12 Best Hikes and Walks in the Lake District of England

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The Lake District is renowned for being one of the best hiking destinations in the UK, with its 3,200 miles of public rights of way. That’s why we’ve narrowed it down to the 12 best walks and hikes in the Lake District.

Note: that for the purposes of this article, “walk” which is a term commonly used in the UK, is used interchangeably with “hike,” which is more commonly used in the U.S and Canada.

The Lake District is England’s largest national park at ~ 58 km (36 miles) west to east and 64 km (40 miles) north to south.

It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

best hikes and walks in lake district

As the name suggests, the national park is home to numerous bodies of water, 16  in fact. However, surprisingly,  there’s only one official lake, Bassenthwaite Lake, which lies in the north part of the Lake District near Keswic.

Besides the “lakes,” you’ll also find mountains, a rare find in England. The tallest mountain in England, Scafell Pike at 978 metres (3210 feet) that provides incredible views of the surrounding area.

Thanks to the beautiful lakes,  impressive mountains, gushing waterfalls, and charming villages, the Lake Districts attract millions of visitors every year from all over the globe.

So, if you’re planning a trip to the Lake Districts, here are some of the hikes you should check out:

If you’re planning a trip to the Lake District, you’ll definitely want to go for a hike or a walk. 

The problem is:

Planning your trip can feel too stressful to manage!

Where should you start? How long is the hike going to be? What will I see there? What difficulty is the walk?

These are all questions that can leave people puzzled when they are planning a day trip. 

To make your life easier, here are 12 of the best hikes and walks in the Lake District and everything you need to know about them. 

best hikes and walks in the Lake District of England

The Best Hikes and Walks the Lake District Has To Offer

#1 Helvellyn Ridge: Hike to England’s 3rd Tallest Mountain

Helvellyn Ridge is one of the best hikes in Lake District England
  • Trailhead: Stannah
  • Trail Length: 10 miles (16 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 590 m (1,935 ft)
  • Trail Type: Point-To-Point

Heelvellyn Ridge is one of the most popular hikes  in the Lake District. If the weather is good, you’re in for a lovely day.

The hike to Helvellyn Ridge provides stunning views of the Lake District from either side of the ridge. That being said, it’s a popular route, especially around  Helvellyn.

And one of the best things about this route is you make it longer by either starting further north in Threlkeld or finishing further south in Ambleside.

Whatever you decide to do, you’re for a treat on this iconic mountain. It’s the third tallest peak (950 metres (3114 feet)) in England and features two of the most popular scrambles in the area, Striding Edge and Swirral Edge, along with beautiful views.

#2 Scafell Pike Corridor Route: Hike the Tallest Peak in England

Scafell Pike is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
  • Trailhead: Seathwaite Parking
  • Trail Length: 9.4 miles (15.2 km)
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Elevation Gain: 964 m (3,162 ft)
  • Trail Type: Point-To-Point

Scafell Pike (978 metres (3210 feet)) is the tallest peak in England, so there’s no way it could be left off the best walks in the Lake District.

And here’s the thing:

There are many ways you can conquer this craggy peak, but I’m sharing my favorite route, which starts at Seathwaite Parking. And the reason for this is that the Seathwaite route offers has far more breathtaking views.

The hike starts at the car park and follows the River Derwent and then to Styhead Tarn. From there, you’ll continue to the summit of Scafell Pike.

One of the great things about this route is that it doesn’t require a high skill level. While there’s a small amount of scrambling, the technical difficulty isn’t anything a seasoned hiker with a decent level of fitness can’t tackle. And the epic views make it more than worthwhile. 

#3 Blea Tarn Trail

Blea Tarn Trail is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
  • Trailhead: Blea Tarn National Trust Car Park
  • Trail Length: 1.8 miles (2.9 km)
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Elevation Gain: 240 m (787 ft)
  • Trail Type: Out And Back

If you’re looking for an easy family-friendly walk in the Lake District that will pass a few hours and isn’t too strenuous, then Blea Tarn Trail is an excellent option. It’s suitable for hikers of most ability levels and new hikers. 

