Top 'Miles Without Stiles' walks in the Lake District

Content Team 24 January 2021

Whether you're a wheelchair user, have limited mobility, or are looking for a gentle walk during your Lake District stay, then a Miles Without Stiles route could be just the ticket. These are a selection of 48 walks that have – as you might have guessed – no stiles, and which are relatively flat. They are designated, in particular, to be suitable if you use a wheelchair, are pushing a pram, or have a visual impairment.

We have picked out some of my favourite Miles Without Stiles routes below. These are brief overviews only and you should get full route information and take any necessary equipment with you when setting out.

Windermere’s Western Shore, 5.5 miles

Windermere’s Western Shore, 5.5 miles

Windermere is perhaps the Lake District’s most popular lake and with good reason! As England’s longest lake, Windermere has lots on offer in terms of beautiful scenery and things to do.

If you’re staying in Bowness-on-Windermere, then hop on the ferry across the lake to the starting point at Ferry House. From here you follow the lakeshore north. This side of the lake is much quieter than the eastern shores and you can enjoy the peace of the water lapping to your right and the whispering trees of Heald Wood to your left. This route is not suitable for non-motorised solo wheelchair users because of a steep climb after Strawberry Gardens Caravan Park, but assisted wheelchair users should be fine.

Once you reach Red Nab, you can turn back on yourself to complete the 5.5 miles, or else continue onto the next Miles Without Stiles route to Wray Castle.

Start: Ferry House

Turning point: Red Nab car park

Take a look at our cottages around Windermere.

The Howk, Caldbeck, 0.6 miles

The Howk, Caldbeck, 0.6 miles

This is one if you’re into your history! On the northern edge of the Lake District National Park lies the charming village of Caldbeck. Surrounded by rolling hills and with a pretty river (Cald Beck) running through, it’s a really delightful hidden gem.

It’s the river that’s to thank for this wonderful walk, as it was used in the 17th and 18th centuries by mills and a brewery. The Howk is a limestone gorge with remnants of Howk Bobbin Mill that once boasted the largest waterwheel in the UK! The ruins, backed by tumbling waterfalls, make for an atmospheric place to pause before you head back to the village for tasty refreshments.

Start: Caldbeck village car park

Turning point: Howk Bobbin Mill

Find your perfect cottage in Caldbeck.

Grasmere Riverside, 1.1 miles

Grasmere Riverside, 1.1 miles

Grasmere is the pretty village famous both as the one-time-home of William Wordsworth and as the current home of Grasmere Gingerbread.

This is a circular route that both starts and ends at the National Trust’s Broadgate car park and is a great option if you want to include a bit of bird watching in your day. You begin by crossing the River Rothay and follow its banks southwest before crossing another bridge and continuing along the river into the village. You can treat yourself to a snack at the gingerbread shop on the way, pop into the churchyard where Wordsworth is buried, and then follow the road through the village and back to the car park.

Start and end: Broadgate car park

Browse our cottages around Grasmere.

Tarn Hows, 0.5 – 1.8 miles

Tarn Hows, 0.5 – 1.8 miles

Perhaps one of the best known of the Miles Without Stiles routes, Tarn Hows is an absolutely beautiful walk. There are two options: the linear half-mile route, or the longer circular way.

Although Tarn Hows is man-made, it’s no less beautiful for that. Surrounded by wooded hills, it really is an idyllic spot. You can walk right around the tarn through woodlands, taking in views of the Langdale Pikes and the hills surrounding Coniston. Alternatively, a shorter, linear walk leads to a viewpoint with a gorgeous outlook. Whichever you choose, there are plenty of places to rest on the way.

Start and end: Tarn Hows main car park or disabled car park.

See our cottages near Tarn Hows in the South East Lake District.

