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

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    Open details for Church Stile Farm to Wastwater Trail

    Church Stile Farm to Wastwater Trail

    Moderate
    6.8 km
    303 m
    2-3h

    Walking the Church Stile Farm to Wastwater Trail is a nice family-friendly adventure in the western part of the Lake District that will see you explore a beautiful forest setting at the edge of a lake. While out on the trail, you will traverse open stretches of farmland before making your way through the shady canopy of Low Wood that will eventually bring you to the edge of Wastwater for some lovely views. This walk is perfect for a weekend stroll with the kids or as a chance to let the dogs run free for a spot of exercise.

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    Open details for Loweswater and Holme Wood Walk

    Loweswater and Holme Wood Walk

    Moderate
    8.7 km
    363 m
    2.5-3.5h

    The Loweswater and Holme Wood Walk is a moderate length adventure that will take you through serene stretches of forest and up a hillside for some wonderfully scenic views. While out on the trail, you will walk along the shores of Loweswater and trek through Holme Wood before reaching an elevated position with a view of the Solway Firth and Irish Sea. This is an excellent walking route for casual explorers and seasoned adventurers alike.

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    Open details for Scafell Pike Corridor Route

    Scafell Pike Corridor Route

    Hard
    14.5 km
    1,124 m
    5.5-8h

    The Scafell Pike Corridor Route is a challenging adventure in the Lake District that climbs up a number of steep and rocky fells for some truly breathtaking views. This trail will see you walk along the waters of Lingmell Beck before climbing up the poorly-marked and rocky terrain of Great End. From here, you will make your way further uphill to Scafell Pike and Lingmell for some amazing views overlooking Wast Water and countless peaks. This is a tough climb that will require some basic route finding, but the spectacular views are enough to outweigh the negatives of this route.

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    Open details for Coast to Coast Walk: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

    Coast to Coast Walk: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite

    Moderate
    22.7 km
    589 m
    5.5-8h

    The Coast to Coast Walk: Ennerdale Bridge to Rosthwaite is a small segment of a much longer journey that will take you across northern England from the Irish Sea to the North Sea. While on this portion of the walk, you will pass through some of the Lake District’s most scenic terrain that includes the shores of Ennerdale Water and the rugged mountains near Honister Pass. This is a point-to-point trail, so if you are not intending to walk across the entire country, you best make arrangements for a pick up at the end of the trail.

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    Open details for Ambleside to Tarn Foot Farm Walk

    Ambleside to Tarn Foot Farm Walk

    Moderate
    9.2 km
    443 m
    3-4h

    Walking from Ambleside to Tarn Foot Farm is an amazing Lake District adventure that will take you uphill to experience some of the best views that the region has to offer. The trail will take you from the town of Ambleside across the picturesque English countryside to climb up Loughrigg Fell for some breathtaking views of the surrounding fells, as well as Rydal Water and Grasmere below. This is a point-to-point trail, meaning walkers will need to either make arrangements in advance to be picked up at the end of the trail or walk back to Ambleside to reach the trailhead.

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    Open details for Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale Circular Walk

    Tilberthwaite and Little Langdale Circular Walk

    Moderate
    6.9 km
    417 m
    2.5-3.5h

    The Tilberthwaite & Little Langdale Circular Walk is a moderate length walking route in the Lake District that will take you up to an elevated position for some nice views overlooking the Little Langdale Valley. While out on the trail, you will walk along a charming gorge and traverse a stretch of undulating terrain near the rugged peak of Wetherlam, before descending the hillside into the valley. This walk offers a great combination of moderate distance/difficulty with some pleasant views of the English countryside.

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    Open details for Buttermere to Rannerdale Walk

    Buttermere to Rannerdale Walk

    Moderate
    4.8 km
    295 m
    1.5-2.5h

    The Buttermere to Rannerdale Walk is a short route that will take you from the village of Buttermere up through some rugged terrain to reach the summit of this small, rounded fell. While out on the trail, you will climb up the rugged terrain of the ridge and enjoy scenic views over Crummock Water, Buttermere Lake, and the Secret Valley of Rannerdale, before descending the hill to the edge of the water. This is only a short walk, but the stunning views will make you wish that the trail was a whole lot longer.

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    Open details for Howtown to Glenridding Walk

    Howtown to Glenridding Walk

    Moderate
    10.7 km
    310 m
    2.5-4h

    The Howton to Glenridding Walk is a scenic journey along the shores of Ullswater that will take you from the village of Howtown to Glenridding at the southwest corner of the lake. While out on the trail, you will walk along the lower slopes of several fells at the point where they meet the edge of Ullswater, creating a dramatic landscape of open water and steep slopes in every direction. This is a point-to-point trail, which means that you will need to make prior arrangements to be picked up at the end of the route.

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    Open details for Hallin Fell Walk

    Hallin Fell Walk

    Easy
    2.0 km
    160 m
    1h

    The Hallin Fell Walk is a short 2.0 km circuit that will take you up to a summit viewpoint overlooking Ullswater and the beautiful landscape of the Lake District. The trail will see you climb gently uphill through the rugged moorland terrain of Hallin Fell before coming to the rock cairn marking the viewpoint. This quick adventure with breathtaking views can be enjoyed by walkers of almost every skill level and is perfectly suited for a weekend excursion with the family

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    Open details for Helvellyn from Swirls Car Park Walk

    Helvellyn from Swirls Car Park Walk

    Hard
    10.1 km
    868 m
    4-6h

    Reaching the summit of Helvellyn from Swirls Car Park is a challenging activity in the Lake District that will take you up one of the most iconic peaks in the region. While out on this walk, you will experience steep and rugged terrain as you work up to the summit viewpoint for views of Thirlmere before descending the fell along the summits of Lower Man and White Side. This is a popular walking route in Lakeland, so be sure to arrive early to beat the crowds.

