no alt text

Bucket list experience:

Last updated: 10 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Oliver Berry

The lofty hills and glacial valleys of the Lakes lured walkers long before Alfred Wainwright published his seminal walking guides in the 1950s. Wainwright’s books opened up the region to a much wider audience, and his 214 ‘official fells’ represent the ultimate challenge for hikers and serious walkers.

But there are plenty of easier options; gentle strolls, family trails and networks of pub walks that offer the chance to pair an outdoor activity with great places for lunch.

Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 13+
When: All year around
Duration: 3 hours

Getting there & doing it

Experienced walkers can tackle most routes on their own, but if you’re looking to do any of the more challenging routes, it’s essential to be properly prepared. On the most challenging routes, consider hiring a local guide, or joining an organised group hike. There are information centres at Bowness-on-Windermere, Ullswater (at Glenridding) and Keswick, and the tourist office runs regular guided walks that anyone can join.

On any of the more challenging routes, a detailed map is essential: the Ordnance Survey Explorer maps or Harvey Superwalker maps (both at 1:25,000 scale) are the ones to go for. A mobile phone is important too in case of emergencies – but don’t rely on them for maps and route-finding.

The weather in the Lakes is constantly changeable – particularly if you’re walking the peaks. Check the weather forecast carefully before setting out.


When to do it

Walking is superb all year round. Summer (usually) brings good weather but crowds.

Winter offers invigorating walking conditions, fewer crowds and welcoming log fires to come home to – but on the higher fells, snow and ice make them for experienced winter walkers only.

The tourist office’s guided walks run April to October.

Walk Castle Crag & Borrowdale

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

A short but challenging 4-mile circular walk taking in impressive volcanic landscapes around Borrowdale, and includes the climb up Castle Crag – a 2,000-year-old hill fort.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 3 hours

Walk Catbells on Derwentwater

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

A short, 3-hour hike with big views, this small summit on the shores of lovely Derwentwater is the ideal fell for beginners, or anyone looking for a fell hike that doesn’t require too much exertion.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 3 hours

Our writer’s picks of the best places to stay near this experience, closest first

Augill Castle

Kirkby Stephen, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

A lovingly restored 19th-century castle that’s also a family home and a friendly hotel. It’s near the market town of Kirkby Stephen, handy for exploring the eastern Lakes and the Eden Valley.

Official star rating:

Brimstone Hotel & Spa

Great Langdale, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

The Lakeland version of a deluxe ski lodge, offering supremely plush rooms, a lavish spa and a very private location on a Langdale estate. It’s also adults-only – making this an ideal place for couples looking for a place to pamper themselves.

Official star rating:

Daffodil Hotel

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

A large, lakeside hotel not far from Grasmere, with a variety of rooms to suit all kinds of visitors – families, couples, walkers and weekend breakers will all find a happy home here.

Official star rating:

Forest Side Hotel

Grasmere, Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

One of the very best of the Lake District’s boutique hotels, a reinvented country mansion, brimming with wit, style and invention. In prime position for exploring the Lakes..

Official star rating:

Destination guides including or relevant to this experience

Lake District

Cumbria, United Kingdom (UK)

Imposing mountains, wild landscapes, tranquil lakes and picturesque towns combine to make the Lake District uniquely beautiful, and one of the best places in Britain for walking, climbing, boating and biking.

Website >
Overview >