Blea Tarn Trail is located around 7 miles from Ambleside and provides a short out-and-back trail.

The hiking is unique because of its excellent views of Lingmoor Fell and Langdale Pikes.

Another great thing about this walk is it tends to be more tranquil than other tarns (small mountainside lakes) you might find in the area.

#4 Coast To Coast Hike (Honorable Mention)

walks in the lake district, hikes in the lake district
  • Trailhead: St Bees
  • Trail Length: 190 miles (306 km)
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 780 m (2,560 ft)
  • Trail Type: Point-To-Point

Although the Coast to Coast hike in England finishes in North York Moors National Park, it does cover most of the Lake District, which is why it deserves an Honorable Mention.

The Coast to Coast hike is one of the most challenging hikes I’ve ever done. It took me 14 days to complete and gave me a complete view of the Lake District National Park. 

walks in the lake district, hikes in the lake district
Ennerdale Water

One of the best things about this hike is that it passes some of the most beautiful scenery in the Lake District, from mountain passes to hilly terrain to upland moors to low-level farmland to Ennerdale Water to the Galleny Force Waterfall. 

And although it doesn’t gain more than 780 meters in elevation, you must remember that you’re constantly going up and down. Overall, it has a total elevation of 6,077 meters (19,933ft), making it close to the height of Everest. 

#5 Langdale Horseshoe Hike

Langdale Horseshoe is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
  • Trailhead: Dungeon Ghyll
  • Trail Length: 11 miles (18 km)
  • Difficulty: Difficult
  • Elevation Gain: 850 m (2,790 km)
  • Trail Type: Loop

    The Langdale Horseshoe is one of the most challenging day hikes in the Lake District due to the total accent, but it does provide stunning views of the area. It starts at Dungeon Ghyll and loops around back to the starting point.

    Most people find that it’s best to do the hike anti-clockwise. If you need to shorten it, you can cut through the long valley path at the halfway point.

    The first mountain you’ll come across is the Pike of Stickle. It’s known for being the home site of many stone axe heads found around the UK so keep your eyes peeled. 

    #6 Roman High Street Circuit Hike

    walks in the lake district, hikes in the lake district
    Thornthwaite Crag
    • Trailhead: Hartsop Village
    • Trail Length: 10.1 miles (16 km)
    • Difficulty: Difficult
    • Elevation Gain: 821 m (2,693 ft)
    • Trail Type: Point-To-Point

    The Roman High Street Circuit Hike is a reasonably untouched hike with stunning scenery throughout the trek.

    The hike starts at Hartsop Village and climbs through beautiful valleys before eventually rising to the summit of Thornthwaite Crag.

    Once you reach the top of the crag, you’ll follow the Romain High Street and the ancient path until you reach Satura Crags.

    In addition to the elevation gain, it’s a 10-mile hike, so is aimed more at the avid hiker.

    #7 Catbells: For Amazing Walk for Views Over Derwent Water

    Catbells is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
    • Trailhead: Hawes End
    • Trail Length: 3.5 miles (5.7 km)
    • Difficulty: Easy
    • Elevation Gain: 451 m (1,479 ft)
    • Trail Type: Point-To-Point

    This is another one of the most popular walks in the Lake District, which lies just outside of Keswick.

    It’s only a small peak at 451 meters, but it provides stunning views that are a testament to its popularity. The mountain overlooks Derwent Water, one of the Lake District’s main bodies of water.

    If you’re relatively new to hiking or your fitness levels aren’t the best, this is a good choice. And if you’re a seasoned hiker, don’t let the ease of the hike put you off; the spectacular views are well worth the walk.

    #8 Buttermere Ridge Hike

    Buttermere Ridge is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
    • Trailhead: Dalegarth Camp
    • Trail Length: 12 miles (19.3 km)
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Elevation Gain: 807 m (2,647 ft)
    • Trail Type: Loop

    The Buttermere Ridge is a stunning loop route that provides the hiker with exceptional scenery throughout the hike. The route will take you over 5 Wainwrights (Wainright refers to the 214 fells found in the Lake District named after Alfred Wainwright) along the way and a colossal stile that pushes out of the landscape.

