Walks in the Lake District, best views & things to do in the Lakes

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Introduction to The Lake District or The Lakes 

The Lake District is in North-Western England, in the county of Cumbria, sometimes also referred to as The Lakes or Lakeland. It is famous for it's beautiful natural scenery consisting of many lakes, forests and moutains. The Lake District was popularised in the early 19th century by Romantic Poets such as William Wordsworth and other Lake Poets, and on visiting the place it's easy to see why people love the area so much. In 2017 the Lake District was named a UNESCO World Heritage site, and should be on every keen travellers list to visit.

blea tarn, lake district, ambleside, best view, best walk
Blea Tarn in the Lake District - looking towards the Langdale Pikes. It's a little off the beaten tourist track, but still accessible by car. If I was to pick my favourite place in the lakes, then this would be it - it's absolutely stunning whatever the weather and whatever the season.

Where is the Lake District?

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If you are unsure of where the Lake District is - then you can see from the map above that it is largely now a National Park (highlighted in the darker green) in the county of Cumbria, which is in the north-west of England. In 2017 the area was named a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The Lakes - My favourite place

I consider myself fortunate as I live only 1.5 hours drive from the Lake District, and consequently I spent many holidays there when I was young with my parents. I guess it was these holidays which started my love of the lakes. Even though I've travelled to quite a few places around the world and seen some stunning natural landscapes - I guess none can beat the Lakes and I agree with those who say when the weather is good in the lakes there is nowhere better.

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Possibly the best sunset I have witnessed in the Lake District - from Haystacks near Buttermere - looking towards Crummock Water & Ennerdale. Haystacks was Alfred Wainwrights favourite Mountain.

Walks in the Lake District

Because of it's beautiful natural scenery and rugged terrain, the lakes are very popular with walkers - and no matter what your ability there are walks to suit everyone. The area really is quite compact too with lots of lakes and mountains in a relatively small area, which you are unlikely to get anywhere in the world!

The stunning view from Castlehead looking over Derwent Water on this walk from Keswick to Wallacrag and Ashness Bridge

The Wainwright Walks

The 'Wainwrights' are a collective term given to the 214 fells (local term for hills & mountains) of the Lake District, named after Alfred Wainwright - a famous British fell-walker, guidebook author and illustrator who was largely responsible for cataloging and popularising all the Lakeland fells through his  series of 7 books entitled A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells. Many keen walkers now try and walk all the 214 fells as a personal challenge.

Looking towards Helvellyn in the distance, England's Second Highest Mountain - with Striding Edge to the right.
Looking towards Helvellyn in the distance, England's Second Highest Mountain - with Striding Edge to the right.

My 10 best walks in the Lake District that I would recommend:

I've walked quite a few of the Lake District fells and here is a list of my best lake district walks that I have blogged about so far. Each walk in the list links to one of my blog posts where you can find map routes and lots of photos to give you a flavour of the walk.

#1 Haystacks from Buttermere - Haystacks was Alfred Wainwrights favourite Lakeland summit and this is my best lake District walk too

#2 Keswick to Wallacrag & Ashness Bridge - this is my favourite 'easy' walk) and is really accessible from the popular town of Keswick

#3 Helvellyn via Striding Edge - Helvellyn is the 2nd highest mountain in England (and in my opinion a better walk than Scafell Pike) and Striding Edge is perhaps the most popular ridge walk in the UK - well worth doing

#4 Blencathra via Sharp Edge & Scales Tarn, near Keswick & Derwent Water Lake - Sharp Edge is my favourite ridge walk in the lakes

#5 Lowfell, near Crummock Water - this walk is a hidden gem - but gives one of my favourite views in the whole of the lakes

#6 Fairfield circular route from Patterdale, near Ullswater - Fairfield is popular fell, but few walk it via this route - which is in my opinion the best route!

