9 of the Lake District

9 of the Lake District's best kept walking secrets

Jemima Kirkwood 26 March 2021

If you know anything about the Lake District, you'll know about the amazing scenery and the abundance of available walks in the mountains, along the rivers and round the lakes. Some of the best-loved paths are so well trodden because they're simply beautiful, and we definitely recommend you enjoy some of these during your stay. However, there are less well known but equally stunning areas just crying out to be discovered on foot. Here are just a few of them! Read our guide to Lake District walks.

1. Eskdale and Ravenglass

The Eskdale Valley has so much to see, including quaint villages, remote tarns, tranquil woodland, and hidden waterfalls. It's 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 number of linear walks, linked by the wonderful narrow-gauge steam trains.

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! 

View our cottages in Ravenglass and Eskdale, and see some of our recommended walks.


2. Martindale

Martindale is about as hidden a valley as you'll find in the Lake District! It's accessed via a steep, narrow road with hairpin bends, or by foot from the Ullswater Steamer stop at Howtown, and has only about 50 permanent residences. In fact, armed with a pair of handy binoculars, you're more likely to spot wild ponies or red deer here than you are people! 

The valley is split in half by Beda Fell, or you can head up Hallin Fell to look out from its wonderful viewpoint. In the valley, you can circle the bottom of Hallin and along the shores of Ullswater or explore a little further afield into the side valleys of Boredale and Fusedale. While you're in Martindale, don't miss a peek inside and around the grounds of St Martin’s Church: a yew tree there is said to be over 1,300 years old!

Browse our cottages in peaceful Martindale

3. The Newlands Valley

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 surrounding Keswick. 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, Buttermere or Borrowdale 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 walks in the Newlands Valley, or find your perfect cottage there. 

4. The Troutbeck Valley, near Windermere

If you're looking for picture-perfect views complete with ageing barns and quaint stone cottages, the Troutbeck Valley, between Windermere and Ambleside (not to be confused with Troutbeck near Penrith) delivers in spades! The village 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 itself is mostly grazing farmland with patches of wooded areas and follows the river to Windermere. There are lots of paths and bridleways that 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. 

Explore our cottages near Troutbeck.

5. Grange-over-Sands

Grange is an Edwardian seaside resort with 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. 

Read our guide to South Cumbria.

6. The Longsleddale and Kentmere Valleys

The Longsleddale and Kentmere Valleys are often overlooked pieces of countryside that are worth exploring. Kentmere Reservoir is set in dramatic surroundings, while the 14th-century pele tower at Kentmere Hall is another interesting feature in the landscape.

Longsleddale's distinctive scenery and winding roads were also the inspiration behind the setting for one of our favourite children's animations, Postman Pat! After your walk, there are plenty of places to eat in nearby Staveley (including Wilf's Café, Hawkshead Brewery and the More? Artisan Bakery) and Ings, which is home to the Watermill Inn & Brewery and Café Ambio.

See all of our cottages near Longsleddale and Kentmeere.

7. The Duddon Valley

Set in the far southwest of the Lake District, the Duddon Valley is a true hidden gem. Its remoteness makes it a little more tricky to get to than other areas, but the journey is well worth the effort. Once William Wordsworth's favourite place to walk - he wrote 35 sonnets about it - it's a lesser-known jewel that's perfect if you seek solitude and charming surroundings. 

The valley follows the River Duddon as it rises near the Three Shires Stone (where the historic English counties of Lancashire, Cumberland and Westmorland met), eventually joining 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. As well as the big fell walks, other routes to try out include those to Swinside Stone Circle and Devoke Water, the Lake District's largest tarn. There are also endless walks along the river to waterfalls and through woodland and farmland. 

We have several beautiful cottages in the Duddon Valley.

8. Back o' Skiddaw

With a name that includes one of the Lake District's best-loved fells, you wouldn't expect this area to be a secret! And yet the group of Northern Fells known as Back o' Skiddaw is surprisingly peaceful. You can walk the vast expanse of valley and mountains in this area with nothing to disturb you but the local wildlife and the wind in the grass. 

The mountain walks on Carrock Fell and High Pike are relatively easy, and you can also descend into the valley for something flatter. There are all sorts of hidden treats to be discovered, too: mining history, wonderful views, hidden waterfalls, and even a Wellington Bomber crash site! 

View our cottages around Back o' Skiddaw or browse more walks in the area

9. The Lyth and Winster Valleys

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 Country Fair to celebrate! Then in September, the trees are laden with purple fruit.

Damsons aside, 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 and wildlife spotting.

Find your perfect holiday cottage near Lyth and Winster.

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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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