Road Trips With Avis: Lake District
Lake District - Water world
Enjoy the rocky romance of England's Lake District with an Avis road tripHills and valleys on an epic scale combine with weather to match. Come rain or shine, you can't help but fall in love in the Lake District ...
Test drive this two-day tour for the best of the Lake District
Pick up your Avis hire car from Newcastle-upon-Tyne and head south on the A19 road to the super-stylish Seaham Hall hotel and spa. Take a stress-free drive on the A1M and A66 to Barnard Castle, passing through lush moorland on your way to the Lake District. Go through the steep Kirkstone Pass, known locally as 'The Struggle', to reach the grey stone cottages of cutesy Ambleside, on the banks of Lake Windermere.
Park in a lay-by before the road plunges down into the town and look back at the grey of the asphalt weaving its way between green hillsides. From Ambleside, follow the B5385, which twists and turns its way to Coniston, then head back to Newcastle via the A595 and A69, stopping off at Birdoswald Roman Fort and the 2000 year-old village of Haltwhistle and along the way. It's a quick drive east along the A69 to drop-off your Avis hire car back in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
High points en routeSeaham Hall Spa – Relaxing rub-down
Reaching Seaham Hall’s Serenity Spa is an event in itself. You make your way along a boardwalk suspended over water, through a soothingly-lit tunnel. Inside the Oriental-style treatment rooms, choose the colour of the lights to match your mood.
Lake Windermere – Messing about in boats
Whether you've sailed before or not, you can still admire Lake Windermere from the water. Low Wood Watersports Centre, just a short drive along the road from Ambleside, will take you out for half a day's sailing for less than £50. Or take in the waterfront manor houses and marinas on boat trips between Ambleside, Bowness and Lakeside.
Coniston Water – Speed of sound
This five-mile stretch of black water is where Boy's Own-style hero Donald Campbell set many of his water speed records in the 1960s, aboard jet-powered Bluebird. His luck ran out in January 1967, with a fatal crash. There's a museum in the town which tells the tragic story. Stop for lunch at The Sun Hotel, where Campbell used to stay.
Birdoswald Roman Fort – Time travel
You can still see the three gateways to this former Roman fort. After the Romans abandoned it, it's thought to have been occupied by a local chieftain in the 4th century. The fort and the adjoining stretch of Hadrian’s Wall have spectacular views over the rugged local countryside – a beautiful and unspoilt area to motor around.
Hadrian's Wall, Haltwhistle – Cycle in Middle England
Right beside the River South Tyne, Haltwhistle is the closest town to the central section of Hadrian's Wall, a World Heritage Site. Admire the red-roofed, timber-beamed cottages and then head off to the Northumberland National Park, just a couple of miles away.
Free time on your hands? Take your pick from the following gems1. Trentside – Divine dining
Restaurant Sat Bains is a deliciously decorated, Michelin-starred eatery on the banks of the River Trent. Leave plenty of time for the nine-course degustation menu, with mouth-watering dishes like duck egg served at 62 degrees centigrade (exactly) or slow-cooked Dexter beef. There's even a bed handy if you go too far.
2. Chatsworth House – Treasures, inside and out
The unusual private art collection at Chatsworth House covers 4000 years and features pieces as diverse as a giant ancient Greek marble foot and the titanium fan of a Rolls Royce jet engine. Outside, admire the fountains and the 24-step water cascade, while the yew maze at the heart of the garden should keep you on your toes.
3. Clipstone – Wild woods
Park the car and try some off-road biking at Sherwood Pines Forest Park, in the heart of the historic Sherwood Forest. There are routes for bikers of all levels, but for a true thrill-seeking experience, have a go at the 'dual descender' course. Taking its inspiration from Alpine slalom skiing, it features side-by-side tracks over a kilometre of hairy terrain, complete with treacherous jumps and bends.
4. Stratford upon Avon – Bard's birthplace
After all that running about, it's time for a spot of local culture. Where better to take in a Shakespeare play than at The Swan, in the Bard's home town? This atmospheric galleried playhouse, built inside the shell of the original Shakespeare Memorial Theatre on the banks of the River Avon, is a Mecca for theatre aficionados.
5. Idlicote – Relaxing retreat
Relax and forget about city life at Idlicote House. This elegant Georgian mansion sits in a stunning rural setting, providing beautiful accommodation oozing with character for the Cotswold traveller. Each of the stylish and spacious rooms offers views of the garden and surrounding countryside – the perfect place to stretch your legs, if you really want to get out of bed ...