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
Little Mell Fell Trail
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.
Muncaster Fell & Ravenglass Walk
The Muncaster Fell & Ravenglass Walk is a fantastic adventure in the western part of the Lake District that will take you from Eskdale to the village of Ravenglass. Along the trail, you will experience beautiful views across the English countryside as you traverse the summit of Muncaster Fell and visit the grand Muncaster Castle. This is a point-to-point trail, meaning you will need to make prior arrangements for a pickup in Ravenglass or take the train back to the starting point of the walk at the Irton Road railway stop.
Muncaster Castle & Esk Estuary Circular Walk
The Muncaster Castle & Esk Estuary Circular Walk is a fantastic outdoor experience in the Lake District that will provide beautifully scenic views and the chance to visit a historical site. This trail will lead you up the rugged slopes of Muncaster Fell for views of the surrounding area before visiting the grounds of Muncaster Castle that date back to the 13th century and have been continuously updated over the centuries. The walk finishes along the waters of the River Esk and its estuary, creating a nice balance of natural and manmade scenery throughout the journey.
Seat Sandal and Stone Arthur Walk
The Seat Sandal and Stone Arthur Walk is a rugged adventure that will see you climb several Lake District fells for amazing views across the undulating landscape. While out on the trail, you will work your way uphill to the summit of Seat Sandal, moving east past Grisedale Tarn to the top of Fairfield and Cofa Pike before traversing Great Rigg and Stone Arthur on the descent of the mountainside. This is a point-to-point trail that doesn’t have any public transit at the end of the route, meaning you will need to arrange a pick up prior to setting out on your adventure.
Silver Point Walking Circuit
The Silver Point Walking Circuit is a fantastic adventure in the Lake District that features well-maintained tracks and stretches of rocky terrain that is suitable for walkers of almost every skill level. While out on the trail, you will traverse the slopes of Place Fell and take in views overlooking Ullswater before descending to a lower track near the water’s edge on the return leg of the journey. Get ready for some of the most scenic views in the area.
Six Wainwright Fells Walk
The Six Wainwright Fells Walk is a beautifully scenic but challenging adventure in the Lake District that will take you to the summit of six Wainwrights and several other peaks for some truly amazing views. While out on this trail, you will climb uphill through some rugged terrain to traverse the summit of Whiteside, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor, Crag Hill, Wandope, and Whiteless Pike before descending toward the edge of Crummock water for a relaxing finish to a tough journey. This route is fairly exposed to the elements and weather patterns can change rapidly, so make sure to prepare for all eventualities on the trail.
Bowness on Windermere Circular Walk
The Bowness on Windermere Circular Walk is a pleasant adventure in the Lake District that will take you from the shores of Windermere through the forests and open terrain east of the town to escape the busy crowds. While out on the trail, you will climb gently up the hillside and make your way through beautiful stretches of woodland terrain to enjoy some scenic views overlooking the waters of Windermere. This relaxing walk is perfect for a leisurely weekend stroll.
Barrow Fell Circular Walk
The Barrow Fell Circular Walk is a family-friendly excursion that will take you up to the summit of Barrow Fell for scenic views of the surrounding Lake District landscape. While out on the trail, you will climb uphill along the green slopes of Stile End, traversing the hillside to the rugged summit of Barrow Fell where you will enjoy a great sightline overlooking Derwent Water. This quick route to the top of the fell is easily accessible and consists of fairly easy terrain, making it suitable for walkers of most skill levels.
Beacon Tarn Circular Walk
The Beacon Tarn Circular Walk is a short and sweet route in the southern portion of the Lake District that will take you up to a charming tarn with mountain views. This laidback lollipop trail climbs gently uphill through the undulating terrain in a northwestern direction, bringing you to a beautiful tarn that feels more remote than it really is. Although this route isn’t overly difficult, the mountain views from the top of the trail are spectacular, making this quick route a good option for casual and seasoned walkers alike.
Blawith Common and Beacon Tarn Circular Walk
The Blawith Common and Beacon Tarn Circular Walk is a fun adventure in the southern Lake District that will take you uphill for some amazing views of the mountainous landscape. While out walking, you will make your way past the beautifully calm waters of Beacon Tarn before climbing up to the summit viewpoint of The Beacon for some spectacular views overlooking this scenic part of Lakeland. This route is great for walkers of nearly every skill level, just remember to be safe along the portion that follows the road.
