5 easy walks in the Lake District

Last updated on August 23rd, 2023 at 11:29 am

A Bit About Britain is delighted to welcome Jo Williams, traveller and blogger at Lost Wanders, and Jack Russell expert, as a guest writer introducing readers to five easy walks in the Lake District.

Keswick, Catbells, walks in the English Lakes

5 easy walks in the Lake District

Get out of London and England has some amazing countryside waiting to be explored. One of the most popular spots for walking is England’s largest National Park. The Lake District is saturated with amazing walks but, if you’re anything like me, some of them can be a little daunting. Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, is a definite must-do for any serious hiker. But what are some easier walks in the Lake District? Walks that take just a few hours and show off the very best of the Lakes. Here are some of the best walks in the Lake District for families and fun days out for all.

Windermere’s Western Lake Shore Walk

Wray Castle, Windermere, Lake DistrictSee map
Time – 3hrs
Length – 7.3 miles
Start Point – Harrowslack (National Trust Car Park)
See – Claife Viewing Station, Windermere and lake islands, Wray Castle, Bowness-on-Windermere

Take the ferry over from Bowness-on-Windermere to the western shore and it’s easy to see the sheer scale of Windermere. It’s England’s largest lake at 11 miles (18km), but much of its shoreline is private land and not easily accessed for walking. The Western Lake Shore Walk runs right alongside the lake, past small bays and giant forests culminating in one of the best sights of Windermere, Wray Castle. The neo-gothic castle was built in the 1800s as a Victorian country house and is now owned by the National Trust. Grab a coffee and a bite to eat at the privately owned café before heading back to the ferry, taking in views of the lake from every angle.

Wordsworth’s Grasmere and Rydal Caves

Rydal Cave, Grasmere, easy walks in the Lake DistrictSee map
Time – 3hrs
Length – 5.9 miles
Start Point – White Moss (National Trust Car Park), or Rydal Water Car Park if busy
See – Grasmere, River Rothay, Rydal Caves, The Grasmere Gingerbread shop

From White Moss, make your way along Rydal Water and up to Rydal Caves (a recent film location for Netflix series “The Witcher”). Explore over stepping stones into the main cave and discover a secret back room in the lower cave. Afterwards, head along the River Rothay to Grasmere where you will find a small beach perfect for a cuppa, it’s also quite popular with swimmers in the summer months. Continue along the west coast of Grasmere through quaint farms and along drystone walls until you reach Grasmere village. Famous for poet William Wordsworth, you can visit his homes at Dove Cottage and Allan Bank as well as his final resting place at St Oswald’s Church. But it is the Cumbrian countryside that most inspired his work, much of it you will see on this easy and fairly flat walk.

Don’t miss The Grasmere Gingerbread Shop, Sarah Nelson’s gift to the world.  She came up with the recipe way back in 1854 and it has since become widely known as the best gingerbread around. From here it’s a gentle amble back, with a belly full of gingerbread, to White Moss along Grasmere’s peaceful shore. If you still have the energy head down to the Badger Bar at the Glen Rothay Hotel, a perfect spot for a pub dinner followed by the chance to see local badgers. The pub has been feeding the badgers at around 9:30 pm every night, and even has a badger cam installed!

Elterwater to Skelwith Force and Loughrigg Tarn

Easy walks in the Lake DistrictSee map
Time – 2hrs
Length – 3.7 miles
Start Point – Elterwater (National Trust Car Park)
See – The Langdale Pikes, River Brathay, Skelwith Force, Loughrigg Tarn & Fell

Elterwater is a typically quaint Cumbrian village, with only a quarter of the houses being permanently occupied. The rest are holiday cottages and it’s not hard to see why. The small village is surrounded by picture-perfect mountains like the Langdales and Loughrigg. From Elterwater, take a gentle stroll along the well-kept path next to the Brathay river until you reach Skelwith Force.  A mere 16ft drop, but easily one of the most impressive waterfalls in the Lake District just by the sheer volume of water that runs through it. If you’re brave enough you can negotiate a small bridge to stand on the rocks right next to the waterfall.

After all that excitement it must be time for lunch. Chesters By The River serve up delicious cakes and hearty meals with views over the river and down to Skelwith Bridge. After refuelling, make the short ascent up to Loughrigg Tarn, through public footpaths and a holiday home site, to see one of the hidden gems in the Lake District. The tarn isn’t big but was a favourite of both Wordsworth and hiker Alfred Wainwright calling it “one of the most secluded of tarns”. If you can pull yourself away from the all of the tranquillity it’s just a short downhill amble back to Elterwater and the Britannia Inn for a pint (with another substantial meal of course).

Easedale Tarn and Allan Bank from Grasmere

Easy Lake District walks, EasedaleSee map
Time – 2hrs
Length – 5.1 miles
Start Point – Grasmere
See – Helm Crag, Easedale Tarn, Grasmere, red squirrels at Allan Bank

Head out from Grasmere on Easedale Rd until you reach a footpath leading over a bridge, cross the River Rothay and start making your way towards the fells. Eventually the path starts to steepen as you climb up alongside waterfalls. With an elevation of 1407ft it’s no walk in the park, but the ascent is slow and the path is made of sturdy block steps that aren’t difficult to navigate. At the top you’re rewarded with views over Easedale Tarn, and the surrounding fells. Make your way back down the other side of the valley through picturesque farms, neat forests and small hamlets.