#7 Buttermere lake circular (well its actually a mere not a lake :-) - is my favourite lake as it's pretty quiet with few buildings around it. The low level walk around Buttermere is perhaps my favourite low level walk in the Lake District

#8 Catbells, near Keswick,  is a very popular walk with tourists and can get quite busy, but for those new to the lakes and not a very experienced walker, or walking with children, who want to walk up a fell - then it's the walk I would recommend the most 

#9 Ambleside walk to Grasmere (This is a fairly low level leisurely walk - but there is lots of stunning views around every bend including Rydal Water & Grasmere lake)

#10 Elterwater Waterfalls Walk - The view over to the langdales from the shores of Elterwater are some of the finest in the lakes and this walk takes in some of the surrounding waterfalls too)

Haystacks, buttermere, lakes, lake district, walk, best view, Wainwright, map, route, cumbria,
Possibly the best walk in the Lake District!  On this walk to Haystacks you will see some of the best views in the Lake District. Here we can see Haystacks to the left with the sun setting behind Red Pike and Buttermere and Crummock water in the distance.

My 3 best scrambling/ridge walks in the Lake District

For those who are a bit more experienced with walking and are looking for something a bit more adventurous, then the Lake District has some excellent walks where the hands are required as well as the feet! Here are my 3 favourite scrambling walks below.

#1 Sharp Edge, Blencathra, Lake District

Sharp Edge en route to Blencathra is another favourite and one of the most popular ridge walks in the Lake District. I really recommend this one for almost any walker
The photo above is maybe a little dramatic as you do feel quite safe when actually on the ridge. To see my blog post on my blencathra sharp edge walk, click here

#2 Striding Edge, Helvellyn, Lake District

Looking down to the popular striding edge - one of the best ridge walks in England that stretches over 1.5km to the summit of helvellyn from the Hole-in-the-wall. It can get busy on a weekend - but every walker worth their salt has to walk it - click here to view the full route map with pictures.

#3 Jacks Rake, Pavey Ark, Langdale Pikes, Lake District

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Jacks Rake route up Pavey Ark, Langdale Pikes. One of the Lake District's best, most exhilarating & fun walks (if you like heights). This walk is not for the faint hearted though and should be tackled safely with care, in the knowledge of what to expect, and when weather conditions are favourable.  Search on youtube for Jack's rake to get an idea of what to expect.

It is actually easier than it looks from a distance and the views are superb - click here for my blog post on Jack's rake

My favourite views in the Lake District

Everyone has their own favourite places & views in the Lake District - and here are my top 6 views:

#1 View from Haystacks looking west

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Possibly the best sunset I have witnessed in the Lake District - from Haystacks near Buttermere - looking towards Crummock Water & Ennerdale. Haystacks was Alfred Wainwrights favourite Mountain and with this view you can see why. In terms of walking to the summit of Haystacks - most people start from Buttermere lake and whilst there is some steep walking - it's not as strenuous as some of the higher peaks in the Lake District.   © Photo by Stuart Hodgson

#2 View over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale, Lake District (from either Friars Crag or Calfclose Bay, near Keswick)

View from Friars Crag, near Keswick looking over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale, lake district, lakes
I love the view over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale - I think it's because much of Borrowdale is still cladded in native forest and so the view is quite close to how it must have looked hundreds of years ago. This particular photo was taken from Calfclose Bay looking over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale. The view from Friars Crag is similar, a 5 min walk away from this point, and closer to Keswick and much more accessible, even by wheelchair along a well marked path. The view was John Ruskin's favourite view and he said it was amongst the best in Europe - I can't disagree with that. © Photo by Stuart Hodgson

#3 Blea Tarn looking towards the Langdale Pikes, Lake District

blea tarn, lake district, ambleside, best view, best walk
Blea Tarn in the Lake District - looking towards the Langdale Pikes. If I could try and imagine the perfect tarn - then this would be it! This place looks remote - but you can still drive here through the windy roads and park up less than 5 minutes easy walk away from this view point. © Photo by Stuart Hodgson

