Lake District Walking Tour - Self-Guided
At a Glance
Journey through the Lake District at your own pace with this Self Guided Valleys and Villages walking tour
Hike up towering fells, wind through hidden valleys and experience first-hand the sunning landscape that inspired famed English poet, William Wordsworth. Explore the vibrant market town of Keswick and marvel at the mirror-like surface of Buttermere, widely regarded as one of England’s most captivating views. Feast on fantastic local cuisine and rest up at the end of each day in the comfort of one of our handpicked hotels and B&Bs.
Setting your own pace and with all the support you might need for the perfect self-guided walking tour, Active England promises an unforgettable adventure into the Lakes.
Longer walks and guided hikes up higher fells are of course available, for guests eager to take on more challenging terrain. Please get in touch and we’ll be happy to help.
Arriving into Windermere railway station, a quick public bus ride will take you four miles to the picturesque town of Ambleside, where our friendly local guides will provide a thorough introductory briefing. A popular tourist destination, the afternoon is then yours to explore the charming local shops, cafés and restaurants or even catch a ferry onto the calm waters of Lake Windermere. With the afternoon drawing to a close, you’ll rest up for the evening in the cosy Lacet House Bed & Breakfast.
Setting out from Ambleside, today’s itinerary takes you on a looped walk down to the shores of Lake Windermere, before turning north toward Grasmere. Hiking through the beautiful Rydal Park, along the way you’ll pass Rydal Mount, the house in which renowned English poet William Wordsworth spent his final days. Continuing past Rydal Water, a smaller lake thought to have inspired many of Wordsworth’s celebrated works, the trail soon brings you into Grasmere. From enticing tearooms to traditional pubs, there’s plenty to enjoy in this sleepy little town. Just make sure to pay a visit to the famous Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop.
Today you’ll embark on a looped walk from Grasmere to the summits of Helm Crag and Calf Crag. Described by Wainwright himself as “a brief essay in real mountaineering,” along the way you’ll come across the iconic ‘Lion and the Lamb’ craggy outcrops, before feasting on what are unquestionably some of the Lake District’s best views over the Fairfield and Helvellyn mountain ranges. Having conquered both peaks, you’ll spend the rest of the afternoon enjoying a gentle walk through quiet country lanes back to Grasmere.
Our local Active England guides will transfer you this morning to the bustling market town of Keswick. Once you have your bearings, today’s walk takes you up to Castlerigg Stone Circle. One of the most atmospheric in all of England, you’ll enjoy panoramic views toward Helvellyn and High Seat, before continuing to Walla Cragg for equally dramatic vistas over the glittering Derwentwater. Winding your way back via the lakeshore to Keswick, you’ll find plenty of excellent places to eat and drink before turning in at The George Hotel, in the centre of town.
Setting out from Keswick, today you’ll walk the famous Catbells. Known for its steep climb and spectacular views of Borrowdale and Derwentwater, this particular peak is easily one of the most popular in all of the Lakes. After reaching the summit, the descent will bring you to the far end of Derwentwater, where we recommend catching a relaxing ferry back to Keswick.
For your last full day of walking, you’ll head to Buttermere via public bus, to one of the most stunning Lake District valleys. Famous for its glorious setting among the northern fells, walk the Buttermere ring, marvelling as you go at Haystacks, where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes are buried, and Great Gable, with its iconic pyramid-like shape. After completing your hike around the lake, return a final time to Keswick, for a celebratory dinner to mark the end of your tour.
With the tour coming to an end this morning, our Active England guides will transfer you back to Windermere railway station for your onward travel.
This Bed & Breakfast with countryside views is set within the heart of Ambleside and offers a full English breakfast every morning. All the rooms have tea/coffee making facilities and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels.
Set in the heart of the Lake District National Park and surrounded by stunning fells, Chestnut Villa was built in 1850 as a coaching inn. Each room offers a beautiful view of the surrounding fells and has a smart TV and tea/coffee making facilities so you can relax in this tranquil haven with a warm welcome.
