by Rachael Parkin
If you fancy bragging about bagging half a dozen Wainwrights during your Lake District holiday but don't feel like your legs are quite up to scaling over 3,000 feet up the dizzying heights of Scafell or Helvellyn and the likes, or if you are coming on holiday with children and are looking for lower, safer summits to conquer without missing out on the spectacular scenery the Lakes has to offer then we've put together a list of some the easier, but no less rewarding, fells to climb during your stay.
All of these walks offer straightforward routes with no scrambling to negotiate, no river crossings to navigate and no intimidating scree to concern yourself with and can all be achieved by anyone with a basic level of fitness. Even though they may be slightly lower in altitude than their more grandiose relatives, these fells are all punching above their weight when it comes to breath-taking panoramas and awe-inspiring views along with that priceless sense of achievement when reaching the top.
Black Fell Height: 323m Round route: 4.5 miles
Wainwright often includes smaller fells when their summits offer unique viewpoints that can even outdo their loftier neighbours and Black Fell is no exception. From its unassuming summit, you can enjoy unrivalled lakes views of Coniston, Windermere, Esthwaite Water, Tarn Hows as well stunning mountain views of Old Man, the Langdales and over to the far eastern fells. The summit can be reached via a detour from the ever popular Tarn Hows circular walk, making it a perfect introduction to fell-walking those staying in and around Coniston. From the Tarn Hows path at the head of the tarn, roughly halfway around the walk, leave the path via a stile and follow the path across an enclosure until you come to a gate leading onto a walled mountain road. Turn right to follow the road a few hundred yards uphill until you reach a gate on the left signposted "Iron Keld". Follow the path through the forested area until another gate leads you onto the open fell side. Here, turn right immediately after the gate and follow the meandering path upwards towards the summit of Black Fell which is helpfully marked with a trig point and a “Black Crag” sign proudly declaring your arrival. Pose for your triumphant summit photos before retracing your steps and completing the circular walk around Tarn Hows. A map of this route can be found below however please note that a shorter version of this walk can be achieved by starting from the Tarn Hows car park instead.
Troutbeck Tongue Height: 364m Round Route: 4.5 miles
Troutbeck Tongue, whose grassy slopes are in springtime awash with bluebells, stands alone as a lush green mound, surrounded by its soaring neighbours on 3 sides and yet still holding its own as a summit awaiting conquest. The majority of this walk is a flat saunter up the Troutbeck Valley, with a short, sharp hike up to the summit at the end. The walk starts near the Queens Head Hotel. Take the lane directly opposite the entrance to the hotel car park. Continue on the lane which becomes a public footpath past a sign saying “Private Road”. Follow the lane up into the valley and, before you reach the farm at the head of the valley, take a path marked by a public footpath sign branching to the right across an open field. Exit the field through a gate and onto a cart track, turn right onto the track before leaving it to follow a path to your left which makes its way to the top of Troutbeck Tongue. The summit makes for a perfect picnic spot where you can soak up the 360-degree views of the imposing surrounding mountains and the picturesque valley beneath you while you feast. A map of this walk can be found below.
High Rigg Height: 357m Round Route: 4 miles
The most northerly of the fells in this list, High Rigg makes for a leisurely 4-mile round trip which the whole family can partake in. Most of the climbing is done toward the beginning of the walk meaning that for much of the route you can enjoy the elevated views as the path rambles and roams its way along to the summit. The summit itself rewards you with unobstructed views across to Skiddaw and Blencathra and north to Bassenthwaite Lake. The walk begins over a stile on the bridge over St John’s Beck on the A591 just north of Thirlmere (there is roadside parking just south of the bridge opposite the bus stop). Once over the stile follow the path upwards as it weaves through the trees – there are several large fallen trees which the path has had a divert around. Keep heading upwards with the road below to your left and before long you’ll emerge on the open fell side which slopes down to your right and your left. Now all you have to do is keep high and follow the path – the path occasionally forks but worry not as the diverged paths soon meet up again and each path leads to the summit – a rocky outcrop marked with a large pile of stones. The rock provides a perfect posing platform for celebratory summit selfies. Snap away before retracing your steps back to the bridge.