Carrying on with the footpath adjacent to Easedale road on your return, head to Allan Bank for the chance to spot some of the Lake District’s most famous residents, red squirrels! Allan Bank was once most famous for being the home of William Wordsworth, but these small furry residents are competing for that title. It’s one of the best places to see red squirrels in the Lake District.  They can be seen eating from the feeders on the main lawn, darting through the trees, and generally getting up to no good. Although there is no National Trust car park here (Elterwater is the closest), Red Bank Road Car Park is a good place to stop for the day.

Catbells Circular (the easiest fell climb in the Lake District)

Catbell, easy walks in the LakesSee map
Time – 3hrs
Length – 3 miles
Start Point – Hawes End (free parking)
See – Derwent Water, Keswick, Skiddaw mountain range

Catbells is widely known as the easiest mountain to climb in the Lake District and is often the first choice for newbie hikers. With an elevation of 1481ft (451m), there is still some physical exertion required, but it’s achievable for anyone in reasonable health. It’s quite easy to miss the anti-clockwise route favoured by many to take on the fell; this takes you up various scree paths and over Skelgill Bank. But the clockwise route is just as rewarding, with stunning views out to Derwent Water, Keswick and Skiddaw on the first hour of fairly flat walking. Then, a quick stepped switchback up the southern side of the mountain until reaching the rocky top with the best views of the Lake District in every direction. The loose scree makes for a quick descent, often involving hands and knees, with thoughts of the slow way up long behind you.

 

There are countless easy walks in the Lake District but these 5 hikes have it all, plus they are accessible to almost anyone. Take in some of the best sights in the Lake District and get a bit of fresh air while you’re at it. Once you’ve tried to park anywhere in the Lake District in August you’ll just be glad to be out of the car!

About the author
A Brit that got fed up of the 9 to 5 corporate life, Jo Williams sold everything to become a full-time wanderer. Having travelled to over 70 countries, Jo shares her money-saving tips and secrets from inside the travel industry through her blog Lost Wanders.  Held up in the Lake District since the pandemic struck, Jo now spends most of the time exploring the lakes and fells with her Jack Russells and enjoying home cooking.  As well as her Lost Wanders blog, she hosts a specialist site about Jack Russell terriers.

All photographs were taken by Jo Williams.  The walks she describes above are covered by OS maps OL7 for Windermere, Grasmere, Elterwater and Easdale, and OL4 for Catbells.

60 thoughts on “5 easy walks in the Lake District”

  1. We are popping down to the Lake District next week so I had to check out this post! Unfortunately we’re going to be a bit limited on time and the main points of interest are family rather than sights, so I’m not sure if we’ll have time for much walking. I’m hoping to drive to a handful of lakes for some nice views but if we have a bit of time, these look like great choices for walks!

    1. Enjoy! These are great walk suggestions – we did Cat Bells not long ago – and there are plenty of lakes to choose from . I think my favourites are Derwent and Ullswater.

  2. Wish I could do all of them. For now I’ll admire the photos as I armchair travel from Southern California.

  3. A weekend in the Lake District last March was one of the things which fell victim to lockdown number 1, so we’ve not been for a couple of years now. Of these, I’m most familiar with the hike up to Easdale Tarn which we do on almost every visit. Thank you, Jo, for cheering me up with your lovely images.

  4. I have a feeling all of these would take me longer than the time she indicated but boy, they look beautiful. I didn’t hit Lake Country when I was there before but would love to see it next time. I’ll remember this one!

  5. Lovely photos and the walks all sound good, although I think I’ll have to pass on climbing Catsbell these days. I did once climb the Old Man of Coniston in my youth, decades ago! Today I’d be more tempted by the walk from Elterwater or maybe Rydal Caves. You’ve made me want to revisit the Lakes!

  6. I love the Lake District and usually visit each year. Sadly that didn’t happen last year but your post has renewed my enthusiasm for the area and hopefully travel restrictions will be lifted and once again I can enjoy the joys you describe.

    1. I do hope you get to visit again soon. As much as I miss full time travel, moving to the Lakes was one of the best things that could have happened to us in 2020.

  7. artandarchitecturemainly

    I walk every day, but not one step more than my cardiologist mandates. So Elterwater looks like the finest choice. Not only are the views attractive, but the lunch break sounds like a great experience in its own right.

    Regarding a guest post, are you interested in modern history (1930s and 1940s)?

  8. I did the Grasmere to Rydal walk a few years ago and loved it. I made sure to visit Wordsworth’s houses in both villages, and managed to explore all the caves along the route. It was one of my favourite walks.

  9. Great walks. I did the Grasmere to Easdale Tarn in my youth, with school friends. We were about 18 years old, I think.
    I’ve not done the others, though, so next time I’m in the Lakes I must try some.
    I have climbed Helvellyn, though, and when my children were small we got lost in the mist and came down the wrong dide of the mountain. I can’t remember which mountain it was, but we had a mighty long hike back to the car. The children, now grown up, still berate their father for it.

  10. Looking forward to getting up there in the Spring or as soon as restrictions are relaxed. The Glen Rothay ‘drinking with badgers’ experience sounds good. (There’s an image!) The guides and maps are really helpful.

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