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 61 to 80 of 195
    Open details for Elterwater Lake Circular Walk

    Elterwater Lake Circular Walk

    Moderate
    6.8 km
    270 m
    2-2.5h

    The Elterwater Lake Circular Walk is a 6.8 mi journey through the Great Langdale Valley that will take you along the edge of the water and the flowing River Brathay. While out on the trail, you will experience views of the surrounding Lake District Fells as you walk along the valley floor between the villages of Elterwater and Skelwith Bridge. This walk offers a great mix of village, woodland, and open farmland walking, making it suitable for walkers of almost every skill level.

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    Open details for Grisedale Tarn Walk

    Grisedale Tarn Walk

    Hard
    7.6 km
    636 m
    3-4.5h

    The Walk to Grisedale Tarn is a beautiful but challenging journey that will take you across some steep terrain to visit a charming lake surrounded by rugged mountain peaks. While out on the trail you will walk alongside Tongue Gill before branching off to climb uphill through a small pass between the Seat Sandal and Fairfield mountains to arrive at the edge of the tarn. This route isn’t overly difficult, but it does traverse some rugged terrain that can be quite steep in places, making it less suitable for beginner walkers.

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    Open details for Sale Fell Circular Walk

    Sale Fell Circular Walk

    Moderate
    8.5 km
    409 m
    2.5-3.5h

    Walking the Sale Fell Circular is a great adventure in the northwestern corner of the Lake District that will take you through a beautiful forest to the summit of the rugged peak. While out on the trail, you will walk through a serene stretch of woodland terrain as you climb up the network of trails on the hillside before arriving at the summit for views overlooking the blue expanse of Bassenthwaite Lake. This trail is perfect for a hot summer day, as the canopy of the forest will provide a good amount of protection from the sun and the views from the summit will be all the more spectacular.

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    Open details for Harrison Stickle Walk

    Harrison Stickle Walk

    Hard
    6.3 km
    618 m
    3-4h

    The Harrison Stickle Walk is a tough uphill journey that will see you traverse several peaks known as the Langdale Pikes. While walking along this elevated position, you will enjoy some spectacular views across the undulating terrain of the Lake District, including Great Langdale Valley and Windermere off in the distance. The trail may be steep and rugged in some places, but exploring the Langdale Pikes is an extremely popular activity in the Lake District and should be sought out if you find yourself wandering the area.

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    Open details for High Spy Circular Walk

    High Spy Circular Walk

    Hard
    12.9 km
    681 m
    4-6h

    The High Spy Circular Walk is a challenging excursion that will take you uphill along the rugged terrain of the Lake District to reach the summit of several different fells. While out on the trail, you will make your way up the steep hillside of Cat Bells to experience views over Derwent Water before traversing the summits of Maiden Moor, High Spy, and High Scawdel for some nice views overlooking Honister Pass. This route features some of the best mountain views in the Lake District, making it a popular option in the area.

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    Open details for Holme Fell Circular Walk

    Holme Fell Circular Walk

    Moderate
    6.0 km
    300 m
    2-2.5h

    The Holme Fell Circular Walk is a moderate length route in the Lake District that will take you around the foot of Holme Fell and up to the summit viewpoint. Along the trail, you will pass through stretches of woodland terrain and experience views across several small lakes before climbing up to the summit for scenic views of the picturesque English countryside. This is a quick and relatively easy walk that is perfect for a weekend outing.

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    Open details for Mungrisdale Round Walk

    Mungrisdale Round Walk

    Moderate
    13.4 km
    706 m
    4.5-6h

    The Mungrisdale Round Walk is a great trail northeast of Keswick that climbs up some rugged terrain to summit several fells. While out on the trail, you will make your way up the steep hillside to the top of Souther Fell, continuing west along the undulating terrain to reach the top of both Bannerdale Crags and Bowscale Fell. The feeling that you will get along this walk is one of remoteness, with a bleak landscape spreading out in all directions that is interrupted only by the rugged terrain of the hilltops.

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    Open details for Ullock Pike & Skiddaw Circular Walk

    Ullock Pike & Skiddaw Circular Walk

    Hard
    11.6 km
    903 m
    4.5-6.5h

    The Ullock Pike & Skiddaw Circular Walk is a rugged adventure in the Lake District that will lead you uphill along an impressive ridgeline to reach the summits of these two peaks. While out on the trail, you will traverse some steep and rocky terrain to reach a viewpoint with amazing views overlooking Bassenthwaite Lake and the surrounding mountains of the area. This route is sure to produce a bit of a leg burn, but the amazing views are well worth the effort.

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    Open details for Wansfell Pike & Troutbeck Tongue Walk

    Wansfell Pike & Troutbeck Tongue Walk

    Moderate
    11.6 km
    558 m
    3.5-5h

    The Wansfell Pike & Troutbeck Tongue Walk is a moderate Lake District adventure that will take you uphill for views overlooking Windermere. While out on the trail, you will climb up the steep hillside and traverse often boggy terrain to reach several summits that include Wansfell Pike, Baystones, and Troutbeck Tongue. Try to attempt this route on a fair weather day to get the most out of the scenic views.

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    Open details for Grizedale Visitor Centre from Moor Top

    Grizedale Visitor Centre from Moor Top

    Easy
    7.2 km
    291 m
    2-3h

    The Grizedale Visitor Centre from Moor Top Walk is a fun, family-friendly adventure that is perfect for days when the views on other trails might not be the greatest. Along this trail, you will make your way through serene forests and open tracts of land to reach the Grizedale Visitor Centre. Here, you can rent bikes, pop into the cafe for refreshments, monkey around on a Go Ape course, or simply use the toilet facilities before continuing along the latter half of the trail.