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    Open details for Alcock Tarn Walk

    Alcock Tarn Walk

    Moderate
    5.8 km
    369 m
    2-3h

    The Alcock Tarn trail is an amazing route in the Lake District due to its relatively short overall length and breathtakingly scenic views. From the top of this trail, you will experience views of the charming mountaintop lake, as well as the surrounding landscape that includes numerous fells and the lakes of Grasmere and Rydal Water in the valley below. This is one of the top walks in the Grasmere area and it should absolutely be near the top of your list.

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    Open details for Black Fell and Tarn Hows Circular Walk

    Black Fell and Tarn Hows Circular Walk

    Moderate
    14.3 km
    758 m
    4.5-6.5h

    The Black Fell and Tarn Hows Circular Walk is a popular activity in the Lake District that will take you to several scenic viewpoints overlooking the surrounding landscape. While out on the trail, you will traverse the rugged summit of Black Fell and continue south to eventually reach the viewpoint atop Tom Heights that overlookings the charming setting of Tarn Hows. Make sure to arrive early for this pleasant stroll through the picturesque English countryside.

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    Open details for Brigsteer Woods Walk

    Brigsteer Woods Walk

    Moderate
    6.4 km
    215 m
    1.5-2.5h

    Located right on the edge of the Lake District, Brigsteer Woods is a beautiful walk through a peaceful stretch of woodland terrain. Here, you will make your way past Sizergh Castle before passing through the atmospheric terrain of the wood and walking along a stretch of marsh. The trail here is wide and well-maintained, making it suitable for walkers of nearly every skill level.

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    Open details for Broad Crag and Scafell Pike Walk

    Broad Crag and Scafell Pike Walk

    Hard
    13.7 km
    1,043 m
    5.5-7.5h

    The Broad Crag and Scafell Pike Walk is a challenging Lake District adventure that will lead you up some rough and rugged terrain for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. The route will take you from the edge of Wast Water and lead you through a corridor along Lingmell Beck before climbing uphill to summit each of these two imposing peaks. This walk is definitely a difficult one, but the views are worth the effort.

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    Open details for Cat Bells and Maiden Moor Circular Walk

    Cat Bells and Maiden Moor Circular Walk

    Hard
    12.2 km
    770 m
    4.5-6h

    Walking the Cat Bells and Maiden Moor Circular is a rugged, yet beautiful Lake District adventure that will take you uphill along some tough terrain for scenic views overlooking Derwent Water. This trail will see you climb a ridge made up of several fells, including Cat Bells, Maiden Moor before descending the hillside to walk closer to the edge of the water. This is a great walk to build experience and confidence for longer and more challenging routes.

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    Open details for Clough Head & Calfhow Pike Circular Walk

    Clough Head & Calfhow Pike Circular Walk

    Moderate
    11.3 km
    724 m
    4-5.5h

    The Clough Head & Calfhow Pike Circular is a moderate walking route near Keswick that will take you uphill for some amazing views of the rolling hills and rugged fells of the Lake District. The trail makes a steep ascent along the western slope of Clough Head before descending along the summit of Calfhow Pike to reach the valley floor below. Paths on this route can be hard to distinguish at times, so remember to bring a GPS or trail map for this adventure.

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    Open details for Helm Crag & Easedale Tarn Circular Walk

    Helm Crag & Easedale Tarn Circular Walk

    Moderate
    9.5 km
    563 m
    3-4.5h

    Walking the Helm Crag & Easedale Circular is a great experience that will take you up a rugged fell for some scenic views of the surrounding area. While out on this trail, you will summit Helm Crag and enjoy breathtaking views of the rolling hills around you before working your way west to the serene shores of Easedale Tarn. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the cascading Easedale Waterfall on your way back to Grasmere.

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    Open details for Great Gable and Kirk Fell Walk

    Great Gable and Kirk Fell Walk

    Moderate
    12.1 km
    1,039 m
    5-7h

    The Great Gable and Kirk Fell Walk is an amazing adventure that will take you up to the summit of two of the Lake District’s most well-known fells, so much so that Great Gable serves as the emblem of Lake District National Park. The trail will see you set out from Wasdale Head to first summit Great Gable for some of the best views that can be found anywhere in Lakeland before descending slightly to the summit of Kirk Fell. Arrive early, as this area is very popular with walkers and parking may be limited.

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    Open details for Keswick to Honister Pass via Lodore Falls Walking Route

    Keswick to Honister Pass via Lodore Falls Walking Route

    Moderate
    17.1 km
    1,164 m
    6-8.5h

    The trail from Keswick to Honister Pass via Lodore Falls is a lengthy point-to-point adventure that will see you traverse some scenic Lake District terrain while out on the trail. This route will take you along the western shore of Derwent Water, before traversing Cat Bells on the way to visit Lodore Falls to the east. From there, you will continue south and climb uphill along High Spy before descending into the pass. Be sure to make prior arrangements for a pick up or plan to use public transit, otherwise you will have to walk back to your vehicle at the trailhead.

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    Open details for Little Mell Fell Trail

    Little Mell Fell Trail

    Easy
    1.3 km
    115 m
    0.5-1h

    Walking up Little Mell Fell is a quick adventure in the Lake District that features scenic views and is perfectly suited for families with children. While out on this trail, you will climb up the grassy hillside to reach the summit of Little Mell Fell, where you will enjoy beautiful views across the rolling landscape towards Ullswater. This route is dog-friendly, but make sure to keep them on a leash.

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