Loughrigg Height 335m Round Route: 2.6 miles
This is one of the most commonly walked fells in the Lake District, and for good reason. Although modest in height it enjoys a distinct lack of neighbours and it’s this isolation that allows glorious, unobstructed views of Grasmere, the Coniston Fells, the Langdale Pikes and Fairfield to name just a few. A walk to the top of Loughrigg is not one you’re likely to forget in a hurry. There are many routes to the summit, it being easily walkable from either Ambleside or Grasmere or as part of a circular walk around Rydal and Grasmere. There’s also a regular bus service from Grasmere to Ambleside so an excellent option for a perfect Lakes day out is to walk from Ambleside to Grasmere via the summit of Loughrigg, visit one (or more) of Grasmere’s many eating and drinking establishments before catching the bus back to Ambleside. For a straight-forward ascent however, this short route from White Moss has everything you could possibly want from a Lake District walk; shaded woodland, sparkling lake views and spectacular mountain scenery. From White Moss car park take the footpath leading south and cross the bridge over the River Rothay. Continue on the wooded path signposted “Loughrigg Terrace”. Pass through a small gate, turn right then take the path alongside a wooden fence leading up to Loughrigg Terrace. Follow the terrace along and, before it starts to head back down towards Rydal, take the pitched stone path heading upwards which will take you all the way to the summit. Once on the summit, congratulate yourself on your marvellous achievement before sitting back and taking in the extraordinary views which now surround you.
Silver How Height: 395m Round Route: 3.1 miles
This is a particularly pleasant walk from the centre of Grasmere village and is likely to be a quieter affair than the previous, popular Loughrigg walk. The views, however, are as just as impressive, and you may just get them all to yourself! The walk begins down a lane next to the Emma’s Dell café signposted “Allan Bank”. Continue down the lane and cross a cattle grid into Allan Bank and when you reach the fork in the road take the lane to the right and follow it until you see a signpost for “Silver How” on the left. Pass through a gate into a field and bear left to follow the wall. Climb to where the field narrows and enter the narrow stony gulley. After about 100m climb out and continue on up to another gateway. Go through onto the open fellside and bear left. Continue on the grassy path above a gill and past some spikey juniper bushes, (crush a berry to release the smell of gin!). Veer left and after around 200m you reach Wray Gill. Bear left on a narrow path to drop down into it and cross the river. Once on the other side follow the path across the plateau to the obvious hill ahead. Your destination is marked with a summit cairn. From here you can enjoy a beautiful 360-degree view of the Langdale Pikes, Grasmere, Helm Crag and the surrounding countryside. A full description of this walk and a route map can be found below.
Helm Crag Height: 405m
The highest fell in this list at 405 metres it is also one the most well-known – often referred to as The Lion and the Lamb due to the shapes of rocky outcrops on its summit. The fell dominates over the popular village of Grasmere and can be walked directly from the village centre. Whilst an ascent of Helm Crag may require slightly more effort than some others in this list the path is well-trodden and its prominent position at the head of Grasmere rewards it with a summit which feels like a true mountain peak along with spectacular views down the lake and over to the impressive and imposing Helvellyn range. The walk begins from Grasmere village. Head down Easedale Road, opposite Cummingham's shop, and continue on the lane for some time until you reach a wide, open pasture. The lane continues on through the centre of the field with Helm Crag now visible before you. Past the cottages at the opposite end of the field go through the gate and turn left. In a few yards turn right onto the track signposted "Helm Crag". Go through another gate and bear first right and then left upon the zigzag path. Join the path alongside the wall and ascend the stone steps. Now it’s just a case of following the path all the way to the summit, stopping to appreciate the views as you go. Once atop Helm Crag, your efforts will be rewarded with magnificent views and the knowledge that you have succeeded in climbing one of the Lake District best-known and best-loved fells. A holiday memory to cherish forever! A map of the route can be found below.
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