Climbing

Six Lake District hikes you need to try

17 September 2021
6 min

Image by Ian Cylkowski.

As one of the UK’s most scenic regions with its rugged fells, immaculate lakes and unparalleled views, it’s no doubt the Lake District is a favourite location with hikers. With a mixture of mountainous and low-level walks, there’s something for everyone. So we’ve put together a list of our top 6 hikes in this amazing area. 

Loughrigg Fell

The Loughrigg Fell circular walk is a popular, 12.2km circuit that starts in Ambleside and takes you uphill, past Loughrigg Tarn, before reaching the Loughrigg Fell summit at 335m. Here, you’ll be able to take in fantastic views of this scenic landscape. The climb up to the top is somewhat easy, but it does include a series of steps which could be an issue if you aren’t as mobile. After you’ve taken in the incredible views (and taken some photos), you’ll descend and continue along the edge of Rydal Water and eventually head south on the Under Loughrigg Road, back to where you started. With the constant supply of stunning views on this walk, it can get quite busy at weekends. But if you start early on this 4 hour circuit, you’re sure to have a great hike and get some outstanding photos. 

Skiddaw

At over 900m high and as the 6th highest peak in England, it’s no surprise that the climb up to the summit of Skiddaw is a steep one. However the views you get to take in at the top are incredible, showing the surrounding peaks and Bassenthwaite Lake in the valley below. Starting at Underskiddaw car park, the Skiddaw Path will take you up to the summit, where you’ll descend down the same route. Although the path is steep, it’s also quite defined compared to other trails we’ve encountered. Furthermore, with a duration of around 4 hours, a distance of 10km and with some exposed stages higher up the path, it’s important to layer up for this hike.

Helvellyn

If you’re after a classic Lake District route that involves heights and a bit of scrambling, the Helvellyn walk has got you covered. It’s a firm favourite with it’s challenging parts and unforgettable views at the 950m high summit. The favoured route to climb Helvellyn is to start at Glenridding and hike via Striding Edge first. The end of the ridge here is the most difficult part, as it involves a downward climb, followed by a steep upwards climb to the summit where you’ll need to use your hands. Once you’re past this section, you can enjoy the unparalleled views from the summit of Helvellyn. There are a few different routes to descend, however the most popular one is via Swirral Edge - which is much easier than the ascent. Usually, this route takes around 7 hours and it can be dangerous in bad weather conditions, so make sure you check this before you begin.

Fairfield Horseshoe

One of the great benefits of the Fairfield Horseshoe walk is it starts right from Ambleside, which is perfect if you’re staying in this location. On this beautiful route, you’ll experience the surrounding peaks of Ambleside on a classic Lake District walk. Start by heading off Rydal Road, where you’ll pass Rydal Mount, the home of William Wordsworth. You’ll eventually go up Heron Pike and over Great Rigg, both of which are beautifully scenic on a sunny day, before reaching the Fairfield Peak at 873m. After taking in the fantastic views, continue round the horseshoe back towards Ambleside. This walk is a favourite with hikers and usually takes around 8 hours. 

Scafell Pike

As the highest peak in England at 978m, you’ll often find Scafell Pike on a hiker’s list of mountains they’d like to climb - or have already climbed! Due to the sheer height of the peak and with it involving some scrambling, it’s important to check the weather conditions before you set off, plan ahead and use navigation tools whilst hiking. A favoured route to reach the peak of this fantastic mountain is to start in Seathwaite, and head south down the track running parallel to the River Derwent. Then head west around Great End, before reaching the summit of Scafell Pike. After you’ve stopped for a break and soaked up the incredible views, descend in the north-west direction down the visible path. Later on there’s a slight scramble upwards, before heading back downhill. You’ll eventually pass Styhead Tarn, be walking parallel to the River Derwent again and be back on the track you started on, before reaching your starting point in Seathwaite. This walk usually takes around 7 hours and is about 15km long, so make sure you pack substantial food and drink for your hike. 

Newlands Horseshoe

The Newlands Horseshoe walk is a 17.2km circuit based near Keswick, and is a firm favourite with hikers and bird watchers. A popular starting point for the walk is in Little Town, where you can park if you’ve travelled by car. You can complete this scenic circuit either clockwise or anti-clockwise. To go clockwise you’ll start by climbing Catbells which is 451m high, which will provide glorious views of Derwentwater at the summit. You’ll then follow the path and begin an easy ascent to the summit of High Spy, followed by a descent to Dalehead tarn. Now heading westwards, you’ll follow the path and eventually reach the summit of Robinsons, where you can enjoy views of Honister Pass, Haystacks and more. Then continue on the path in a north-eastern direction until you’re back in Little Town, where you started. With a duration of around 7 hours, this walk is strenuous but the views you’ll have the opportunity to take in are unforgettable. 

We hope this has given you some inspiration for hikes in this sought after location. If you’re looking to go with a qualified guide for your hike, we’ve got a wide range available. Including Sam Marsland, who’s Guided Mountain Walking trip is available at a number of the locations discussed in this blog post. As well as being an expert in his field, Sam is knowledgeable about each location, so you’ll come away from your trip having learnt about your chosen area, as well as new skills. To read more about this fantastic trip with Sam, click here

Ready to go adventures

Find an trip created and led by a local guide and start your next adventure

Discover trips