Lake District Walks
Lake District walks are an incredible pastime that will transport you to a magical world filled with breathtaking scenery, so it is easy to see why they are some of the most popular activities for outdoor enthusiasts in the UK. If you are after an unforgettable adventure in some of the wildest landscapes England has to offer, be sure to add a number of Lake District walks to your upcoming itinerary.
England’s Lake District offers one of the finest natural spectacles in the country, covering over 2300 square kilometers of truly gorgeous scenery. With its rugged fells, pristine lakes, green rolling countryside and jaw-dropping views, this north-west corner of the United Kingdom is one of the country’s most popular destinations. A walking holiday in the Lake District is a bucket list activity, and one that every keen hiker should experience at least once.
The Lake District is well known for its literary associations, and writers and artists from Beatrix Potter to William Wordsworth have taken inspiration from its bucolic landscapes. Lake District walks will see you follow in the footsteps of Samuel Coleridge and John Ruskin, or hunt for ancient Roman roads that pass along the mountain ridges. This natural paradise has a long, rich and fascinating history, and a walking trip is the perfect opportunity to learn about the local culture.
The main draw, however, is the landscape itself. There’s something magical about the way the light plays on the surface of lakes such as Windermere or Buttermere, and the scent of the mountain air as you summit the pikes, crags, and ridges of the Western Fells. For centuries, Lake District walks have helped visitors fall in love with this remarkable region, and we’re confident that you will too.
To give you a little inspiration for your next trip, we’ve put together a list of our favorite walks in the Lake District. However, this is just the tip of the iceberg – there’s so much to discover in this quintessential English national park.
The 10 Best Walks In The Lake District National Park
The Lake District may be compact, but there’s a tremendous amount of variety in the terrain that covers this small area in the north west of England. As a result, there’s a little something for everyone here, from easy valley walks to grueling scrambles over rocky, windswept peaks.
If you’re looking for easy, family-friendly walks in the Lake District, you’re in luck. This region is packed with beautiful trails that won’t take too much of a toll on your legs and lungs, allowing you to experience some truly stunning views without breaking a sweat. These Lake District walks are ideal for families with young children, and offer a good way to introduce kids to fell walking from a young age.
The Lake District also contains many moderate hikes that make a useful training ground for walkers who want to improve their fitness. You’ll find long day hikes over wild fells, or steep scrambles up to craggy peaks. Whatever your fitness level or ability, you’re sure to find a walk that will suit you.
- Rannerdale Knotts Walk: Buttermere is one of the finest lakes in the region, with calm, peaceful waters reflecting the peaks of Haystacks and Red Pike. This fairly easy walk takes you from the village of Buttermere along a ridge that leads all the way to Rannerdale Knotts. You’ll enjoy wonderful views, and can look forward to a tasty lunch in the village at the end of the walk.
- Langstrath Valley Walk: This low-level walk to the hidden Langstrath Valley is a family favorite that kids are sure to love! The valley itself is simply stunning, and the route takes you along a meandering path, close to a pleasant gurgling stream. This easy walk is suitable for families with children of all ages, and is an excellent way to introduce kids to the delights of walking in the Lake District.
- Old Man of Coniston Circuit: The Old Man of Coniston is one of the most iconic peaks in the Lake District, and this circular route is rightly one of the most popular walks in the park. Make sure that you leave a full day to really enjoy the route, which passes by peaceful tarns and offers fabulous views over the hills and fells. Instead of descending the way you came after summiting the Old Man, we’d recommend this circular route, which will allow you to tick a few more peaks off your Lake District hiking bucket list!
- Newlands Horseshoe Walk: The Newlands Horseshoe is one of the more challenging walks in the Lake District, but this route remains a firm favorite among hikers. There’s a steep climb, and you may need to do a little scrambling, but the ridge walk is simply spectacular. This route also takes in Catbells, which offers a remarkable view over the mountains and lakes that this region is so famous for.
- Helvellyn Walk: Arguably the best walk in the Lake District, the ascent of Helvellyn via Striding Edge is a real bucket list hike. This dramatic ridge towers over the beautiful Red Tarn, offering fabulous views over Glenridding and Ullswater. Striding Edge is not for the faint of heart, and you might need to use your hands as you scramble to the top, but we think it’s one of the most rewarding hikes in the Lake District.
- Fairfield Horseshoe Walk: The Fairfield Horseshoe is ideally located right next to the village of Ambleside, making it one of the more accessible, challenging hikes in the Lake District. This is a fairly long, strenuous hike, but once you’ve made it on to the ridge, the views make all the effort worthwhile. This Lake District walk is a real classic.
