There's so much to experience in the Lake District that it can be hard to fit in everything you want to see and do! So if you've just an hour to spare and are looking for somewhere scenic to take a stroll, or you're simply looking for shorter walks rather than to tackle the fells, we've put together some ideas we think you'll love - and each can be achieved in an hour or less!
Note: The following descriptions are intended as walk summaries only, so always find a full route description from a guide or map, and even though these are short walks, make sure you are wearing sturdy footwear suitable for the terrain! Paths with stone surfaces can be very slippery, even at low level!
1. Blea Tarn, Langdale
This small mountain lake is one of the easiest tarns in the Lake District to reach without a long hike, and is situated on the road between Little Langdale and Great Langdale. There's a convenient car park on the opposite side of the road to the tarn, so cross the road with care, go through the gate, and follow the path down towards the water and through a second gate.
You'll cross a footbridge and will then need to take the path to the right, where you'll find a wooded area with benches. Blea Tarn is a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and is one of the most beautiful tarns in the Lake District. If you have time, you can follow the path out of the wood and onto the fell, with lovely views of the Langdale valley, but otherwise it's time to retrace your steps back to the car park!
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2. Aira Force, Ullswater
Aira Force is a dramatic waterfall near Ullswater that inspired at least three of William Wordsworth's poems! The waterfall is easily accessed from the National Trust car parks both below and above, with toilets and a tearoom located in the lower car park. From here, make your way beneath the dappled shade of the Glade and Pinetum areas to climb one of the stone paths either side of the river. You can view the waterfall from the bridge above, and look out for the series of steps that take you down to experience the might of the water from below!
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3. Latrigg, Keswick
If you're looking for a short walk with stunning views, Latrigg is the perfect place to head to! Situated to the north of Keswick, you simply drive to the Gale Road car park and from here you can take the path to the top of Latrigg, signposted 'Latrigg Viewpoint'. The path is easy underfoot, although steep in sections, and you'll be rewarded with breathtaking views across Keswick and Derwentwater, as well as to Skiddaw, with Bassenthwaite Lake in the distance.
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4. The Bowder Stone, Borrowdale
The Bowder Stone has fascinated visitors to the area since the early 1800s, and was established as a tourist attraction in 1798 by eccentric offcomer Joseph Pocklington, who had a ladder built to allow tourists to stand on the top! It's still not clear how the stone came to be here, though. Was it as a result of melting glaciers, or part of an enormous rockfall from Bowder Crag above?! There's much evidence to suggest the stone did fall from the crag, but either way, it's a truly memorable place to visit! Stop at the nearby National Trust car park, and the stone is just a 15-minute walk away.
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5. Brothers Water, near Ullswater
Starting at the Cow Bridge car park, this short walk takes you along the wooded shore of Brothers Water towards Hartsop Hall, a 16th century Grade I listed building owned by the National Trust. Brothers Water is a shallow body of water with reed beds, and is home to moorhens, coots and swans. It looks particularly beautiful in autumn, as the golden colours emerge on the trees! If you've extra time, you can pass behind Hartsop Hall and continue to Sykeside campsite and The Brotherswater Inn. Retrace your steps afterwards to return to the car park.
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6. Cockshott Point, Bowness-on-Windermere
If you find yourself in Bowness with time to spare, this short walk is ideal! Take a wander around Glebe Road from the Windermere Lake Cruises ticket offices and jetties at Bowness Bay, and as the road bears to the left after the last row of shops, you'll notice a signpost to Cockshott Point. This quieter path will take you through trees to a meadow looking over the lake to Belle Isle and the boats and car ferry, and here you pass through a kissing gate to Ferry Nab. Returning back through the gate, you can walk back the way you came, or on a path which comes out opposite Rectory Road. Follow this road to make your way back to the Information Centre and your starting point.
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7. Ravenglass Roman Bath House
This is a short and accessible walk suitable for everyone, which may come in useful if you've time to spare at the beginning or end of a journey on The Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (or La'al Ratty, as it's affectionately known)! Around a kilometre from Ravenglass Station lie the remains of the Roman fort Glannoventa, where you can still see the bathhouse, one of the largest surviving Roman structures in England. Incredibly, some of its walls still measure almost four metres high!
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8. Stanley Ghyll Force, Dalegarth
One of the Lake District's most unusual waterfalls, Stanley Ghyll Force is situated in a steep stone gorge surrounded by moss-covered stone, ferns and greenery, which make it feel almost tropical! The walk to the waterfall follows the river through ancient woodland, with parking available at the Trough House Bridge car park near Dalegarth Hall. For more information, see our post, a trip to Stanley Ghyll Waterfall.
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9. Stockghyll Force, Ambleside
This 70-foot waterfall is another stunning sight during the autumn, and is easy to reach from the centre of Ambleside near to Market Place. The route begins on a quiet road, which winds its way uphill alongside the Stockghyll river, and after a while you come to a more uneven, stony path which, leaving the road, continues through woodland until you reach the waterfall itself. Stockghyll river was once used to power the town's mills, which produced corn, wool and bobbins! You can still see evidence of this historic industry around Ambleside today!
