Good Housekeeping - The best Lake District walks to experience when we can travel again
Posted on 10 September, 2021
Photo by Chandler Media on Unsplash
Written by Ruth Doherty for Good Housekeeping
The Lake District National Park is one of the UK's most popular destinations for hiking - and, with its intoxicating scenery, it's not hard to see why. When it's safe for us to travel again, the best Lake District walks are here to deliver views over glacial ribbon lakes (tarns), undulating hills, and rugged fell mountains.
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Its evocative landscape has even been an inspiration for some of our most famous literary geniuses, influencing the romance of poets like William Wordsworth, Samuel Coleridge, Thomas de Quincey and John Ruskin, as well as the beloved children's author Beatrix Potter. You can even visit her former home, Hill Top, on a Lake District walk from Bowness.
Whether you're looking for challenging mountain hikes or pretty low-level lakeside strolls, there's a Lake District walk to suit all tastes and skills, which will take you past lush green fields, verdant valleys and wonderful wildlife, like osprey and otters.
The charming towns of Ambleside and Keswick on scenic Lake Derwentwater, or Bowness and Windermere are all great bases to drop off your bags during a Lake District walking holiday. And you can choose to stay at anything from a luxury country hotel or a stylish traditional inn - how's that for a delightful post-lockdown escape?
To help you choose the right spot for you, we've rounded up some of the best Lake District walks - and where to stay nearby - so you can look forward to a wonderful weekend of hiking and chic hotels in 2021. Brush off your boots and get planning...
1 Ambleside to Troutbeck and back via Wansfell
Walking distance: 5.8 miles
Just a mile inland from Windermere, you’ll find Ambleside - a bustling town that’s well catered for tourists with its shops and restaurants. It also makes a great starting point for many classic walks as it’s nestled between a number of fells. This walk will take you through woods and fields to find epic views over surrounding fells from Wansfell Pike. See the walk details at nationaltrust.org.uk.
Where to stay: Check into The Waterhead, a smart boutique hotel on the shores of Lake Windermere. It's a modern, family and dog-friendly spot, just a 10-minute walk from Ambleside. Afternoon tea at the hotel upon your return is the perfect way to end your ramble.
2 Grasmere to Loughrigg Fell circular walk
Walking distance: 2 miles.
Once a favourite spot of William Wordsworth, Grasmere is a quintessential Lake District destination and oozes natural beauty. Visiting Loughrigg - one of Wainwright's “midget mountains” - is a must if it’s your first time in the area. It’s a popular Lake District walk, but the views from the Loughrigg Fell summit over Elterwater, Langdale, the Coniston Fells and Windermere are worth the ramble. See the walk details and map at gps-routes.co.uk.
Where to stay: Raise View in Grasmere will feel like a super-stylish cuddle after a bracing walk. The adults-only B&B boasts beautiful interiors, warming fires and an ultra-friendly owner.
3 The Tarns Walk from Windermere
Walking distance: 6 miles
Soak up rugged landscape views and beautiful local wildlife on this easy walk for all the family. You'll get to see a host of striking tarns (mountain lakes), like Moss Eccles Tarn and Wise Een Tarn, and some fabulous Insta-opportunities. See the route details at my.viewranger.com.
Where to stay: For soul-stirring views of Lake Windermere, as well as an amazing outdoor pool and swanky spa, make Low Wood Bay your base for the weekend. It's contemporary and chic, and a post-walk massage will always be appreciated.
4 Newby Bridge to Finsthwaite
Walking distance: 4 miles
Set out from Newby Bridge to take in Finsthwaite Heights and High Dam tarn, which has a climbing point of over 600ft at the high point. From Finsthwaite you can also visit Bobbin Mill, the only working bobbin mill left in the Lake District today. And Newby Bridge, a small hamlet adjoining the southern end of the picturesque Lake Windermere and River Leven, is rather lovely too. You can also make the route longer if you want more of a challenge. See the walk details at gps-routes.co.uk.
