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
Loughrigg Tarn & Elterwater Circular Walk
The Loughrigg Tarn & Elterwater Circular Walk is a great family-friendly adventure in the Lake District that will take you around two scenic lakes and a rushing waterfall. While out on the trail, you will pass by the scenic shores of Elterwater Lake and walk the banks of the River Brathay before experiencing the rushing waters of Skelwith Force on the way to Loughrigg Tarn. This walk is a bit busy; however, the beautiful scenery is worth having to share the trail with other walkers.
Loweswater Circular Walk
The Loweswater Circular Walk is a laidback adventure that will see you traverse some open and forested terrain along the edge of the lake. While out on the trail, you will experience a peaceful woodland setting and stunning lakeside views that include Burbank Fell, Carling Knott, and Darling Fell in the backdrop. This well-maintained and easy-to-navigate trail is perfectly suited for an easy family walk.
Duddon Valley Walk
The walk through Duddon Valley is a picturesque Lake District adventure that will lead you through some of the undulating terrain that the region is known for. While out on the trail, you will follow closely along the winding banks of the River Duddon and trek through the tranquil Dunnerdale Forest at the foot of Harter Fell before crossing the river to traverse a stretch of open terrain on the way back to the trailhead. This walk is perfect to get out on the weekend with the family and explore the gorgeous English countryside.
Hawkshead Hill, Tarn Hows, and Trover Intake Loop Trail
The Hawkshead Hill, Tarn Hows, and Trover Intake Loop is a fantastic walking route in the Lake District that sets out from the Village of Hawkshead and allows you to experience some charming stretches of English countryside. While out on the walk, you will have some great views of several lakes, including Windermere, Coniston Water, and Tarn Hows. This trail passes through some quiet areas, as well as busy stretches of trail near Tarn Hows, so be prepared to share the trail in these popular walking areas.
Lingmoor, Side Pike, and Blea Tarn Walk
The Lingmoor, Side Pike, and Blea Tarn Walk is a fun Lake District walk that will take you uphill for views overlooking Great Langdale Valley. Along the trail, walkers will traverse a variety of terrain that is sometimes steep and rocky, especially near the summit viewpoints. The final portion of the walk along the shores of Blea Tarn is also a relaxing way to finish off your day on the trails.
Patterdale to Pooley Bridge Walk
The Patterdale to Pooley Bridge Trail is a wonderfully scenic Lake District adventure that will expose you to some of the hilly terrain that this region is famous for. While out on the trail, you will ascend and descend a number of fells while enjoying breathtaking views across Ullswater before making your way down to the edge of the lake for the final leg of the journey to Pooley Bridge. This is a one-way journey, so you will need to make prior arrangements for a pick up or plan to catch the 108 bus line from Pooley Bridge back to Patterdale.
Tarn Hows Walk
The Tarn Hows Walk is a family-friendly excursion that will take you around a scenic lake set in one of the more popular areas of the Lake District. While out on the trail, you will walk around the scenic shores of Tarn Hows and pass through beautiful stretches of woodland terrain that line the edge of the water. As this is a popular walking area for families and tourists to the region, you will likely be sharing the beautiful views with a number of other people.
The Wasdale Screes Walk
The Wasdale Screes Trail is a long and physically demanding walking route that will lead you up to the summit of several fells for some stunning Lake District views. While out on the trail, you will climb to the summit of Whin Rigg and Illgill Head before walking along the length of Wast Water while traversing several rugged scree slopes. Walkers should note that this route is challenging and will require some route finding abilities.
Nether Wasdale and Wastwater Walk
The Nether Wasdale and Wastwater Walk is a fairly relaxing stroll through a variety of Lake District terrain that will provide you with some pleasant views across the surrounding countryside. While out on the walk, you will traverse open stretches of farmland and pass through tranquil forests before experiencing the gorgeous views of Wastwater and the rugged fells beyond. This route is perfect for a weekend walk with the family.
Hawkshead, Wray Castle, and Windermere Walk
The Hawkshead, Wray Castle, and Windermere Walk is a fantastic journey that will lead you through some picturesque locations that can be found within the Lake District. The trail sets out from the charming village of Hawkshead and traverses the open farmlands to the northeast to pass by Blelham Tarn and the Victorian-Era Wray Castle before walking the scenic shores of Windermere. Portions of this walk may be very busy, especially in the areas around Wray Castle and Hawkshead village.
