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Lake District walks: the ultimate guide holiday cottages

Lake District walks: the ultimate guide

Ruth 06 April 2021

Combining inspiring scenery, varied terrain and plenty of fresh air, the Lake District is one of the best places for a walking holiday.

If you’re looking for some of the best trails in the Lake District, we’ve put together a handy guide to help you with your planning.

Whether you’re wanting to walk in the Lake District with your kids, your dog, or even by yourself, there is a route to suit you. Read on to discover some of the best Lake District walks, from gentle and flat lakeside strolls to more strenuous hikes where you’ll be rewarded with some of the country’s best views.

And if you’re looking for a cosy cottage to relax in after a day out on the hills, click the button below to view our full collection.


Find a Lake District walk near you

North East Lake District

Walks in the North East Lake District

Enjoy the inspiring scenery of dramatic mountain peaks and alpine-esque villages in the North East Lake District, including walks in Ullswater, the Eden Valley and Mungrisdale.


Ullswater walks

Ullswater

One of the most beautiful lakes in the National Park, Ullswater is famous for inspiring William Wordsworth’s ‘Daffodils’ poem. The second largest lake in the Lake District is surrounded by a backdrop of imposing fells, and there are plenty of walks where you can soak up the scenery.


Eden Valley walks

Eden Valley

Read our 10 best walks around this hidden gem. The Eden Valley is diverse in scenery and wildlife, making it a great location to explore on foot.

Long Meg Stone Circle

Beginning in a timeless village, and combining river caves, an ancient stone circle and a tea room, this Eden Valley walk has got it all.


Mungrisdale walks

Mungrisdale

Mungrisdale parish is nestled in the northern Lake District, and it’s the best place to start if you want to traverse the spectacular Bowscale Fell.

This simple walk details a family-friendly route which will take in all the sights of this former Victorian hot spot. Discover history and scenery on one of the best day walks in the Lake District.


South East Lake District

Walks in the South East Lake District

The South East Lake District is home to some of the national park’s most beloved areas, including Windermere, Coniston and Ambleside – all offering spectacular walking routes. Click here for more Bowness-on-Windermere walks.


Ambleside walks

Wansfell Pike

Around 1.5 miles from Ambleside, this beautiful walk takes you up Wansfell Pike, a gentle hill that’s easily conquered by all the family.

Red Screes

Standing 776 metres high, Red Screes offers beautiful views from the top – but you can drive halfway up to make this walk much shorter.


Windermere and Coniston walks

Old Man of Coniston

Take the easy route up to this iconic landmark, where you can enjoy epic views towards Blackpool Tower, the Pennines and the Isle of Man.

Lake Windermere

For some of the best walks in the Lake District, visit the largest natural lake in England: the breathtaking Lake Windermere.


South West Lake District

Walks in the South West Lake District

With popular locations such as Eskdale, Wasdale, Ennerdale and Duddon Valley to explore, the South West Lake District offers exquisite valleys, epic mountains and coastal sunsets.


Eskdale walks

Muncaster Fell

This fantastic walk involves one of the South West Lake District’s most iconic attractions – L’aal Ratty! Jump onboard the steam train towards Ravenglass and then hike up Muncaster Fell.  


Burnmoor Tarn

Another of our Lake District walking routes which involves taking the Ratty, this circular walk takes you to Burnmoor Tarn, where you can take a dip!

Stanley Ghyll waterfall

There’s a choice of three walks in Eskdale, all culminating in the awe-inspiring sight of Stanley Ghyll as it plunges from 60 feet high.


Wasdale, Ennerdale and Duddon Valley walks

Wasdale

Amongst the Lake District’s deepest lake and tallest mountain, there are gentler days out to be had too in Wasdale. This short and easy walk is a great way to get to know Wasdale, and takes in some of the area’s incredible scenery.


Ennerdale

An imposing figure on the Lake District skyline, Pillar Rock is well worth exploring, and this magnificent walk takes you an easier way up.

River Duddon

Explore the hidden gem of Dunnerdale on this route, following the shimmering River Duddon through some of Wordsworth's favourite scenery.


