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The best walks in the Lake District

22 March 2021

The natural splendour of the countryside in the UK is renowned the world over, and nowhere is this more perfectly showcased than in the alluring hills and picturesque valleys of the magnificent Lake District.

Buttermere Lake, Cumbria
Buttermere Lake, Cumbria

If you're the type of traveller who likes nothing better than to strap on a sturdy pair of hiking boots and head out to soak up the fresh air and beauty of the great outdoors, the landscape which inspired some of England's best-loved writers might just be the place for you. It's no wonder the Lake District is one of the most popular national parks in the UK, with over 15 million visitors a year.

But those glorious fells are almost too jam-packed with scenic walking routes to choose from. So, we've assembled some of the best walks in the Lake District for your perusal; whether you're a gentle trekker or an adventurous hiker, this beautiful part of the country has a walk that's suited to you.

Remember to always check the weather before setting out, and don't risk any tricky walks in bad weather. Always work out how long you intend to stay out and be aware of when the sun will be setting to avoid getting caught out in the middle of nowhere.

Buttermere to Rannerdale, Buttermere

For one of the most idyllic lakeside walks in the district, head to the enchanting Buttermere, where tall trees stand sentinel along its southern shores and pebbly beaches practically call out for stone-skimming contests.

Head out onto the exhilarating Lakeland Ridge as you wend your way out of the Buttermere Valley for a trek that unveils magnificent hills, shrouded in shadow and sunlight, presiding over the patchwork fields and a trio of spectacular lakes below. Expect this three mile trail to take a couple of hours.

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Tom Gill, Tarn Hows and Tom Heights, Coniston

A moderately difficult trek of around 1.6 miles, the walk from Glen Mary Bridge at Tom Gill to Tarn Hows offers a paradisal view of the verdant Coniston fells with the added treasure of a hill-top tarn to admire, its rippling waters encircled by tall trees.

The path around the lake, a gift to the National Trust from the children's book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter, has been designed with accessibility in mind; so those with buggies or mobility scooters can take part in the fun. Those looking for a more challenging walk can try the steeper route past Tom Gill Beck.

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Ash Landing and Claife Heights, Windermere

Venture into the beating heart of the Lake District to hike this 7.5 mile elevated walk and explore the scenery around Lake Windermere that Victorian society fell in love with.

The viewing station at Claife Height, complete with its coloured panes of glass to enhance your viewing pleasure, seems to offer new angles of spell-binding lakeside vistas with every visit.

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Derwentwater near Keswick

Derwentwater circular, Keswick

Derwentwater, or Derwent Water, is one of the largest bodies of water in the Lake District, and the 10 mile circular route around the lake is a must-do route. The route is clearly waymarked and if you're staying in nearby Keswick the best place to begin is from the National Trust Shop near the launches.

At a leisurely pace, you should take a whole day out to enjoy this incredible walk which takes you through ancient woodlands and right up to the shore of the lake. Although the path is relatively flat and easy, still bring a good pair of boots as some of the woodland areas can become a bit waterlogged in the wetter months.

There are plenty of picnic benches, cafes and restaurants en-route where you can take a breather and stock up on refreshments, or you can create a shorter route by taking a bus or catching a launch and still reap the beautiful views across the lake.

Expect to spend a minimum of six hours on the peak - if you make it to the summit, you'll be well rewarded with a panoramic view of the wild valley of Wasdale. Breath-taking stuff.

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Friar's Crag, Keswick

A gentle stroll this walk may be, lasting no more than a mile, but this romantic trek alongside the Derwentwater and out onto Friar's Crag is renowned as one of the best places for star-gazing in the Lake District.

Arrive at sunset to watch shimmering pinks and fire-burst yellows light up the sky and bounce off the shimmering waters. At the end of the promontory, set up a blanket and watch the starlit skies, undisturbed by light pollution.

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Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Path

This pleasant walk takes you along part of the former Cockermouth, Keswick and Penrith Railway, which closed in 1972. This section of railway remains relatively untouched by road developments, and a series of impressive bridges over the River Greta provide the framework for this scenic, tree-lined walk.

This route has only recently been repaired and reopened after Storm Desmond destroyed two of the Victorian bridges in 2015. The extensive repair work has included repairing 5km of the trail, extening the Bobbin Mill railway tunnel, construction of two new bridges and stabilisation of the river bank to avoid future floods.

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Bogle Crag Trail, Grizedale

Situated in the heart of the Lake District, this forest park takes on a new life this time of year with the changing colours of the leaves, and the nearby fells – which can be viewed from a number of high points within the forest – also look superb in autumn.

There are a number of walks that weave through the forest, one of the most popular being the three-mile Bogle Crag Trail, which takes you through oakwoods which were once used extensively for iron smelting (a potash pit is still visible).

Walla Crag, Keswick

If you want breathtaking panoramic views of the lake, a trek to the summit of Walla Crag is an absolute must. There are a number of different walks centred around this incredible fell and each will have its own difficulty rating, so always be prepared for whichever route you choose.

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Scafell Pike, Wasdale

One of the most notorious peaks in the Lake District, Scafell Pike holds the title of England's highest mountain at an impressive 3,209ft. Scafell Pike is a challenging hike more suited to the serious hillwalker or mountaineer, and you'll need to allow a good six to seven hours for the trip.

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For even more walking ideas, see our pick of some of the best walking routes in the UK, or go on a historic church walk


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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