10 Amazing Hiking Trails in The Lake District – A Guide

The Lake District, located in Cumbria, is a hiker’s paradise. With stunning scenery, a huge amount of hiking trails, and charming villages, it’s no wonder why so many people flock to this area every year. If you’re planning a trip here’s a guide to some of the best hiking trails in the Lake District to help you make the most of your visit.

best hiking trails in the lake district

First things first, make sure you have the right gear. The Lake District can be unpredictable when it comes to weather, so it’s important to pack accordingly. Make sure you have good quality hiking boots, waterproof clothing, and plenty of layers. You don’t want to be caught out in the rain without the right equipment.

Now that you’re all geared up, it’s time to hit the trails. There are countless routes to choose from in the Lake District, ranging from easy strolls around picturesque lakes to challenging climbs up rugged mountains.

1. Catbells Lakeland Walk

The trail is 3.5 miles long and takes around 2-3 hours to complete.

catbells summit, hiking tails lake district
Catbells summit, Lake District

This hike is perfect for beginners or those looking for a shorter walk. The trail is well-marked and takes you up to the summit of Catbells, which offers stunning views of Derwentwater and the surrounding fells.

The hike starts at Hawes End car park, which is located at the northern end of Derwentwater. From there, you’ll follow a well-marked path that leads up to Catbells summit. The climb is steep in places, but it’s worth it for the panoramic views from the top.

As you make your way up the trail, keep an eye out for wildlife such as red squirrels and buzzards. You’ll also pass through some beautiful woodland areas before emerging onto open fellside.

Once you reach Catbells summit, take some time to soak up the views. At around 450 meters above sea level, you can see for miles around, taking in views of Skiddaw, Blencathra, and Helvellyn.

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can continue along the ridge towards Maiden Moor and High Spy. These peaks offer even more stunning views of the surrounding area.

The descent back down to Hawes End is just as enjoyable as the ascent. You’ll pass through fields filled with sheep and cows before reaching Derwentwater’s shores. If you have time, it’s worth taking a stroll along the lake shore before heading back to your car.

Overall, the Catbells Lakeland Walk is definitely one of the best hiking trails in the Lake District. It’s challenging enough to be rewarding but not too difficult for beginners. And with its stunning scenery and abundance of wildlife, it’s sure to be a highlight of your trip.

2. Helvellyn Summit Hike

The climb takes between 5-7 hours to complete, depending on route.

Helvellyn summit

If you’re looking to get out of your comfort zone and explore the great outdoors, then a Helvellyn hike is exactly what you need! Helvellyn is one of the highest peaks in England, standing at an impressive 3,117 feet above sea level.

The peak of Helvellyn provides a unique challenge to any hiker looking to take on the mountain. You can choose from two main routes to reach the summit – the easier Striding Edge path or the more difficult Swirral Edge route. Both routes offer thrilling scrambles along narrow ridges with breath-taking views of Ullswater below – just remember to take extra care along these sections!

Whichever path you choose, you will be rewarded with spectacular views of Lake Ullswater and beyond. The top of Helvellyn also provides an opportunity to take in some of England’s most stunning landscapes.

Hiking Helvellyn is not just about admiring the view, it also allows you to push yourself physically and mentally as you take on this challenging climb. During your hike, you’ll be faced with steep slopes and rocky paths that require sure-footedness and stamina, so a good level of fitness is required.

One of the best hiking trails in the Lake District, climbing Helvellyn is worth it for the view at the top!

3. Fairfield Horseshoe

This 11-mile trail takes around 6-8 hours.

Horsehoe hike Lake District
Fairfield Horseshoe walk, descent from High Pike. Photo by Allan Harris Photography

Fairfield Horseshoe is a circular route that takes you up and over eight peaks, including the summit of Fairfield itself. The hike covers a distance of around 11 miles and offers stunning views of some of the most iconic landscapes in the area.

One of the best things about this hike is that it can be done in a day, making it perfect for those who want to experience the beauty of Lake District without committing to a multi-day trek. But don’t let its relatively short distance fool you – this is still a challenging hike that requires a good level of fitness and stamina.

The trail starts at Rydal Hall and takes you through lush green valleys, past tranquil streams and waterfalls, and up steep ascents that will test your endurance. But as you climb higher, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Lake Windermere, Grasmere, and Ambleside below.

Nestled amongst the landscape are hidden gems such as Rydal Cave – an old limestone quarry which is now home to a colony of bats – and Loughrigg Tarn, a small lake near Ambleside which is perfect for wild swimming or just taking in the view.

As you reach the summit of Fairfield at 2,863 feet above sea level, you’ll feel an immense sense of accomplishment as you take in the stunning vistas around you. From here, the trail takes you on a gentle descent towards Hart Crag before looping back round to Rydal Hall.