Nethermost Pike via East Ridge Walk
Walking to Nethermost Pike via East Ridge is a tough climb up several rugged fells that will expose you to some challenging terrain and breathtaking views. The trail follows an easy approach along Grisedale Beck, before beginning the steep climb up to Nethermost Pike with a rugged traverse to Helvellyn. This route is exposed to the elements and weather conditions can change rapidly, so be prepared for all eventualities while out on the trail.
Osprey Viewpoint & Bassenthwaite Lake Walk
The Osprey Viewpoint & Bassenthwaite Lake Walk is a scenic Lake District adventure that will expose you to some beautiful views of Bassenthwaite Lake. While out on the trail, you will traverse lovely stretches of woodland terrain on the way to the scenic lookout at Osprey Point before heading down to the edge of the water for a pleasant walk in a wonderful lakeside setting. This area is a popular destination for birdwatchers, so make sure to keep an eye out for some unique species that may be in the area!
Bowness Knott Loop Trail
The Bowness Knott Loop is a forested walking trail in the Lake District with scenic views over Ennerdale Water. The trail climbs uphill and traverses the woodland terrain of the Bowness Plantation, while offering a beautiful sightline across the water toward a number of fells. This quick and easy-to-navigate trail is perfect for beginners and casual walkers.
Loughrigg Fell and Grasmere Walk
The Loughrigg Fell and Grasmere Walk is a charming adventure in the Lake District that will produce some of the best views that the region has to offer. While out on the trail, you will climb up to the summit of Loughrigg Fell for some breathtaking views before descending the hillside to walk the shores of Grasmere Lake and Rydal Water. This is a great route for casual and seasoned walkers alike.
Middle Fell, Seatallan, and Buckbarrow Walk
The Middle Fell, Seatallan, and Buckbarrow Walk is a rugged adventure that will take you through some barren terrain for breathtaking views of the Lake District. While out on the trail, you will traverse each of these three summits and gain a wonderful sightline overlooking Wast Water and Scafell Pike off in the distance to the east. Make sure to finish this demanding trail with some post-walk refreshments at The Strand or Screes Inn in Nether Wasdale.
Pike of Blisco and Crinkle Crags Walk
The Pike of Blisco and Crinkle Crags Trail is a challenging adventure that will see you climb several rugged peaks for some spectacular Lake District views. While out on the trail, you will traverse the Pike of Blisco and Great Knott summits before traversing the rocky and undulating terrain of the Crinkle Crags for views of Great Langdale Valley and surrounding peaks. There is no doubt that this is a tough day on the trails; however, the views and sense of accomplishment at having completed such a route are more than enough of a reward.
Dunmallard Hill Circular Walk
The Dunmallard Hill Circular Walk is a quick and easy adventure near Pooley Bridge that will take you uphill through the forest for some partial views of Ullswater. While out on this family-friendly trail, you will traverse the slopes of Dunmallard and make your way through a beautifully peaceful forest, catching the occasional glimpse of the stunning lake in between the cover of the trees. This walk is perfect for a quick and fun weekend excursion.
Seathwaite Fell Walk
The Seathwaite Fell Walk is a rugged Lake District adventure that will see you traverse several summit viewpoints for a great sightline across the surrounding landscape. While out on the trail, you will reach the top of Base Brown, Seathwaite Fell, Allen Crags, and Glaramara, all while enjoying beautiful Lakeland views. This is a great route if you enjoy scenic views and don’t mind climbing up and down the hillside along the length of the trail.
Sizergh Levens and Hincaster Circular Walk
Walking the Sizergh Levens and Hincaster Circular is a great activity with several historical points of interest that can be found just on the outskirts of the Lake District. While on the trail, you will pass through charming villages and beautiful stretches of forest along the River Kent, with the highlight of the walk being a visit to the grounds of Sizergh Castle. This is a great trail if you are interested in learning about some local history.
High Rigg and Tewet Tarn Walk
Walking the High Rigg and Tewet Tarn Trail is a family-friendly activity near Keswick that will see you climb uphill for some beautiful views of the surrounding Lake District landscape. This relatively short route will take you up to the summit of High Rigg before descending the hillside to visit the quiet shores of Tewet Tarn. This route is great for a fun outdoor excursion that can be enjoyed by walkers of nearly every skill level.
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