Walking

Top Sites in the Lake District for Walking

The Lake District is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the UK outside of London. It is also arguably one of the most beautiful places too. This is due to the plethora of epic lakes, immense mountains, and verdant green landscapes. Poets and artists have tried to depict the Lake District and describe its beauty, however, there is nothing quite like visiting this National Park yourself. Therefore, if you want to visit here, we have listed 10 of the top sites in the Lake District for walking for your enjoyment!

1. Helvellyn

One of the best-known and accessible mountains in the Lake District is Helvellyn. This is part of the Helvellyn range and its highest point is 950m / 3118ft. As a result, it is the third-highest point in the Lake District and England.

Generally, Helvellyn is considered to be easier to climb than Scafell Pike and Scafell. There are many different routes and starting points, and it could be a great starter mountain for young children. Most routes start from Glenridding, Patterdale, or trails off of the A591 road.

One of the gentlest and easiest routes up Helvellyn is from the valley of Thirlmere. The best car park to use is Swirls Car Park – postcode CA12 4TW. The walk up Helvellyn offers some of the most dramatic and beautiful scenery in the Lake District. The summit is also interesting and offers panoramic views of the sprawling lakes.

Approaching the summit of Helvellyn

2. Rydal Water

Throughout the Lake District, you can find many small lakes that offer great walking opportunities. One of the most beautiful is Rydal Water and Grasmere. These two adjoining lakes are relatively small in size but offer fantastic scenery and countryside walks.

Rydal Water is only a short drive from Ambleside and there are two dedicated car parks. Both are off of the A591 road – the White Moss Car Park (postcode LA22 9SE), and the Rydal Water Car Park (Same postcode).

At Rydal Water, there are some brilliant circular walks that lead to both Rydal Water and Grasmere. The view of the lake from these walks is superb. Also, on the southern side of Rydal Water, there are some interesting caves to explore too. This makes for an excellent family outing and a great place to visit if you are staying at Ambleside.

Rydal Water covered in an eerie layer of mist

3. Ambleside

One of the top sites in the Lake District has to be the idyllic town of Ambleside. The Lake District has plenty of villages and towns, but Ambleside is often considered one of the prettiest.

This small town is nestled to the north of the mighty Lake Windemere. It is easily accessible via the A591 Lake Road. Also, there are plenty of public car parks to be found throughout the village.

If you simply want to saunter through a traditional English town, Ambleside offers a great experience. You can see the remains of the Ambleside Roman Fort. Alternatively, you can head down to the banks of Lake Windemere and maybe take a boat tour on the water!

The charming and gorgeous town of Ambleside

4. Castlerigg Stone Circle

Derwent Water and Keswick are fantastic places to visit. However, to the east of these sites, there is also the famous Castlerigg Stone Circle.

Access to the stone circle is limited and there is only a small car park on the connecting road. However, you could easily walk to the stone circle from Keswick. The walk from Keswick takes approximately 30 minutes. It is maintained by the English Heritage and is free to visit.

Once you have found the stones, you can walk into the field and see the amazing arrangement. You can still clearly see the original outline and formation of the stones. Aside from Stone Henge, it is one of the best-preserved monuments of its type. In terms of age, the Castlerigg Stone Circle was built around 3000 BC.

Castlerigg Stone Circles at sunset

5. Aira Force

The region surrounding Ullswater is packed with some hidden secrets. One of these is the amazing Aira Force waterfall. This waterfall lies just off of the northern shore of Ullswater, off of the A592 road. There is a dedicated National Trust car park at postcode CA11 0JS.

The waterfall has a total height of 70ft and has an epic drop into the stream below. Although the walk to the waterfall is not particularly long, the surrounding scenery is gorgeous. Also, the waterfall itself is spectacular to see.

The National Trust has also built a café here and restrooms. This makes it a short but interesting walking trip and could be part of a larger exploration of Ullswater. If you want to look down on the waterfall, there is also a small arched stone bridge that sits at the top of the force.

