Lake District

  • © Flickr user alexhealing
  • Blea Tarn - © Flickr user Paul Stephenson
  • Borrowdale From Raven Crag - © Flickr user alpiniste
  • Caudale Moor - © Flickr user Ricky Cosmos
  • Derwentwater - © Flickr user Marilyn Jane
  • Dow Crag - © Flickr user Smabs Sputzer
  • © Flickr user Dylan J C
  • © Flickr user Dylan J C
  • Elterwater - © Flickr user Eugene Regis
  • © Flickr user Eugene Regis
  • Great Gable - © Flickr user alancleaver_2000
  • © Flickr user Keith Laverack
  • © Flickr user Larra Jungle Princess
  • © Flickr user llamnudds
  • © Flickr user Marilyn Jane
  • © Flickr user Roger Blackwell
  • © Flickr user sarahemcc
  • © Flickr user tejvanphotos
  • Ullswater - © Flickr user Keith Laverack
  • © Flickr user Keith Laverack
  • © Flickr user Vicky Hugheston
  • Wastwater - © Flickr user eek the cat
  • Windermere - © Flickr user Marilyn Jane
  • UpTongue Gill, good light, Seat Saddle to left - © William Mackesy
  • Across Grisedale Tarn toward Patterdale - © William Mackesy
  • High Street from Dollywaggon Pike - © William Mackesy
  • St Sunday Crag and Patterdale from Dollywaggon Pike - © William Mackesy
  • Striding Edge from above - © William Mackesy
  • Striding Edge - © William Mackesy
  • Striding Edge - © William Mackesy
  • Striding Edge - © William Mackesy
  • Helvellyn ridge from Striding Edge base - © William Mackesy
  • Helvellyn from Striding Edge base - © William Mackesy

Key information: Lake District

  • So famous, and so deservedly: an astonishing array of natural beauty, meltingly pretty lakes winding between craggy mountains broken by perfect, verdant valleys. An inspiration for all of us, not just those Romantic poets.
  • A superb variety of walks, from magnificent peaks to bag to lovely lakeside ambles to heart-stopping knife-edge moments.
  • Visit Hillwalk Tours' website for more information on the Lake District.

Walkopedia rating

(Top 100)
  • Walkopedia rating90.5
  • Beauty33
  • Natural interest15.5
  • Human interest9
  • Charisma33
  • Negative points0
  • Total rating90.5
  • Note: Crowding at famous places

Vital Statistics

  • Length: Variable
  • Maximum Altitude: Variable
  • Level of Difficulty: Variable
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Blea Tarn - © Flickr user Paul Stephenson

WALK SUMMARY

One of the world's most beautiful and best-loved places, and some of its most gorgeous and best-loved walking. With very good reason. You would have a heart of stone were you not moved and inspired by this wonderful region. It may not have the drama of the Himalayas, Andes or Alps, but Lakeland strikes a huge range of emotive chords, from subtle, gentle lusciousness to harsh, wild drama; to old-fashioned fear.

 

To state the obvious, it is the region's glacially scoured scenery that sets it apart, with gorgeous lakes winding between ancient, wild hills sporting soft woodland, foaming streams and waterfalls on their lower slopes.

 

The lakes are, of course, inescapably associated with the romantic poetry of William Wordsworth, the delightful anthropomorphic animal stories of Beatrix Potter (Harry's Great-Grandmother), and other writers, and endless (if at times hackneyed) beautiful pictures. It seems weird, now, that until the romantic perception took root, these mountains and delicate lakes were considered dreary, even sinister.

 

The Lake District has two drawbacks:

- popularity: you will have to accept that the famous or easy - but beautiful -walks will be overpopulated in high season. To achieve solitude, take lesser-known routes or go out of the high seasons.

- weather, of which there is lots. While there are periods of glorious sunshine, come prepared for cloud and rain. Some of the Lakes' most beautiful light is on showery, broken cloudy days.

 

With every valley and hillside likely to harbour some treasure, you could spend a lifetime walking here, and even Wainwright (who did so) probably didn't catalogue every possibility. But between him, the outstanding Cicerone guidebooks (their home is in Cumbria) and numerous other guides and pamphlets, the best walks are well covered. Actually, if you want solitude and to get into the "real" lakes, you can take any footpath on the excellent maps safe in the knowledge that it is almost impossible not to be delighted.

