With snow on the mountains and a fresh crispness to the air, winter walks in the Lake District are an absolute delight. And with fewer people around, you can really enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of the national park.
As always, remember to be fully prepared when out walking in the Lake District. Ensure you have appropriate clothing and footwear, and always carry a map, compass and torch (just in case). This is even more important during the winter when temperatures can easily drop below freezing and the days are shorter.
Once you’re all packed up and prepared, enjoy our pick of the best winter walks in the Lake District!
The iconic mounds of Catbells are easily recognisable to anyone familiar with the North Lakes. It’s also one of the most popular routes in the area and a great option if you’re looking for easy Lake District winter mountain walks. There is parking on the low northern slopes, once you’ve passed through Portinscale, though it’s best to get there early to ensure a place for yourself.
From there, the route is signposted and the path is clear. The trickiest bit is a small amount of scrambling halfway up, but even that won’t stop most people (just be careful of slipping). At the top, for a relatively minimal amount of effort, you’ll have stupendous panoramic views of Derwentwater, Skiddaw, Borrowdale, and the Newlands Valley.
Continue south and then follow the path left to reach the car park via a clearly marked path.
Cottages in Portinscale
Thanks to the extra rain in winter, the waterfalls in the Lake District are at their absolute best, and none more so than beautiful Aira Force!
Hidden away in the woods just beyond the shores of Ullswater, this waterfall is a real sight to behold. A pretty stone bridge spans the top of the falls, and the deep pool at the bottom has an air of the mystical. Park at the large National Trust car park and follow the walking trail all the way to the top. If you’re really lucky, you may even see the rare sight of a completely frozen waterfall!
Cottages at Ullswater
Grasmere and Rydal Water
These two pretty lakes are so small that it’s worth doing them both in one. From Grasmere village, you can follow the old coffin trail to Rydal Mount - formerly home to William and Dorothy Wordsworth - and then head towards the far shores of Rydal Water. Stop off at the impressive Rydal Caves, if you like, or just continue along the shore on this relatively flat and pleasant walk. You’ll end up back in Grasmere village where you’ll no doubt want to treat yourself to some famous Grasmere Gingerbread®!
Cottages in Grasmere
Castlerigg Stone Circle
Castlerigg Stone Circle, high above Keswick, is beautiful whatever the weather, thanks to the surrounding panorama of mountains. Coat this all in a layer of snow, or visit on a crisp day, and the views are even better.
The drive up to Castlerigg is steep and may be hazardous on colder days. Fortunately, you can walk directly up from Keswick town via a relatively quiet road, and then follow a footpath through woodlands and over a river. You can return the same way or take the slightly more direct route down the narrow road. Reward yourself with something warm and tasty from one of the many pubs and cafes in Keswick when you’re back. This really is one of the best Lake District walks in winter!
Cottages in Keswick
Ravenglass and Muncaster Castle
If you enjoy the sights and sounds of a wintery sea, then head to Ravenglass, the Lake District’s only coastal village!
From the ruins of the Roman Bath House, you can head east to the grounds of Muncaster Castle, which are full of lush greenery, even in winter. It’s worth taking a bit of a break at the castle to admire the ancient building or catch the birds of prey on show.
Pass along the canon bank for views of the Eskdale mountains before you head back into the tranquil woodland and roughly follow the river. You’ll eventually reach the edge of the estuary and return to Ravenglass through Eskmeals Dunes Nature Reserve.
Cottages in Ravenglass
There’s something truly magical about a forest in winter, and Grizedale is a really wonderful place to spend your day. Even better, it has several options for Lake District winter walks!
Sitting between the lakes of Windermere and Coniston, over 4,000 acres of woodland make up Grizedale, providing plenty of walking opportunities. There are 10 marked walking trails ranging from half a mile to 10 miles in length. Whichever path you choose, keep a sharp eye amongst the trees for the lovely sculptures, many of which will make you feel as though you’re in a magical winter wonderland.
Cottages near Grizedale Forest
If you’re a more experienced hiker, then you may want to take on the giant hulk of Skiddaw. One of the highest mountains in England, this fell has an ‘easy’ route up, which is relatively secure underfoot and a good option for hiking in winter when the weather is good. The peak is still 931 metres up, though, so don’t be nonchalant about the walk!
Once you’re at the top, survey the surrounding landscape and admire the beauty of the Lake District in winter.
Interested in more hiking on this famous mountain? Take a look at our guide to all the walking routes up Skiddaw.
Cottages near Skiddaw
Tranquil Haweswater sits out of the way along a single-track lane south of Ullswater. It’s the ideal place if you enjoy the loneliness and solitude that only the most remote Lake District valleys can offer.
Parking at the southern tip, there are a few walking options depending on your skill and interest, but we love the 10-mile hike right around the lake. Pockets of woodland and the occasional waterfall add plenty of interest, and the birdlife might catch your eye too: this is home to an RSPB nature reserve, after all. The paths are good for most of the way around the lake, making this a pleasant winter walk.
Cottages near Haweswater
Self-catering holiday cottages
If you’re walking in the Lake District in winter, you’ll want to make sure you have a cosy holiday cottage to return to! Browse through our properties and find your perfect self-catering cottage.
Browse Lake District cottages
Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing,
please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.