Walking in the Lake District

It's official! The Lake District, the largest of England's National Parks, was recently voted "Best walking destination in Britain" by members of the Ramblers' Association, Britain's largest walking charity.

Members of the Association concluded unequivocally that Lake District walks were by far their favourite in Britain. Endorsing this accolade, Sheona Southern, Marketing Director of Cumbria Tourist Board stated: this recognition demonstrates the nation's increasing passion for walking in an inspirational and varied landscape like Cumbria.

Ideas for Lake District Walks

At 2,292 square kilometres (885 square miles), the Lake District boasts some of the best walking territory in Britain: varied landscapes, rugged mountains, rocky crags, high fells, undulating hills, tranquil valleys and lakes, with routes to suit all skill and fitness levels, from beginner to expert. All that's required is a passion for walking and a love of the great outdoors.

Of course, it is always important to plan carefully and take advice, beforehand. Be aware, too, that that when walking in the Lake District weather conditions can deteriorate dramatically, within seconds and without warning, even at lower elevations; check the weather forecast, first!

Before walking in the Lake District, contact your nearest tourist information centre for more detailed information about specific routes:

Grasmere & Rydal Water: 5.5-kilometre (3.5-mile) easy walk through Wordsworth countryside; start: Dove Cottage, Grasmere.
Highlights include the Wordsworth Museum, Rydal Water, Rydal Mount, Rydal Hall and views over Windermere.

Friar's Crag & Castlerigg Stone Circle:

11-kilometre (7-mile) walk along the northeast shores of Derwent Water; spectacular views of the lake and surrounding peaks; visit the Lake District's prehistoric stone circle; start: lakeside road beside the Derwent Water landing stages.

Cistercian Way (recommended by the Ramblers' Association as 'easy'):

53-kilometre (33-mile) route; start: Grange-over-Sands; follows the low hills and sands of the Furness and Cartmel peninsulas, ending at Roa Island.

Cumbria Way (Ramblers' Association route-Allerdale Ramble'):

112-kilometre (70-mile); start: Ulverston, end Carlisle; magnificent Lake District National Park scenery with, according to the Association, 'plenty of scope for high-level detours'.

'Inn Way to the English Lake District' (another Ramblers' Association recommended route):

144-kilometre (90-mile) circular walk designed with bon viveurs in mind; start: Ambleside; follows unwaymarked paths linking stunning lakeside scenery with some very fine countryside pubs.

Lake District National Park Highlights:

129-kilometre (80-mile) circuit taking in Grasmere, Langdale Valley, the dramatic high passes of Wrynose and Hardnott; start: South of Keswick, on the A591 (signposted Ambleside) past Thirlmere Reservoir. Highlights include Grasmere, Wordsworth's Dove Cottage, Rydal Mount, Ambleside, Langdale Pikes, Hardknott Roman Fort, foothills of Scafell Pike (England's highest mountain), Gosforth, Crummock Water and Honister Pass.

Other Popular Lake District Walks

  • Hill walking in the region of Scafell Pike (978 metres / 3,210 feet);
  • Helvellyn, with a choice of 'easy' or 'challenging' paths;
  • Derwent Water, undemanding paths along the lower fells and around the lake.

Walkers' Top Tips

Fancy a bit of fell walking? Buses known locally as 'Mountain Goats' provide transport to most of the main passes.

To make the most of your walk, visit your nearest Tourist Information Centre before setting out. Tourist offices throughout the Lake District stock walking guides with useful information such as routes that become overcrowded during peak season, walks suitable for families, etc.

Walking in the Lake District: Resources

For an excellent range of walkers' maps, check out the Ordnance Survey Pathfinder series at www.ordsvy.gov.uk
Lake District Ordnance Survey maps (Scale: 4cm = 1 km / 1: 25000):
Lake District-English Lakes North West (EX004)
Lake District-English Lakes North East (EX005)
Lake District-English Lakes South West (EX006)
Lake District-English Lakes South East (EX007)

Useful Landranger Ordnance Survey maps (Scale: 2cm = 1km / 1: 50000):
West Cumbria, Cockermouth & Wast Water (LR089)
Penrith & Keswick, Ambleside (LR090)
Kendal / Morecambe (LR097)

More great ideas for walks: www.go4awalk.com