What more beautiful part of England to explore on a walk than the delightful Lake District, set deep in the heart of Cumbria? Offering hundreds of walks, from leisurely ambles around the lakes to challenging high fell hikes, you will never be bored. This enchanting national park with over 200 km² of glistening lakes, high fells and mountains is dotted with pretty market towns and lakeside villages, home to many of our cosy Lake District cottages, that you can use as a relaxing base for your adventures.
If you've been been inspired by our choice of Lake District walks below, take a look at Walking Books' collection of guidebooks and maps, which go into finer detail both on our suggested walks and several more across the region.
Stop off and explore Wray Castle
The beauty of the Lake District is that everybody can come to experience the wonder of this most captivating English landscape as there are numerous walks for all levels and abilities. If you have a buggy or wheelchair, there are easy walks with great accessibility, with more difficult terrains for the intrepid walker, up to highly challenging climbs only suited to those with experience.
You can go it alone and follow one of the well-trodden trails or join one of the many guided walks offered by amongst others, the National Park and the National Trust. Ideal also for those who love the idea of walking but do not want to venture too far, there are some lovely walks that include cruises on the lakes where you can contemplate the view from the comfort of a boat. So, what are you waiting for, pull on your walking boots, grab your compass and head out to the wonderful world of walking!
Lower level walking
If you prefer to keep your feet on the ground, the Lake District offers a multitude of wonderful lower level walks. The Tom Gill to Tarn Hows walk in Coniston offers an exceptional view – one of the most iconic in the Lakes. Surprisingly Tarn Hows is a man-made lake (or more accurately, tarn – only Lake Bassenthwaite in the Northern Lakes is a true lake) and it is only 150 years old, though you would think it had been etched into the landscape for thousands of years. It has one of the more accessible paths in the Park if you arrive by car but if you are a walker, try the more difficult approach to the tarn past Tom Gill Beck where the views are absolutely spectacular.
Claife Heights is also worth a visit – there you will find Claife Station, built in the 18th century as a viewpoint for visitors to look over Lake Windermere. The windows of the drawing room each had a different outlook and coloured glass was carefully placed in each so that the view could be appreciated in all seasons. The summer was represented by yellow, the autumn by orange, light green in the spring and light blue for the winter. There was a dark blue to recreate moonlight and a lilac tint to hint at the colours of a storm across the lake. The National Trust are currently working to recreate this experience at Claife Heights so do look out for it!
Grizedale Forest offers many fascinating walks with the added attraction of hidden sculptures which will delight both children and adults alike. We all know that little legs can’t walk for hours, so this is a brilliant place to stop and encourage children to explore.
The iconic Lake Windermere offers lots of opportunities on a sunny day to stop for a picnic and paddle. Along the west shore of the lake there is a route linking Wray Castle to the Claife Viewing Station which offers beautiful views across the lake or a short climb takes you up to Latterbarrow and Claife Heights where you will be rewarded by stunning views of the lake and mountain ranges in every direction. Our Lakeland Hideaways team are always happy to recommend local walks; we lend guests maps during their stay and we even have a guide book with seven of our favourite walks that start from our office in the pretty village of Hawkshead.
Further afield, the Borrowdale Ramble is a great walk not involving much of an incline. You can catch a bus from Keswick Information Centre to Seatoller, take the walk along to Grange, then follow Catbells terrace to Nichol End. From here you can head back to Keswick or if your legs won’t carry you any further, you can take the boat back!
The National Trust offer some beautiful walks – there is a scenic circular walk from Wordsworth House in Cockermouth, following much of the Allerdale Ramble. The childhood home of William Wordsworth, you will have beautiful views of the fells and the pretty little hamlet of Isel with its 12th century church, and then you can return across an expanse of fields to the elegant Georgian town of Cockermouth.
