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
St. Sunday Crag Walk
The St. Sunday Crag Walk is a scenic uphill walking route in the Lake District that will take you from the village of Patterdale to the summit of St. Sunday Crag. While out on the trail, you will walk along Grisedale Beck until you arrive at Grisedale Tarn, at which point you will turn east to climb up to the summit for some amazing views overlooking the surrounding landscape. This is a fantastic trail that will have you gaining a decent amount of elevation without too much in the way of difficulties.
Grisedale Pike & Hopegill Head Walk
The Grisedale Pike & Hopegill Head Walk is a tough Lake District walk that will take you uphill along an exposed ridgeline to summit Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, and Hopegill Head. While out on the trail, you will climb up the steep hillside and traverse the rugged terrain of the ridge before experiencing some truly amazing views overlooking the surrounding Cumbria landscape. This walk features some steep drop offs, so if you are afraid of heights you might want to avoid this one!
Stonethwaite Circular Walk
The Stonethwaite Circular Walk is a fun, family-friendly adventure in the Lake District that will take you through several charming villages along the banks of Stonethwaite Beck. While out on the trail, you will walk along the flowing water of the beck and enjoy views of the surrounding fells, as you pass through the villages of Rosthwaite, Stonethwaite, Borrowdale, and Longthwaite. This walk offers a nice mix of easy-going village and rural terrain that can be enjoyed by walkers of all skill levels.
Harter Fell Walk
The Harter Fell Walk is a spectacular route in the Lake District that takes you up to the craggy summit of the fell for some amazingly scenic views. This trail is slightly less used than some of the other routes leading up to the summit, but the views are no less scenic. If anything, you might be able to enjoy a bit of solitude while you enjoy the views across the rolling hills and rugged peaks of the English countryside.
Humphrey Head Walk
The Humphrey Head Walk is a short, family-friendly adventure in Cumbria that will take you along the length of a small peninsula for some amazing views of the surrounding coastal terrain. While out on the trail, you will walk along the edge of the water and experience some beautiful scenery that includes the Irish Sea stretching out before you and a number of rugged peaks in the distance. This trail is well-maintained and easy to navigate, making it suitable for walkers of every skill level.
The Honister Round is an exciting trail in the Lake District that will take you uphill along both sides of Honister Pass to explore the amazing summit viewpoints from atop the fells. While out on the trail, you will climb along the rugged terrain that flanks the pass and summit iconic peaks like Fleetwith Pike and Dale Head for some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains and Buttermere to the northwest. This route has some fairly steep and exposed sections of trail, but the views are certainly worth the effort.
Whinlatter Pass Walk
The Whinlatter Pass Walk is a scenic adventure in the Lake District that takes you through the pass to explore the terrain at the base of rugged mountains, as well as stretches of beautiful woodlands. While out on the trail, you will visit several highlights that include the rushing waters of Spout Force and Scawgill Bridge that spans Whit Beck before walking the serene forests of the Hobcarton Plantation. There is no shortage of beautiful scenery along this relatively easy walk, making it suitable for walkers of just about every skill level.
Bowfell & Scafell Pike Walk
The Bowfell & Scafell Pike Walk is a scenic adventure in the Lake District that will take you from the floor of the Great Langdale Valley to the summit of Scafell Pike off in the distance to the west. While out on the trail, you will make your way along the valley floor before traversing some rugged terrain along the summits of several peaks that include Bowfell, Esk Pike, and Scafell Pike to name a few. This is a bit of a challenging walk, but if you are up for a long distance journey with scenic views of the mountains, then look no further.
Elterwater & Loughrigg Tarn Walk
Walking the Elterwater & Loughrigg Tarn Trail is an 11.3km journey through the Lake District that will lead you around the edge of scenic lakes and uphill for some nice views of the surrounding fells. While out on the trail, you will visit the village of Little Langdale and travel around the edge of Elterwater before walking a loop around Loughrigg Tarn. With easy-to-navigate scenery and a trail that begins and ends at the pub, this trail should definitely make it onto your walking to-do list.
Scales Tarn & Blencathra Circular Walk
Walking the Scales Tarn & Blencathra Circular is an amazing adventure in the Lake District that will see you traverse some rugged ridgeline terrain for breathtaking views of the surrounding mountainous landscape. While out on the trail, you will climb steeply uphill along Comb Beck and visit the peaceful waters of Scales Tarn before climbing up the aptly named Sharp Edge on the way to the summit viewpoint atop Blencathra. If you enjoy walking along precarious terrain to get some truly gorgeous views, then this walk will be right up your alley.
