15 Best The Lake District Walking Routes

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Written by our web team

9 min read | 10 May 2024

Ask pretty much anyone what the UK’s best walking spots are, and the Lake District is bound to come up. However, when choosing Lake District walking routes to follow, the choice can be overwhelming.

Here, we’ll break down 15 of the best trails for walkers of all abilities. We have routes for history lovers, guided walk fans, families, athletic hikers, and senior walkers. There’s an option for everyone.

Why you should go walking in the Lake District

Woman with rucksack following a Lake District walking route

The UK is full of beautiful walking spots. Hiking trails weave through picturesque regions like the Scottish Highlands, the Cotswolds, North Wales, and Britain’s beaches. Then there’s the Lake District. Arguably the UK’s best walking location, the Lakes combine jaw-dropping landscapes with quaint villages and great pub food.

When you go walking in the Lake District, you can:

Enjoy the striking scenery

Rugged mountains, misty moors, and dreamy valleys make the Lake District feel a world away from most parts of the UK. A Lake District walking holiday allows you to lose yourself in this scenery and escape the busyness of day-to-day life.

Explore different terrains

Lake District walking routes offer an assortment of terrains. Whether you prefer a gentle lakeside stroll or a demanding mountain climb into the mist, you’ll find it all here. Choose from forest treks, fell climbs, and waterside ambles.

Immerse yourself in cultural heritage

The Lake District allows you to step back in time and enjoy the area’s deep cultural heritage. You’ll find numerous historic sites, ancient ruins, and quirky villages that date back centuries. Literary lovers will also find themselves at home in the worlds of famous writers Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth.

Watch out for local wildlife

The Lake District is home to many animals that you’re unlikely to see elsewhere. The woodlands, moorlands, and meadows are full of species like red squirrels, deer, otters, and rare birds. Look out for ring ouzels, goshawks, hawfinches, and siskins.

Recharge and recuperate

In a world where many of us feel we’re on a constant hamster wheel, the Lake District is the perfect place to recuperate. After all, a Lake District walking holiday gives you plenty of physical exercise and time to unwind in nature, whether alone or with loved ones.

The top 15 Lake District walking routes

View of Lake Buttermere from a summit walk

The Lake District is full of walking routes that offer breathtaking views. Here, we’ll share 15 of the top Lake District walking routes, from the demanding Scafell Pike to the simple but beautiful Buttermere Walk.

These routes cater to walkers of all levels, from those with limited mobility to athletic hikers in search of a challenge.

The best walking trails in the Lake District for historical visits

As the Lakes are steeped in history, it’s no surprise that many Lake District walking trails lead to historical monuments. Here are three of the most popular:

  • Ambleside Roman Fort: Traverse the shores of Lake Windermere to explore the remains of this fort. Historians believe the fort was built under Hadrian’s rule to guard the Roman road from Brougham to Ravenglass.
  • Shap Abbey: Enjoy the Lake District walking route to this 12th-century abbey by the idyllic River Lowther. This is the last abbey that Henry VIII dissolved, and it’s free to visit year-round.
  • Castlerigg Stone Circle: Follow this scenic route just outside Keswick to visit one of England’s oldest stone circles. The monument sits on a natural plateau, offering a peaceful haven to reflect on the ceremonies that once took place here

The best walking trails in the Lake District for guided walks

Volunteers from the National Park lead several free guided tours, covering some of the Lakes’ most tranquil vistas. These volunteers know all the pretty points to pause at and share stories of the region. Some of the National Park guided walks include:

  • Carpet of Bluebells: This Lake District walking route starts in the quiet village of Glenridding. The walk continues to a hidden tarn where walkers can enjoy unrivalled views of Ullswater. The route involves a fellside climb through the bluebell carpet, which in itself makes the hike worthwhile.
  • Arthur’s Pike: This walk guides hikers from Pooley Bridge to Arthur’s Pike, a high point offering showstopping views. The sloping trail involves steep sections that cross two streams. Once at the top, hikers enjoy a sprawling view of the fells below.
  • Wordsworth’s Hawkshead: This walk loops around Hawkshead village. Your tour guide will stop at various sites that are all relevant to William Wordsworth and his nature-focused poetry.

The best walking trails in the Lake District for families

While the Lakes are full of challenging hikes, there are plenty of family-friendly Lake District walking routes. Three of the flattest, easiest trails include:

  • Buttermere Walk: This flat loop around Buttermere Lake is an easy walk suitable for all the family. Enjoy the mountainous views without having to do any climbing.
  • Coniston Water Walk: Families will love walking Coniston Water’s western shoreline. Pebble beaches, tracks, and paths make up this trail. This means there are no roads to contend with, which is ideal for children.
  • Eskdale Walk: This mini loop winds through a woodland and along the River Esk. Families will enjoy spotting red squirrels, salmon, and sea trout. It’s also not far from the waterfall in Stanley Gill if you fancy adding this to your route.

