Lake District Walks

Region in England, United Kingdom

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.

Or check out all the best walking regions in the UK.

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Best Hikes in Lake District

Showing 21 to 40 of 195
    Open details for Wastwater Extended Loop

    Wastwater Extended Loop

    Moderate
    9.2 km
    379 m
    2.5-3.5h

    The Wastwater Extended Loop is an easy-going walking route in the Lake DIstrict that will take you through the picturesque terrain of Wasdale for some elevated views of Wastwater. While out on the trail, you will trek through beautiful stretches of open farmland and serene forests before traversing the terrain along the foot of Whin Rigg on the way to the edge of the lake. This route features a small amount of elevation gain, but it is easy enough for walkers of most skill levels to complete.

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    Open details for Langdale Pikes Circular Walk

    Langdale Pikes Circular Walk

    Hard
    11.4 km
    780 m
    4-6h

    Walking the Langdale Pikes Circular is a challenging adventure in the Lake District that will take you uphill through some rugged terrain for amazing views overlooking the valley of Great Langdale. While out on the trail, you will traverse the summits of Blea Rigg, Sergeant Man, Thunacar Knott, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Pike of Stickle, and Loft Crag. If that doesn’t sound like enough of an exciting adventure for you, then the picturesque sights from these elevated positions will be sure to take your breath away.

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    Open details for Walla Crag Walk

    Walla Crag Walk

    Moderate
    10.8 km
    406 m
    3-4.5h

    The Walla Crag Walk is a fantastic outdoor experience immediately south of Keswick that will take you to a summit vantage point atop Walla Crag. While out on the trail, you will walk along the edge of the lake and climb uphill through some steep and rugged terrain for breathtaking views overlooking the deep blue surface of Derwent Water. Portions of this walk are a bit steep, but overall the trail is an amazing experience that can be completed by casual and seasoned walkers alike.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    9.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Easy (Circle)
    Suitable for beginners, families, young children, and those looking for a casual adventure.
    Open details for The Crinkle Crags Walk

    The Crinkle Crags Walk

    Moderate
    14.2 km
    832 m
    5-6.5h

    The Crinkle Crags Walk is a 14.2 km lollipop route that will see you set out from the valley of Great Langdale and climb uphill to the summit of the fell. While out on the trail, you will traverse some rocky and rugged terrain to gain an amazing vantage point overlooking the valley and surrounding mountains of the Lake District. The views along the walk are a great reward, but make no mistake, your body will let you know when you’ve reached the end of this tough trail.

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    Open details for Helvellyn via Swirl Edge

    Helvellyn via Swirl Edge

    Moderate
    10.0 km
    695 m
    3.5-5h

    Walking to Helvellyn via the Swirral Edge is a beautiful but rewarding route in the Lake District that will take you uphill to visit the summit of the third-highest point in England. While out on the trail, you will experience some breathtaking views overlooking a number of nearby fells, as well as the snaking expanse of Ullswater to the east. Portions of this trail might be a bit tricky and weather can change rapidly, but if you catch it on a good day you will be wowed by the amazing scenery.

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    Open details for Thirlmere Way

    Thirlmere Way

    Moderate
    18.5 km
    1,100 m
    6.5-9h

    The Thirlmere Way is a fun Lake District adventure that will see you cut across the Cumbria countryside from the village of Grasmere to the northern end of Thirlmere. This walk is only a small portion of the much longer trail that spans 130.0 mi from Manchester to Thirlmere along one of the water sources for the city. While out on this walk, you will experience some spectacular scenery of the surrounding peaks and deep blue waters of Thirlmere.

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    Open details for Gummer’s How

    Gummer’s How

    Moderate
    2.3 km
    125 m
    1h

    The walk up Gummer’s How is a quick adventure in the Lake DIstrict that climbs uphill for some amazing views overlooking Windermere. The trail passes through a tranquil stretch of woodland terrain before breaking out of the tree cover for a loop around the summit. Navigation on this lightly-travelled trail can be a bit tricky in places, but the amazing views from the summit make the short climb a worthy venture for walkers of all skill levels.

