The Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in the UK. It has some epic mountains, a host of beautiful, deep lakes, and traditional villages and towns bursting with character. For ardent hikers, it is a place of adventure and opportunity. But what about families?
Many people would not think that the epic trails of the Lake District are suitable for families with children. However, there are plenty of opportunities! In the list below, we have found easy family walks in the Lake District and opportunities that the entire family can enjoy!
Kendal Castle Walk
Kendal is one of the larger towns in the Lake District and is a great place for the family to explore. It has several parks and there is also a gentle walk along the River Kent – this could be a great place to take your family for an afternoon stroll.
However, one of the best walks for families in Kendal is around Kendal Castle. This medieval fortification has stood since the 12th century and is an interesting ruin to explore. The castle is located to the east of the River Kent on a hill. There are several access points from Park Side Road, Sunnyside, and Castle Road.
In the castle grounds, you can find several trails, and your children should enjoy playing around the ruins of the castle itself. If you are based in Kendal, you have access to these different walks and it’s the perfect spot to explore the wider Lake District too.
Bardsea and Sea Wood
Bardsea is a beautiful village in the southern region of the Lake District further north from Barrow-in-Furness. It is not quite a coastal village, but it has easy access to the beach and there are several car parks on the A5087 road.
The village is a great place for families to explore, and your children will love walking along the beach. It has a beautiful combination of coastal scenery, together with the traditional village styles of the Lake District.
Further along the A5087, you can also find Sea Wood. This is a large, wooded area that has a border on the coast. You could also combine this with a short walk up to the fascinating Birkrigg Stone Circle. This is a Bronze Age circle which dates back to 1400 BC. You can still see the standing stones and your children will find it incredibly interesting.
This whole area makes for a fantastic family day out with some different scenery and great places to explore. It is certainly one of the best family walks in the Lake District.
Buttermere is one of the smaller lakes in the Lake District and the surrounding area offers some great walking opportunities for the family. The village of Buttermere is the perfect starting point. There are two public car parks in the village, although they will fill up quickly during peak seasons.
Also, the village has some great cafes and restaurants. From the village, you can easily reach the north-western shore of Buttermere and this is a beautiful place for your children to play. The walk won’t take long and the starting point is behind the car park at the Fish Inn.
Alternatively, there is also a nice walk from Buttermere to the southern shore of the larger Crummock Water. The path starts at the end of the main public car park and follows the path of a brook until it reaches the water. Both of these short walks are great for the family, and Buttermere will make another perfect day-trip.
The River Eden stretches for a long distance in the northern region of the Lake District above Penrith. Along part of the river, you can find the intriguing Lacy’s Caves. This is a popular tourist location and also is a great walking trail for families.
The starting point is a small roadside car park near Glassonby Beck to the northwest of the village of Glassonby. From here you head southward and follow the course of the River Eden. It’s a pleasant walk and the total distance is approximately 1.5 miles.
Along the walk, you will eventually find Lacy’s Caves. This amazing place contains 5 red sandstone caves on the banks of the river. They are a fantastic place to explore and make a great stopping point during your walk. Part of the walk also contains a well-maintained boardwalk next to the river. For a short afternoon walk, this is one of the best locations in the northern Lake District.
Rydal Water and Cave
Rydal Water is another popular location and a great place to take the family. It sits next to Grasmere and is relatively small compared to the likes of Ullswater. This area has two main car parks – Rydal Water Car Park, and White Moss Car Park. Both are public access and situation right next to the walking paths.
Along the southern side of the lake, you can find the main walking path. Initially, it travels through a gorgeous, wooded area onto the surrounding slopes. It’s a gentle walk that is easily accessible for pushchairs and small children.
If you head along the path to the west, you will eventually find Rydal Cave. This large limestone cave has a huge opening and your children will enjoy exploring inside. After fun at the cave, you could head back, or head down to walk along the path that follows the shoreline of Rydal Water. The cave and the lake make this one of the best family walks in the Lake District.
The Lake District has many different fells – some are immense and only suitable for experienced hikers. Others, like Latrigg are much more forgiving. Latrigg is a small fell not far from Keswick. From the top of this fell, you gain amazing views and can see Keswick below you, and in the distance, the beautiful Derwent Water.
The main car park for this walk is at Underskiddaw – parking spaces are available on either side, but it is not the largest of car parks. From here, the walking path is quite clear and well-maintained. It essentially travels in a complete loop towards the south. This is one of the more challenging walks and does have a few steeper sections. However, children should easily be able to manage the walk!
For older children and those more capable, the northern path eventually leads to Skiddaw which is a mountain that stands at 931m.
The Catbells is one of the most popular mountains in the Lake District. It is also one of the most accessible and manageable for families with children. For an introduction to the Lake District, this is the perfect starting point.
The main path up the Catbells starts just off of the main road that travels on the western side of Derwent Water. However, it is also accessible from various other points and the entire region here is laced with beautiful walking trails.
If you want to enjoy a boat ride before you walk, there is also a ferry that travels from the Keswick side of Derwent to Hawes End. From here, it is a short walk through some woodland until you reach the starting point. At the top of the Catbells, your family will be rewarded with amazing landscapes – some of the best in the Lake District.
Another small fell in comparison to some of the larger mountains is Sale Fell. This is not as popular but it offers some fantastic scenery. Also, it is much more manageable for families. The fell stands at just 359m and has some more gentle slopes that children should be able to tackle.
The only issue with this walk is that there is no definitive car park. It can be tricky to get to, but the best parking opportunity is on the road next to the Church of St Margaret. This church in itself is a gorgeous place to visit and it is a marvel that is tucked away in the middle of nowhere!
From here, the path is clearly visible and it essentially leads in a large circle around the fell. To complete the walk, it should take approximately two hours. At the highest points, you are granted with breath-taking views of Braithwaite Water and further on to the Skiddaw range.
Easdale Tarn is a small lake to the norther of the epic Windemere. If you start from the iconic village of Grasmere, you can find the start of this trail off of Easdale Road. It continues to the west for approximately 2km before reaching the lake.
It is a steady journey and has excellent paths that children will walk along easily. Also, it is not too strenuous but it does have a steady ascent. As you walk, you will be able to take in gorgeous views of the surrounding fells.
At the lake, you can walk down to the shoreline and you could walk the entire way around. However, there is not a dedicated footpath around the perimeter of the lake so it would require a little off-roading and scrambling – maybe not too suitable for children. The trail is also part of a much larger walk that leads past other sites like Stickle Tarn, and Thunacar Knott.
Explore the Lake District with Your Children in 2021
The Lake District is more than accessible for families with children. The various villages and towns are often great places to start. Many of these are located on the shores of the great lakes. A day or afternoon could easily be spent with the family exploring these places.
Alternatively, the locations we have listed above are all brilliant for families. Your children can experience the wonders of nature without embarking on epic hikes. Places like the Catbells, Latrigg, and Sale Fell offer some beautiful scenery and a little challenge. Without being exhausting – the perfect combination for family days out!