10 Best Lake District Walks - places & routes you need to know about when planning a visit to this beautiful National Park


Lake district best walks views routes maps walking popular
This blog features many Lake District Walks and here I've compiled what I think are the 10 Best Lake District Walks - this list contains walks of varying ability so there’s something for everyone in these routes! For any hiker to the lakes they are must-know walks 

The 10 Best Lake District Walks - map routes you need to know about when planning a trip to the Lakes 

The English Lake District is a unique and stunning place, and the recent award of UNESCO World Heritage Status - confirms it as a truly special place. It's my favourite area of England for walking and I've been hiking in the Lakes for over 25 years and so I know a thing or too about the area. There are lots of walking opportunities for all levels of ability and we are spoilt for choice really. It is hard to condense them all into a 'Top 10 Best Lake District Walks', but I've had a go at selecting the must-do walks for those unfamiliar with the Lake District and I've chosen a range of walks of varying difficulty so that there is something for everyone in the list. 

In this list of the 10 Best Lake District Walks I've selected those that I often recommend to others and ones that I never tire of and do time and again (a sign off a good route I reckon). Each featured walk on this page has a link off to one of my dedicated blog posts on that walk where you can find out much more to help you plan a Lake District walk.

#1. Loughrigg Fell walk, near Grasmere & Windermere

Loughrigg Fell Langdale Windermere Ambleside Walk map route Grasmere Lake District lakes
I'll start with this Loughrigg Fell walk that I often recommend to any first-time visitor to The Lake District as it has a variety of amazing views around every turn, including fine views of Grasmere, The Langdale Pikes, Loughrigg Tarn, Windermere and Rydal Water. Loughrigg Fell is modest in height, so it's not a really strenuous walk but the range of views are very impressive and unmatched for a short-ish walk. The particular route I prefer is 5.1 miles which will take you about 3.5 hours and I'd rate as moderate, and suitable for pretty much everyone with a reasonable level of fitness. 

#2. Haystacks walk, near Buttermere

Lake district best walks views routes maps walking popular
Haystacks has often topped a number of polls for the Lake District's best fell summit and notably it was also Alfred Wainwrights favourite Lake District fell and is the place where this renowned Lake District guide chose to have his ashes scattered (at Innominate Tarn just below the summit of Haystacks). The walk itself has a lot of variety and is often started from the shores of Buttermere and gives fine views of Crummock Water, Ennerdale a range of fell such as Great Gable & Pillar. On a clear day you can see the Irish Sea all the way west to the Isle of Man and offers a great vantage point for fine sunsets as you can see here. You can find out more on my recommended walking route below.

#3. Helvellyn, via Striding Edge, England's 2nd highest mountain

Lake district best walks views routes maps walking popular
Helvellyn is the 3rd highest mountain in England (after the Scafells) and is apparently the UK's most popular walk. Often the preferred route, and what draws most people to Helvelleyn, is the challenge of Striding Edge - a Grade 1 Scramble over a distinctive narrow ridge which is doable by confident walkers in good conditions without any specialist equipment. It was the first major Lake District fell I tackled and I have done it countless times since. Click the button below to find out about the best walking route.

#4. Catbells walk, near Keswick

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Catbells, near Keswick, is another popular Lake District walk and for it's modest height it is like tackling a mini-mountain due to it's distinctive shape. It's a great introduction to Lake District fell walking for newcomers to the Lake District and also children too. On this photo I have illustrated on a photo of Catbells from a distance, the circular route you will take on this walk so you can get a feel for the kind of terrain you will be walking. The blog post dedicated to this route is the most popular post on this site and it's definite worth adding to your list

#5. Cathedral Quarry walk, Langdale

Lake district best walks views routes maps walking popular
I've put in this list a relatively short walk to Cathedral Quarry as it offers something a little different when you actually get to the caves and is a great one for kids too. These caves are a small network of interlinked quarries above Little Langdale that where mined hundreds of years ago, and although now disused, they are maintained and kept open for free by the National Trust. The impressive main chamber inside Cathedral Quarry is indeed 'Cathedral like' and you can understand how the place gets its name. They are a brilliant little destination for a short walk and kids will also love exploring the caves.

#6. Blencathra, via Sharp Edge

Lake district best walks views routes maps walking popular
Sharp Edge, pictured here, is a knife-edge ridge en-route to the summit of Blencathra and it is my favourite ridge in the Lake District. There are other, less imposing, walking routes up to the summit of Blencathra but if you have got a head for heights then I highly recommend Sharp Edge as the route to Blencathra. In good conditions no specialist equipment is needed - just good footwear! It really is one of the Lake Districts most exhilarating walks.

#7. Scenic Ullswater walk to Aira Force

Ullswater walks Gowbarrow Fell Aira Force best Lake District views Lakes Cumbria England
Aira Force waterfall is a very popular shot walk for many visitors to the Lakes (and most start from the car park at Aira Force) However, if you have time, then I really do recommend a longer walk to Aira Force which doesn't involve much uphill but gives some of the best views of Ullswater. Autumn is a great time to do this walk and there aren't many better views than this for me and when the tree's and bracken are golden. You can also discover the exact spot of this particular view in this blog post.

#8. Buttermere walk, an easy low level walk

Lake district best walks views routes maps walking popular
A walk around the shores of Buttermere is one of my favourite more leisurely & easy Lake District walks. What I love about Buttermere is that it is quite unspoilt as there isn't much development at all. Whilst the walk itself is quite flat - it offers lot's of stunning views, and there is lots of intrigue around the route to keep it interesting, such as woodland and even a walk through a tunnel. The route is 4.5 miles and can easily be done in 2 hours. 

#9. Helm Crag walk, near Grasmere

Helm crag walk near grasmere lake district best route map height lion lamb howitzer
Helm Crag is another modest Lake District fell in height but is perhaps one of the most distinctive fell summits with it's rocky outcrops and it gives some superb and dramatic views of Grasmere and the surrounding fells. In this photo I'm stood on the well known local rocky landmark that goes by the name of the 'The Lion & the Lamb'. If you are looking for a walk close to Grasmere or Windermere then this is a Lake District classic. 

#10. Scafell Pike Walk, the best route 

Scafell Pike walk Corridor route map height climbing best route up, Seathwaite Lake District Lakes Wasdale 3 peaks
Last but not least - no trip to the Lake District is complete without walking to the highest point in England - Scafell Pike. There are quite a few walking routes up to Scafell Pike - but the Corridor Route from Seathwaite is the best way in my humble opinion and is often referred to as the Connoisseurs route (as those experienced in walking the various Scafell Pike routes will recommend this particular route). You may well only ever climb Scafell Pike once in your life, so make sure you choose this best walk route & way up, and not the more popular & shorter route from Wasdale which has a lot less variety.

And there is my Top 10 Best Lake District walks - it was hard to pick 10, but I've went for those that simply cannot be missed and which give a variety of heights and so there is something for everyone. I hope they help you in planning a trip to the wonderful place that is the English Lake District. If you think there is a walk that deserves to be on this list - leave a message in the comments :-)

Happy Hiking!

Post by Stuart Hodgson 
'The Hiking Photographer'

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