- Haystacks Walk: Alfred Wainwright, the Lake District’s most famous rambler, is said to have favored Haystacks above all the region’s peaks. This route takes you up via Scarth Gap, covered in bluebells in springtime, all the way up to the stunning Innominate Tarn, where Wainwright’s ashes were scattered at his request. It’s a fitting resting-place for a man who loved these hills so much. Haystacks may not be the tallest mountain in the Lake District, but it’s certainly one of our favorite walks in the region.
- Scafell Pike Walk: At 978 meters above sea level, Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England, and should be on everyone’s hiking bucket list! This route goes via Ill Crag, making for a more enjoyable and interesting walk than the direct route straight to the top. You’ll pass by some classic Lake District scenery, with glassy tarns, craggy mountain passes, and dramatic, sweeping views.
- Roman High Street Circular Walk: As far back as antiquity, people have been using the Lake District peaks as highways, and its most famous Roman road passes along the crest of a hill now known as High Street. This circular route will take you into a pristine, untouched valley, passing by Angle Tarn and Thornthwaite Crag. You’ll enjoy spectacular views over Windermere and the surrounding peaks, and it’s easy to imagine that you’re stepping back in time to a period when this would have been one of the most important highways in the north of England.
- Mosedale Horseshoe Walk: The Mosedale Horseshoe is a challenging walk through some of the most beautiful scenery that England has to offer. It’s located in a fairly remote corner of the Lake District, meaning that you’re less likely to be bothered by the crowds, and the drive to the starting point of the walk is a pleasure in itself! The summit of Black Crag makes all the effort worthwhile, and you can enjoy a refreshing pint at the Wasdale Head Inn at the end of your walk.
When Is The Best Time To Walk In The Lake District?
It’s possible to go walking in the Lake District at any time of year, and there are plenty of low-level, accessible trails that you can walk along, whatever the weather! In the winter months the higher peaks can be cold, covered in ice, and foggy, so take care not to attempt challenging peaks in bad weather. Nevertheless, a bracing winter walk in the Lakes can be a very rewarding experience, and there’s nothing better than curling up next to the fire in a country pub after a day out on the wild, blustery fells.
The fell-walking season runs from April to October, and the region can get very busy and crowded in the summer months. Although the weather is spectacular, the roads and towns are packed with tourists, and you may find yourself jostling for space on some of the more popular trails. As a result, we’d recommend visiting in spring or autumn, just before the season kicks in, or after most of the visitors have gone home. You’ll enjoy beautiful flowers in springtime, and rich autumn colors in the fall, and the trails will be much less crowded. Whatever time of year you choose, the weather in the Lake District can be unpredictable, so come prepared, and always check the latest forecasts before you head out on to the trail. Even still, you should always be able to find a few Lake District walks to meet your needs, no matter the time of year!
Best Regions For Walking In The Lake District
Most visitors to the Lake District flock to the region around Windermere and Ambleside, where there are plenty of activities on offer and facilities for tourists. This part of the Lake District offers some fantastic walking trails, but can be very crowded in the peak season. For a quieter experience, we’d recommend heading to the Western Lakes, and the area around Eskdale and Wasdale Head. You’ll find stunning lakes, green rolling hills, and wild fells, and plenty of fantastic walking opportunities. The northern part of the region, close to Keswick, also offers some wonderful hiking trails, including the picturesque peaks around Buttermere.
Other Outdoor Activities in The Lake District
The Lake District is a paradise for adventure travelers, with plenty of exciting outdoor activities on offer in addition to walking. Cycling and mountain biking is a popular sport in the Lakes, with many designated trails suitable for bikes. The abundant lakes and tarns across the region provide many opportunities for watersports, including kayaking, canoeing, sailing, windsurfing and paddle-boarding. If you’re even more adventurous, why not try your hand at ghyll scrambling, rock climbing, or abseiling?
How To Plan A Trip To The Lake District
A walking holiday in the Lake District is a bucket list experience for most enthusiastic hikers, and there’s plenty to discover in this beautiful part of the United Kingdom. To make sure your trip runs perfectly, we’ve put together a comprehensive guide to planning a trip to the Lake District, complete with tips on where to stay, advice on packing the right gear, and recommendations for the best hikes in the park. Grab your walking boots and follow in the footsteps of Alfred Wainwright as you scale some of the most beautiful peaks in the country on any number of amazing Lake District walks!