4. The Old Man of Coniston Trail

This route is approximately 3.7 miles and takes 2-3 hours. There is an option for a circular route if you prefer to up the mileage!

The Old Man of Coniston and a view of Coniston and water below. Photo by PapaPiper

The Old Man of Coniston is a mountain located in the southern part of the Lake District, standing at an impressive height of 2,634 feet. It’s a popular destination for hikers due to its stunning views and challenging terrain.

The hike takes you through beautiful valleys, past glistening tarns, and up steep inclines to reach the summit.

The trail itself is well-marked and easy to follow, but don’t be fooled by its accessibility. The climb can be tough at times, especially towards the end when you’re faced with a steep scramble to reach the top. However, once you make it to the summit, all your efforts are rewarded with amazing panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

One thing that makes this hike unique is its history. The Old Man of Coniston has been mined for copper and slate since Roman times, and evidence of this can still be seen along the trail. You’ll pass by old mine workings and quarries that add an extra layer of intrigue to your journey.

5. Scafell Pike – England’s Highest Mountain

This hike take around 5-6 hours to complete and is approx 8 miles in length.

Scafell Pike hike lake district
Scafell Pike

The Scafell Pike hike is not for the faint-hearted, but it offers unparalleled views of the Lake District and beyond. Be prepared for steep ascents and rocky terrain, but trust us – it’s worth it.

The hike starts at Wasdale Head, a small village nestled in the heart of the Lake District. From there, it’s a steep climb up to the summit of Scafell Pike, which stands at 978 meters above sea level. The trail is well-marked and offers plenty of opportunities to rest and take in the scenery.

The terrain is varied and includes lakes, forests, and rolling hills. It’s an ideal place for hikers of all levels to explore, although you do need a good level of fitness. The trail can be steep and rocky at times, including a scramble up a scree slope, but there are also some flat sections where you can catch your breath.

One of the best things about this hike is that it’s accessible year-round, although we recommend avoiding winter months unless you’re an experienced hiker with proper gear. Spring and summer are ideal times to tackle this challenge as the weather is milder and the days are longer.

At the summit, the views are truly magnificent, making Scafell Pike one of the best hiking trails in the Lake District. On a clear day, you can see for miles around, with panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. It’s an awe-inspiring sight that makes all the effort worth it.

6. The Cumbria Way

The trail is 73 miles long, and takes roughly 5-7 days to complete, depending on your plans.

Cumbria Way, on way to Caldbeck. Photo by Swee Oon.

The Cumbria Way is a well-known and popular long-distance footpath that will give you a scenic journey like no other. It runs from Ulverston to Carlisle, covering some of the most spectacular landscapes of the region.

If you’re a new to long distance walking, the Cumbria Way is your perfect match! With minimal uphill battles and mostly low lying path, this trail will ease you into the world of long distance hiking.

The Cumbria Way hike is an exciting adventure for any nature lover. You’ll trek through ancient forests, meadows and rolling hills. You’ll also have views of stunning lakes and gorges along your path. The trail gives you plenty of opportunities to take in the views and immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere of the area.

Suggested hiking stages are:

  • Ulverston to Coniston 
  • Coniston to Langdale
  • Langdale to Keswick
  • Keswick to Caldbeck
  • Caldbeck to Carlise

With plenty of places to stay, pubs and restaurants along the way, you don’t have to worry about packing too much food for your journey. Booking your accommodation ahead for each stage of the journey is recommended, and essential in the busier summer months.

No matter what your level of experience is, hiking the Cumbria Way is an experience that will leave you with lasting memories. With its captivating beauty and incredible landscapes, it’s sure to be an amazing journey!

7. Honister Round Hike

13.8-km circular trail that takes approximately 5 hours.

Honister Pass. Photo by Kosala Bandara

The Honister Round hike is a demanding circular trail that will lead you from Honister Pass to explore some of Lake District’s most awe-inspiring sights including Fleetwith Pike, Robinson, Hindscarth and Dale Head.

Starting from Honister Pass, the trail takes you up to Dale Head, one of the highest peaks in the area. The ascent is steep and demanding but once you reach the summit, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of Borrowdale and Buttermere valleys.

As you descend from Dale Head towards Hindscarth, you’ll pass by several picturesque tarns (small mountain lakes) that are perfect for a refreshing dip or a picnic break. The trail then leads you to Robinson Fell, another stunning viewpoint that offers sweeping vistas of the surrounding fells.

But perhaps the highlight of this hike is crossing over Fleetwith Pike via its famous exposed ridge. This section requires some scrambling skills and a head for heights, but it’s well worth it for the adrenaline rush and unbeatable views.

