June 30, 2023
Destination: The North
Top 10 Lake District Walks for Beginners
By far the best way to enjoy the Lake District is on foot. It offers breathtaking views over fells and valleys.
Whether you’re a beginner, a newbie to the area, or just want a rest, you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to gentle walks around the Lakes.
With hundreds to choose from, we’ve compiled a list of 10 easy, yet nourishing, Lake District walks to suit everyone.
1. Buttermere Lakeside Walk
- Parking: Gatesgarth Car Park, Cockermouth, CA13 9XA
The Buttermere lakeside walk was voted as one of Britain’s top 100 favourite walks in 2018. And for good reason. It truly is one of the most scenic routes in the area.
The village itself is well-stocked with tearooms, pubs and hotels, but is also seated in the foothills of beautiful mountains – Grasmoor, Robinson and Dale head to the north, and Fleetwith Pike, Haystacks and the High Stile Ridge to the south.
The lakeside route is well-trodden and straightforward with sections of forest, as well as clearings that allow for a good view of Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks.
At the far end of the lake is Peggy’s Bridge joining up with the Honister Pass – a short section of road that takes you back again to the lake. The return route takes you through a tunnel of rocks at Dalegarth.
- Parking: Broadgate Meadow Car Park, LA22 9TA
Grasmere itself is a picturesque little village, with the quintessentially English independent shops and tea rooms and its Wordsworth Daffodil Garden. While you’re here, it’s worth trying some Grasmere Gingerbread – you won’t regret it!
As for walks, there’s a gentle walk from Grasmere itself to Alcock Tarm – making a delightful circular, bringing you right back to Grasmere at the end. From Grasmere, walk past the Swan Hotel, and right towards Alcock Tarn. The incline is manageable and takes you to some lovely viewpoints and chill-out spots.
- Parking: Park on the road at Hawes End, Keswick CA12 5UB
- Time allowance: no more than 2 hours.
“Catbells is one of the great favourites,” wrote Wainwright, “a family fell where grandmothers and infants can climb the heights together, a place beloved”.
Catbells also has one of the most iconic and photogenic views in the Lake District, overlooking Derwentwater and Keswick. And while there’s a climb to get to Cat Bells, it’s perfectly manageable and brief, and before you know it, you’ll be at the top looking over vistas all around you, from Derwentwater on one side and over to Robinson on the other.
If you get a sudden burst of energy, you can walk further along the ridge to find more peaceful picnic areas, as Cat Bells itself can become quite busy, especially on a sunny day.
4. Castlerigg Stone Circle from Keswick
- Parking: Keswick central car park CA12 5DN
- Time allowance: maximum 2 hours
When you get to Castlerigg Stone Circle you’re rewarded with some of the most fantastic and extensive views over Blencathra and Skiddaw. They’re also a good little snippet of ancient Britain as you walk around the stones.
Starting in Keswick market square, this walk takes you along the old railway path, up the lane towards the Stone Circle and back via Springs Wood.
The Stone Circle itself stands atop a natural plateau, which offers amazing 360-degree views over the nearby fells. The 38 free-standing stones stand 3 metres tall, one of the earliest of Britain’s stone circles dating back to 4-5,000 years ago.
The site might have been used as a neolithic trading post, on account of the three stone axes that have been discovered there. It could have been a social meeting spot or a site for religious rituals. Some theorists think it could have been an astronomical observatory, the stones being aligned to the celestial bodies. Whatever it was designed for, today it’s
5. Eskdale Valley
- Parking: Trough House Bridge, Dalegarth
Eskdale is bursting with paths and bridleways to allow for an easy ramble around the valley, and along one of the most photogenic rivers in England.
There are plenty of hostelries and places to stop for refuelling, and options for both advanced mountain walkers and gentle amblers.
This route takes you along the wooded path from Dalegarth Hall to Doctor Bridge along the beautiful River Esk. After Dalegarth Hall you reach a bridleway crossroads where you turn left, cross a wooden bridge and walk along a wide path towards Doctor Bridge.
Over the bridge, you will follow the bank of the river towards St Catherine’s church and beyond t a walled path to Trough House Bridge.
6. Silver Crag & Ullswater
- Parking: White Lion Inn, Penrith CA11 0NW
- Time allowance: 1.5-2 hours
One of Wainwright’s famous routes, Silver Crag and Ullswater is one of the gentler options for Lake District walkers. The walk along Ullswater Shore up to Silver Point is a beautiful one, with views over the lake, fell and woodlands.
Starting at Patterdale, a rugged, mountainous village, head north along the shore of Ullswater, where you’ll reach Silver Crag. Beyond Silver Crag you’ll get to Silver Point, where you’ll be able to stop and enjoy the stunning views of the lake.
If you have time, there are great activities to enjoy, like hiring a rowing boat or motorboat and enjoying being on the water.
7. Aira Force
- Parking: Aira Force Car Park, CA11 OJS
- Time allowance: 1 hour
Aira Force is stunning series of waterfalls found in amongst woodland on the shores of Lake Ullswater. Inspiration for William Wordsworth and other 18th and 19th-century writers, Aira Force has plenty of easy walking options.
Parking at the Aira Force car park, you can walk a circular route up towards the waterfalls and back again. It has a slight incline as you go through the forest, but it’s far from taxing. That said, you can extend your walk by heading further to the top of Gowbarrow Fell.
- Parking: Plenty of options in the village of Elterwater
Elterwater, in the Langdale Valley, is a cute and quiet area in the centre of the Lake District, offering some beautiful walks for beginners.
Starting at the quaint sleepy village of Elterwater, join the Cumbria Way to form a circular walk back to where you started. The beauty of this walk is that you can make it as long as you want it to be, with various options to cut back towards Elterwater.
Follow the river towards Skelwith Falls and onwards to Skelwith Bridge where you’ll reach a cafe for a bite to eat, and then take the short route back to Elterwater. Or, if you’re feeling more ambitious, carry on through the woodland to Elterwater.
9. Walk Beatrix Potter’s Footprints
- Parking: Near Sawrey, Hawkshead, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0LF
- Time allowance: 1 hour
- Website: Nationaltrust.org.uk
This walk takes you from Near Sawrey up towards Moss Eccles Tarn, one of Beatrix Potter’s favourite places. Here she painted whilst her husband fished, and was the birthplace of many of the iconic paintings we’ve come to know and love.
It’s a circular walk, taking just less than an hour, with no particular tough spots to worry about. Because of this, it lends itself to a nice family outing, or for those who aren’t in particular need of a challenge
10. Orrest Head
- Parking: Booths Windermere Supermarket, LA23 1QA
- Time allowance: 1 hour
Windermere Lake is probably the Lake District’s most well-known lake, and the walk up to Orrest Head is blessed with fantastic views of the lake below.
For a gentle walk, park in Windermere Town and walk towards the Orrest Head Bar to find signs for the Orrest Head Walk.
The walk itself is mainly through forest and field with gentle inclines, making for a nice easy walk. There are also plenty of benches to rest at the top before you make your way down to Windermere again.
Our top ten easy Lake District walks demonstrate that this beautiful area offers something for everyone. Whether it’s a gentle scramble up Cat Bells or a peaceful amble around Ullswater, you can enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the Lakes without a huge effort.
Planning a walking holiday in the Lakes? See if you like the look of one of our guided walking tours.