcastle – about 1.5 hours
  • Glasgow – about 2 hours

See AA Route Planner, or Google Maps for maps and directions.


By Coach


Scheduled coach services run throughout Britain including to Cumbria and the Lake District.


Although slower it is cheaper than rail and has the advantage of being a ‘door to door’ service in relative comfort.


There is a National Express coach service from London Victoria, via Birmingham and Preston, though Cumbria – Kendal, Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, Keswick, Cockermouth, Workington and Whitehaven.


For coach and bus information and to book – see National Express link below.


Getting to Cumbria and the Lake District by Air

The Lake District is served by a number of airports however Manchester is the most convenient airport to fly into for quick access the Lakes.


There is a train service from Manchester airport along the West Coast Main line to Oxenholme, Penrith and Carlisle. Newcastle, Glasgow and Liverpool are all within easy driving distance in your hired car (try Rhino Car Hire)

Airport links

Getting to Cumbria and the Lake District by Sea

There are ferries from Belfast and the Isle of Man to Lancaster (Heysham); Belfast and Dublin to Liverpool or Holyhead, and Northern Europe to Newcastle (North Shields) and Hull.


Road and rail networks link these ports with Cumbria and the Lake District.


For more information see Ferry Crossings.


Related Pages :