North West Lake District

Walks in the North West Lake District

Boasting destinations such as Keswick, Buttermere, Loweswater and Borrowdale, the North West Lake District is a mecca for walkers of all kinds.


Walks near Keswick

Keswick

As the main northern town in the national park, and being close to the shores of Derwentwater and Skiddaw, Keswick is a must-visit if you’re after top Lake District walks.

Set out on placid, circular trails where you can soak up the scenery, spot deer and red squirrels on woodland trails, or enjoy breathtaking sights after a vigorous fell hike.


Walks near Bassenthwaite Lake

Skiddaw

The sixth-highest mountain in England, Skiddaw should be on every keen hiker’s list when they come to the Lake District.

This easier route takes you to the very top, where you can soak up the panoramic views at 931 metres above sea level.


Bassenthwaite

One of the Lake District’s many great pub walks, this route takes in the sights of the picturesque village of Bassenthwaite, at the foot of Skiddaw.

Binsey

Hike up Binsey, an often overlooked fell offering stunning views of Skiddaw and Ullock Pike, with this gentle walk suitable for the whole family.


Borrowdale walks

Borrowdale

Offering some of the best walks in Cumbria, Borrowdale is a great destination for those looking for both gentle lowland rambles and more challenging hillside hikes.

With plenty of easy walks for kids, this is an excellent place to stay for families looking to stretch their legs, while there’s plenty of opportunity for ticking off some Wainwrights and even some wild swimming in craggy pools too.


Walks near Buttermere

Buttermere

There are so many walks to enjoy around Buttermere, but here are some of our favourites. Whether you choose to go around the lake, take a more high-level route or enjoy some of the charming villages in the area, you’ll be guaranteed beautiful vistas at every turn.


Buttermere

Perfect if you have kids in pushchairs, this gentle, circular walk takes you around the lake and gives you plenty of opportunities to soak up the views.  

Buttermere

If you’re wondering how to spend a sunny afternoon, why not take a waterside walk and treat yourself to some locally made ice cream?


Walks near Threlkeld

Threlkeld walks

Threlkeld is a picturesque village nestled at the foot of the imposing Blencathra. It’s an excellent place to base yourself if you’re looking to summit the six separate fell tops of the hill, or even if you simply want to soak up the classic Lake District scenery.

As well as Blencathra walks, there are plenty of other classic Lake District trails here, where you can take in quintessential Lakeland destinations such as St John’s in the Vale and Castlerigg Stone Circle.


Walks in Newlands Valley

Newlands Valley

A great day out if you’re staying near Keswick, the Newlands Valley has some stunning scenery, combining classic Lakes fells, stone walls and a gentle stream that’s perfect for paddling.

This circular walk takes in all the sights and it’s an easy one for little legs too.


Walks near Loweswater

Loweswater

One of the smaller lakes in the national park, Loweswater packs no less of a punch when it comes to incredible scenery and an abundance of walking routes; in fact, there’s a specially upgraded footpath as part of the Miles Without Stiles project, meaning it’s one of the more accessible lakes.

These walks take you through some stunning landscapes and factor in plenty of pubs too!


Find the right type of Lake District walk for you

Family walk

Short and family-friendly walks in the Lake District

While the Lake District is well known for its lofty peaks, there are plenty of shorter, easier walks that are perfect for the whole family too. Here are some of our favourites.


Family walks

With walks ranging from 1 to 6 miles, you can pick the perfect one for your brood – but whichever you choose, all guarantee classic Lake District views.

Family Wainwright walks

If you want to instil a love of walking in your young ones, why not start them off by ticking off some beloved Wainwright walks together?


Family mountain walks

Whether you’ve got young children, or you’re a little short on time during an action-packed holiday, these walks can be completed in just an hour.


Family lake walks

Share special memories as a family by setting off on one of these fantastic lakeside walks, where there’s something for everyone to enjoy. 


Mountain walk

Mountain and Wainwright walks

If you’ve come to the Lake District to tackle some peaks, let us inspire your adventures with these routes.


Gentle mountain walk Lake District

Perfect for easing yourself into it, this gentle route takes you up the little hill of Arnside Knott, standing proud in a spectacular AONB.

