The Lake District offers some of the UK’s most spectacular walking routes. How to narrow down so many? We asked local expert Ian John to reveal his top five.
One of the great joys of a trip to the Lakes is a chance to slip on a pair of comfortable boots and a rucksack and head out into the hills to experience the timeless rugged beauty of the landscape. Walking remains a hugely popular activity for all ages in Cumbria and there are hundreds of different walks, ranging from those anyone can enjoy through to those suited only for experienced or advanced hikers.
Here’s a selection of five of my favourite ambles in the Lake District:
If you’re with younger children or people with mobility issues, this gentle amble on wide, safe pathways is an ideal starting point for walking in the Lakes. Starting in the beautiful village of Coniston, you head down the Cumbria Way eventually reaching the atmospheric Coniston Hall. From here you continue walking along the lake then turn back through the pretty Park Coppice before heading back to Coniston for a well-earned coffee.
> Map your Coniston walk with The English Lakes: South Western area OS map
2. Grizedale Forest Walk (3.5 miles)
While the lakes and mountains of Cumbria are undeniably its biggest attraction, it’s easy to forget that the county also offers different types of walks – and the finest example of this in my view is the Grizedale Forest Walk. This is a fabulous route again for the beginner or family group as the paths are well-maintained and easy to follow, and you can round your trip off at the visitor centre.
You have a choice of eight well-signed walking routes, each through a lush verdant and varied woodland, with plenty to keep children entertained too. If you want to begin your Lake District trip with a flat, easy and enjoyable short walk, then this is an ideal starting point.
> Map your Grizedale walk with Footprint’s Walks Around Coniston
3. The Langdale Pikes and Dungeon Ghyll (6 miles)
For experienced walkers, this is one of the most popular climbs in the Lake District and as such, it is advisable to head to the New Dungeon Ghyll car park early to guarantee yourself a parking space. The effort of an early start though is worth it on this six-mile hike around Stickle Tarn, Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Pike O’ Stickle.
You’ll need stout boots and not be afraid to scramble up and down steep faces to enjoy all this walk has to offer but the rewards are immense, with stunning views of the beautiful southern Lakeland hills and breathtaking landscapes at every turn.
> Discover more with HandiHikes’ Walk the Langdale Pikes
4. Scafell and Scafell Pike from Wasdale (6.5 miles)
Starting in the picturesque village of Wasdale (probably with many other hikers attempting the highest peak in England), make sure you’re wearing sensible footwear for this classic trek up Scafell. There are a variety of routes and paths available, ranging from the main tourist track up the mountain to much quieter side paths and tracks that offer more solitude. The scenery is splendid, offering fabulous views over Wasdale and the chance to reach the summit of both Scafell and the larger Scafell Pike.
> Ascend Scafell Pike with The National 3 Peaks Walk Official Challenge Guide
5. Helvellyn from Glenridding (7.5 miles)
This is without doubt my favourite walk in the Lakes and one I first completed as a young boy on our first ever trip. For sure, it’s one of the best known and there are many different ways you can tackle the route. The easiest and most suited for families is on large wide paths for most of the lower part of the hike, leading onto narrower ridges for the 810m climb up Helvellyn and around Red Tarn, while more experienced climbers can scramble around Striding Edge and head up Swirral Edge taking in the peak of Catsycam.
At the summit, you’ll have spectacular views of the local area and without doubt the finest views of the majestic Lake Ullswater, glistening in the valley below.
> Walk from Helvellyn from Glenridding with the HandiHikes guide
> Learn more about the Lake District with our range of travel guides and maps.