Broughton-in-Furness Circular Walk
The Broughton-in-Furness Circular Walk is a pleasant route that passes through the charming English countryside for some nice Lake District views. This route will take you through a variety of terrain that includes woodlands, open farmland terrain, and charming riverside settings, before passing through the village of Broughton-in-Furness. You can also turn this into a fantastic pub walk by stopping in at the various establishments along the route.
Castle Crag Circular Walk
The Castle Crag Circular Walk is a fantastic Lake District excursion that takes you up to the slate-covered summit of this small Wainwright for breathtaking views. Although the route to the summit looks imposing from a distance, it is actually very easy to climb and is a popular walking route with families in the area. From the top of the trail, you will enjoy breathtaking views of the fell-flankled valley with Derwent Water off in the distance to the north.
Classic Coledale Circular Walk
The Classic Coledale Circular Walk is a spectacular Lake District adventure that will take you up a string of well-known fells for breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. Along this trail, you will climb uphill to traverse the summits of Grisedale Pike, Hobcarton Crag, Hopegill Head, Crag Hill, and Sail before descending along some minor hills to enjoy views overlooking the valley. This route is exposed to the elements, so make sure to check weather conditions before setting out on your journey.
Eagle Crag and Ullscarf Walk
The Eagle Crag and Ullscarf Walk is a tough yet rewarding journey through some rough and rugged Lake District terrain. While out on the trail, you will make your way through the valley alongside Stonethwaite Beck and climb uphill to traverse the summits of Eagle Crag, Sergeant’s Crag, and Ullscarf, passing by several tarns on the way back to the starting point of the walk. This lengthy adventure is geared more towards experienced walkers, but if you can handle the rough terrain, you will be rewarded with spectacular views.
Elterwater Waterfalls Walk
The Elterwater Waterfalls Walk is a wonderfully scenic journey in the Little Langdale Valley that will take you to several unique highlights and produce some beautiful Lake District views. While out on the trail, you will visit the locations of Skelwith Force and Colwith Force to take in the sights of the rushing water before making a stop at the Cathedral Cavern to explore the subterranean caves. This walk is perfect for a fun family outing.
The Ennerdale Walk is an intermediate-length adventure that will take you along the shores of Ennerdale Water and the River Liza to experience some picturesque Lake District Scenery. While out on the trail, you will enjoy some views across the calm water of the lake and stroll the banks of the river as it sits nestled in the valley floor, flanked by rugged fells on either side. This is a wonderfully scenic route that requires little effort to complete.
Glenridding Dodd Walk
The Glenridding Dodd Walk is a steep route that will lead you up to the summit of Glenridding Dodd and Sheffield Pike for beautiful views overlooking the blue expanse of Ullswater. While on the trail, you will make your way up the steep hillside, traversing each of these peaks and enjoying breathtaking views before descending the mountain along some boggy terrain. This is a great walk for casual and seasoned walkers alike.
Glenridding and Greenside Mine Circular Walk
The Glenridding and Greenside Mine Circular Walk is a fun, family-friendly route in the Lake District that offers beautiful views of surrounding fells. The trail climbs gently uphill through an area that was previously used for mining operations and is flanked by Birkhouse Moor and Sheffield Pike on the south and north sides, respectively. This is a great route for a leisurely weekend stroll with the family.
Coniston Old Man via Goats Water Walk
Coniston Old Man via Goats Water is a fantastic walk that will take you up to the summit viewpoint for an amazing sightline overlooking the surrounding Lake District landscape. Less-travelled than other routes up the mountain, this trail will separate you from the majority of walkers and allow you to enjoy at least a part of the trail in solitude. Dramatic views along Goats Water are definitely a highlight, as you will be flanked by rugged fells on either side.
Haweswater Reservoir Circular Walk
The Haweswater Reservoir Circular walk is a lengthy route in the Lake District that will lead you around the shores of the highest lake in the region. Along the trail, you will experience beautifully scenic views across the water and surrounding fells, as you traverse the rugged terrain that characterized this region. Make sure to stop in at the Haweswater Hotel for some mid-walk refreshments.
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