Mountain walks

If you’re looking for some slightly gentler routes to some of the Lake District’s impressive peaks, we have walks that may inspire you.


Foodie walks

Foodie walks in the Lakes

It’s only right to pair a long Lakeland walk with some local food and drink; these foodie walks are sure to whet your appetite.


Lake District pub walks

Is anything better than a pub walk? With so many routes to choose from, here are some of our favourite walks that combine plods and pints.

Lake District tearoom walks

Reward yourself after a hike in the hills with a pot of tea and a slice of homemade cake – these walks take in some of the best Lakes tea rooms.


Inspiring walks

Inspiring Lake District walks

If you’re planning your walking holiday to the Lake District but aren’t quite sure where to begin, let us be your guide.


Dog walks

Whether you’re visiting with your four-legged friend, want to green your holiday by forgoing the car, or are looking for somewhere away from the crowds, these walks may give you some inspiration.


Walking in the Lake District FAQs

Lake District walks

That’s a matter of opinion, of course, but the most famous walks in the Lake District include Catbells, the Old Man of Coniston, Tarn Hows, Blencathra, and any of the Wainwrights detailed in the seven-volume Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells by Alfred Wainwright.

We have compiled a guide to some of the best walks in the Lake District above; take a look and choose your perfect walk by location or theme.

You can follow any of the 3,203 km of rights of way in the Lake District, taking you along footpaths, bridleways and paths in some truly spectacular scenery. Ordnance Survey and Landranger maps have these detailed, or you can view Cumbria Council’s definitive map.  

All footpaths in the national park are colour-coded, and walkers can traverse all of them – although you will need to share the space with horse riders, cyclists, cars and motorbikes on some trails. If you’re looking for a route where just walkers are allowed, seek out those that are colour-coded yellow.

With 16 lakes to choose from in the Lake District, there are plenty of opportunities for waterside walks. While not every lake can be walked around in its entirety owing to the fact that some land is privately owned, each offers some delightful routes with something to please everyone.

Take a look at our guide to the top 10 lakeside walks for more info.

Lake Windermere is one of the most picturesque settings for a walk in the Lake District, and the 45-mile-long Windermere Way means it’s possible to walk around the whole lake – although maybe not in one go!

Known as the Queen of the Lakes, Derwentwater is one of the national park’s lakes that can be completely walked around. The 10-mile route takes you on a scenic trail around the lake, with plenty of places to stop off along the way.

Conditions can change very quickly when you’re out walking, even if the day starts out sunny. It’s important that you come prepared so that you can stay safe and have fun.

At the very least, you should come equipped with:

  • Waterproof gear such as a jacket and trousers
  • Comfortable clothing including trousers of a breathable material, and walking socks
  • Hat and gloves in case the weather turns
  • Walking boots
  • A comfortable rucksack
  • Something to eat and drink – preferably both water and a hot drink in a flask
  • A fully charged mobile phone in case you need to call for help
  • Suncream and a hat
  • A map and a compass – don’t rely on your phone’s GPS
  • A whistle and a torch in case you get into distress

While you may think your favourite pair of trainers are comfy enough to tackle the Lake District’s fells, in fact, walking boots or hiking boots are essential on many of the Lake District’s walking routes.

Make sure you choose a pair that protects your ankles, with a good tread, and that you’ve walked about in them before setting off on your hike – no one likes blisters!


Stay with us in the Lake District

Fulwith, Newlands Valley

After you’ve been on your feet all day, and had your fill of fresh air, there’s nothing better than returning to a cosy home from home for a night of relaxation.

Whether you’re looking for a Lake District cottage where you can soothe aching muscles in a bubbling hot tub, toast to an excellent day out from a sunset terrace, or unwind in front of a roaring wood burner after a delicious dinner, we have the Lake District cottage for you.

With cottages of all sizes, all across the Lake District National Park, you can find your perfect base for your next unforgettable walking holiday. Take a look at our full range of Lake District holidays by clicking the button below.


Please note: If you plan to walk any of the routes mentioned in this post, remember that these are summary descriptions only and you should always get hold of a full route description and map before setting off. Always wear appropriate footwear and clothing, even on shorter walks, and take plenty of food and drinking water too. 

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.

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