1972 – Where it all began
Mountain Goat were established in 1972 by Chris Taylor. We started by operating a 5 times a day service from Bowness to Glenridding between Easter and the end of October. Working together with William Hudson from Hawkshead, the Lake District Minibus Company Limited was formed.
1973 - Expansion a pace
As we entered our second season in 1973, we started to run tours over Wrynose and Hardknott pass and these tours were known as the Wasdale flyer. We now had 8 vehicles, one of which was a very old Bedford Coach, white Ford Transits with 12 passenger seats, roof racks to carry rucksacks with a rear access ladder, and green Goats emblazoned on the sides, had become a local recognisable feature.
1974 – Services, Tours and Holiday Packages
The recipe for tourist travel was established. Passengers liked to get around on a bus and hear stories from the drivers. Many arrivals at hotels were encouraged to leave the car in the car park and explore the area in the care of a driver guide. Private Hire meant that arrivals from all over the UK came by coach, stayed in a number of local hotels and enjoyed a tour package with Mountain Goat. Working in concert with a number of hotels and guest houses, Mountain Goat Holidays and Breaks enticed up to 800 people a year to visit the area, many of them single and looking to return to places they had visited in their youth.
1975 – 1981 The years of growth
Over these years the fleet built up to 14 vehicles in total including a couple of coaches. Chris’s brother Patrick returned to the Lake District in 1975 and joined as company manager coping with the booming demand for holidays.
The business was now split broadly between tours and private hire transport, packaged holidays, and stage bus routes.
Continuing media interest fuelled an increase in visitors to the Lake District. Also, with the ease with which travellers could now quickly reach the area by their own car, made it all the more necessary to create new tours, new walking packages, The increase in personal car usage naturally put pressure on Stage Service buses in the rural area. Sightseeing tours assumed prominence for visitors as locals used their own vehicles more and more. The original Glenridding service still operated as did a bus service from Keswick to Buttermere via Honister and Newlands Pass. This came about as Mountain Goat set up a sales office in Keswick offering exactly the same services as had been done in Windermere for the previous 10 years.
1985 saw a change in vehicles. After so many years of Ford Transits with 12 seats, and a brief look at LDV’s, Chris Taylor plumbed for the new boxy looking Renault Master with its potential to seat 15 passengers, have large windows, front wheel drive, and still keep to the specifications of being no more than 2 metres wide to fit down any road in the Lake District.
1990 saw the peak and tourism activity and the start of a severe recession with cutbacks in all markets.
In 1989, Peter Nattrass, who had recently retired from running an Outdoor Centre for School Children, joined Mountain Goat as Operations Manager. Already armed with a PCV licence and having driven a number of tours over the years (he actually bought an old Mountain Goat bus for his centre) Peter’s first challenge was to maximise business in the season, find some work in the winter.
1991 marked the 2nd away from the Lake District Touring holiday, with the Yorkshire Dales and North Yorkshire Moors based out of Harrogate.
Also, following the retirement of the Finance Manager, Stephen Broughton came to the company as a financial control consultant.
In 1993 Peter, Stephen, and a 3rd partner, Norman Stoller, bought Mountain Goat thus allowing Chris and Carol Taylor to retire.
1994 saw the company revisit the past. The first thing that happened was the renewal for the 2nd time of the original Windermere to Glenridding stage service throughout the season.
Mountain Goat again visited Scotland, this time right up to the Grampian Highlands with a touring holiday based at Grantown on Spey giving us the opportunity to visit Inverness, Loch Ness, and heart of the Grampian region.
In 1995, Mountain Goat partnered with other local like minded businesses to form the Japan Forum and concentrate on the Far East market which forms an important part of the Lake District international business.
To celebrate 25 years of operation, Mountain Goat decided to try and re find L’ille Billy, the 1949 Bedford OB bus which plied the Kirkstone pass service back in the 1980’s. Research back through the records and a number of telephone calls resolved that the bus had been completely refurbished and exported to a private owner in Japan. This owner was President of an International Company with an office in London. He was delighted to send pictures of the bus in new colours but, strangely, doing the same job of transporting international visitors to an area in Japan.
Corgi, the model car manufacturer, produced a limited edition production of 5,000 Lille Billys in Mountain Goat colours to celebrate the 25 years also.
As part of the Japan Forum Trade Mission to Japan in 1998, Jim Walker who represented all the members, was welcomed the Giken Co and was able to present a Corgi model to the owner of the vehicle in his offices in Tokyo.
In 1998, concentration on the US market saw the development of Educational Walking Holidays for a US Tour Operators.
1998 saw the development of the new Renault Master with room for 16 passengers, and a variety of luggage carrying capacity.
1999, saw us sell the original sales chalet in Windermere and buy the larger premises next door.
Tours continued to develop along with a development of new touring itineraries for large coach companies who wished to add value to their visit by showing their customers places where their coaches couldn’t access.
2001, with Foot & Mouth rife in the area, it was time for imagination. Working in close co-operation with Windermere Lake Cruises, the first public bus and boat service from Bowness to Hawkshead restarted after nearly 15 years. Even though nobody could walk in the area, sightseeing tours were still possible.
2003 saw the support for local public transport around Windermere and Mountain Goat ended up running this service for 3 years. Also, the famous Wasdale Flyer restarted for a season in 2005 supported by Whitehaven Borough Council.
In 2005, Mountain Goat purchased Park Tours, a competitive operator with close links to the Far East market and also local timeshare operators in the Lake District who all promote a greener travel alternative to their customers. The proprietor of Park Tours was Graham Wilkinson who had come into the industry originally with Mountain Goat back in 1988. He had returned back to the company which initially trained him into the industry.
2006 This year marked a new tour. A joint venture with a Japanese London based operator heralded the arrival of a Japanese Guide,Ms Junko Ishiwata. For the next 5 years Junko looked after arrivals in Windermere from London all on a 48 hour tour of the Lake District. In 2011 Junko returned to Japan and her replacement, Nami, continued the programme. This year, Aru Fukuda continues with this increasingly popular way for Japanese to see the Lakes.
2008 was the year the change to Mercedes started. Passengers need more space and yet still in a vehicle which could travel over the narrow Lake District byways.
2009 – 2011 marked a period of expansion in tours and particularly private hire for a large number of coach operators.
To start 2012, Mountain Goat’s 40th year, the fleet was back up to 14 vehicles, our sales office was modernised, and we had a dedicated team of over 30 driver/guides.
2013 was the year that Mountain Goat was awarded ‘Tourism Experience of the Year’ by Cumbria Tourism and also the Green Tourism Silver Award.
2014 Mountain Goat Ltd successfully won the tender from South Lakeland District Council to run the in doubt, Windermere Tourist Information Centre service. We also refreshed the branding in 2014, with a new logo and livery for the vehicles.
2015 A new website with, live booking availability launches, maintaining the company’s commitment to meeting customer’s needs. Mountain Goat also starts running day tours from York under the name of Yorkshire Day tours.