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The best National Trust gardens in Cumbria to see this spring by bus

Article written and published on: 7th May 2024

Article written by Scenic Buses

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Cumbria’s gardens.

Enjoy the daffodils, tulips, magnolia and spring blossom as plants and trees come back to life after their winter hibernation.

Here, head gardeners at the county’s National Trust properties highlight what to look out for in each garden and why spring is a great time to visit.

We also include information on how to get there the environmentally-friendly way, by Stagecoach bus.

Concessions can travel free after 9.30am on weekdays and all day at weekends. For everyone else, fares are capped at £2 under a government scheme to encourage more people to leave the car at home and take the bus.

Acorn Bank

Acorn Bank is a National Trust walled garden near Penrith renowned for its herbs, lily pond and fruit orchards. The blossom is spectacular in early May. Woodland walks reveal a hidden gypsum mine, watermill and wildlife including red squirrels, otters and rare birds. There’s also a café and second-hand bookshop.

Getting to Acorn Bank

Bus service: Stagecoach 563

Nearest bus stop: A one-mile footpath walk from the Temple Sowerby stop

Admission: Adult £9, child £4.50, family £13.50-£22.50. National Trust members free.

Opening times: Acorn Bank is open 10:30 am to 5pm daily

Acorn Bank woodland forms a glorious backdrop to the house and formal gardens. In spring the woodland floor is swathed in daffodils, followed by carpets of wild garlic, wood anemone and patches of bluebells. Meanwhile, in the garden, more than 200 different heritage apples, pears, plums and quince are filling the walled garden and top orchard with bubble-bath pink blossom.

Towering above them all, the enormous perry pear ‘Blakeney Red’ is covered in pure white blossom, holding promises for a fruitful autumn to come. Nature thrives in the gardens and woodlands at Acorn Bank, all year round, making a great experience for nature-lovers.

Heather Birkett, garden and outdoor manager

Sizergh Castle

Complex and varied, these National Trust gardens south of Kendal were developed over 800 years. Explore the rock garden, stumpery and orchard, plus the Dutch garden, kitchen garden and herbaceous border, bookshop and café, with a free hot drink when you show your bus ticket.

Getting to Sizergh Castle

Bus services: Stagecoach X6, Lakes Connection 555 or Stagecoach 755

Nearest bus stop: 20-minute walk from the Brettargh stop, ask the driver for Sizergh

Admission: Adult £9, child £4.50, family £13.50-£22.50, National Trust members free.

Opening times: Sizergh is open 10am to 5pm daily

During spring, Sizergh garden begins to wake up with soft translucent jewel-coloured leaves unfurling on the Japanese maples that clothe the banks of the rock garden. Spring bulbs open in the spring walk while fern croziers unfurl in the stumpery. By the end of April the orchard containing a collection of heritage apples and pears is in full blossom.

Bridget Cottam, a member of the gardening team at Sizergh

Wordsworth House and Garden

This beautiful riverside garden in Cockermouth gave William Wordworth lifelong inspiration. It is packed with 18th-century varieties of vegetables, fruit, herbs and flowers, and the River Derwent runs behind William’s beloved terrace walk.

Getting to Wordsworth House & Garden

Bus services: Stagecoach X4 & X5 or Stagecoach 600

Nearest bus stop: Cockermouth Main Street

Admission: Adult £9, child £4.50, family £22.50. National Trust members free.

Opening times: Wordsworth House & Garden is open 10am to 4:30pm Saturdays to Wednesdays, please note the house closes at 4pm

Spring here is the time for an abundance of blossom, especially those bursting from our many fruit trees. Starting in May, pale pink and white apple, cherry and damson flowers dance along the paths and against the garden walls.

William’s favoured daffodils sway in the breeze from early April and brightly coloured tulips emerge. Our two rows of rare local apple, Greenup’s Pippins, take centre stage with wild primroses, alongside beautiful fluffy polygonum bistorta, or common bistort. Other stars in May are our peony rubra with their big round blooms. Make sure to check back in the summer when swathes of roses take centre stage.

Amanda Thackeray, Head gardener

Allan Bank

Allan Bank is an informal Georgian villa with lawns overlooking Grasmere and a craggy woodland trail, complete with picturesque viewing points, ornamental cascade and tunnel. Wild primroses nestle shyly amongst mossy tree roots, elegant bluebells dance across emerald-green glades, and the candy pink flowers of red campion spangle the woodland edge. With views out over the rolling countryside, it was a place of inspiration for Wordsworth, Coleridge and Canon Rawnsley.

Getting to Allan Bank

Bus services: Lakes Connection 555 or Lakesider 599

Nearest bus stop: Grasmere centre. The villa is a 300 metre walk up the lane next to Emma’s Dell

Admission: Adult £9, child £4.50, family £13.50-£22.50. National Trust members free.

Opening times: Allan Bank is open 10am to 5pm daily.

Spring is a wonderful time to visit Allan Bank. We are creating a wild orchard in the old kitchen garden with varieties of apples suited to our damp Cumbrian climate, such as Keswick Codlin and Ladies Finger of Lancaster. Hazel, crab apples and blackcurrants will thrive in the shadier woodland edge, providing a feast for wildlife and a forage crop for people.

Beneath the trees, spring bulbs and native wildflowers will be a valuable source of nectar and pollen for bees, moths and butterflies.

Rebecca Costello, senior gardener


An informal National Trust woodland garden close to Ambleside providing a haven of tranquillity with rambling paths, shrubs, trees and plants to discover, Skelghyll Woods is home to some of the tallest trees in England, with great views over Windermere from Jenkyn’s Crag.

Getting to Stagshaw

Bus services: Lakes Connection 555 or Lakesider 599

Nearest bus stop: A short uphill walk from the Waterhead stop.

Admission: Open daily, dawn to dusk. Free.

Escape the hustle and bustle by alighting at Waterhead to visit Stagshaw woodland garden. A peaceful oasis of calm, it boasts displays of wild daffodils, bluebells and a fine collection of rhododendrons, magnolias and camellias – at their peak in springtime.

Explore the winding paths to discover tucked away seats to relax and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of nature. Discover the viewpoint with panoramic views across Windermere to the Langdale Pikes. Truly a garden for all seasons.

Rebecca Costello, senior gardener

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