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    Open details for Rannerdale Loop Walk

    Rannerdale Loop Walk

    Easy
    5.6 km
    355 m
    2-3h

    Walking the Rannerdale Loop is a fairly quick adventure in the Lake District that will lead you up to the summit of Rannerdale Knotts for some beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. While out on the trail, you will walk alongside the flowing waters of Rannerdale Beck and Squat Beck before looping around to traverse the rocky terrain of the fell for views overlooking the calm expanse of Crummock Water. This trail features a small amount of elevation gain, but the terrain is fairly easy and suitable for a wide range of skill levels.

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    Open details for Wetherlam Walk via Steel Edge

    Wetherlam Walk via Steel Edge

    Hard
    6.3 km
    615 m
    3-4h

    The Wetherlam Walk via Steel Edge is a challenging trail that will take you up the rugged hillside to experience some truly beautiful views of surrounding fells with Windermere off in the distance. Wainwright somehow missed this peak when writing about this majestic region; however, that doesn’t mean that you should! The feeling of reaching the top of this difficult trail to witness the stunning views is a rewarding experience.

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    Open details for Cogra Moss Walk

    Cogra Moss Walk

    Easy
    3.2 km
    137 m
    1-1.5h

    The Cogra Moss Walk is a great family-friendly adventure on the western edge of the Lake District that will expose you to some beautiful views across the lake with a few rugged hills in the backdrop. Made up of well-maintained paths that skirt around the edge of the lake, this route is perfect if you are looking for awesome views with little required effort. Those that want to extend their walk can continue around the lakeside loop for a bit of extra distance.

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    Open details for Hawkshead to Wray Castle Walk

    Hawkshead to Wray Castle Walk

    Easy
    13.7 km
    415 m
    3.5-5h

    Walking the trail from Hawkshead to Wray Castle is an amazing adventure that will allow you to take in the historic beauty of a Victorian-Era castle. While out on the trail, you will walk through the village and cross the picturesque countryside before arriving at the edge of Windermere where the majestic castle can be found. From here, the trail will take you south around the summit of Latterbarrow for some beautiful views overlooking the surrounding Lake DIstrict terrain.

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    Open details for Bowfell & Esk Pike Circular Walk

    Bowfell & Esk Pike Circular Walk

    Hard
    15.3 km
    1,055 m
    5.5-8h

    The Bowfell & Esk Pike Circular Walk is a rough and rugged adventure in the Lake District that is popular with outdoor enthusiasts looking for amazing views of the picturesque terrain. This trail will take you from the floor of the Great Langdale Valley to the summit viewpoints atop Bowfell, Esk Pike, Allen Crags, and Rossett Pike, where you will enjoy spectacular views overlooking the lush valley floor and surrounding fells. This is a lengthy trail with a fair bit of elevation gain along some rugged terrain, but the views across the hilly landscape are more than worth the required effort.

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    Open details for Blencathra & Halls Fell Ridge Walk

    Blencathra & Halls Fell Ridge Walk

    Hard
    8.0 km
    725 m
    3.5-5h

    The Blencathra & Halls Fell Ridge Walk is a moderate length walk in the Lake District that will see you do some light scrambling up a rugged ridgeline to reach the summit of Blencathra. Once there, you will experience some stunning views of the surrounding landscape, including Skiddaw to the northwest and Keswick to the southwest. This trail is fairly rugged and features a good amount of elevation gain, but the route is not overly exposed or dangerous, making it suitable for experienced walkers and casuals looking for a bit of a challenge.

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    Open details for Hampsfell Walk

    Hampsfell Walk

    Moderate
    3.4 km
    113 m
    1-1.5h

    The Hampsfell Walk is a short out-and-back trail on the southern edge of the Lake District that will take you up to a hilltop hospice that was constructed in 1846 by the vicar of Cartmel. From the roof of the building, you will have some spectacular views that sweep across the estuary to the south and the undulating terrain of the Lake District to the north, complete with a list of sights and a viewfinder. This is a great walk with scenic views and historic sites that can be enjoyed by walkers of every skill level.

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    Open details for Harrop Tarn Circular Walk

    Harrop Tarn Circular Walk

    Moderate
    4.7 km
    246 m
    1.5-2h

    The Harrop Tarn Circular Walk is a quick 4.7 km adventure that will take you through a variety of terrain to reach the calm waters of Harrop Tarn. While out on the trail, you will walk along the western shores of Thirlmere and climb uphill through the forest to visit the small lake before descending a boggy stretch of land back to the trailhead. This route is perfect for a relaxing weekend stroll in the Lake District.

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    Open details for Latterbarrow & Wray Castle Walk

    Latterbarrow & Wray Castle Walk

    Moderate
    6.6 km
    272 m
    2-2.5h

    The Latterbarrow & Wray Castle Walk is a fun adventure in the Lake District that will appeal to walkers of all types due to the scenic views and fantastic historical sites along the trail. While out walking, you will climb up to the summit of Latterbarrow for some lovely views overlooking the waters of Windermere before passing through the grounds of the Victorian-Era Wray Castle. This route is well-marked and well-maintained, making for a pleasant afternoon of strolling through the countryside

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    Open details for Hawkshead to Windermere Circular Walk

    Hawkshead to Windermere Circular Walk

    Moderate
    13.5 km
    519 m
    4-5.5h

    The Hawkshead to Windermere Circular Walk is a 13.5 km adventure in the Lake District that begins and ends in the charming village of Hawkshead, with a stop at the grounds of Wray Castle at roughly the halfway point. While out on the trail, you will traverse a variety of terrain that includes serene woodlands, the summit of Latterbarrow, and the shores of Windermere. This walk is perfectly suited for a casual weekend stroll that you can finish with a stop at the pub or some local shopping in the village.

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