The Lake District has become a World Heritage Site joining iconic locations such as the Great Barrier Reef as a place of international acclaim. Thirteen major valleys make up the Lakes, all with their own special characteristics. The stunning scenery makes this a must-visit destination for walkers, with routes to suit everyone.
We've selected thirteen ideas for walks - one in each of the main valleys - to kick-start your exploration of this wonderful place.
Most of the routes mentioned are part of our large programme of guided walks. Local experts volunteer their time to lead these walks for the National Park and will show you why the Lake District deserves World Heritage inscription. All our walk routes are well-planned and are designed to showcase this magnificent landscape.
The largest of the 13 valleys includes majestic Derwent Water and Bassenthwaite. Here you'll find one of England's largest oak woodlands. It's also home to rare upland hay meadows and a pair of visiting ospreys. The bustling town of Keswick is a popular tourist hub.
Boat and Derwent Isle on Derwent Water photo credit: John Hodgson
1. Ullock Pike Starting from Dodd Wood car park, wind your way up through the wooded slopes of Dodd. Between April and August you might be lucky and spot the ospreys who nest in the valley below. From the summit of Dodd enjoy stunning views before continuing on to the summit of Carl Side at 746m, along Longside Edge and on to Ullock Pike (692m). It's then a steady walk back down to the car park. Next walk is on 12 August.
Nestling serenely in the north-west of the Lake District, this stunning valley contains three lakes - Buttermere, Crummock Water and Loweswater. This is an important grazing place for the iconic Herdwick sheep. In spring, the slopes of Rannerale Knotts are carpeted in bluebells, a really must-see sight.
Buttermere from Hindscarth Edge photo credit: Andrew Locking
2. Haystacks This is a fabulous high fell walk with commanding views of the surrounding fells. On a clear day you can see neighbouring Scotland. Our Haystacks guided walk starts from the YHA hostel next to the Honister slate mine. We follow the footpath to reach two picturesque tarns before a short but steep climb over rugged ground to reach the summit. Next walks is 13 July.
The legacy of mining and quarrying on the fellsides, pastoral farming on lower ground, woodland industries, and the busy village of Coniston, all come together in this striking and characterful working landscape. William Wordsworth, England's famous poet, went to Grammar School in the lovely village of Hawkshead. There's much to learn about the rich industrial heritage of the area. We're developing new walks to bring this fascinating past to life through our walk leaders.
Tilberthwaite farm cottage, Coniston
3. Family walk to Cathedral Cave A must-do walk for fans of the 2014 film, Snow White and the Huntsman. This famous cavern featured briefly in a scene from the movie. The walk itself is popular with families. Starting from Tilberthwaite, walk to Slater Bridge then on to the quarries above. Our guided walk finishes at Hodge Close Quarry. Next walk is 16 July.
Traces of ancient settlers can be found throughout the Lake District. In the Duddon Valley, or Dunnerdale as it's also known, you'll find one of the most impressive of the area's many stone circles. The valley may be a modest, less-frequented place but it is a rich, beautiful and inspiring landscape.
Swinside stone circle photo credit: John Hodgson
4. Dunnerdale Forest and Harter Fell Take your pick from gentle forest strolls or even a short, leisurely meander by the river Duddon. Alternatively, head for the summit of Harter Fell for fabulous views. As the famous English fellwalker Alfred Wainwright described in his Pictorial Guides, the view from the summit leads the eye to 'golden sands and glittering sea.'
Ennerdale is the only valley to have no public road along it. Here, high up on Pillar Rock, true rock climbing began. Water extraction, farming and forestry have all played their part in shaping the landscape here.
Ennerdale photo credit: Andrew Locking
5. A walk around the lake Footpaths will take you round the whole of the lake but you can shorten the walk at any point. Ennerdale is the wildest and least inhabited valley in the Lake District and is a wonderful place to get away from the crowds and experience peace and tranquillity.
This is the only place in England where mountains plunge almost directly into the sea. The landscape is a dramatic mix of steep, rugged uplands and soft, green valley floor. The tidal estuary at Ravenglass is the perfect place to watch the sun go down.
Eskdale from Hardknott photo credit: John Hodgson
6. Esk Estuary Escapade This is one of our favourite guided walks. It starts in Ravenglass with a short boat ride to sand dunes. Then it's boots off for a paddle across the shallow estuary. The walk continues by the river and ends at Muncaster Castle. Next walk is 29 July.
This glacial u-shaped valley lies at the very heart of the Lake District. Both Grasmere and Ambleside attract the crowds but you don't have to walk far to experience peace and quiet on the slopes of the surrounding fells. The area is associated with Wordsworth and visitors from around the world flock to his former homes at Dove Cottage and Rydal Mount. The 16th century Rydal Hall features The Grot, a tiny summerhouse framing a view of a tumbling waterfall.
Ambleside rush bearing photo credit: John Hodgson
7. Grasmere's Wordsworth We have worked closely with the Dove Cottage and the Wordsworth Museum to develop a short themed walk around the village. Discover one of England's most famous poets, learn about his life and hear some of his poems. Next walk is 19 August.
