plenty of buses
I stayed in Bowness earlier this year and was able to get around by bus to Ambleside, Windermere, Keswick, Grasmere and loads of other places very very easily. With the aid of some additional walking and a ferry I got to even more places...and I have a very limited sense of direction.
Bus drivers were helpful and at some key stops there were staff offering guidance and timetables too.
Mountain goat tours also pick up in Keswick, local bus service is not bad at summer, buses to grassmere and Windermere, cockermouth and workington in other direction, bus down borrowdale, very scenic, then bus over honister pass to buttermere, one you must do imo, local bus company, stagecoach do day pass around £11 or a weeks pass for around £27, hope this helps
Take a trip on Derwent water down to the Ashness Bridge drop off and walk up the road to the Bridge and a bit further on to Surprise View.
Grasmere is on the main bus route and the village is a nice place to spend a morning ( Sarah Nelsons Gingerbread shop is a must). You can walk around the lake to Loughrigg Terrace. From the Gingerbread shop go across to the garden centre and follow the road passed the pay and display car park ( car park behind garden centre) and just follow the lane, you will have options to drop down to the lake if you want but we usually carry on until there is a house on the left and the NT path passes right in front to their living room window and then enter the woods, at the end of this path the terrace is just on the left. You can carry on to the end of the terrace ( or you drop down to the lake and continue round the lake) and then see Rydal water and if you follow the path along here you come out at the Badger Bar at the Glen Rothay and you could continue along the road to Ambleside, this route is about 4.5-5 miles.
Thank you very much to the six people who responded to my question. Happy to learn that getting around the Lake District on public transport will not be difficult. Appreciate the additional tips regarding what to see and where to go.
It depends on where you want to go. Keswick is a good base if you want to rely on public transport, as it has many buses, and you will easily be able to travel to places like Grasmere, Ambleside, or Windermere.
However, if you want to get a bit more off the beaten track, then you'll find that buses don't go all over the Lake District.
But I think you'll be fine. You certainly won't run out of places you can go to by bus in just 5 days. Do make sure you check the timetables though. Not all services run frequently. On some routes you could easily wait a couple of hours for the next bus if you've just missed one.
The 555 bus service from Keswick to Lancaster via Windermere should fit your requirements when you are based at Keswick. Keswick bus station is next to the main supermarket in the town centre. Using this mode of transport is about an hour each way but as it goes via Thirlmere, Grasmere and Ambleside it is a very scenic journey. Hope you enjoy your stay.