The Lake District's best-kept walking secrets

Published:

The geography of the Lake District means that there are so many different landscapes tucked into a relatively small area, each with its own unique character. But while it's easy to end up walking the well-trodden paths around the Lakes, there are less well-known but equally beautiful areas just crying out to be explored! Here are just a few of them!

Eskdale and Ravenglass

Ravenglass Roman bath house ruins

The Eskdale Valley has so much to see, and takes in the small villages of Santon Bridge, Eskdale Green and Boot. It is also linked to the small coastal village of Ravenglass by the Ravenglass and Eskdale Railway (known locally as La'al Ratty!), which means you can leave the car behind and enjoy a steam adventure on a narrow-gauge railway to the starting point of many walks! Our favourite routes from the railway include those along the River Esk, to Stanley Ghyll Force, to Blea Tarn and along Muncaster Fell via the Ravenglass Roman Bath House, one of the tallest remaining Roman structures in Britain! There's also a lovely woodland walk through Giggle Alley, next to the village of Eskdale Green, where you'll find a hidden Japanese garden!

View our cottages in Ravenglass and Eskdale.

Grange-over-Sands

Grange-over-Sands is an Edwardian seaside resort which has a lovely mild climate thanks to its location on the edge of Morecambe Bay. The Grange limestone pavements, outcrops of rocks where the surface over millions of years has been dissolved by water into 'paving blocks', boast a number of open and woodland pathways leading to and across Hampsfell. The highest point is marked by a distinctive square building, Hampsfell Hospice, and has fantastic views to the Langdales and Scafell Pike in the north, and over the bay and Arnside to the south.

Take a look at our cottages in South Cumbria and the Coastal Peninsulas.

The Duddon Valley

Devoke Water at sunset

Set in the far south west of the Lake District, the Duddon Valley is truly idyllic and follows the River Duddon as it rises near the Three Shires Stone on the Wrynose Pass between Eskdale and Langdale, meeting the sea near the small market town of Broughton in Furness. It passes Harter and Ulpha Fells in the west and Coniston Old Man to the east. It was also Wordsworth's favourite place to walk, so much so that he wrote a sequence of 35 sonnets about it! As well as the big fell walks, other routes to try out include those to Swinside Stone Circle and Devoke Water, which is the largest tarn in the Lake District and very quiet. There are also endless walks along the river, to waterfalls and through woodland and farmland. 

We have several cottages to enjoy in The Duddon Valley.

The Newlands Valley

The Newlands Valley in the Lake District

Despite being in the heart of the Lake District and one of its most picturesque landscapes, the Newlands Valley is less well known than other areas near to Keswick and is separated from Derwentwater by a line of fells including Cat Bells. Beatrix Potter must have loved it here, because she set the whole of The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle in the valley - the door to Mrs Tiggy-Winkle's hillside home was actually based on the real timber doors once used to block off abandoned mine shafts! You can drive to the Newlands Valley via Braithwaite, and there are walks to suit everyone, from those looking to 'tick off' the 214 Wainwright fells to families looking for a gentler amble. You can stop for refreshments at the Swinside Inn near the hamlet of Stair, and look out for the whitewashed walls of the delightful Newlands Church near Littletown.

Take a look at our cottages from which to explore The Newlands Valley.

Buttermere and Rannerdale

Rannerdale bluebells

When the towns and villages get busy, this remote part of the Lake District is the area to head to for the ultimate in peace and quiet! It is likely that at one time Crummock Water and Buttermere were actually one body of water, and it is possible to do a circular walk of either, as well as of Loweswater, which sits a little further north. The Rannerdale bluebells in spring, situated below Rannerdale Knotts, are really worth seeing - it's unusual to witness such a vast display outside of woodland and according to legend, they sprung here from the blood spilled by the Norman army at the Battle of Rannerdale. If walking the circuit of Buttermere, you'll be amazed to come across the Hassness Tunnel, built for a wealthy mill owner in the 19th century so that he could walk around the lake more easily! Afterwards you can stop for refreshments at the Kirkstile Inn in Loweswater, or the Bridge Inn, Fish Inn, Croft House Farm Café or Syke Farm Tearoom in Buttermere.

Take a look at our cottages in the Buttermere area.

The Troutbeck Valley, near Windermere

Troutbeck Village

If you're looking for picture perfect views complete with ageing barns and quaint stone cottages, the Troutbeck Valley, between Windermere and Ambleside (and not to be confused with Troutbeck near Penrith!) delivers in spades! The village of Troutbeck lies along the west side of the valley, and is made up of a series of small hamlets stretching around a mile and a half along the road. The valley is mostly grazing farmland with wooded areas in the valley floor, and follows the river to Lake Windermere. There are lots of paths and bridleways which lead into Troutbeck, and you can stop for a well-earned rest at The Mortal Man Inn, which has a beer garden on the hillside.

The Longsleddale and Kentmere Valleys

View from The Barn in Longsleddale

The Longsleddale and Kentmere Valleys are often overlooked pieces of countryside which are well worth exploring. Kentmere Reservoir is set in dramatic surroundings, and another feature to look out for in the area includes the 14th century pele tower at Kentmere Hall. Longsleddale's distinctive scenery and winding roads were also the inspiration behind the setting for one of our favourite children's animations, Postman Pat! Afterwards, there are plenty of places to eat in nearby Staveley (including Wilf's Café, Hawkshead Brewery and the More? Bakery) and Ings, which is home to the Watermill Inn (dog-friendly!) and the recently opened Café Ambio.

The Lyth and Winster Valleys

The Lyth Valley in Cumbria

To the south of Bowness-on-Windermere, the Lyth and Winster Valleys are particularly famous for one of the Lake District's culinary favourites - damsons! In spring, damson trees everywhere are covered with white blossom - there's even an annual Damson Day fair to celebrate! Then in September, the trees are laden with purple fruit, which is made into damson products. The landscape is fabulous, with rolling hills, traditional farmhouses and rocky outcrops of limestone. A network of small roads links the tiny villages of Bowland Bridge, Crosthwaite and Underbarrow with the nearby market town of Kendal. Winster and Crook lie at the head of the valleys, which are divided by the large form of Whitbarrow Scar - a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a great place for walking.

The western shore of Windermere

Wray Castle on Windermere

The honeypot villages of Windermere and Bowness-on-Windermere might make some of us shy away from the area during peak season, but the western side of Lake Windermere has a completely different atmosphere altogether. The peaceful lakeside walk between Wray Castle, at the head of the lake, and Claife Viewing Station, is becoming better known, especially since the viewing station's restoration by the National Trust in 2015. Further south and away from the lake, there's also a fantastic little walk starting near Stott Park Bobbin Mill and taking in High Dam, a man-made tarn which originally fed the river powering the mill.

View our cottages in and around Windermere.

Have you got a favourite quiet corner of the Lake District that we haven't mentioned here? If so, let us know on Facebook or Twitter - we love to hear your comments and walking ideas! And to find your perfect cottage in the ideal location, try out our online search facility. We hope you've found some inspiration from this post, and if you're looking for other less well known things to see in the area, take a look at our recent article, 10 of the Lake District's best kept secrets - these include a hidden 17th century viewing station, and a fabulous hillside garden situated on a walking route near Windermere.