Visiting the amazing scenery of the Lake District in an electric vehicle (EV) may be easier than you think. There’s a range of charging options, including rapid chargers at Booths supermarket in Windermere, Keswick and Penrith. There are also standard chargers that can provide charges overnight or top-ups while at car parks. And more chargepoints are being installed every month.
The Low Carbon Lake District Programme has developed a 74-mile EV Trail which starts at junction 36 of the M6 motorway and takes in many destination highlights including Windermere, Ambleside, Grasmere, Keswick, Ullswater and Penrith, before heading back onto the M6 at junction 40.
Green Car Guide has driven the EV Trail and has produced this guide to the route including some of the excellent Lake District locations that you can enjoy on the way.
The EV Trail is designed to be driven over a few days; there’s a wide variety of accommodation options ranging from hotels to B&Bs and camp sites.
The EV Trail starts at junction 36 of the M6 motorway. Head towards Windermere, but before you get there, you can find cafés, shops and charging at Staveley Mill Yard. Another café stop is available at the Windermere Jetty Museum, where you can learn about the lake’s history.
Charging: There are four Instavolt 50 kW DC chargers at Booths supermarket in Windermere, as well as four ChargeMyStreet 22 kW chargers at Staveley Mill Yard.
The village of Windermere, with its train station, cafés, restaurants, pubs and shops, sits at the east of Lake Windermere. Head down to Bowness-on-Windermere for even more of a lively social life, sailings with Windermere Lake Cruises, and the Windermere Ferry that takes you to the west of the lake and the Claife Viewing Station. There’s a walking and cycling trail on the edge of the lake that takes you to the National Trust’s Wray Castle, with a café and access to the lake.
If you head north from Windermere towards Ambleside you’ll pass the Lake District Visitor Centre at Brockhole, where there’s a café, tree-top trek, children’s adventure playground, and access to the lake.
Charging: There are four 7 kW chargepoints at Brockhole.
Ambleside sits at the north of Lake Windermere and offers cafés, restaurants, pubs and outdoor clothing shops. As you enter Ambleside you’ll pass Waterhead, where you can take sailings with Windermere Lake Cruises. As evidence that Ambleside, and the Lake District as a whole, is a year-round destination, the ‘Santa Weekend’ takes place every November in Ambleside and features Santa boarding a Ferry and switching on the Ambleside lights, followed by a firework display.
There’s a large car park in Ambleside at Miller Bridge; next to this is Rothay Park which offers a playground for kids and great views of the surrounding fells for adults. From here you can walk up Loughrigg Fell for an excellent photo opportunity of Lake Windermere, and you can carry on walking to Rydal Water, Grasmere and even Elterwater and beyond.
Charging: On the road into Ambleside there’s a 50 kW GeniePoint rapid charger at Low Fold Car Park.
The next stage of the EV Trail is Ambleside to Grasmere. En route is Rydal Water, which has a footpath around the lake, and which offers amazing views all year round. You can also walk on the north side of Rydal Water from Rydal to Grasmere on the ‘Coffin Route’, so named because it was traditionally used to carry the dead from Rydal and Ambleside for a Christian burial at St Oswald’s Church in Grasmere.
Grasmere lies next to Rydal Water and is equally picturesque. The historic village of Grasmere has a range of gift shops and traditional tea shops offering a mouth-watering variety of cakes, and there’s even Grasmere Gingerbread®. Grasmere is perhaps most famous for being home to William Wordsworth (1770-1850), who lived in Dove Cottage from 1799-1808. There is a tombstone for Wordsworth in the churchyard of St Oswald’s Church.
Head north out of Grasmere on the A591 to Keswick and you’ll pass Thirlmere to the west and Helvellyn to the east. Keswick sits on the north side of Derwent Water and seems to have even more outdoor equipment shops than Ambleside – probably because it’s surrounded by fells including Catbells, Skiddaw and Blencathra.
Charging: There are four Instavolt 50 kW rapid chargepoints at Booths supermarket in Keswick.
Whinlatter Forest is a short drive west of Keswick and is England’s only mountain forest, offering excellent views of the surrounding peaks such as Skiddaw. Bike hire is available on site to enjoy the many mountain biking trails on offer; there are also walking paths, such as the Gruffalo Trail, adventure activities including a children’s playground, and an onsite café. Tramper hire is available to explore some of the accessible trails.
If you park in Keswick it’s a short walk to Castlerigg Stone Circle, set amongst the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat, and which dates back to around 3000 BC, making it one of the earliest British stone circles. To the north of Castlerigg, running east from Keswick, and alongside the River Greta, is the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Trail, an accessible ‘walking/cycling’ route, that follows in the path of the old Keswick to Penrith Railway.
From Keswick, the Honister Rambler is a great way to transfer up and down the Honister Pass. At the top is the Honister Slate Mine; England’s last working slate mine, Honister still produces Westmorland Green slate that dates back over 450 million years, and offers guided mine tours, the Via Ferrata, Cliff Camping, Climb the Mine and Canyoning. There’s also the Borrowdale valley nearby, with the Bowder Stone which is 30 feet high, 50 feet wide, and estimated to weigh 2,000 tonnes!
Ullswater is wilder and quieter than many of the region’s other destinations. You can see the lake from Ullswater ‘Steamers’, and you can stop off for sights such as Aira Force waterfall. There’s also the Ullswater Way, a 20-mile walk around the lake. Dalemain Mansion & Historic Gardens, famous for its marmalade ginger cake and World Marmalade Awards, has a shop and tearoom.
Charging: There’s a 7 kW charger at the Lake District National Park car park at Glenridding.
Penrith is a market town with its own castle. Nearby is the Rheged heritage centre, with a cinema, indoor play area, gallery, shops and chargepoints. To the south of Penrith is Lowther Castle, offering bike hire and one of the country’s largest adventure playgrounds.
Charging: There are two rapid 50 kW Instavolt chargepoints at Booths in Penrith and two rapid 50 kW GRIDSERVE charge points at Rheged.
After Penrith and all the other adventures in the Lakes, if you still want to go home you can head back to the M6 via junction 40.
This review of the Lake District EV Trail has been produced by Paul Clarke, Editor of Green Car Guide, in association with the Low Carbon Lake District Programme.
For more information about the Lake District EV Trail visit:
The Low Carbon Lake District initiative is a comprehensive programme to help tackle climate change in the National Park, working in partnership with local businesses and communities to reduce greenhouse gases and prepare for the impacts of climate change. Led by the Lake District National Park Authority, other key partners include the Lake District Foundation, the National Trust, South Lakeland District Council (now Westmorland Furness Council) and Cumbria Tourism.
Low Carbon Lake District has received funding from the England European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Work and Pensions (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) are the Managing Authorities for European Regional Development Fund and European Social Fund funding through the Growth Programme, funds established by the European Union to help local areas stimulate their economic development. By investing in projects the funds will help to support innovation, businesses, skills and employment to improve local growth and create jobs. Visit: https://www.gov.uk/europeangrowth-funding.
This Lake District EV Trail Guide has been produced in partnership with Zapmap: