Best walks in the Lake District

Of all the national parks in Britain, the Lake District in Cumbria is arguably the most celebrated – discover the the area's fells, rivers, waters and towns with our favourite walks

Sunset in the Lake District

The Lake District National Park comprises 912 square miles of high mountains, lakes, rivers and coastline, and receives almost 16 million visitors a year. No wonder, then, that it was loved so dearly by Beatrix potter, Alfred Wainwright, Arthur Ransome and William and Dorothy Wordsworth.

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“Always there will be the lonely ridge, the dancing beck, the silent forest; always there will be the exhilaration of the summits. These are for the seeking, and those who seek and find while there is still time will be blessed both in mind and body.” Wrote Wainwright in The Western Fells.

The Lake’s landscape is steeped with footpaths, and by simply climbing from your tent or stepping out of your front door, you’re likely to find yourself walking some ancient trail with unerring scenery flanking your gait.

But for those seeking a little guidance, here are our favourite Lake District walks, from gentle riverside rambles to stiff mountain ascents.

1

Buttermere and Rannerdale Knotts, Cumbria

Buttermere lake
Buttermere lake©Getty

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.

Route details

  • 7.5 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Buttermere map

2

Rydal and Grasmere, Cumbria

Rydal Water at Grasmere in the Lake District in autumn
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

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 ©GettyOn 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. Map and route.

Route details

  • 6 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Rydal Water and Grasmere, Cumbria map

3

Cat Bells, Cumbria

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
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

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 ©GettyThis Lake District mountain is small compared to its neighbours, yet what it lacks in height it makes up for in accessibility, views and atmosphere.

Route details

  • 5.7km/3.5 miles
  • 2.5 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Cat Bells map

4

Lingmoor Fell Circuit, Cumbria

Lingmoor Fell
Lingmoor Fell rainbow ©Getty

Don’t forget to pack your camera ©GettyThis 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.

Route details

  • 13.4km/8.3 miles
  • 5 hours
  • Hard

Map and route.

Lingmore Fell map

5

Ennerdale and Haystacks, Cumbria

The view from Haystacks with High Stile separating Ennerdale and Crummock Waters, The Lake District, Cunbria, England.
The view from Haystacks with High Stile separating Ennerdale and Crummock Waters ©Getty

Wainwright’s ashes were scattered over the waters of Innominate Tarn on the summit of his beloved Haystacks ©GettyEnnerdale 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.

Route details

  • 22.9km/14.2 miles
  • 7 hours
  • Hard

Map and route

Ennerdale and Haystacks map

6

Hawkshead and Latterbarrow, Cumbria

Winter veil: the village of Hawkshead in the Lake District National Park wakes to a blanket of thin frost and low-lying mist
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

Winter veil: the village of Hawkshead in the Lake District National Park wakes to a blanket of thin frost and low-lying mist ©Simon WhaleyThe 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.

Route details

  • 5km/3.1 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy/moderate

Map and route

Hawkshead and Latterbarrow map

7

Wasdale Head Inn, Gosforth, Cumbria

Above the Wasdale Inn rises Wasdale Fell, a favourite with trail runners
Above the Wasdale Inn rises Wasdale Fell, a favourite with trail runners ©Alamy

Above the Wasdale Inn rises Wasdale Fell, a favourite with trail runners ©Martin JonesThis 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.

Route details

  • 7.9km/4.9 miles
  • 3 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route

Wasdale Head Inn map

8

Grizedale Forest, Cumbria

Weatherlam and The Old Man of Coniston in Autumn (Fall) viewed across Grizedale Forest
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. 

Route details

  • 12.2km/7.5 miles
  • 4 hours
  • Moderate

Route and map

Grizedale Forest map

9

Old Man of Coniston, Cumbria

Old Man of Coniston, Cumbria
Old Man of Coniston, Cumbria ©Getty

Coniston Water – the third largest waterbody in the Lake District – sits beneath The Old Man’s russet-coloured slopes on a sunny day in autumn ©AlamyThe 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.

Route details

  • 11.1km/6.9 miles
  • 5 hours
  • Hard

Map and route

Old Man of Coniston map

10

Brigsteer Woods, Cumbria

brimstone

In the warmer months, keep an eye out for brimstone butterflies in Brigsteer Woods ©GettyWalk past a medieval castle and glowing wild daffodils with this four-mile walk in the Lake District National Park.

Route details

  • 6.6km/ 4.1 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Easy/moderate

Map and route

Brigsteer Wood map

11

Holme Wood, Loweswater, Cumbria

Holme Wood is a classically English mixed woodland of oak, chestnut, ash, sycamore, alder and lime

Holme Wood is a classically English mixed woodland of oak, chestnut, ash, sycamore, alder and limeHolme 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.

Route details

  • 5.9km/3.7 miles
  • 2 hours
  • Moderate

Map and route.

Holme Wood map
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