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The 10 Best Walks in the Lake District

Explore some of our favourite Lake District walking routes


Parkdean Resorts by Parkdean Resorts on 27/01/2021
A view of someone's feet atop of a mountain overlooking the Lake District

Home to some of the most magnificent scenery in the country, if you’re planning a UK walking holiday then the Lake District undoubtedly features near the top of your list. One of Britain’s most loved spots for a staycation, it has so much to offer for walkers of all abilities - from shorter, leisurely routes for beginners to the more challenging for experienced hikers.

You couldn’t find a better destination for a walking holiday and our holiday parks in the Lake District are the perfect base for exploring the great outdoors. Below, we’ve compiled a useful guide to ten of the best walks in the Lake District as a starting point.

1. Hawkshead and Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead

  • Length: 3 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Beginning in the quaint village of Hawkshead, which has its own car park, this easy 3 mile walk is the perfect place to start if you’re a beginner trying to find your walking legs. The route offers some beautifully varied scenery, passing via a stream, Hawkshead Hill and briefly entering Grizedale Forest.

This is one of the free walking routes provided by the Ramblers and you can find full details here, along with many more of the best walks in the Lake District to explore!

Did you know? Hawkshead is renowned for its connections to William Wordsworth who was educated in the local school, making it a popular location for tourists. 

A misty Grizedale Forest

Grizedale Forest, Cumbria

2. The Old Man of Coniston

  • Length: Varies depending on route
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Walking holidays in the Lake District wouldn’t be complete without conquering one of its many iconic peaks and the Old Man of Coniston and the fells surrounding it are a great option for a family with teenagers or a group of friends. Parking can be found at the Walna Scar car park and from here there are several established paths up and down the mountain punctuated with mysterious ruins of mining equipment and other points of interest.

It goes without saying that you’ll find spectacular panoramic views once you reach the summit, and on a clear day you might even be able to see as far as Blackpool Tower!

“We did the walk up to the copper mines, about a third of the way up, then walked over to Torver and back via Lake Coniston. It took about 6 hours and there was beautiful scenery the whole way. Definitely recommend it.” – Charlotte C via TripAdvisor 

Video courtesy of L&L

3. Tom Gill to Tarn Hows

  • Length: 1.6 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

Nearby to Coniston and one of the many fantastic walks in the Tarn Hows area, this route is particularly great as it is also accessible to mobility scooters and pushchairs. A short 1.6 mile walk, the route includes stunning waterfalls and breathtaking views of Yewdale. Parking can be found at Tom Gill by the Glen Mary Bridge.

Top tip: For those wanting to venture a little further, consider heading up the short ascent to the tarn and you’ll be rewarded with a brilliant view of the tarn’s waters and neighbouring fells. 

4. The Fairfield Horseshoe, Ambleside

  • Length: 10.7 miles
  • Difficulty: Hard

Regarded as one of the best walks in the Lake District and offering up some of the finest views of Lake Windermere, the Fairfield Horseshoe is ideal for more experienced hikers. At over 10 miles in distance, the walk follows a horseshoe-shaped trail with some uphill stretches and potentially challenging terrain. Starting in Ambleside, you’ll find plenty of pay and display car parks in the town centre.

Highlights include the passing over a number of wainwright summits, skirting the ridge of the Great Rigg and, of course, outstanding views to take in along the way.

Top tip: You can find detailed information on this Ramblers members’ route via their website – and if you book a holiday with Parkdean Resorts, you’ll get exclusive discount on membership too! 

A man walking across the grassy mountain peaks along the Fairfield Horseshoe in the Lake District

The Fairfield Horseshoe, Lake District

5. Greendale and Middle Fell, Greendale

  • Length: 3.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate

If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the tourist-populated parts of the Lakes, this route provides a truly unspoilt spot – perfect for when you’re seeking some peace and quiet. Park your car on the grassy roadside at Greendale Cottages and head out from there.

Tucked amongst the Western Fells, the walk features some stunning views across the Irish Sea to the Isle of Man, as well as the beautiful Greendale Tarn. It’s also dog-friendly, meaning your canine companion can tag along and stretch their legs too!

