By Rachael Parkin
If you’re coming to the Lake District, chances are it’s because you want to enjoy one of the many serene, shimmering lakes, tarns, meres and waters the area has to offer. We’ve put together a list of some of our favourite lakeside walks from short, wheelchair-friendly strolls to more rugged 10-mile hikes; there are walks below for all ability levels.
All these waterside routes feature beautiful lake and mountain vistas with no major hills to tackle and are the perfect way to spend either half an hour or an entire day in this beautiful corner of the world. Once walked they are never to be forgotten!
Ullswater Way: Howtown to Glenridding or Vice-versa
Distance 6.5 miles Estimated time: 3 hours.
This section of the Ullswater Way, once described by Alfred Wainwright as “the most beautiful and rewarding walk in Lakeland” is combined with a trip on the charming and historic Ullswater Steamer. You have two options; take the Steamer from the pier at Glenridding to Howtown and walk back, or, walk to Howtown and catch the boat back to Glenridding. The choice is yours, however, whichever direction you choose you’ll be rewarded with both gorgeous open fell-side and wooded terrain along with stunning views of the lake and surrounding mountains. The path benefits from being well-trodden and easy to follow in either direction with refreshments available at the approximate midpoint.
Coniston Western Side – Sunny Bank To Coniston
Distance: 3.5 miles Estimated Time: 2 hrs
This walk begins in Coniston by catching the Coniston Launch, a boat service which runs regular cruises from March through to November, down to Sunny Bank Pier. From the pier the delightful walk follows the lakeshore, weaving its way through woods, forests and open parkland, with Coniston Water a constant companion to your right. Along the way, you get to enjoy the wonderful views across the water to the majestic fells beyond before finishing your walk-in Coniston and rewarding yourself with a visit to one of the many cafes or pubs in the village. A day in the Lakes well-spent!
Grasmere and Rydal Circular
Distance: 6 miles. Estimated time: 2.5 – 3 hrs
This classic Lake District walk has it all; two lakes, glorious mountain views, open fell-sides, shaded woods and it even has the option to explore caves along the way! There are also a choice of cafes and pubs for post-walk refreshments at Grasmere. The walk follows the Coffin Route from Grasmere to Rydal, so called because it was the route used to carry those who had died from Rydal to the nearest Church in Grasmere for burial. As final journeys go, this one is poignantly beautiful; weaving its way through ancient woodland and with picturesque views of the sparkling lake below and the rugged Silver How and Loughrigg fells beyond. After you’ve left Rydal village, crossed the A591 and approached Rydal Water there is the option to take the low path along the shoreline, or turn left and head uphill to follow the lake along the higher path, Loughrigg Terrace, which will take in Rydal Cave. From Loughrigg Terrace you can then take the path dropping back down to meet the shoreline route, and continue on to Grasmere. (Note, in low-season, or for very early risers, this walk can be started from Rydal, meaning Grasmere is encountered at the half-way point of the walk – perfect for a well-earned lunch midway through. Parking at Rydal, however, is very limited therefore during busy times we recommend starting and finishing at Grasmere where there are far better provisions for parking.)
Derwent Water Circular
Distance: 10 miles Estimated time: 4 – 5 hours
Another absolute classic Lake District Walk, taking in the full circumference of Derwent Water and beginning and ending in Keswick. The paths are relatively flat and well way-marked with perfect picnic spots and cafes peppered along the way. This scenic route closely follows the shoreline and includes Friar’s Crag, previously described by John Ruskin as one of the best views in Europe – get there and you’ll soon see why! Those walking this route can enjoy stunning views of the famous Cat Bells, the imposing Skiddaw and the northern fells beyond and expect a truly unforgettable day out.
Distance: 2 miles Estimated time: 1 hr
No trip to the Coniston area is complete without a walk around the impossibly picturesque Tarn Howes. Originally three smaller tarns, Tarn Howes was created via landscaping by John Marshall in the second half the 19th century and went on to be owned and beloved by Beatrix Potter. It was then passed to the care of the National Trust where it remains today. From the nearby National Trust car park the walk is pushchair and wheelchair accessible making this a route the whole family can enjoy together, with splendid mountain and tarn views to absorb and remember forever along the way.
Distance: From under 1 mile to up to 3 miles, depending on far you choose to go.
Estimated time: 30 mins to 1.5 hours.
This is a perfect option for those who perhaps cannot walk too far but still want to take in some of the very best scenery the Lakes has to offer. The first section of the walk (approx. point 5 on the map), along the side of the tarn is wheelchair and pushchair accessible and is a perfect place for everyone, regardless of ability, to experience the magic of this outstanding little piece of our planet. For those wishing to extend the walk; once you reach the road, there is the option to cross it and follow the signposted footpath up to the summit of the modestly-sized Side Fell. Once there your efforts will be rewarded ten-fold with one of the finest views in the Lakes; a breathtakingly extraordinary view across to the Langdale Pikes and down the Langdale Valley. Camera phones at the ready!