8. Lake District: Half-Day 8 Lakes Afternoon Tour
Your afternoon starts with a climb, all the way up to the Kirkstone Inn, the highest inhabited building in the Lake District, for a stop to take in the views back down the valley right the way down to Lake Windermere. This once important coaching inn sits almost at the summit of the Lake District's highest pass that is open to motor traffic. From here the road plunges down into the Kirkstone Pass properly with the valley walls rising up steeply on either side on to the viewpoint for a photo stop of the ribbon of road as it descends down to Brothers Water. The thin strip of road winds past the lake, down to the Ullswater Valley and on to the charming and popular village of Patterdale. The only other village in this valley is Glenridding and it is here that you get your first glimpse of the National Park's second largest lake, Ullswater. You follow the road along the western shore of the vast and sparkling lake.
You then head north towards Keswick. Your next stop is at one of the most spectacularly located Neolithic stone circles anywhere, Castlerigg. Castlerigg Stone Circle stands on a superb natural plateau commanding a superb 360 degree view over the surrounding fells. Made up of 38 free standing stones, some up to 3 metres (10 feet) high, it is one of Britain's earliest stone circles dating back to the Neolithic period 4000 to 5000 years ago. A short stop here before you head onwards to the shores of Derwentwater.
Your journey now takes you along the eastern shores of Derwentwater. Driving along the woodedshore of the lake, the road suddenly forks off and you climb up a narrow, steep track into the wooded fell side. Suddenly, the trees clear and your next destination, Ashness Bridge appears. Ashness Bridge is the most photographed bridge in the Lake District. You will then be taken further up the fell to another well-known beauty spot, the Surprise View: you have an uninterrupted view across Derwent Water to Bassenthwaite.
You head back along the shores of Derwentwater and start to head back down towards Ambleside. On the way you will pass Thirlmere, a man-made reservoir. You then head back along the mountain pass of Dunmail Raise. This is also the name of a large cairn which stands on the top of the pass. Legend has it that Dunmail, the last king of Cumberland, is buried beneath the cairn. Now the road drops steadily down from the fells and before long, you drive along the shores of Grasmere, your seventh lake. The road winds along the shore until you come to Rydal Water, your eighth and final lake.