Great Britain’s “Lake District National Park” has some of the finest walking trails in the UK. The sheer number, and range, of trails takes walkers throughout the Lakelands. Whether you want a relaxed stroll, a moderate day-long hike, or a difficult trek for extraordinary views, the Lake District has an option that’s just right. Often accessible from towns and charming villages in the area, the Lake District is an easy add-on to your Great Britain vacation. Here are a few suggestions that will help you experience the Lake District from a hiker’s point of view, listed from easy to difficult.
EASY – The Ambleside Loop
The three-mile loop from Ambleside is a relaxed Lake District walk, taking in the lovely High Sweden Bridge. The walk takes between two and three hours. From the lovely village at the head of Lake Windermere, the path leads walkers into the Scandale Valley. Homes and businesses end at the village’s boundary—woodlands, streams, and hills take over.
The only signs of people you’ll see are moss-covered dry stone walls and the ancient High Sweden Bridge. Reached along a well-cared-for path that rises gently, the former pack-horse bridge was part of a trade route between Ambleside and the village of Patterdale. As you return, the trail provides breath-taking views of Rydal and Grasmere lakes, all the way back to your starting point at Ambleside.
For another easy Lake District hike, take the four-mile Coffin Road footpath from Ambleside to Grasmere village, passing over Nab Scar fell. This walk takes between three and four hours.
MODERATE – Borrowdale to Thirlmere
Though there are plenty of moderate walks to choose from, the hike between Borrowdale and Thirlmere is at the top of the list. Lasting around seven hours, and extending 12 miles, the route requires some navigation. The first part of this Lake District trail takes in the edge of Borrowdale, on Derwentwater, before leading walkers onto a high path with of amazing views. (Don’t miss ‘Surprise View’ after crossing Watendlath Beck—you’ll see one of the highest mountains in England.)
The trek continues over High Seat and High Tove peaks. A road leads down to Thirlmere Reservoir, dammed in 1894 to provide nearby Manchester with water. Here, the path ends after crossing the top of the dam.
You might also consider the Great Gable trail by way of Moses Trod. At only six miles, it takes in the impressive Gable Crag as well as Smugglers’ Retreat, linked to the illegal distillation of whisky by infamous quarryman, Moses Rigg.
DIFFICULT – Summiting Scafell Pike
There are a number of routes that include reaching the summit of England’s highest mountain, and none of them are for the inexperienced walker. At 3,209 ft., Scafell Pike is not the highest peak, but its remote location and rapidly changing weather give these Lake District trails a “Difficult” classification.
Reaching Scafell Pike by way of Cam Spout includes experiencing everything the Lake District has. It begins with a steady climb through Upper Eskdale and around the edge of the The Great Moss. An easy scramble at the side of Cam Spout Crag leads to the summit of Scafell Pike, before the path descends again into the isolated Little Narrowcove. At times the path can be hard to maneuver. Fording the River Esk is particularly tricky after it rains.
You can also each the summit of Scafell Pike from Langdale, a popular location for walkers and other outdoor enthusiasts. It takes eight hours to cover the 11.3 miles of this Lake District trail. Go on a clear day for impressive panoramas of Langstrath, Borrowdale, Eskdale and Wasdale.
For those eager to reach the summit of Scafell Pike, without the difficulty of the above paths, the simplest and quickest trail is the Hollowstones Route, beginning at the National Trust car park at Lake Head, Wasdale. Expect it to take between two and three hours.
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