Best hiking routes in Cumbria, including path descriptions and maps.
Cumbria is the third largest county in England behind North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire with a total land area of 6,768 sq km – that’s almost three times the size of Luxembourg.
Despite its size, Cumbria has one of the lowest populations in the country, and just one city – Carlisle. Countryside prevails here, meaning there is ample opportunity to explore the county on foot, from the wild Northern Pennines to the picturesque waters of the Lake District.
The road to Elterwater, Lake District, Cumbria ©Jake Graham
We’ve put together a list of our favourite walks in Cumbria, ranging from easy riverside rambles to tough mountain hikes.
Buttermere and Rannerdale Knotts
This autumn walk includes some of the Lake District’s most beautiful trees and forests, where myth and legend tangle with the Scots pines and the golden needles of larches.
A“proper little mountain”, a “family fell’, a “mountain in miniature”. If ever there was a hill to be fond of, it’s Cat Bells ©Alamy
This Lake District mountain is small compared to its neighbours, yet what it lacks in height it makes up for in accessibility, views and atmosphere.
Lingmoor Fell Circuit
Lingmoor Fell rainbow ©Getty
This lowland loop walk through the heart of the Lake District National Park is packed with splendours – from glistening tarns and craggy fells to magical, mossy bridges.
Ennerdale and Haystacks
The view from Haystacks with High Stile separating Ennerdale and Crummock Waters ©Getty
Ennerdale is the most remote valley in the Lake District and one of the National Park’s best-kept secrets – follow this lakeside route to the summit of Haystacks.
Keswick to Latrigg
Latrigg, Cumbria ©Alamy
Easy and accessible, this short walk to the summit of a classic Lake District fell is the perfect day out.
Hawkshead and Latterbarrow
Winter veil: the village of Hawkshead in the Lake District National Park wakes to a blanket of thin frost and low-lying mist ©Simon Whaley
The small village of Hawkshead in the middle of the Lake District National Park is a great base for exploring the surrounding hills, including the modest peak of Latterbarrow.
Wasdale Head Inn, Gosforth
Above the Wasdale Inn rises Wasdale Fell, a favourite with trail runners ©Alamy
This venerable inn, hidden within the valleys and mountains of the Lake District, has housed some of Britain’s best novelists and poets – find out what inspired these great writers with a five-mile walk.
View of the Old Man of Coniston across Grizedale Forest ©Getty
Rippling across the crags between Windermere and Coniston, Grizedale is 8,000 acres of mixed forest laced with tracks and endowed with a renowned series of outdoor sculptures.
Old Man of Coniston
Old Man of Coniston, Cumbria ©Getty
The village of Coniston, an attractive little spot bisected by the bustling waters of a mountain stream, sits near the northern end of beautiful Coniston Water in Cumbria. Walk beside high tarns and copper-mining relics to a magical fell-top vista in the Lake District National Park.
Walk past a medieval castle and glowing wild daffodils with this four-mile walk in the Lake District National Park.
6.6km/ 4.1 miles
Map and route
Holme Wood and Loweswater
Holme Wood is a classically English mixed woodland of oak, chestnut, ash, sycamore, alder and lime ©Getty
Holme Wood lies not far from the Lake District National Park boundary and sits on the shores of one of its most idyllic lakes – explore this special corner of Britain with a four-mile walk.
Bowness-on-Windermere to Kennel Wood
Kennel Wood oak, Cumbria ©Jake Graham
A mile or two from the bustle of Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District National Park stands a lonely oak, at its most enchanting after a night of snowfall in winter.
Rydal and Grasmere
A stroll in the footsteps of the Wordsworth family offers exquisite reflections of autumn colour in the still waters of Rydal Water at Grasmere in the Lake District ©Alamy
On this six-mile walk in Wordsworth country, the Lake District’s autumn hues rival those of New England. But it’s just at picturesque in winter, spring and summer.
Levens Hall, Cumbria ©Alamy
OS Explorer sheet OL7, head off through the landscaped parkland south of the river, curling north through a tranquil realm grazed by rare black fallow deer and the critically endangered Bagot goats, of which only a handful survive.
Sedbergh sits beneath the Howgill Fells in the Yorkshire Dales ©Getty
This challenging walk in the north-western corner of the Yorkshire Dales begins in the village of Sedbergh and climbs into Howgill Fells – take a break on The Calf, with staggering views west over the Cumbria landscape and east over North Yorkshire.
. Map and route
In spring and summer, luxuriant grasses flood the verges of Smardale’s river ©Getty
An old viaduct, built in 1861, rises almost 30m on 14 stone arches above Smardale Beck – it’s a fine vantage point for spotting all-year-round residents to the national nature reserve, such as sparrowhawks, buzzards and treecreepers. Enjoy a spectacular 7-mile walk through a secluded gorge in the Yorkshire Dales National Park.
Cross Fell, Cumbria ©Alamy
Feel on top of the world by conquering one of Britain’s best hikes with in the North Pennines.