Lake District Adventure Holidays
Some of the best experiences in the Lake District are better with a guide or when they're planned by professionals. For that, you can check out the best adventure tours in the Lake District.
Frequently-Asked-Questions About The Lake District
Where should I stay in the Lake District for hiking?
The Lake District is one of the most popular destinations in the United Kingdom, especially for outdoor activities, and you’ll find plenty of accommodation options throughout the region. If you’re travelling by public transport, aim to stay in one of the popular hubs such as Ambleside, where you’ll find trails that start in the town itself, and good bus connections to other trailheads. However, if you’re looking for a bit of peace and quiet head for the Western Lakes, away from the main tourist trail, with good access to the fantastic walking routes around Eskdale. You’ll find upmarket country hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, self-catering rentals, hostels and campsites all over the national park, so you’re sure to find something suitable, wherever you plan to hike.
Can you walk all around Lake Windermere?
Windermere is England’s largest natural lake, more than 11 miles long, nestled in some of the prettiest scenery in the Lake District. The 45-mile Windermere Way is a hiking trail that loops all the way around the lake, taking in the summits of Wansfell, Loughrigg Fell and Gummer’s How, in addition to the popular towns of Ambleside and Windermere.
Do you need hiking boots for the Lake District?
Although the walking routes in the Lake District are well maintained, you will still need a sturdy pair of hiking shoes to protect your feet and ankles out on the trail. Waterproof footwear is a must as the trails can often be wet and muddy (don’t forget to bring a spare pair of socks!).
Is the Lake District free?
There is no charge to enter the Lake District, and all of the walking trails are free to access at all times.
Can you camp anywhere in the Lake District?
In order to camp in the Lake District, you must have permission from the landowner. However, there is a long tradition of wild camping in the Lake District, and if you ensure that you make camp above the highest fell wall, away from villages and settlements, and apply the principles of Leave No Trace, it’s possible to camp in the Lake District.
Do you need a car in the Lake District?
The Lake District is well served by a network of local buses, so it’s perfectly possible to enjoy a walking holiday without a car. Some of the most popular trails leave right from the centre of Ambleside, and you can find bus connections to many other hiking routes in the region.
How many days do you need in the Lake District?
It’s possible to spend a year in the Lake District without uncovering all the wonderful places and walking routes in this gorgeous national park! However, if you only have a few days to spare, it’s still possible to enjoy many of the region’s highlights in just a few days, and it’s a popular spot for a short break. We’d recommend staying for at least three days so you can pack in at least two decent walks, and enjoy the marvellous views and scenery that this region is famous for.
- Find other amazing walking regions in the UK:
- Peak District Walks
- Walks in the Chiltern Hills
- Walks in Loch Lomond & the Trossachs
- Snowdonia Walks
- Walks in the North York Moors
Or check out all the best walking regions in the UK.
Best Hikes in Lake District
Knott Rigg Walk
The Knott Rigg Walk is a quick out-and-back adventure in the northwestern part of the Lake District that will take you up a gentle hillside for some stunning views. This family-friendly route features a short overall distance and well-maintained paths, meaning that every person in your party, no matter age or skill level, will be able to enjoy the breathtaking views. This walk is perfectly suited for a speedy weekend adventure when you need ultra-scenic views in a short time frame.
Latrigg from Keswick
The Latrigg from Keswick Walk is a lovely adventure that will take you from the heart of town to a stunning viewpoint overlooking the Lake District. From the top of the trail, you will have a panoramic sightline of numerous fells like Skiddaw and Blencathra, in addition to some beautiful views of Derwent Water and Keswick itself. While the views may be spectacular, the trail isn’t anything overly difficult, making this walk suitable for casual and experienced walkers alike.
Legburthwaite Circular Walk
The Legburthwaite Circular Walk is a moderate length walk in the Lake District that is popular with beginner walkers and families because of the relatively easy nature of the trail and the lovely lakeside setting. While out on the walk, you will be able to take in some gorgeous views of Thirlmere and walk the charming hillside while gazing out at the surrounding fells that characterize the landscape of the Lake District. There is usually an ice cream truck at the Swirls car park, providing a nice way to relax and cool off mid-walk.
Levers Water Circular Walk
The Levers Water Circular Walk is a fantastic outdoor excursion that will take you through some varied terrain for views overlooking the Lake District. While out on the trail, you will pass by a scenic waterfall, summit rugged fells, and walk the shores of a scenic lake, making for a fun day of walking in the mountains. This walk is a great option for seasoned adventurers and casual walkers that are looking for a bit of a challenge.