The Mickleden Valley trail in Great Langdale is also an easy walk which takes you to the bottom of two ancient mountain passes. The Windermere western shore is a great low-level walk through woodland and parkland. It has views of the islands and the imposing Victorian Gothic Wray Castle. Just pack up a picnic and stop at one of the picnic spots just south of the castle, then join a guided tour of the castle. If you prefer to stay lakeside, one of the most spectacular walks is the Derwentwater and Brandelhow trail. Or why not take a lovely boat trip across the lake? Brockhole, the Lake District visitor centre has lots to offer offer, from exploring the beautiful gardens and admiring the stunning views to a weatlth of activities for children of all ages including adventure playground, treetop nets and kayak hire. When planning your break it is always worth checking out the activities running during your stay. You also mustn’t miss a boat ride on the beautiful Steam Yacht Gondola, first launched in 1859 and rebuilt by the National Trust in 1980.
Fell and mountain walking
Fell walking and climbing has become very popular over the last few years with lots of television programmes and books dedicated to the subject, and what better place to experience this than the Lakes? Recommended climbs are the Fairfield Range above Ambleside and the Coniston and Langdale Fells. Coniston is a walker’s paradise and is overlooked by the glorious Old Man of Coniston, a fell that many a walker has in their sights! Hawkshead is the perfect base from which to explore these stunning mountain ranges, and return later in the day for a scrumptious cream tea in one of the village’s tearooms, or maybe a well-earned pint in one of the four village pubs.
Another lovely fell walk which has the most glorious view from the summit is Glorious Green Gable which climbs from the Honister Pass to Grey Knotts, crosses Brandreth and then continues to Green Gable. Do bear in mind that it is quite a steep climb in places. You will be able to see the Pennines, Buttermere and Crummock Water from here as well as the Irish Sea. You can also see the Langdale Pikes with Lake Windermere in the distance.
Try as well the Hidden Valley of Watendlath which also counts on wonderful views and is great if you are looking for something a little quieter. For something slightly different, Castlerigg Stone Circle is one of the earliest stone circles in Cumbria – small wedges of stone shadowed by russet mountains behind – a real archaeological delight. Walla Crag is a popular short walk from Keswick and also offers spectacular views over Lake Derwentwater. Make sure you visit the iconic Ashness Bridge while you are there and go a little higher to reach Surprise View where you can look out over the whole of Derwentwater, Keswick and beyond to Bassenthwaite.
To escape the crowds, head to Rannerdale Knotts, a small fell near the village of Buttermere – try to visit in springtime when the bluebells are out. According to local folklore, the bluebells are said to have sprung from the spilt blood of the slain Norman warriors. Last but not least, visit Borger Dalr in Borrowdale, the ‘finest square mile in Lakeland’, according to the influential fellwalker and writer Alfred Wainwright. Drink in the most beautiful views from Castle Crag, a 2000 year old hill, and have a quiet moment at Peace How, a war memorial bought for the nation in 1917 where soldiers returning from the First World War could come to find a moment of tranquillity.
The Lake District isn’t just lakes and mountains! It also hosts twenty-six miles of coastline and estuaries; reaching from Seascale to Millom, this area is quite different to the rest of the park. Here you will experience dramatic views into the high fells, mountain ranges and moor-covered hills and also out to the Irish Sea. The area is rich with dunes and estuaries and its nature reserves are full of interesting sea life and birds. Try a relaxing stroll along the tranquil beach from Ravenglass to Drigg where you will enjoy beautiful views of the Lake District mountains and fells, with the Isle of Man to the west on a clear day and the cliffs of St. Bees Head to the north.
There are 48 walks across the Park suitable for people with limited mobility, including wheelchair users and the visually impaired. At Tarn Hows there are Trampers, all-terrain mobility scooters available from the National Trust enabling visitors to use the circular track around the tarn. There are different types of graded walks, some which are suitable for unassisted wheelchair users and others only for those with assistance. The Lake District National Park does have a guide with the type of terrain and gradient of each walk and they also offer a ‘miles without stiles’ scheme with lots of different walks available for different capabilities. For pushchairs, please bear in mind that some walks are better for rough-terrain style buggies and others for regular pushchairs and prams.
Dogs are welcome in most areas of the Lake District, but do be aware of wildlife and livestock, keeping them on leads where necessary. Remember not all dogs can cope with rugged mountain walking or may not be water aware – always check routes and times before you go. However, most of the National Park is excellent for our canine friends, assuming they are fit enough – there is after all, nothing better than taking your best pal on holiday!