Best walks in the Lake District

Rural, Activity, Walking

Young girl in Lake District on mountain

As the most visited national park in the UK with over 15 million annual visitors, the Lake District makes a wonderful holiday destination for walkers and hikers. The glistening lakes (with 16 in total, though only Bassenthwaite is officially a lake in the truest sense of the word) and rugged mountains of Cumbria offer a scenic backdrop for some excellent walks, many of them with a pub somewhere along the route for refuelling!

Whatever your ability, there's a walk for you - read on to find out some of the best walks in the Lake District:

1. Rydal Water

Rydal Water

Right in the heart of the Lake District, this relatively easy lakeside walk is perfect for those who don't want anything too strenuous. You can stop off at Rydal Hall - about a mile's walk - although if you want to go further, there is a 3 or 7-mile circular walk starting in Ambleside which takes in Loughrigg Tarn, Grasmere and Rydal Water.

Drink in the beautiful Lakeland scenery, especially wonderful in autumn and head up to Wordsworth's Seat, reputedly William Wordsworth's favourite spot, as well as two of his homes, Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. There are also pretty woodland trails and waterfalls along the route if you want to get away from the shores.

Nearby places to stay:

If you have a four-legged friend with you, check out all the best dog-friendly places to visit with our Lead your dog to the Lake District guide.

2. Mickleden Valley Trail


If you are looking for remote wilderness walking, this is the one for you - the scenery is outstanding too. The 4-mile Mickleden Trail which takes approximately two hours, runs along Mickleden below Pike O' Stickle on the right and The Band on the left. Glacial moraines come into view as you approach the head of the valley and the path splits at the bottom of two ancient mountain passes, Rossett Gill and Stake Pass, which is where you can stop and turn around for the walk home.

This long flat walk is ideal for those who cannot manage hills and the track is level and well-defined so ideal for children too.

Nearby places to stay:

3. Derwentwater and Cat Bells


It's always difficult to choose a favourite view in the Lakes, but this one is pretty much the best - not only that but it incorporates a boat trip too! Hop aboard at Keswick where you will glide over to the Hawes End landing for the circular walk, which takes you up to Cat Bells and then back to Keswick. The views over Keswick, Derwentwater and Borrowdale are really impressive and it's not too long - approximately 3.5 miles.

There are some steep parts and a few scrambly sections but nothing too difficult; this one will take you about three hours so best to take a picnic or a flask of something hot on chilly days!

Nearby places to stay:

4. Aira Force and Ullswater

Aira Force

Choose from a variety of walking trails along this most stunning route in Ullswater that takes in this delightful waterfall - take a gentle stroll beside Ullswater Lake or hike up to Gowbarrow summit. This National Trust delight is also home to the enchanting 65-foot Aira Force waterfall which brings visitors from all over the world to see its cascades. The path is well-maintained so easy for those with children, but it can be difficult to get a buggy around unless of the off-road type.

An extra bonus is the Aira Force tearoom where you can stop off for a cream tea after finishing your walk - there's also a natural play area for children if they haven't burnt off all their energy already!

Nearby places to stay:

All the lakes in the Lake District are beautiful but which ones to visit? Have a read through our Guide to all the Lake District lakes to see which ones take your fancy.

5. Stickle Tarn

Stickle Tarn

The area of Langdale offers great routes for all types of walkers with differing abilities. If you want an easier route, explore the lower trails where you can walk without too many hills or scale the peaks if you prefer a more challenging walk. One of the most popular and more difficult walks is the 2-mile Stickle Tarn.

Start off at the Sticklebarn pub and follow Stickle Ghyll up the side of the valley - look out for cascading waterfalls and rock pools peppered into the mountainside as you go. The path, while steep, is quite well defined but there are some sections where you might need to scramble up so make sure you are capable of this before starting off.

Nearby places to stay:


If these Lake District walks have inspired you to visit, then take a look at our Lake District cottages for a holiday to this most beautiful scenic area.

Posted by Elianne Reed on 19th November 2019