The final stretch of the Honister Round takes you down to Honister Slate Mine, where you can learn about the history and geology of this unique industry. From here, it’s a gentle stroll back to your starting point at Honister Pass.

Overall, this hike is not for the faint-hearted but if you’re up for a challenge and want to experience some of the best scenery that Lake District has to offer, then Honister Round should definitely be on your radar. Just make sure to pack plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen as this is an all-day adventure!

8. Blencathra Hike

The major trails to the top of Blencathra are relatively short distance, spanning only 4-5km, and should take around 4 hours to complete.

Blencathra hiking trail Lake District
View of Blencathra

If you’re a keen adventurer, then the Blencathra hike in the Lake District should definitely be on your bucket list. This stunning mountain ridge comprises of six peaks – Blease Fell, Gategill Fell, Hallsfell, Atkinson Pike, Doddick Fell and Scales Pike.

Blencathra is 868 metres in height, and there are varous routes to the summit. Some of which require scrambling, such as the sharp Edge route, so experience is needed if you want to take those routes on! One of the easier route to the top is via Scales Fell, which offers a grassy path and safer terrain.

On this walk you will find steep ascents and descents, rocky paths, and unpredictable weather conditions, so it’s important to be prepared both physically and mentally. But don’t let that deter you from experiencing one of the best hiking trails in the Lake District!

The Blencathra hike takes you through lush green valleys, across babbling streams, and up to the summit of this iconic mountain range. Along the way, you’ll encounter some of the most stunning scenery in the Lake District, including awe-inspiring views of Skiddaw and Helvellyn.

The Blencathra hike offers a true test of endurance and stamina. You’ll need to be in good physical shape to tackle this challenging terrain, but with determination and a positive attitude, you’ll reach the summit feeling like a true conqueror!

9. Buttermere Hike

An easy 4.2-mile walk that circles Buttermere Lake.

Buttermere Lake

If you are looking for the best hiking trails in the Lake District, Buttermere has to be on your list. Beginning the village of Buttermere, the trail takes you through some of the most beautiful landscapes in England, including lush green valleys, sparkling lakes, and rugged mountains.

The trail around Buttermere is well-marked and easy to follow. Along the way, you’ll encounter charming villages and historic landmarks that are sure to capture your imagination.

One of the highlights of the hike is undoubtedly Buttermere Lake itself. This serene body of water is surrounded by towering peaks and verdant forests, making it a truly magical sight to behold. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, taking a stroll around the lake is an absolute must.

Buttermere also offers plenty of opportunities for more challenging hikes. For example, you can tackle Haystacks Mountain, which offers stunning views over the surrounding countryside. Or why not try Red Pike or High Stile? These peaks offer some of the most exhilarating climbs in the area.

Of course, no hike would be complete without some well-deserved refreshments at the end. Luckily, there are plenty of pubs and cafes dotted around Buttermere where you can grab a bite to eat and relax after your exertions.

10. Tarn Hows Hike

This circular walk around Tarn Hows is just under 3 kilometres long and takes about an hour to complete.

Tarn Hows. Photo by Richard Towell

Tarn Hows is a picturesque body of water surrounded by rolling hills and lush greenery. The hike around the lake is easy, making it perfect for families or those who want to take a leisurely stroll.

If you’re up for a challenge, there are plenty of more difficult trails that lead up into the surrounding hills, plus there the option to take a detour to see the Tom Gill waterfall nearby.

Tarn Hows is accessible all year round. Whether you visit in the height of summer or during the crisp winter months, you’ll be treated to stunning views and fresh air.

During your hike, keep an eye out for wildlife. Tarn Hows is home to a variety of birds, including herons and kingfishers. You may also spot deer or even otters if you’re lucky!

If you’re looking to make a day of it, pack a picnic and enjoy lunch with a view. There are plenty of spots around the lake where you can sit and relax while taking in the scenery.

Ready to Explore the Best Hiking Trails in the Lake District?

No matter which trail you choose in The Lake District, you’re sure to be blown away by its natural beauty. Hiking is fun, but always treat with caution in unpredictable weather. Here’s a map and book on Lake District hiking trails that may be useful:

When it comes to accommodation, there are plenty of options for hikers in the Lake District. From cosy B&Bs to luxury hotels and campsites, there’s something for every budget and preference. Many hikers opt for staying in one of the charming villages dotted throughout the park as they offer easy access to some of the best trails.

Of course, no trip to the Lake District would be complete without sampling some of its food and drink. The area is known for its hearty cuisine such as Cumberland sausage and sticky toffee pudding. And let’s not forget about its famous ale! There are plenty of pubs and restaurants throughout the park that serve up delicious local fare.

So grab your hiking boots and get ready to explore one of England’s most picturesque regions!

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