The Lake District is over 2000km² of dramatic beauty, from rolling hills to sheer mountain peaks, and tranquil lakes to gushing waterfalls, there are so many places to go and things to see it can be difficult to know what to do first. One of the main things that attracts thousands of people to the Lake District every year is the beautiful and sometimes challenging walks that are available! Whether you are a keen hiker and mountaineer, or looking for a pleasant stroll, you can guarantee there will be bountiful options available for you in the Lakes.
This does mean that it can be difficult to know which walk to start with – how could you possibly choose? We have come to the rescue by picking our Top 10 Walks In The Lake District – 5 lakeside walks and 5 fell or other hill walks that will give you a bit more of a challenge.
Top 5 Lakeside Walks In The Lake District
There is something very peaceful and calming about a walk around a lake, and with 16 lakes to choose from, you will have plenty of choice when walking in the Lake District.
1. Buttermere Circuit
Duration – 2-3 hours
Miles – 5
This is a nice, gentle stroll around Buttermere, with beautiful views of both the lake and surrounding countryside for the whole walk. The 100-foot-long Hassness Tunnell, which was built out of rock in the 19th century, is an amazing sight to behold part way around the walk.Starting in Buttermere village itself and with as little incline as 67 metres, this is a perfect for a family walk, where you can then enjoy a nice lunch in the village afterwards!
2. Derwentwater Walk
Duration – 3-4 hours
Miles – 9.5
This walk is slightly more challenging than the last, but you will be well rewarded with the stunning views of Derwentwater. We would recommend completing the walk in a clockwise direction, as you will be able to get the best views of the mountain this way. Remember, if you are wanting to take part in this walk, but thinking the 3-4 hours worth of walking might be a bit much for you, then you can make the most of the Keswick Launch, and cut the walk short, or get the boat over the areas of the lake that you want to visit the most! In saying this though, the walk is relatively flat, with plenty of picnic stops and cafes throughout the walk, so it is perfect for if you are wanting to make a day of it!
Duration – 2 hours
Miles – 3.5
There are many reasons why the Loweswater Circuit came on our Top 5 Lakeside walks in the Lake District. The walk is relatively easy, as it is round one of the smaller lakes on the west side of the lake district, but that doesn’t mean that you have to sacrifice the views as you will have mountain views and also the chance to spot red squirrels throughout most of the walk. This makes the walk perfect for any family or wildlife enthusiast!
4. Friar’s Crag
Duration – up to an hour
Miles – Routes ranging from 0.8 miles to 2.4 miles
Although this is only a short walk, the views that you can benefit from means that this walk had to be added to the list. Plus there are two walks to choose from, meaning that you can plan in whichever you have the time (or the energy!) for, after completing all the other walks on our long list! Friar’s Crag juts out into Derwentwater meaning that you benefit from the views of the lake but also the hills beyond.
When taking part in this walk, you can also visit some beautiful woodland and explore the local wildlife.
TOP TIP: If you are up for it, then it is well worth completing this walk on a summer’s night, when the sky is clear, as the spot is perfect for stargazing!
5. Tarn Hows Circular Route
Duration – 1 hour
Miles – 2
Another picturesque spot that makes for an easily accessible walk, due to its on-site car park and circular route option! It is another route that is perfect for families to undertake as there is a relatively little incline and a lot of the walk is actually based on footpaths. Similar to the Derwentwater walk, this is another one that we would recommend completing clockwise if you are wanting to get the best of the views! Tarn Hows is a man-made spot created in Victorian times, but this doesn’t take away from the beauty that you see, which can be made the most of from the many viewing spots and benches throughout the walk.
Top 5 Hill and Fell Walks In The Lake District
If you are taking a visit to the Lake District, then arguably the best place to get dramatic views of the countryside surrounding you is to take a bit of a climb. If you are willing to put in the effort then we promise you the views at the top of these walks will be worth it.
1. Fairfield Horseshoe
Duration – 5-6 hours
Miles – 10
The first walk on our list of the Top 5 Hill and Fell Walks in the Lake District had to be the Fairfield Horseshoe. Yes, we admit it’s not the shortest of walks, nor the easiest but the views that you are treated to throughout the whole walk are just incredible! Given its name due to the fact that you are essentially climbing hills and fells to reach the centre of a horseshoe, and then trundling back down the other side, does mean that this walk has a bit of a climb to it, and some pathless areas that are less accessible. However, we have completed the walk numerous times with simply a good pair of walking boots and a well stocked rucksack!
2. Old Man of Coniston
Duration – 2-3 hours
Miles – 3.7
The Old Man of Coniston is another beautiful Lake District walk, but one that also has a lot of history to offer along the way. The walk begins over old quarry works with industrial tramway towers and other building remains to be found the whole way up this route! The route is linear in style, but there are so many different paths and routes that you will often find yourself coming down at least a slightly different way to the way you went up. Make sure to pack a picnic for a breather at Low Water (a picturesque pool of water) before you head to the summit.
3. Greendale and Middle Fell
Duration – 3 hours
Miles – 3.5
If you are wanting to take in the unspoiled views of the Lake District from a height then this is the walk for you! Beautiful views over Wansdale and Eskdale will surround you whilst you are completing this walk! We also tend to find that the Western Fells, such as these, are quieter than the other areas of the Lake District, making this a perfect walk for if you are wanting a secluded hike at one with nature. There is also Greendale Tarn part way along this walk, which is perfect for a rest stop and picnic.
4. Ambleside to Troutbeck (via Wansfell)
Duration – 4-5 hours
Miles – 5.8
This is one of our longer walks, with some hills involved, however it is a beautiful walk that allows you to cover plenty of the Lake District countryside in one walk! Also, if you are attempting to tick off the Wainwrights Fells in the process then you have at least one under your belt completing this walk (depending on the exact walk that you undertake). Also, if 4-5 hours of walking seems like a bit too much for you, then there is a fantastic, dog-friendly bus route back to Ambleside afterwards!
NOTE: Be sure to look out for the tallest tree in Cumbria when starting this walk – a grand fir standing at 57.8 metres!
5. Scafell Pike
Duration – 7 hours
Miles – 8.7
We admit that this walk is definitely not for the faint hearted. Climbing up 970 metres of rugged terrain to reach the summit of Scafell Pike will take a fair bit of work, but the views both on the way and particularly at the top of the pike are well worth the effort that you have to put in. Choosing a route to the top like the Corridor Route will mean that you come across less people on the way so can really enjoy the open countryside around you!
Frequently Asked Questions
Are all walks dog friendly in the Lake District?
Many of the walks in the Lake District will be dog friendly, you may just have to be prepared to lift your dog over the odd stile that isn’t dog friendly, however lots of places in the lake district have now added access points for dogs. Just make sure to keep your dog on the lead when going through farmland, so as not to disturb any of the livestock.
Are there many wheelchair accessible walks in the Lake District?
There are a number of routes in the Lake District that are wheelchair friendly and classed as “accessible for all”. The best place to look for information on these walks in the Lake District government website, as it has particular routes and gives details on the distance and time that it takes.