Where to stay: The beautifully converted 17th century coaching inn called The Swan in Newby Bridge. It's been carefully designed to preserve the original character of the hotel while adding a contemporary feel. In winter you can enjoy afternoon tea in the cosy lounge or dinner in the restaurant, and come summer there's a lovely terrace for al fresco drinks.
5 Bassenthwaite Lake walk
Walking distance: 15 miles
Bassenthwaite is a playground for nature-lovers with osprey often visiting the lake, which is the most northerly in the Lake District. The lake walk takes in Dodd Wood, on the slopes of Skiddaw, where you’ll find a viewing platform for the osprey. And if you get to the summit of Dodd Fell, you’ll certainly appreciate the views. See the walk details at gps-route.co.uk.
Where to stay: Situated in 400 acres of deer park and woodland, Armathwaite Hall Hotel & Spa is a grand and spoiling base for a weekend in the Lakes. Pamper yourself at the spa, or jump in the heated outdoor pool for a soak with scenery. An exquisite country house hotel, think tea on the terrace in summer, and crackling fireside drinks on squishy sofas in winter.
6 Bowness-on-Windermere to Hill Top
Walking distance: 4 miles
The charming village of Bowness is the little sister of Windermere, and has a high street and shops that stretch down to the lakeshore. It’s a brilliant base for plenty of circular walks.
Head down to the lakeside and catch a ferry to the other side. From here, you can explore Claife Heights and Moss Eccles Tarn, and then you can visit Hill Top, the former home of children’s author Beatrix Potter. The house is located in Far Sawrey, where you can jump on a bus back to the lakeside. Another lovely, and shorter, walk from Bowness is to climb to Brant Fell for majestic views over the lake. See the walk details at gps-routes.co.uk.
Where to stay: For the ultimate in luxury and style, make Gilpin Hotel & Lake House your base, There’s nothing like the pull of a Michelin-starred Asian restaurant using local Lake District produce to look forward to after a bracing walk.
7 Keswick to Walla Crag circular walk
Walking distance: 6 miles
Keswick is surrounded by epic lakes and mountains and offers some of the best Lake District walks, including challenging hikes to Catbells or Skiddaw. A good half-day route to try is to climb Walla Crag for fantastic views over Derwentwater. The return to Keswick will take you lakeside, so it's a nice mix of low-level pretty and high-level sweeping scenery. See the walk details at keswick.org.
Where to stay: Set in 40 acres and nestled on the shore of Lake Derwentwater, Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa is a beautiful hotel offering sweeping views, a two AA rosette restaurant, fireside afternoons teas, and a swish spa to soothe tired feet.
8 Windermere to Orrest Head
Walking distance: 2.5 miles
Fancy all the reward for lower mileage? The climb to Orrest Head should only take around an hour and 20 minutes, passing through verdant fields along the winding path up. The views over Lake Windermere won't disappoint. This was the first fell climbed by the famous hillwalker Alfred Wainwright. See the details at lakeswalks.co.uk.
Where to stay: The luxury country house hotel Holbeck Ghyll has a magnificent position overlooking Lake Windermere, and also boasts a boutique spa.
9 Ambleside circular walk
Walking distance: 4.5 miles
This varied walk with moderate climbs takes in some of the best sights in the area, from Stock Ghyll Force Waterfall and Wansfell Pike, to Jenkin's Crag, Lake Windermere, Ambleside Roman Fort, and the River Rothay. You'll also pass through pretty Stagshaw Gardens, owned by the National Trust. Expect epic views over Coniston Fells and Lake Windermere from the 482-metre peak at Wansfell Pike. See the walk details at gps-routes.co.uk.
Where to stay: Treat yourself to a stay at the stunning Grade II-listed Rothay Manor in Ambleside, with its contemporary country chic decor, outdoor hot tubs and pleasant atmosphere - even dogs are welcome.
To read the original article written by Ruth Doherty for Good Housekeeping, please visit: www.goodhousekeeping.com/uk/lifestyle/travel/g34597843/lake-district-walks/