The best walking trails in the Lake District for athletic walkers

Hikers looking for advanced Lake District Walking routes have endless options. Three challenging walks with unbeatable views at the peak include:


  • Scafell Pike: As England’s tallest mountain, Scafell Pike is a must-climb for many athletic walkers. It’s 3,209 feet high, so take plenty of water and maybe a picnic to enjoy as you look out over the valleys of Wasdale and Borrowdale.
  • The Deepdale Horseshoe: This steep circuit walk has become a classic trail amongst athletic walkers. After climbing St Sunday Crag, hikers can follow the trail to a crest where they can enjoy magnificent panoramic views.
  • Skiddaw Ride: Walkers seeking one of the Lakes' lesser-known trails will love this moor-backdropped route. A bridleway guides hikers from Lonscale Fell around the back of Skiddaw. Alternatively, walkers can start at Keswick and follow the Latrigg Bridleway.

The best walking trails in the Lake District for senior walkers

The Lake District offers a restful getaway for people of all ages. As such, there are countless walks suitable for senior walkers who want to stay away from challenging mountain climbs. These Lake District walking routes are suitable for senior walkers and those with limited mobility.

  • Bowness to Cockshott Point: This loop follows Bowness’ busy waterfront to Cockshott Point’s quiet shoreline. Just 2km in total, this walking trail is one of the Lakes’ shorter routes, and there’s a surfaced path for wheelchair users.
  • White Moss Common: An even shorter walk of 1.25km, this woodland and meadow trail leads to the stunning River Rothay. Often sun-dappled thanks to light streaming through the trees, this makes for a picturesque picnic spot. Those who can manage a longer walk may like to take the 1km extension.
  • Grasmere Riverside: This charming path runs along the River Rothay, where walkers can spot ducks and dippers. The route also passes Grasmere’s famous gingerbread shop, which makes the perfect mid-walk break. This walk is also a short one at only 1.4km long.

Things to do during your walk at the Lake District

A family walking three alpacas on a countryside trail

A simple Lake District walking route may be all you need. But if walking in the Lake District isn’t enough for your adventurous spirit, ramp up the activity with these suggestions:

  • Alpaca walking: Make your walk extra special by inviting an alpaca along. Alpaca walking in the Lake District is the highlight of the holiday for many animal lovers.

    Companies like Wreay Syke Alpacas and Alpacaly Ever After offer alpaca walks in areas like Kendal and Penrith.

  • Gorge walking: Don your waterproof gear and add adventure to your walk by gorge walking in the Lake District.

    Popular gorge walking locations include Stoneycroft Ghyll near Keswick and Wren Gill near Kendal. There’s also Stickle Ghyll in Langdale and Hause Gill in Borrowdale.

  • Painting: Pack your canvas and paints to stop part-way through your walk and capture your view.

    Some of the best views to paint include Packhorse Bridge in Wasdale Head, St Catherine’s Church in Boot, and Ratherheath Tarn, which is near Kendal.

  • Stargazing: If you time a walk at dusk, you can enjoy the stars when they peep out. Some of the Lakes’ most secluded stargazing spots include Ennerdale, Wasdale, Grizedale Forest, Borrowdale Valley, and Langdale Valley.

    Take a red torch to help your eyes adjust to the dark, and choose a date with clear weather and low moonlight.

  • Swimming: While you can experience the glorious lakes walking along the shore, the best way to fully experience them is to swim. You can swim in most of the national park’s lakes, tarns, and rivers.

The quietest, with no motorboats, include Buttermere, Crummock Water, Grasmere, Loweswater, Rydal Water, and Wast Water.

Planning your walking trip to the Lake District

Rain cloud hanging over steep hills in the Lake District

Once you’ve chosen your Lake District walking trails, it’s time to prepare for your trip. Use these five planning tips to make the most of your break:

  • Pack the right gear: Depending on the severity of your Lake District walking routes, you may need some specialist gear. Walkers will need a strong pair of hiking boots for any tougher walks. Walking poles, flasks, and a first-aid kit may also be a good idea.
  • Prepare for extreme weather: Prepare for the Great British weather, which means planning for all extremes. Bring your sun cream, but bring your waterproof trousers and coat too.
  • Let someone know what your walking plans are: If you’re planning to take advanced hikes or head out under the stars, make sure others know where you’ll be. In the event of an emergency, others will have details of your whereabouts.
  • Bring a map: Living in the smartphone era, it’s easy to rely on online maps. But if you’re caught without the internet, you’ll be glad of a paper map or two.
  • Check trail closures: Before heading out on your Lake District walking route, make sure it’s open. Visitor centres, websites, and social media channels often provide updates when trails close. These routes may close for maintenance or due to weather conditions.

Getting to the Lake District with Avanti

Three sheep on a stony path in the Lake District

The Lake District is packed with spectacular walking trails for all to enjoy. The national park may be remote, but it’s easy to reach the Lakes with Avanti trains. Stop at Oxenholme, Penrith, or Carlisle and find innumerable walking routes at your fingertips.

Secure the lowest-priced train tickets to the Lake District by using our Best Fare Finder. You can also sign up for Priority Ticket Alerts to hear when the best deals are available. Plus, if you qualify for our Railcards, you can save one-third on ticket prices.

Buy train tickets for your next journey

Buying through our website or app saves you money because we never charge booking fees.

To take a look at more ways to save including using a Railcard, booking in advance, and booking as a group, visit our ways to save page.

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