Did you know? The Wastwater lake, which can be seen during the walk, is the deepest in England and has previously been voted as Britain’s favourite view. 

6. Helvellyn

  • Length: Varies depending on route
  • Difficulty: Hard

The third highest point in England, a hike up Helvellyn is rewarded with a remarkable view across the Lake District and towards Lancashire. In recent years the mountain was also voted as Britain’s Best Walk, and with such glorious views from the top, it’s easy to see why!

We would recommend starting from either Glenridding in the west or Swirls car park in the east. There are several paths to choose from leading to the summit, the most popular taking you via Striding Edge - the slightly easier route being the path to the right once you reach the ridge. However, Helvellyn is not to be underestimated and during the final steep stretch you can expect to have to scramble using your hands.

“Brilliant views - absolutely stunning. Lots of different ways up and parking around various places so do your research and decide where you are going to climb from and what your level of expertise is.” – 80Shelley via TripAdvisor 

A view from Striding Edge, Helvellyn

Striding Edge, Helvellyn

7. Kirkstone Pass to Red Screes

  • Length: 1.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re keen to complete a fell walk of a slightly easier nature, Red Screes is one of the best walks in the Lake District for beginners. A gradual walk to the peak, which stands at 776m, still offers beautiful views and the trail starting from the car park at the top of the Kirkstone Pass winds amongst crags and climbs rocky steps towards the summit.

Red Screes is named for its eastern face of red stained scree and on first look it may appear difficult to scale, however, there is a path that takes you the whole way up, culminating in stunning vistas of Windermere and Wansfell.

Top tip: To make this walk even shorter, you can drive halfway up if you don’t fancy taking on the full challenge. 

A view across the Kirkstone Pass from Red Screes

Kirkstone Pass from Red Screes

8. Blencathra

  • Length: Varies depending on route
  • Difficulty: Hard

Located north east of Keswick, the instantly recognisable peaks of Blencathra are an iconic feature of the Lake District’s landscape. You’ll find superb views from the summit, covering the Solway Firth to the north and the Pennines to the east.

There are several starting points to choose from but we would recommend parking in the public car park in the village of Threlkeld, which will set you off on a route with an easier gradient taking roughly five to six hours to complete.

“A popular mountain – not the highest but the favourite of many people. Visible from afar and climbable by at least 7 routes.” – cumbrianexplorer via TripAdvisor 

Video courtesy of teamBMC

9. YHA Windermere to Townend, Windermere

  • Length: 2.2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy

If you’re holidaying with the kids and fancy a shorter walk, this easy route through the Troutbeck Valley should take no longer than an hour and is conveniently placed if you’re staying at Limefitt Holiday Park nearby. Parking can be found in the layby approximately 0.2 miles beyond the hostel.

Commencing at the YHA Windermere, the circular route takes you towards the National Trust property of Townend and back around, showcasing some impressive views of Troutbeck and Lake Windermere. You can find full details of this walk via the Ramblers website.

Did you know? Beatrix Potter lived on the farm in the village breeding sheep and she loved walking in Troutbeck Valley. 

10. Hardknott Roman Fort

  • Length: Varies depending on route
  • Difficulty: Easy-Moderate

If you’re looking for a slice of history to go with your walking expedition, a visit to Hardknott Roman Fort is an absolute must to indulge in all things ancient. The fort was once a key staging post along Hadrian’s Wall and today is an English Heritage site, offering great views of the River Esk and fells beyond.

There is a parking area near the fort, just off the Hardknott Pass, but take care as the road is very steep.

Top tip: An easy walk but sometimes boggy in places, it has been advised that this particular route is suited to finer weather conditions. 

Video courtesy of HistoryNeedsYou

These routes are just ten examples of some of the best walks in the Lake District and you can discover more by heading to our local attractions page and filtering by ‘walks.’ Don’t forget to share your favourite walks in the Lake District via our Facebook page.

Please note, these walk summaries are intended as guidance only and it is recommended that you always plan your full route in advance, ensure you are prepared with suitable clothing and equipment before you set off and even let someone know which route you’re planning on walking. Do not attempt difficult walking routes in adverse weather conditions or if you do not feel you have appropriate experience or the fitness level required to complete it safely.