Loughrigg Terrace Walk
The Loughrigg Terrace Walk is a charming journey that will take you through one of the most scenic areas within the Lake District. While out on the trail, you will cross over the River Rothay and walk the lower slopes of Loughrigg Fell, all while taking in some beautifully scenic views overlooking Rydal Water and Grasmere. With well-maintained and easy to navigate trails, this route is perfectly suitable for outdoor enthusiasts of almost every skill level.
Nab Scar, Heron Pike, and Stone Arthur Circular Walk
The Nab Scar, Heron Pike, and Stone Arthur Circular Walk is a rough and rugged adventure that will see you navigate the undulating terrain of the Lake District for some beautiful views of the surrounding area. While out on the trail, you will climb up the steep hillside and traverse each of these peaks, while taking in the views of nearby lakes and fells. Make sure that you wear proper walking boots, as the terrain in this area is fairly steep and rugged.
Scafell Pike via Piers Gill Walk
The walk to Scafell Pike via Piers Gill is an amazing adventure that is less known than other routes up the mountain, providing an opportunity for solitude along the trail and the same spectacular views. While out on the trail, you will climb up the steep terrain along the waters of Piers Gill to reach the saddle below Broad Crag before making the final push to the summit for stunning views over Wast Water and nearby fells. This is a fantastic Lake District walking route that will truly reward your hard work.
Langdale Pikes Walk: Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Pike of Stickle
A walk along the Langdale Pikes: Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Pike of Stickle is a challenging undertaking that will see you climb up the rocky hillside for views from each of these three summits. Views from the top of the trail will include a sweeping view across the Great Langdale Valley, with nearby valleys and fells of the Lake District further afield. This is a difficult route that should only be attempted by seasoned outdoor enthusiasts.
Staveley to Ings Walk
The Staveley to Ings Walk is a lovely excursion in the southeast corner of the Lake District that is set in a beautiful countryside setting. While out on the trail, you will make your way through charming villages and walk along the banks of the River Kent, all while taking in some amazing views of nearby fells. This is a fantastic walk for a weekend on the trails with the family.
Staveley to Windermere Walk
The Staveley to Windermere Walk is a lovely journey through the English countryside that connects these two charming villages. While out on the trail, you will cut across the open farmland terrain and make your way over a few small fells before arriving in Windermere. This is a point-to-point walk, so be sure to arrange a pick up or plan to take the train back to Staveley.
Steel Fell from Thirlmere Walk
The walk up Steel Fell from Thirlmere is a fantastic one-way journey that will take you from the southern tip of Thirlmere Lake across several rugged fells for stunning views across the Lake District. While out on this walk, you will traverse the summit viewpoints atop Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Sergeant Man, and Tarn Crag before descending the hillside towards the charming village of Grasmere. As this is a one-way walk, you will need to either arrange a pickup, retrace your steps along the trail, or take public transit back to your vehicle.
Steel Fell, Dead Pike, and Calf Crag Walk
The Steel Fell, Dead Pike, and Calf Crag Walk is an awesome Lake District adventure that will take you through some rugged and beautiful terrain to the northwest of Grasmere. Along the trail, you will traverse several summits and enjoy views of the surrounding Lake District landscape, including well known fells like Helm Crag. This trail does feature some challenging terrain that is exposed to the elements, making it suitable for seasoned walkers.
Stone Arthur and Great Rigg Walk
The Stone Arthur and Great Rigg Walk is a great Lake District adventure that will take you over three summit viewpoints for a commanding view of nearby lakes and fells. While out on the trail, you will traverse Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, and Heron Pike before making a brief visit to the charming lakeside setting at Alcock Tarn. This is a great walk for beginners looking to challenge themselves on the trail.
Fairfield via Stone Arthur and Great Rigg Walk
The Fairfield via Stone Arthur and Great Rigg Trail is a difficult Lake District walking route that will see you traverse each of these fells for stunning views of nearby peaks and lakes. While out walking this trail, you pass through steep and rugged terrain to gain an elevated sightline over Grasmere, Grisedale Tarn, and Thirlmere. This walk may be challenging, but it will reward you with some truly breathtaking views.
Swindale Waterfall Walk
The Swindale Waterfall Walk is a fun adventure that will lead you through some beautiful Lake DIstrict terrain to visit a series of cascading waterfalls. A good portion of the route utilizes the road; however, the beautiful scenery surrounding you and the peaceful setting of the falls is enough to make you forget about this part of the walk. There is a bit of uphill walking to reach the falls, making this a fun and slightly challenging journey that is perfect as a weekend excursion.
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