    But…

    The part of the hike that really stands out to hikers is the Red Pike. The craggy ridge is easy to walk across, but be aware of the loose scree at either end of the ridge.

    #9 The Langdale Pikes: Top Choice Walk for Hill and Wainright Bagging

    Langdale Pikes is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
    • Trailhead: New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel
    • Trail Length: 5.6 miles (9.1 km)
    • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
    • Elevation Gain: 709 meters (2,326 ft)
    • Trail Type: Loop or Point-To-Point

    It wouldn’t be right to list the best hikes/walks in the Lake Districts without adding the Langdale Pikes.

    The stunning peaks can be viewed from all around, but what makes them unique is the number of routes and challenges they provide the hiker.

    When you set off from New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, you have the option of starting from Jack’s Rake for the Grade 1 scramble. But, if you’re not up to that, you can take the Easy Gully or North Rake to make your life easier.

    You’ll hike over the top of the six hills: Thunacar Knott, Thorn Crag, Pike of Stickle, Pavey Ark, Loft Crag, and Harrison Stickle. And it includes the Wainright’s of 6 Birketts, 5 Nuttalls, and 2 Hewitts.

    #10 The Old Man Of Coniston Walk

    The Old Man of Coniston is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
    • Trailhead: Coniston Village
    • Trail Length: 3 to 7 miles (4.8 to 11.2 km)
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Elevation Gain: 803 m (2,634 km)
    • Trail Type: Loop

    It’s another classic hike in the Lake District thanks to the number of routes you can take to tackle the peak. And this means you can choose the right one for your fitness level or the time you have.

    When you start at the village of Coniston, you can take the direct route up to the summit. But bear in mind; it’s a shorter walk and much steeper than you might think.

    If you have more time, you can choose the more scenic and slightly easier route using the Cove and Goat’s Water route. This route will push the hike from 3 miles to 7 miles, but it’s not as steep.

    #11 Pillar Trail From Wasdale Head: For Views of Scotland and the Isle of Man

    Pillar Trail from Wasdale Head is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
    • Trailhead: Wasdale Head Inn
    • Trail Length: 7.5 miles (12 km)
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Elevation Gain: 800 m (2,624 ft)
    • Trail Type: Point-To-Point

    The Pilar Trail from Wasdale Head is a challenging hike with 800 meters of vertical elevation. It’s a hike that will test your stamina, so you must ensure you have the fitness to finish it.

    That said, thanks to the lovely views the pillar summit provides, it’s well worth the effort.

    One of the great things about this hike is when it’s a clear day, you can see Scotland and the Isle of Man from the summit.

    #12 Fairfield Horseshoe Walk

    Fairfield Horseshoe is one of the best walks & hikes in Lake District, England
    • Trailhead: Rydal
    • Trail Length: 10 miles (16 km)
    • Difficulty: Moderate
    • Elevation Gain: 857 m (2,813 km)
    • Trail Type: Loop

    The Fairfield Horseshoe is a moderate walk in the Lake District.   The trail starts and ends in Rydal, but it’s possible to start it from Ambleside if you need to make it shorter. 

    The steady incline makes it a lovely walk, and the view of the Helvellyn Range is stunning.

    Be aware if you take this route, you’ll have to tackle plenty of grassy mountains, rocky steps, ridgelines, and, unfortunately, a lot of boggy ground. So, ensure you have a good set of waterproof hiking boots before leaving.

    Final Thoughts & Takeaways of Walks and Hikes in the Lake District National Park

    The Lake District is one of the most beautiful hiking locations in the UK. It is home to a plethora of stunning lakes, waterfalls, and of course, the tallest mountain in England.

    The Lake District should be your top choice if you’re looking for a place to hike in England. 

    Check out our Hiking Gear Guide to ensure you have everything you need before you start. 

    lake district walks and hikes

    Written by Jason Fox: Jason hails from the UK and has been an avid hiker and climber for around 20 years. He was an outdoor instructor for five years before he started writing about his experiences.

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