There really is something for everyone who wants to walk in the Lake District, regardless of your experience or the duration of your visit. The walks outlined below are intended to show you the range that the Lake District has to offer. So, here are quite easy walks, suitable for the whole family and there are more challenging walks, recommended for more experienced walkers. Do bear in mind that, just because you only have time for a short walk, doesn’t mean it has to be too easy. Likewise, if you want to spend a full day out walking, you needn’t feel obliged to tackle something more difficult than you are comfortable with.
1. Scout Scar
The concept of a “walking” holiday may be quite intimidating to some people but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you are looking for breathtaking panoramic views, the variety of routes in the Lake District ensures that this is possible while enjoying a gentle stroll. Scout Scar is a long limestone escarpment and, in parts, the path can rise quite steeply but there are two resting places on the way up. The path, which is even suitable for robust pushchairs, winds up to a charming wooden bench and a truly stunning view. More gung-ho families can carry on to The Mushroom, a shelter with a view of the surrounding fells, and even Blackpool Tower on a clear day.
2. Windermere’s Western Shore
Cross majestic Lake Windermere to Ferry House and follow the road around the bank. The first kilometre is flat tarmac and weaves through open meadow, overlooking the beautiful Bowness and Troutbeck hills. There are lots of spots to rest and picnic on the grass, by the scenic wooded shoreline and on the charming pebble beach. The tarmac turns into level, stone track as you go into Heald Wood. The continuing route to to Red Nab has two relatively steep sections and the path can be quite rough and rocky.
3. Brothers’ Water
Once known as Broad Water, legend has it that the name was changed in the 19th Century when two brothers drowned in the lake. It is shallow and fringed with reed beds that are home to moorhens, coots and swans. The surrounding oaks of Low Wood are also rich in wildlife and the autumnal colours are awe-inspiring. The path around Brothers’ Water takes you on to historic Hartsop Hall, a 16th century Grade I listed building which is owned by the National Trust. The Hall overlooks Dovedale valley and at its head you’ll see one of the steepest cliffs in the Lake District, Dove Crag.
4. Braithwaite to Force Crag Mine
The track is well-drained and smooth, making a steady ascent to Coledale, from where you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views of the surrounding hills. The higher you go, the more dramatic the mountain views and Outerside, Eel Crag and Grisedale Pike begin to truly dominate the skyline. National Trust information panels outline the area’s history, particularly the zinc, copper, lead and barite mining that dates back to the 1500s. Force Crag was the last working mine in the Lake District and closed in 1991.
5. The Jenkill Hill Path to Skiddaw
Skiddaw is the type of mountain that you draw as a child; steep slopes and a jagged summit. It towers above Keswick and the Jenkin Hill Path, the most popular route to the summit, is well worth the climb. If this is to be your first ascent of a 3000 foot mountain, the route established as a pony trek for Victorian tourists is ideal. It winds its way up the moderate slopes of Jenkin Hill and forges on to the summit using the rounded southeast ridge. This is not mountaineering, unless you want it to be.
6. The Fairfield Horseshoe
The Fairfield Horseshoe takes in all of the peaks that surround Rydal and is probably the most famous of the classic Lake District walks. The level of walking is quite high but after the initial climb to Fairfeld, from the summit plateau of which you will get the best views, the ups and downs are not too severe. The challenge really begins when trying to pick the correct line of descent, for which clear conditions are a must for the novice. The ascent over the eastern ridge crosses Low Pike, High Pike, Dove Crag and Hart Crag, with the western descent taking in Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar, returning weary walkers to Ambleside by way of Rydal Hall.