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10. Friar's Crag and Strandshag Bay, Keswick
This lovely leisurely stroll can be taken directly from the town of Keswick itself! Simply follow the path along the Derwentwater Foreshore from the town's Theatre by the Lake, and after 10 minutes you'll come to Friar's Crag, a rocky outcrop looking south along Derwentwater to the dramatic 'Jaws of Borrowdale'! You can also extend your walk to take in neighbouring Strandshag Bay, and return to your starting point through Cockshot Wood.
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11. Clint’s Quarry, near Whitehaven
Just outside the coastal harbour town of Whitehaven is the most wonderful secret garden. When you park up outside you’ll wonder why on earth we’re sending you there, but follow the small track into the nature reserve and BAM! a stunning hidden oasis! Many years ago it was a quarry but these days is managed by Cumbria Wildlife Trust and is home to lots of rare and wonderful species. There are plenty of information boards to fill you in on your surroundings plus a good number of benches to sit and take it all in.
The Quarry covers 9 acres in all but the circular route is a little over half a mile long, which means you can either have an even shorter walk, or really take your time and admire the wildflowers, ponds, reptiles, birds and butterflies! Be careful, though, you might find yourself whiling away more than an hour in this tranquil haven!
12. Hodbarrow Point, Millom
Only those properly in the know head for Millom, but those who do are rewarded with a wonderful walk around Hodbarrow Nature Reserve and out along the sea walls to Haverigg Lighthouse. With Black Combe fell looming up behind you and Morecambe Bay stretching out in front, this truly is an amazing spot. This Site of Special Scientific Interest is popular amongst bird watchers thanks to the large number of wading birds and waterfowl. It is also home to the Natterjack Toad - now very rare in the UK.
The area is crammed with interesting history, from the100-year-old lighthouse to the reserve's previous use as a mine. The lagoon by Hodbarrow Point is also home to the only water skiing in Cumbria! If you want to remain on dry land, you can wander off along the dunes of Haverigg Bank for a perfect seaside stroll or take in part of the circular route around Hodbarrow Lagoon. If you want to extend your walk, you can do the full loop, which is a fairly easy 6.5 km walk.
13. Devil’s Bridge & Ruskin’s View, Kirkby Lonsdale
Folklore has it that Devil’s Bridge took its name after an old lady tricked the devil into returning her lost cow! There’s a good chance that’s not actually true, but what is undeniable is that the views from here are glorious. Kirkby Lonsdale simply oozes history and it’s an easy walk from Devil’s Bridge, through the town, to Ruskin’s View, with plenty of shops and cafes to tempt you along the way. If you take a packed lunch there are also plenty of picnic benches near the bridge to enjoy an al fresco sarnie!
The beautiful outlook known as Ruskin's View was painted by Turner in 1822 and was later described by John Ruskin - a prominent critic, social theorist, painter and poet - as ‘one of the loveliest views in England, therefore in the world’. That's quite an accolade!
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14. The Howk, Caldbeck
Caldbeck is a gloriously unspoilt Cumbrian village – there’s ample parking next to the river and a signed footpath out to The Howk, a waterfall tucked into a deep limestone ravine. Along the way you’ll pass an old bobbin mill, which once had the largest waterwheel in the country and which offers glimpses into Cumbria’s industrial past. The landscape up here is unlike anywhere else in the Lake District, so it's well worth escaping the busy and better-known areas of the central Lakes!
This is a linear walk that turns back on itself once you reach The Howk. You won't regret retracing your steps on this peaceful route, though! When you’re done, there’s a lovely pub and café in the village where you can put your feet up and enjoy a well-earned piece of cake.
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15. Scale Force, Crummock
Scale Force is the highest waterfall in the Lake District with a drop of 52 metres. It’s tucked away on the far side of Crummock Water but is a fairly straightforward walk, though paths are at times unclear. Both Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth waxed lyrical about the beauty of Scale Force, so who are we to disagree? Being right in the heart of the national park, this walk is surrounded by stunning fells in every direction.
Park in the National Trust car park (arrive early to get a space) and pass through Buttermere village until you reach Scale Bridge. Take a right towards Crummock and follow the lakeshore until you're level with Scale Island. You then turn away from the water to head up between the fells of Scale Knott and Blea Crag until you reach the force. Once you've returned to the village, and if you have a bit of energy left, take a short walk up to Buttermere church to admire Wainwright’s window and the beautiful church gate. You cal also refuel with some homemade ice cream, tasty cakes, or a hearty meal at one of the two wonderful pubs!
We hope you'll be able to fit in one or two of these walks during your time in the Lake District - let us know your personal favourites and share your photos with us over on Facebook and Twitter! If you've not yet booked your stay in the Lake District, you can find your ideal cottage with us using our online search facility.
There are walks to suit every taste and ability in the Lakes! Other posts you may find of interest: