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Tessa Kilpatrick January 19 2023

For centuries now, rugged peaks that loom above the unassuming cottages and peaceful tarns of the Lake District have inspired both poets and painters.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any renowned creatives in our team (yet!) but we can all agree that walking in this incredible landscape is certainly a breathtaking experience.

To celebrate the launch of our new Multi-Centre Walking Holidays, we’ve compiled a short list of walks in the Lake District that are sure to show you the best of the region. From relaxing lowland walks to historical sites of interest and adventurous climbs to lofty peaks, this list is sure to have at least one walk that will be your perfect introduction to the region.

 

Buttermere

  • Distance: 4.25 miles / 6.9 km
  • Ascent: 95m
  • Average time: 1 hour 45 mins

The name ‘Buttermere lake’ aptly, but somewhat unsurprisingly, means “the lake by the dairy pastures” and walking around it is as peaceful as it sounds. 

As you amble around this flat, pleasant walk you may end up congratulating yourself as you gaze up at the atmospheric mountains and feel thankful that you decided not to struggle up one of them. Instead, the valley’s lanes and bridleways will gently guide you past views of dramatic crags, through mysterious woods and over crystal clear streams. 

Many walkers who have visited the Lake District would probably call this route a “classic”. Even Victorians enjoyed a gentle stroll around Buttermere lake. Of course, this does mean that the route is pretty popular, if you would like to avoid other wanderers we recommend setting off from Buttermere as early as possible. 

From the Bridge Hotel, the well-trodden path will wind down to the lake’s shore and circle around it. To have uninterrupted views across the lake, remember to keep left at any forks in the road. Fleetwith Edge and Goat Crag are just two of the sights you can admire as you explore the area. 

By the time you finish your walk, you will understand why Buttermere lake features so frequently on Lake District postcards!

 

Grasmere and Rydal Water

  • Distance: 6 miles / 9.4 km 
  • Ascent: 245m
  • Average time: 2.5 hours

One of the founders of English Romanticism, William Wordsworth’s poem, ‘I wandered lonely as a cloud’ perfectly encapsulates the wonder that nature’s beauty can provoke.

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils.
– William Wordsworth

Wordsworth’s inspiration for this renowned poem stems from an experience he had on a walk in the Lake District with his sister, Dorothy. 

The charming Grasmere and Rydal Water route starts at the parish church at St Oswald’s in Grasmere village, which is where Wordsworth and members of his family are buried. Following quiet country roads, this walk will take you past two of Wordsworth’s homes as well as the picturesque lakes, Rydal Water and Grasmere.

The first of Wordsworth’s houses that you’ll pass is Dove Cottage. Wordsworth and Dorothy stayed in this modest house for almost a decade (1799-1808) and it still boasts a collection of their original furniture. As you walk past you may want to pop in to get a better picture of how Wordsworth lived before exploring the countryside which had such an influence on his work. 

Then you will pass Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s final home. Although he only rented this house, he owned a small but significant piece of land behind the church. His original intention had been to build a house for his daughter but when she died in 1847 he filled the land with hundreds of daffodils to remember her. Now known as Dora’s Field, the land of which is now cared for by the National Trust.  

If you would like to relax and float through the countryside “lonely as a cloud”  in Wordsworth’s footsteps then this is the walk for you.

 

Loughrigg Fell

  • Distance: 7 miles / 11 km
  • Ascent: 415m
  • Average time: 3 hours

One of the more forgiving Wainwrights, Loughrigg Fell lies between Ambleside, Grasmere and Skelwith Bridge. This walk doesn’t lead you to the summit of Loughrigg Fell but rather guides you around it, however, it still has enough elevation to provide excellent views of the surrounding countryside. 

You don’t have to walk far from Ambleside to be rewarded with views of Fairfield, a cluster of crags and pikes stretching to Rydal Mount. Later, when you round Ivy Crag you can gaze across to the ‘Mordor-esque’ Langdale Pikes.

The route also skirts around Loughrigg Tarn, proclaimed “Diana’s looking-glass” by Wordsworth. In summer, the limpid water of the tarn truly does reflect the magnificent scenery and is reminiscent of the Italian Lake Nemi (also referred to as Speculum Dianae) which was considered sacred to the Roman goddess, Diana.

 

Great Langdale

  • Distance: 9.5 miles / 15.5 km
  • Ascent: 470m
  • Average time: 4.5 hours

This walk explores one of the most dramatic and atmospheric valleys of the Lake District, Great Langdale, which stretches 12,170 acres from Ambleside to Mickleden.

Great Langdale is filled with quintessential Lakeland views with sheep peacefully cropping the grass outside picturesque white-washed cottages and the Langdale Pikes standing proudly in the neighbouring fells.

After climbing steadily up from Elterwater to Dow Bank, this walk follows the tracks at the base of the valley to Mickelden Beck.

If you feel adventurous enough for a 200m detour, you can visit Copt Howe which hosts a collection of rock carvings that are believed to date from 4000 and 6000 years ago. There is a theory that the concentric circles and carved lines may even have represented a map of the surrounding features of the area.

The halfway point of your walk is at Mickleden where you will cross the bridge and turn back to Elterwater. Here you can see Pike o’Stickle which once boasted a Neolithic “axe factory”. Stone age axes that were hewn from this seam of greenstone have even been found in Cornwall.

After admiring the views and exploring this circular walk, you can enjoy a bite to eat and a refreshing drink back in the small village of Elterwater.

 

Helvellyn (via the Edges)

  • Distance: 8 miles / 13 km 
  • Ascent: 915m
  • Average time: 5 hours

If you have a head for heights and enjoy a challenge, then this is the walk for you! 

Helvellyn is England’s third highest mountain, standing at 950m, and it is one of the most popular fells in the Lake District due to the magnificent views that reward you at the summit. To the west you can see smooth, gentle slopes whereas to the east you are greeted with severe edges and mountainous crags. You can also see the intimidating Striding Edge, a sharp ridge that connects Birkhouse Moor and Helvellyn Plateau. 

There are many ways to climb Helvellyn but if you’re feeling adventurous then we recommend tackling Striding Edge. Your walk will start from Glenridding and ascend to the ridge where you can choose the rocky route at the top of the arête or the more straightforward path to the right. There are a couple of challenging sections along Striding Edge and it can feel quite exposed so please only undertake it in calm and dry weather conditions.

After taking your time to appreciate the views from Helvellyn’s summit, we recommend a descent along Swirral Edge. Although less challenging than Striding Edge, the views from Swirral Edge are no less impressive and the trail will take you to the pyramid-shaped summit of Catsye Cam before leading back down to the Red Tarn path. 

By the time you proudly stride back to Glenridding, you will have almost entirely circled Red Tarn which is one of the highest tarns in the Lake District and is a remnant of the glacier that used to lie on the eastern side of Helvellyn. As you walk around it, keep an eye out for the Shelly, a very rare type of fish which only lives in four lakes worldwide.

 

Coledale Horseshoe

  • Distance: 9 miles / 14.8 km
  • Ascent: 1,185m
  • Average time: 6.5 hours

This is an excellent ridge walk in the northern Lakes that leads you around the glacial valley of Coledale. Following this route, you will visit the Wainwright Fells of Barrow, Sail and Hopegill Head as well as Crag Hill and Grisedale Pike.

This is certainly a longer, more challenging walk but the outstanding views are a satisfying reward for your effort and they are provided pretty much straight away. After you set off, you can admire the surrounding landscape as the path takes you from low-level bracken-lined paths up to heather-clad moorland and you make the steep ascent from Braithwaite. As the path stretches out, you can gaze at Skiddaw, Blencatha and the Scafell range in the distance.

This walk has the wonderful quality of feeling more remote than it actually is and it really does give ramblers the sense of being fully immersed in the mountains.

After you reach the final summit of the day, tired and content, you will no doubt understand why this walk is a fantastic way to see the Lake District.

 

Walk the Lake District with Absolute Escapes

Although these walks are a fantastic introduction to exploring the Lake District, they are by no means an exhaustive list. The area is home to a wealth of trails and an abundance of brilliant views, sure to make for an unforgettable experience.

Are you interested in discovering the Lake District but want the flexibility to choose your own adventures? Why not take a look at our brand new Lake District & Yorkshire Dales National Parks multi-centre walking holiday?

With decades of experience in self-drive and walking holidays, you can relax and dream of the magical Lake District wilderness knowing that the details of your holiday are in good hands. 

Tessa Kilpatrick

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