Little & Great Langdale Valley Walk
The Little & Great Langdale Valley Walk is a fun adventure in the Lake District that will allow you to explore the terrain within two charming valleys and take in the views of the surrounding fells. Also known as ‘The Five Pubs Walk’ due to the fact that there are five establishments located right along the trail, the route also offers the chance to visit several natural and historical sites. Whether you are looking to explore the picturesque terrain along the valley floor or run the circuit with a pint in each pub, there is sure to be something for every type of walker on this amazing journey.
Watendlath Circular Walk
The Watendlath Circular Walk is a 13.2 km adventure in the Lake District that will take you through a valley to the edge of Derwent Water before circling around the village of Watendlath and the rugged terrain of Grange Fell. While out on the trail, you will traverse a variety of terrain, including open farmland, serene forests, and sections of steep incline. This is a beautiful walking route for a leisurely weekend stroll through the Cumbrian countryside.
Watendlath to Stonethwaite Circular Walk
The Watendlath to Stonethwaite Circular walk is a scenic adventure that will take you from the village of Watendlath into the valley of Stonethwaite Beck for views of nearby fells within the Lake District terrain. While out walking the trail, you will pass by Watendlath Tarn and descend into the valley before climbing up the steep hillside to pass by Dock Tarn and Great Crag on the return leg of the journey. While there are some challenging parts, this is a great route for casual walkers.
Black Combe Walk
The Black Combe Walk is a spectacular outdoor experience in the Lake District that will take you uphill along an overgrown path to reach the summit of the mountain. While out on the trail, you will experience some wonderfully scenic views that sweep across the western seaboard and include Scotland, Wales, England, and the Irish Sea on a clear day. Make sure to bring a GPS for this walk, as navigation can be tricky along the relatively unmarked path.
Hodge Close Quarry & Cathedral Cavern Walk
The Hodge Close Quarry & Cathedral Cavern Walk is a great family-friendly adventure in the Lake District that will allow you to explore the natural beauty of the Little Langdale Valley. While out on the trail, you will meander through charming forests, walk past several quarries, and get the chance to take a detour into the Cathedral Cavern before strolling through the picturesque pastures of the valley. This may be a short walk, but it provides the opportunity to explore several unique points of interest both above and below ground.
Carrock Fell & High Pike Walk
Walking the Carrock Fell & High Pike Trail is a challenging adventure in the Lake District that will take you to the summit of each of these mountains for sweeping views of the surrounding landscape. The first 30 percent or so of this walk is a steep uphill climb to the summit viewpoints, which is followed by a pleasant downhill stroll where you can enjoy views that extend north to Scotland on a clear day and south to Blencathra. This is definitely a tough route, but if you can get over the initial slog then you are in for some spectacular views.
Lingmoor Fell Walk
The Lingmoor Fell Walk is a great family-friendly adventure for getting everyone in your walking party acquainted with exploring the rugged summits that can be found in the Lake District. While out on the trail, you will climb uphill to the summit of Lingmoor Fell for some beautiful views overlooking the Great and Little Langdale valleys before making your way northwest to the summit of Side Pike. With a small amount of elevation gain and easy-to-navigate terrain, this route is perfect for a quick weekend excursion in the mountains.
Lingmoor & Side Pike Walk
Walking the Lingmoor & Side Pike Trail is a great experience in the Lake District that will see you climb uphill across the rugged terrain of several fells for amazing views overlooking Great Langdale Valley. The trail sets out from the village of Elterwater and climbs up the hillside to the west before visiting the scenic vantage points atop Lingmoor Fell and Side Pike. Terrain here is rugged, rocky, and boggy, but if you can push through the rough portions you will be rewarded with a wonderful perspective of the surrounding Lake District landscape.
Pike of Blisco Round
The Pike of Blisco Round is a great walk that will take you uphill to the summit of several peaks for breathtaking views overlooking the surrounding Lake District terrain. While out on this trail, you will traverse the rugged terrain along the summits of Side Pike and Lingmoor Fell while enjoying views across Great Langdale before heading west past Blea Tarn to reach the rocky summit of the Pike of Blisco. This route features a fair amount of ascents and descents through the undulating hillside, but the spectacular views are well-worth the effort.
The Coniston Coppermines
Walking the Coniston Coppermines Trail is a fun Lake District experience that will take you uphill through some rugged terrain to reach the shores of Levers Waters. While out on the trail you will experience some breathtaking scenery, as you walk below the majestic formation known as the Old Man of Coniston and look back across the blue expanse of Coniston Water below. This trail will also appeal to walkers with historical interests, as the trail passes through an area that has been mined since the 1600s.
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