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    Open details for Red Pike & Bleaberry Tarn Circular Walk

    Red Pike & Bleaberry Tarn Circular Walk

    Hard
    12.1 km
    896 m
    4.5-6.5h

    The Red Pike & Bleaberry Tarn Circular Walk is a great adventure that will see you traverse several rugged summits for sweeping views across the Lake District. While out on the trail, you will climb the steep hillside to visit the calm waters of Bleaberry Tarn and the top of Red Pike, walking along the summits of High Stile and High Crag before descending to the shores of Buttermere. This wonderfully scenic route is fairly challenging with a steep, rocky descent, making it suitable for seasoned walkers.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    10.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Open details for Swirl How and Wetherlam Circular Walk

    Swirl How and Wetherlam Circular Walk

    Moderate
    9.8 km
    829 m
    4-5.5h

    Walking the Swirl How and Wetherlam Circular is an amazing adventure that will lead you over several summits for some breathtaking views overlooking the surrounding valleys and fells of the Lake District. While out on the trail, walkers will traverse some open farmland and cross the River Brathay before climbing up the steep hillside to reach a series of scenic viewpoints. This route will give you the opportunity to summit Great Carrs, Swirl How, and Wetherlam, all while taking in the views of Greenburn and the Little Langdale Valley further afield.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    7.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Advanced (Diamond)
    Suitable for advanced experience level looking for a solid adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Expert (Double Diamond)
    Suitable only for experts looking for a challenging adventure.
    Open details for Whitbarrow Scar via Lord’s Seat Walk

    Whitbarrow Scar via Lord’s Seat Walk

    Moderate
    11.7 km
    384 m
    3-4.5h

    The Whitbarrow Scar via Lord’s Seat is a nice walking route towards the southern edge of the Lake District that will take you uphill for some pleasant views of the surrounding landscape. While out on the trail, you will pass through a variety of terrain that includes beautiful stretches of forest, exposed hilltops, and open farmland terrain. This walk is great for beginner and casual walkers looking to explore the scenic landscapes of the Lake District without too much difficulty.

    User Ratings
    Overall Rating
    7.0
    Technical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Physical Difficulty
    Intermediate (Square)
    Suitable for intermediates who are ready for a little bit more adventure.
    Open details for Pooley Bridge & Howtown Circular Walk

    Pooley Bridge & Howtown Circular Walk

    Moderate
    14.3 km
    610 m
    4-6h

    The Pooley Bridge & Howtown Circular is a fantastic walking route in the Lake District due to the spectacular lakeside scenery that is surrounded with dramatic hills in every direction. The trail sets out from the historic village of Pooley Bridge and traverses the beautiful farmland and moors that provide a nice view overlooking Ullswater. After traversing the hilly terrain and arriving at the hamlet of Howtown, you will make your way along the edge of the lake on a path that will take you back to the trailhead. This dramatic landscape has often served as inspiration for writers and poets, so be prepared for a memorable adventure!

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    Open details for Aira Force & Gowbarrow Park Walk

    Aira Force & Gowbarrow Park Walk

    Moderate
    7.1 km
    406 m
    2.5-3.5h

    The Aira Force and Gowbarrow Park Walk is an awesome route in the Lake District that will take you to several waterfalls before climbing to the summit of Gowbarrow Fell. The trail passes through a beautiful stretch of forest and offers walkers the chance to visit Aira Force and High Force falls on the way to the vantage point atop the hill that provides scenic views across the Cumbria landscape. Make sure to arrive early, as the area is sure to become busy with both walkers and tourists.