Haweswater is a reservoir valley. Originally a natural lake, a dam was built and the valley flooded in 1935. In this less-visited part of the National Park, you can experience a real sense of wilderness. During periods of drought the remnants of the villages of Mardale Green and Measand, emerge from their watery world. All the farms and dwellings of the villages were demolished, as well as the centuries-old Dun Bull Inn at Mardale Green.
Haweswater photo credit: Andrew Locking
8. Measand Beck and Waterfalls Take a pleasant stroll to the cascading waterfalls of Measand Beck. Starting point is from Bampton Village Hall. Look out for Buzzards, Peregrines, Ring Ouzels and Wheatears who inhabit this quiet corner of the Lake District.
Human activity in Langdale can be traced to Neolithic times and the production of stone axes. Today, Langdale is an important valley for grazing Herdwick sheep. It's stunning fells attract walkers all year round. After high rainfall the waterfalls of Dungeon and Stickle ghouls are an impressive sight.
Herdwicks in Langdale photo credit: John Hodgson
9. The Dramatic Langdale Pikes This is one of our very hard graded guided walks which starts from the National Trust car Park, ascending by Stickle Ghyll to Stickle Tarn. We then head to the Pikes taking the easy gully path. There's an option to summit Pike O'Stickle before heading to Loft Crag and back down to the valley floor. An exhilarating, physical climb. Next walk is 22 September.
The valley of Thirlmere is relatively small but is dominated by the reservoir, supplying Manchester with water, and its looming steep-sided fells. The stone circle at Castlerigg near Keswick is one of lakeland's best -known archaeological sites.
Thirlmere photo credit: Belinda Turnbull
10. Castlerigg Stone Circle Our popular guided walk to the circle starts at the Moot Hall in Keswick. The circle offers panoramic fell views. It is among the earliest British stone circles, raised in about 3000 BC during the Neolithic period. Next walk is 8 August.
Boredale, Ullswater photo credit: John Hodgson
11. The Ullswater Way You can now walk around the whole of the lake on a 20 mile route. No visit to Ullswater is complete without a sail on the lake. Our friends at Ullswater Steamers offer a discounted rate if you're walking with us on one of our special guided walks. Next walks is 29 July and 30 July.
Scafell photo credit: John Hodgson
12. Scafell Pike, England's highest mountain Due to demand, in 2018 we'll be introducing a new guided walk to this peak-bagger's bucket-list must-do. We'll be ascending from Seathwaite in Borrowdale to take you this popular summit. Look out for our walks and other activities on our website.
Windermere photo credit: Thomas Beecham
13. My First Fell - Bowness Family walk This is a delightful walk, suitable for families from the busy hub of Bowness-on-Windermere to the summit of Brantfell. It's a steep (in places) two and a half hours walk but the views are outstanding from the top. The pace is slow and steady to accommodate little legs. Next walk is 12 August.
We love hearing about your adventures in the Lake District so share your memories with us on Twitter using the hashtag #WeAreTheLakes
Belinda Turnbull, Volunteer Led Activity Coordinator
Discover the wonderful Ullswater Valley at this year's Ullswater Outdoor Fest 23 September to 1 October 2017
12 September 2017
Wonderful walks from Windermere. Suitable for families.
07 August 2017
11 July 2017
30 June 2017
Ten great ideas for walks by water
23 June 2017
Early summer is a perfect time for walking in England’s largest National Park
23 June 2017
The Lake District is the perfect place for a springtime break. Here are five ideas for a wonderful spring walk
04 April 2017
Five great reasons to join a guided walk this year
30 January 2017
Walking is one of the most popular activities cited by visitors to the Lake District National Park. Our 'Discover, Explore, Inspire' programme of walks, navigation days and more is designed to help you make the most of this awe-inspiring destination
03 November 2016
Discover our special Wordsworth walks
29 June 2016
Discover the Ullswater Way
06 May 2016
18 March 2016
Our wonderful volunteer guides are ready and waiting to help you discover and explore the spectacular Lake District landscape. By boot, boat or bike, our events will take you to stunning vistas and secret places.
16 February 2016
Six superb walks to do in the North West of the Lake District. Joint Great British Walks with the National Trust.
10 September 2015
17 August 2015
Beatrix Potter based many of her tales on locations around Derwentwater in the Lake District. We offer several guided walks in the area.
28 July 2015
Blog post about Lake District's tarns. We feature Angle Tarn in Ullswater. Alfred Wainwright ranked it among the best in Lakeland.
01 May 2015
Top winter walking safety tips.
02 December 2014
Keswick's Mass Trespass
02 October 2014
Six great reasons to go on one of our Lake District guided walks, led by our fantastic team of volunteers.
29 August 2014
Seven great reasons to go on one of our Lake District guided walks, led by our fantastic team of volunteers.
11 July 2014
Volunteer walk leader Neil describes a walk up Catstycam
03 July 2014
Ambleside has long been a top tourist destination and a popular start point for a number of our favourite guided rambles.
26 June 2014