Ravenglass to Saltcoats, 1.2 miles

Ravenglass to Saltcoats, 1.2 miles

If you love the salt air and the lapping waves, then a beach walk is probably right up your street! This route starts in Ravenglass – a former Roman naval port and the only coastal village in the Lake District – and heads along the estuary. You can take in the vast sandy flats when the tide is out and enjoy the colourful display of plants during spring and early summer. If you head there in the evening, you’ll also be able to admire one of the spectacular sunsets.

When you get to the Saltcoats, you can be collected or turn back again to Ravenglass, where you will find pubs and the wonderful Ravenglass & Eskdale Miniature Steam Railway. This is also a great car-free option, as the local train routes run up the west coast of Cumbria and south, connecting to the wider country.

Start: Ravenglass car park

Turning point: Saltcoats road end

Find a beach cottage in Ravenglass.

Portinscale Riverbank Loop, 0.9 miles

Portinscale Riverbank Loop, 0.9 miles

This pretty circular path takes in the river, meadows, and mountain views, as well as the village of Portinscale itself. Starting at the suspension bridge, you’ll follow the River Derwent along a well-drained grassy bank where you’re likely to see plenty of birdlife. Continue onwards alongside the road and back into the village until you reach Harney Peak Apartments. The wonderful Chalet Tearooms near here is the perfect place to stop for a drink and a snack before returning back to your starting point.

Start and end: Portinscale suspension bridge

Discover our Portinscale holiday cottages.

Friar’s Crag, 2.4 miles

Friar’s Crag, 2.4 miles

The Friar’s Crag walk in Keswick is one of my absolute favourites and I talk about it a lot! It’s got everything from mountain views to lake views, woodland to wildlife, history to culture…

Starting at the Theatre by the Lake, you’ll follow a gentle path alongside Derwentwater until you reach a perfectly situated bench at Friar’s Crag. This famous spot looks into the spectacular Jaws of Borrowdale and is a good place for a bit of quiet contemplation when it’s not too busy.

After you’ve taken in the view, carry on to Strandshag Bay and then through the woods and towards the road where you can either be collected, head back the way you came, or complete the loop that will take you along the road and through Cockshott Wood back to the theatre.

Start: Theatre by the Lake

Turning point: Junction with B5289

Take a look at our cottages in Keswick.

Brothers Water, 2.3 miles

Brothers Water, 2.3 miles

Brothers Water sits to the south of Ullswater along the road leading up Kirkstone Pass. There’s a bus stop at either end of the route, or you can park at the car park at Cow Bridge, right at the start.

The shallow waters here are home to a lovely display of lilies in the summer and the surrounding woodland creates spectacular colours in the autumn. The route follows the lake right down the western shore and beyond until you cross the river at Hartsop Hall. Continue on to Sykeside Campsite where you can retrace your steps or hop on a bus back home or on to Windermere.

Start: Cow Bridge car park

Turning point: Sykeside Campsite

See all of our cottages in the Ullswater area.

Ennerdale Forest Road, 11.5 miles

Ennerdale is the wildest of the Lake District valleys, with fewer inhabitants than anywhere else, and with no road passing through. It’s a place of truly spectacular scenery and an array of wildlife.

This is an option if you’re after a longer route, though it can be shortened at any point along the way.

The path starts at Bowness Knott and follows the lakeshore along the wooded base of Latterbarrow fell. When the lake runs out, you’ll continue along the river through Ennerdale Forest to Black Sail Youth Hostel, where you can turn around and trace your way back to complete the 11.5 miles. Alternatively, you can cross Middle Bridge, approximately halfway to the youth hostel, and circle back to the lake for a shorter option.

Start: Bowness Knott car park

Turning point: Black Sail Youth Hostel

Book your perfect holiday home in Ennerdale.

Stay at a self-catering holiday cottage in the Lake District

 Before you set off on your holiday, take a look at our range of self-catering holiday cottages throughout the Lake District. Find the perfect property to provide the right backdrop for your adventure, whether you plan to go boating, hiking or mountain climbing. Search our collection today.

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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