The churning waters of Aira Force

6. Scafell Pike

If you want a true hiking challenge, you must try and conquer Scafell Pike. Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain in England and makes up one-third of the Three Peaks Challenge (The other two mountains being Snowdon and Ben Nevis).

At 978m / 3209ft tall, it towers above it’s surroundings and is a brilliant site to see. The whole area surrounding Scafell Pike is littered with epic mountains and ranges. As a result, it is one of the most dramatic regions of the Lake District.

The simplest route to the summit of Scafell Pike starts at Wasdale Head. From here, it is a relatively simple hike in terms of navigation. However, it is 8 miles in distance, and you will need around 7 hours to complete the ascent and descent. Also, it is a relatively strenuous hike and potentially not for the beginner!

Scafell Pike – the tallest mountain in England

7. Hardknott Roman Fort

Aside from amazing scenery and landscapes, the Lake District also has some interesting archaeological sites. One of the most popular is the Hardknott Roman Fort. Although it is popular, it is not the most accessible site.

This is because it sites off of the difficult Hardknott Pass. Hardknott Pass in itself is an amazing adventure. This is a winding road that joins Eskdale to Ambleside. It offers a “shortcut” across the Lake District but the road is narrow and there are only occasional passes for multiple vehicles.

Once you have navigated the road, you reach the amazing Roman fort. The remains of this fort are well preserved and you can essentially see the entire outline of the outside wall. Also, many of the interior building walls can still be seen too.

The difficult Hardknott Pass leading to the Roman Fort

8. Ullswater

Ullswater is one of the largest lakes in the Lake District and also one of the most dramatic. It is a long, thin lake that sits to the southwest of Penrith, and to the north of Ambleside.

Ullswater is an amazing place for boating and camping, and it is surrounded by some great sites too including Aira Force. Firstly, if you want an epic drive, there is the A592 road that runs along the northern banks of Ullswater. This offers amazing views of the lake and passes from Patterdale and eventually joins the A66 road.

However, for walkers, Ullswater also has a range of hiking trails. Most of the trails are located on the southern side and there is a long walk starting at Side Farm Campsite that leads all the way to the Howtown Ullswater quay.

The gorgeous Ullswater lake shrouded in mist

9. Skiddaw

While many people want to conquer Scafell Pike, Skiddaw is another epic mountain that is worthy of a hiking adventure. This is the sixth-tallest mountain in England and has a summit of 931m / 3054ft.

In terms of location, this mountain is found to the north of Keswick, and to the east of Braithwaite Lake. It dominates the surrounding landscape and you can easily see this mighty peak from various locations.

Skiddaw is one of the most accessible mountains in the Lake District and you can find many different routes that reach the summit. Possibly the most popular, however, is started from Keswick and first leads to the smaller hill of Latrigg. The main drawback with ascents to Skiddaw is that it is quite a long trek. For example, the route from Keswick is a 10.5-mile round trip.

The mighty range of Skiddaw near Keswick

10. Tarn Hows

Did you know that Tarn Hows is actually one of the most visited spots in the Lake District? This is a partially manmade beauty spot that is renowned for its idyllic lakeside scenery and location. During the 19th century, the three small lakes were artificially joined together and various trees were planted to improve their visual appeal.

Today, it is maintained by the National Trust and offers some fantastic walking trails. It is not a difficult walk and Tarn Hows is great for families to explore. The circular walk is 1.5 miles in total and is relatively even. It is also suitable for wheelchair access.

If you want to spend a few hours enjoying the countryside, Tarn Hows is certainly one of the top sites in the Lake District to visit.

Tarn Hows is a manmade park in the heart of the Lake District

Explore the Majestic Lake District and Experience its Natural Beauty

This represents some of the top sites in the Lake District but there are many more too. You could easily spend a few weeks exploring the Lakes and still have more to see!

Regardless of what you enjoy, you can find something in the Lake District. For walkers and hikers, the Lake District is also certainly one of the premier places to visit in the UK. As you can see, sites like Scafell Pike, Ullswater, Tarn Hows, and Ambleside all offer great walking opportunities – regardless of your experience or fitness level.

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