 

Note that wayfinding on some mountains isn't that easy if the cloud comes down - Walkopedia got briefly disoriented near Scafell Pike in March 16 while in charge of two 13 year olds, and it was disconcerting.

 

You have three primary approaches: move around bagging the very best; a continuous walk; or finding a perfect place to stay, then delving deep into the surrounding area's possibilities.

 

Walkopedia will not try to list every possibility, and we are at an early stage of our own Lake District eulogy, so we currently list only a small sample of the very best walks.

 

Continuous routes

- The Coast to Coast: the Lakeland section of this great walk is a fabulous 3 to 5 day walk, depending on where you start.

- Cumbria Way and Cumbria High Way:

 

Please give us your ideas for other wonderful continuous walks.

 

The Great (day) Walks

Central

Scafell Pike - England's highest mountain. Heavily walked, best avoided at peak times. Walkable with Scafell.

- The dramatic Langdale Pikes and Bowfell and Esk Pike above the beautiful Langdale valleys - particularly ascending Pavey Ark via Jack's Rake (see below).

Northern

Blencathra / Saddleback. Various routes, including the exciting, narrow Sharp Edge

Skiddaw.

Eastern

High Street

- Helvellyn Ridge (and Striding Edge)

Western

Haystacks /High Stile Ridge above Buttermere.


 

All further ideas welcome!

 

Breathtaking beauty

 

    • Circle lovely Buttermere; include a steepish plod to gain wondrous views from Haystacks or High Stile or the pass above the lakehead.
    • Around Grasmere 
    • Howton to Patterdale, on Ullswater. Claimed to be Lakeland's most beautiful lakeside walk (this is of course heavily contested). 7 miles. Take a ferry from Glenridding to Howton, then walk back via Patterdale at the lake's end. Gets crowded at peak times. An alternative is a return ferry to Howton, making a delightful circuit behind the lakeside Hallin Fell, through exquisite Martindale.
    • Above ludicrously pretty Martindale  by Ullswater, crossing lower ridges or getting the big picture from the High Street ridge.
    • Walla Crag or Friar's Crag above Derwent Water (the view from the latter described by the ever-opinionated Ruskin as one of the 3 finest in Europe).

All further ideas welcome!

 

Heartstoppers

 

  • Climb the infamous Jack's Rake, a narrow fissure in the cliff-face of Pavey Ark in the Langdale Pikes massif. Truly thrilling, astounding walking, the first time Walkopedia discovered vertigo and the best cigarette of our life at the top.
  • Famous Striding Edge, leading east from Helvellyn. A knife-sharp serrated ridge, very exposed in places but not that dangerous in reasonable weather. An unforgettably exciting scramble.
  • Sharp Edge on Blencathra.

 

Areas to base yourself in for a few days


    •          Grasmere : Wordsworth's home in the heart of the Lakes has a multitude of great walks, including one of the best approaches to Helvellyn .
    •          Langdale Valleys, also in the heart of the Lakes.
    •          Keswick to the north, and  Borrowdale, running south from Keswick into the heart of the Lakes.
    •          Buttermere and Crummock Water
    •          Eskdale to the south-west, with fine walking in the highlands to the north and east, including approach walks to the Scafell massif. Explore the remarkably preserved Hardknott Roman fort.
    •         Dunnerdale to the south-west, with access to the Old Man of Coniston and Swirl How  as well as a lot of other fine walking. Some superb ridge walks.
    •          Coniston, at the head of Coniston Water. A selection of great walks, especially around the Old Man of Coniston and Swirl How to the north-west. Some superb ridge walks.
    •        Patterdale/ Glenridding at the head of Ullswater to the east. Great walking all around, including: Martindale ; High Street; Grisedale, and Helvellyn.

This page is still at an early stage of development. Please help us by recommending your best walks and sending photos! Thank you!

 

Other accounts: share your experiences

Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.

PRACTICAL INFORMATION

We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

Membership is FREE AND JOINING TAKES 30 SECONDS. To login or sign up click here

Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Caudale Moor - ©Flickr user Ricky Cosmos

OTHER ACCOUNTS
share your experiences

Add your experiences, suggestions and photos. We would be delighted to receive your writing and ideas (which will be attributed appropriately where published).

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

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Derwentwater - ©Flickr user Marilyn Jane...
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