10 Best Walks in the Lake District

The Lake District. The name alone conjures up images of spectacular glacial ribbon lakes, rugged mountains and lines of Romantic-era poetry.

So, we don’t blame you if you want to pay the area a visit and set about exploring all that it has to offer.

If you do want to make the most of a visit, then we’d recommend trying at least one of these 10 walks…

Buttermere and Rannerdale Knotts

Key information

Distance: 3 miles.

Time: 2 hours.

Difficulty: moderate.

A secret valley. A thrilling ridge walk. Stunning views of high peaks. The Buttermere and Rannerdale Knotts walk has it all.

This is a moderate walking route, which can be fairly strenuous. So if you’re going to attempt this one, ensure you’ve got a pair of sturdy boots and good-quality waterproof outer layers.

Oh, it’s dog friendly too, so your furry friend will be able to join you (so long as they’re kept on a lead).

Rydal and Grasmere

Key information

Distance: 6 miles.

Time: 4 hours.

Difficulty: moderate.

Described by William Wordsworth as “the loveliest spot that man hath ever found”, Grasmere is understandably one of the most popular tourist destinations in the Lake District.

This route allows you to take in all of the beauty of Grasmere lake, the Wordsworthian Dove Cottage, the River Rothay and St Mary’s Church before finishing at the Badger Bar – the perfect end to a perfect walk!

Cat Bells

Key information

Distance: 3.5 miles.

Time: 2.5 hours.

Difficulty: moderate.

Cat Bells, which is believed to be a distortion of ‘Cat Bields’ – meaning ‘home of the wild cat’ – sits above the town of Keswick.

As one of the most iconic fells dominating the views across Derwent Water, Cat Bells is what’s considered a ‘minor’ mountain at only 451 metres. But don’t let the word ‘minor’ fool you. Take a trip up Cat Bells and you’ll find short scramble sections where you’ll have to use your hands.

Reach the summit, which is a bare rocky dome, and you’ll be rewarded with some of the best views in the Lake District. Lakes, wild mountains and fecund valleys will all be within your gaze.

Loughrigg Fell

Key information

Distance: 2.5 miles.

Time: 1.5 hours.

Difficulty: moderate.

The Lake District may be dominated by mountains, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself on some of the area’s hills and lower-lying areas.

At only 335m, Loughrigg Fell doesn’t quite achieve ‘mountain’ status, but it’s still a rewarding walk. Loughrigg Fell is easily accessible, being surrounded by roads on all sides, with Skelwith Bridge, Elterwater, Grasmere and Rydal all nearby. 

The walk begins in woodland before approaching what looks like a steep and formidable rocky staircase. The route then steepens further before a short climb to the summit. 

If you want to follow in the footsteps of William Wordsworth, then this is the walking route for you. The view from Loughrigg Terrace above Grasmere, was much-loved by the poet.

Orrest Head

Key information

Distance: 4.5 miles.

Time: 3 hours.

Difficulty: moderate.

If you want to follow in the footsteps of one of the Lake District’s other most famous writers  – Alfred Wainwright – then head to Orrest Head.

Orrest Head is one of the Lake District’s best walks in terms of effort-to-reward ratio. 

Begin at Windermere railway station, following the abundant signposts and you’ll quickly find yourself climbing through woodland. A steep path follows which leads to a magnificent viewpoint at the top of Orrest Head at 239 metres.

At the summit you’ll be able to enjoy a 360º view which takes in Morecambe Bay and the Pennines.

Lingmoor Fell Circuit

Key information

Distance: 8.3 miles.

Time: 5 hours.

Difficulty: hard.

If you want to take in the lowland areas of the Lake District, then the Lingmoor Fell Circuit is an ideal route. Taking in beautiful tarns, spiky fells and bridges and streams, the Lingmoor Fell Circuit begins with a short, steep ascent, but quickly levels out leaving you with an opportunity to soak in the scenery.

This route skirts around Side Pike, an imposing fell which dominates the immediate landscape. The route then passes the outskirts of Elterwater and Wainwright’s Inn.

As an interesting aside, the woodland along the route is home to a population of rare red squirrels, so keep an eye out for them!

Ennerdale and Haystacks

Key information

Distance: 14.2 miles.

Time: 7 hours.

Difficulty: hard.

Ennerdale Lake is an isolated, yet exquisitely beautiful part of the Lake District. 

This is a route which will provide a real challenge, with the climbing beginning almost as soon as you leave the confines of the lake. 

As you climb you’ll be passing through a veritable amphitheatre of high fells such as Pillar, Steeple, Kirk Fell and Great Gable. Continue beyond those and you can reach Innominate Tarn, the site where Wainwright’s ashes were scattered.

Beyond there, you’ll continue to climb before descending to Middle Bridge. From there you can walk along the River Liza back to the car park. An interesting fact – the River Liza is home to England’s last remaining population of arctic charr, a rare fish which is a left over from the Ice Age.


Hawkshead and Latterbarrow

Key information

Distance: 3.1 miles.

Time: 2 hours.

Difficulty: easy/moderate.

You can’t really describe this walk any better than Wainwright did when he described it as, “needing little effort yet yielding much delight”.

Beginning in the quaint village of Hawkshead, a disarming jumble of cottages, cobbled streets and alleyways and courtyards, the route then ascends Latterbarrow, providing views of the Central Fells and Ambleside.

From the summit of Latterbarrow, you’ll be able to see the fells of Ill Bell, High Street, Wansfell Pike, and Red Screes.

Once you’ve had your fill of the views, you can head back into Hawkshead to fill yourself up at one of the many inns in the town.

Grizedale Forest

Key information

Distance: 7.5 miles.

Time: 4 hours.

Difficulty: moderate.

The Lake District isn’t all wind-swept fells and sheep-grazed lowlands. It’s also home to over 8,000 acres of mixed forest, bisected with tracks, trails, as well as a series of sculptures(!).

Starting at the forest’s visitor centre, this walk begins with a steep climb before levelling out where the sculptures begin. As you progress along this pathway you’ll be greeted by views of the Howgill Fells. 

From there you can continue to Satterthwaite village. Depending on your stamina, you can then return the way you came, or continue on further into the forest. 

Regardless of which route you ultimately take, be sure to check out the sculptures dotted throughout the forest. Some are permanent installations, whilst others are created out of natural materials and gradually find themselves subsumed back into the soils and loams of Grizedale Forest.

Old Man of Coniston

Key information

Distance: 6.9 miles.

Time: 5 hours.

Difficulty: hard.

Widely considered to be one of the best walks in the Lake District, the Old Man of Coniston towers over the small town of Coniston with an elevation of 803m.

When it comes to walking the Old Man, you’ll need to be fit, however you won’t require any climbing or mountaineering skills. Be aware that, as with all high-level walks, you will need to be very well kitted out and prepared though. 

Walking the Old Man of Coniston provides you with a variety of views, taking in sights as disparate as high tarns to copper-mining relics. As with many other walks on this list, the Old Man Coniston route ends at a pub – the Black Bull Inn offers everything from a microbrewery to a comfortable bed for the night.

Get walking with Winfields Outdoors

Those are 10 of the best walks in the Lake District. But, we know there are many more to choose from. 

But whatever route you choose in the Lake District, make sure you’re properly kitted out. 

You’ll find everything you need to make your next walk warm, dry and comfortable at Winfields Outdoors. From waterproof jackets to rucksacks and everything in between, explore our complete range today.



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