#4 View from Low Fell, looking towards Crummock Water, Lake District

Low Fell Walk, Crummock Water, Buttermere, Loweswater, Best Lake District view
This view is from Low Fell over Crummock Water. Low Fell is not a particularly well-known fell in the Lake District and is a little away from the main tourist areas - so it's not as popular as some of the more well-known summits. And whilst Low Fell is not particularly difficult to walk up - it presents some stunning views and is well worth a visit, particularly on a summers evening when the sun is going down behind you, illuminating this magnificent landscape.

#5 Looking over Buttermere towards Fleetwith Pike & Haystacks, Lake District

Buttermere, Fleetwith Pike, Tree, lake, Photo, Haystacks, Lake District walks, Alfred Wainwright
Looking over Buttermere lake towards Fleetwith Pike (near the tree) and Haystacks (Alfred Wainwrights favourite Lake District mountain) to the right of Fleetwith Pike. 

#6 Ullswater from Gowbarrow Fell, Lake District

Ullswater on this Gowbarrow fell walk, looking towards Glenridding and the Helvellyn range. This is a lovely walk providing some of the best views of Ullswater, and also including Aira Force.
Ullswater on this Gowbarrow fell walk, looking towards Glenridding and the Helvellyn range. This is a lovely walk providing some of the best views of Ullswater, and also including Aira Force. © Photo by Stuart Hodgson

#7 Wastwater from Wasdale head, Lake District

Wastwater, lake district, best view, scafell pike
I will end this 'Best Lake District Views' post with this view of Wastwater, perhaps the most iconic Lake District view as it was voted Britain’s Favourite View in 2007 by television viewers. Wastwater is perhaps the most dramatic looking of all the lakes due to being surrounded by the towering peaks of Red Pike, Kirck fell, Great Gable and Englands highest mountain Scafell Pike.

Camping in the lakes:

There are lots of great b&b's, hotels & YHA's in the Lakes, and in time I'll add my favourites to this blog post, but if the weather is favourable (hard to predict in the lakes I know :-) - then camping is a great way to experience the lakes and I guess you feel closer to the place when only the walls of a tent separate you from the great outdoors. There's nothing quite like that feeling when you wake in the morning and breathe in that fresh lakeland air - or gaze at literally hundreds of stars before you turn in for the night. 

My best camping spot in the Lake District - looking over Derwent Water towards Borrowdale with Catbells on the right. What a view to wake up to in the morning!
I've camped in quite a few places around the lakes, but my favourite place is probably Derwent Water, Camping & Caravaning Club site. It's one of the first places I camped in the lakes - and the reason I like it is simply for the location and if your lucky you can get a spot right near the lake looking over Derwent Water to Borrowdale. For a few quid a night you can see this when you wake up in the morning looking out your tent - and its also right near Keswick too!

Wild camping in the Lakes

Wild camping let's you experience the lakes in a whole new way - somewhere where you can truly get away from all the hustle & bustle and experience true peace & quiet. If your lucky and get a clear night sky - then you will see a stary sky the likes of which you haven't seen before. This type of camping isn't for everyone - but if your of the adventurous type - then you've got to try it once! Just remember to take with you everything, and I mean everything you will need, including toilet paper :-) The links below takes you to a couple of blog posts on my wild camping trips.

Wild camping in the Lakes - something every hiker should try at least once (including tips and what to take)

Wild camping takes your experience of the Lake District to another level. For me it is truly one of the best things to do in the Lakes - you get amazing views amongst some of the world's best natural scenery and the place to yourself as most people have left the fells. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading this blog post, and it inspires you to visit the beautiful English Lake District. No matter what your age there is something you will love I'm sure and it should be on every travellers bucket list to visit. 

Blog Post by Stuart Hodgson, 'The Hiking Photographer'

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