The George Hotel
The George Hotel is in the centre of Keswick and is one of the oldest Inns in the Lake District. Built in 1655 it is full of wonderful character with exposed beams & sashed windows. The dining room offers legendary pub classics, with delightfully fresh modern twists. An anthology of expertly crafted cask ales adorn the bar, juggling with expertly distilled gins and plenty of wine.
What our guides say...
High fells, hidden valleys and some of the most stunning landscapes in the UK, all explored at your own pace.
- All accommodation as indicated on the itinerary
- All breakfasts
- GPS routes, provided via RideWithGPS (app available for Apple or Android)
- All baggage transportation
We have handpicked the best family run, independent and country hotels, pubs and guest houses. Cosy and with informal dining, these country hotels are friendly and relaxed, with great menus with locally sourced food and ales. Our handpicked accommodation is 3* with the option to upgrade to 4* for an additional cost.
This tour is rated moderate, meaning it’s appropriate for guests who enjoy a good walk and can handle an incline or two. We cover varied terrain, enjoying some rolling hills and a few steeper walks which are slightly more demanding. Your holiday, however, will be tailored by your guide to suit your individual preferences. Daily distances range from 4-10 miles. Rewarding views are guaranteed!
We’ll provide walking poles if required.
Pick-up location: Ambleside. Our walking holidays are designed to be completely stress-free, with the start of our tours sitting within easy reach of London, Bristol or the Midlands. This tour begins in Ambleside, an approximately 4-hour train journey from London to Windermere and then a 15-minute ride via public bus. Cars can also be left at Windermere on in long-stay parking facilities in Ambleside itself.
End-of-tour location: On the final morning of your tour, our local Active England guides will transfer you from Keswick to Windermere railway station for your onward travel.
Where is the Lake District?
The Lake District is in the North West of England, with rugged mountains (fells), dramatic lakes (meres) and deep valleys formed by Ice Age glaciers. It contains England’s highest mountain, and deepest lake, and is both a National Park and a World Heritage Site, in recognition of its natural wild beauty and cultural significance, having inspired generations of poets, writers and artists.
What is the best way to get to the Lake District?
The best way to travel to the Lake District is by train, approximately a 4 hour direct journey from London Paddington to Penrith.
You can also fly into Manchester and transfer to the start of the tour from there. We can also arrange pre and post accommodation at a range of different locations so you can arrive relaxed, refreshed and ready to start your tour.
Alternatively we can arrange a private transfer for you from London – the drive is approximately 5 hours.
How hilly is the Lake District?
The North of England is hillier than many of the other regions of England. However the Lake District has a variety of routes which makes the regions great walking country and suitable for those who are moderately fit and active. There are many hills, fells and moors but the incredible views from the top more than make up from the ascents! However, you will be able to miss out some of the steeper inclines – or add in some hillier walks for those looking to stretch their legs. There are routes for everyone and we can tailor your tour to your specific preferences.
Want to extend your trip?
If you’d like a few days in London before your Lake District adventure, or you’d like to venture even further north up to Scotland, then chat to our team to discuss options. We’d be more than happy to help.
What’s the Number?
Nearly everything has a carbon footprint. Together with ecollective, we’ve measured the carbon impact of not only every tour we operate but our entire business. We’ve taken into account greenhouse gas emissions across the business including office, travel, website, vehicles, accommodation, activities, food, suppliers…
What does the number mean?
We’re going to improve this by measuring and reducing our footprint each year. That means working with our suppliers to make changes that have a more positive impact on us and the planet. What does this look like in reality?
- Redesign trips to reduce our carbon impact
- Working closely with all our suppliers across England to join us on our decarbonisation journey
- Switching up our vehicle fleet to electric
- Investing in projects that permanently remove carbon from the atmosphere for any emissions that remain.
We’ve got a long way to go but we’re on our way to net-zero
We’re committed to reducing our impact on the planet and working towards a sustainable future. We’ve taken ownership of our carbon footprint and are on a mission to reduce our emissions year on year.