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    Open details for Devoke Water Circular Walk

    Devoke Water Circular Walk

    Easy
    4.8 km
    86 m
    1-1.5h

    The Devoke Water Circular Walk is an easy-going stroll through the barren yet beautiful moorland terrain of the western Lake District. While out on the trail, you will walk around the quiet edge of Devoke Water to take in scenic views of the rugged landscape. The easy-to-navigate paths are often boggy, but the route is easy enough to be enjoyed by walkers of every age and skill level.

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    Open details for Dodd Wood Short Circular Walk

    Dodd Wood Short Circular Walk

    Moderate
    2.9 km
    172 m
    1-1.5h

    The Dodd Wood Short Circular is a short walking route near Keswick that will take you through a lovely stretch of woodland terrain within the Lake District. The trail traverses the forested terrain on the lower slopes of Ullock Pike and Long Side before crossing Skill Beck to walk at the foot of Dodd to the south. This route features easy-to-navigate paths, toilet facilities, and a cafe near the car park, making it perfectly suitable for a fun family excursion.

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    Open details for Aira Force Extended Circular Walk

    Aira Force Extended Circular Walk

    Moderate
    3.9 km
    160 m
    1-1.5h

    The Aira Force Extended Circular is a wonderful walking route through a beautiful stretch of woodland that will take you to viewpoints for several rushing waterfalls. The trail winds through the charming forest alongside Aira Beck before visiting the Aira Force, High Force, and High Cascades waterfalls. This route will likely become very busy with tourists, so be sure to arrive early.

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    Open details for Neaum Crag to Ambleside Walk

    Neaum Crag to Ambleside Walk

    Moderate
    4.5 km
    208 m
    1.5-2h

    The Neaum Crag to Ambleside Walk is a quick point-to-point trail in the Lake District that will take you from the foot of Neaum Crag to the heart of Ambleside. While out on the trail, you will climb and descend the hilly countryside while experiencing some beautiful views across the woodlands, villages, and open farmland that makes this area so picturesque. Be sure to make arrangements for a pick-up when you reach Ambleside, or else you will need to retrace your steps back to your vehicle in the car park!

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    Open details for Dale Head Walk

    Dale Head Walk

    Moderate
    3.9 km
    380 m
    1.5-2.5h

    The Dale Head Walk is a short and intense adventure that will take you uphill to the summit of Dale Head. While on the trail, you will traverse the steep and rugged hillside to experience some beautiful views over Buttermere and Honister Pass within the Lake District. It may only be a quick walk, but the steep incline is sure to give you a bit of a leg burn!

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    Open details for Causey Pike Round

    Causey Pike Round

    Hard
    12.7 km
    876 m
    4.5-6.5h

    The Causey Pike Round is a challenging Lake District adventure that will take you uphill to the summit of several peaks for views over Derwent Water. The trail sets out from the former mining town of Braithwaite and climbs uphill past the old mines to reach the summit of Causey Pike before descending the hillside towards the lake. This is a great route for those that enjoy a good mix of rugged terrain, local history, and amazing scenery.

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    Open details for Rydal Water Circular Walk

    Rydal Water Circular Walk

    Easy
    4.5 km
    205 m
    1.5-2h

    The Rydal Water Circular is a 4.5 km walk in the Lake District that sets out from the village of Rydal and travels around the edge of a scenic lake. While out on the trail, you will experience picturesque views across the water that include the peaks of Loughrigg Fell and Nab Scar in the backdrop. The route features a variety of open and woodland terrain that is easily navigable, making this trail suitable for walkers of almost every skill level.

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    Open details for Red Pike from Ennerdale Water

    Red Pike from Ennerdale Water

    Hard
    14.5 km
    905 m
    5-7h

    The walk to Red Pike from Ennerdale Water is a tough but extremely scenic adventure that will take you along a rugged ridge for some amazing views of the surrounding Lake District. The trail begins near the edge of the water and climbs uphill to traverse a ridge that connects the summits of Great Borne, Starling Dodd, Little Dodd, and Red Pike. Throughout the walk, you will have some amazing views looking out over the undulating landscape with the deep blue surface of Ennerdale Water nestled in the valley below.

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