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Explore the northern reaches of the English Lake District World Heritage Site with Stagecoach 

13 Dec 2019

Guest blog by the Lake District National Park  300x300

The X4/X5 route between Penrith and Workington offers plenty of opportunities to explore the Lakes' World Heritage stories - how people have shaped the landscape over the course of 1000 years, how these beloved landscapes have in turn shaped how people enjoy and emotionally connect to them, and how the Lake District is the birthplace of landscape conservation, all of which have had an impact across the globe. 

The X4/X5 buses connect Workington, Bridgefoot, High Brigham and Cockermouth, though it is just past the latter that you'll enter the World Heritage Site. 


Download the  X4/X5 timetable


See below for some heritage hotspots along the X4/X5 route towards Penrith:

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1. Embleton 

Looking out of the bus southwards, you'll see the Lorton fells, quite possibly dotted with flocks of hefted sheep, typical of the Lake District's traditional upland farming heritage that stretches back for 1000 years.

Looking out to the North, there are fields at Blindcrake that date back to medieval times and still show their fossilised open strip pattern. Isel Hall nearby was a defended Pele tower and dates back to 14th century. 

2. Brathay Hill  Alight here to wander up to Armathwaite Hall, a mid 19th century mansion, now a hotel and a great spot for afternoon tea with its viewing across Bassenthwaite. Explore further to visit the Lakes Distillery, to take a tour, have a wee dram and learn about how 21st century industry uses the natural resources of the Lake District. 


(X4 only)

Get off at Mirehouse and Dodd Wood. The former is a private mansion and gardens that are open to the public dating back to 1666. The latter is a great place to walk through trees and for spotting local wildlife such as red squirrels and ospreys.  


(X5 only)

Jump off here to walk up to Whinlatter Forest. It is a 2.5 mile walk to England's only true mountain forest. Spot wildlife, walk through the forest or hire bikes to explore the variety of bike routes.  


(X5 only)

Hop off here to explore the Lake District's industrial heritage. The Lake District has a wealth of minerals and stones that have been exploited since Neolithic times. It was during the Elizabethan period that extraction became industrial and the north Lakes was at the heart of this.

Head up Coledale to reach Force Crag Mine which was the last working mine in the Lake District, closing in 1991. Force Crag was mined for lead in the 1800s and latterly for barites and zinc. It is not a scheduled monument and is looked after by the National Trust. The mine has five open days a year but has old buildings and machinery visible all year round.

6.  Keswick 

There are plenty World Heritage stories to explore from Keswick. Wander down to the Lake and see the official World Heritage plaque at Crow Park. Keep going down to the lakeshore for the breath-taking view south of the 'Jaws of Borrowdale'. This view played a crucial role, inspiring painters and etchers in the 18th century, whose works went on to inspire the first tourists to come to the Lakes, to enjoy the same landscapes you enjoy today.

Walk past the Theatre by the Lake along the Derwent Water foreshore, and you'll be able to spy Derwent Isle House on the island in front of you, a classic example of the villas that dot the water, built by early investors. Though private it is occasionally open to the public by canoe. 

Keep going to see the John Ruskin memorial. Ruskin was a thinker way ahead of his times; his thoughts on fine art, social reform and conservation influenced later activists like Canon Rawnsley, one of the founders of the National Trust. 

Head all the way to Friar's Crag; it is the site of one of those 18th century viewing stations and was thought by Ruskin to be one of Europe's top three views. 

7.  Threlkeld  Want to see what it was like to work underground? Then get off at Threlkeld and carefully cross the A66, heading south for the Threlkeld Quarrying & Mining Museum, where you can learn all about the Lake District's rich heritage of mineral and stone extraction. Why not follow the path of the old Threlkeld to Keswick Railway and walk back to Keswick along the line that used to see the movement of ore back and forth.  
8.  Troutbeck Hotel  On the north side of the A66, there are five Roman settlements at Troutbeck; three matching camps, one fort and a smaller fortlet, located inside the fort. These were likely part of the Roman communications routes from forts at Penrith and Ambleside up to Hadrian's Wall.  
9.  Penruddock  There's a medieval/14th century Pele tower at Hutton John on the south side of the A66. Pele towers were fortified farms, built to withstand raids from the north, Barton Church Farm. 

You exit the World Heritage Site just before Stainton. The buses continue on, connecting Rheged and ending at Penrith, with it's rail links both north and south.


Explore the World Heritage further by joining up with some of our other Stagecoach routes. 

Download The Lakes by Bus brochure


Best value ticket:

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North West Exploreradult £11.50
North West Explorerchild/concession £8.50
North West Explorergroup £32.70

Feeling inspired?