The English Lake District stole my heart years ago and I’d like to share my three favourite day walks there. Whether it’s pottering about the chocolate box village of Grasmere or hiking through the glorious Langdale Valley, the English Lake District is one of the most beautiful places in Britain and these are my pick of the best day walks:
1. Idyllic English villages: Grasmere and Rydal Water
There is no doubt this is Wordsworth country on this circular walk (8.9 kilometres or 5.5 miles). The English poet lived most of his life around the village of Grasmere, while roaming all over the English Lake District on his walks. Grasmere itself is touristy these days – don’t miss out on buying some gingerbread from Sarah Nelson’s shop – but beautiful for all that.
Wordsworth’s grave is here in the village churchyard and start the walk at the home he shared with his sister Dorothy – Dove Cottage. This is an easy circuit walk taking the path uphill through the woods for around one-and-a-half miles to Rydal. Soon you will catch glimpses over Rydal Water and turn down towards the village at the T-junction.
The house here – Rydal Mount – was also a Wordsworth residence, a much one from his later more affluent days. Continue to the main road, turn left and then right over Pelter Bridge. Then climb up a lane to the right into the woods again and then onto the open fell. Stay high alongside the lake enjoying views of Nab Scar and Rydal Fell.
Keep left at the fork and take a lower path to the junction, when you turn left to skirt Loughrigg Fell with views over Grasmere lake and village (that’s Helm Crag behind them). Just before the woods start again turn right down a grassy path to the lakeshore and follow this (left) through water meadows to a road that will take you back to Grasmere.
2. Views of Windermere: Wansfell and Troutbeck
Another circular walk in the English Lake District that let’s you feel you’re getting up high and offers spectacular views along the length of Lake Windermere – England’s longest lake. (10.5 kilometres of 6.5 miles)
Start from Ambleside at the head of Lake Windermere and walk from Bridge House through the town centre following signs to ‘The Waterfalls’. You soon get to Stockghyll Force – a series of cascades in a ravine. Just before the top of the falls turn right at the T-junction and follow the public footpath sign for Kirkstone.
Next turn is to follow the footpath sign to Troutbeck via Wansfell. The ascent is quite tiring with a steady gradient but the views are certainly worth it. To return, follow a walled track called Nanny Lane down to the lovely old village of Troutbeck, with its whitewashed 17th and 18th century cottages. The path back to Ambleside is just past the post office on the right (Robin Lane).
3. The Great and Little Langdale Valleys
This is my absolute favourite day walk in the English Lake District. The hills are reddish with dead bracken and below the grass is emerald in the sunshine. The twin peaks of the Langdale Pikes are spectacular. We had lunch with the sun on our backs on the terrace of The Stickleback. In Baysbrown wood the sunlight hits the moss on the forest floor.
Start is near the head of the Great Langdale Valley at the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel. Climb up to Blea Tarn (top photo) before dropping into Little Langdale Valley below the Wrynose Pass.
The path continues along to Little Langdale Tarn before climbing back over to Great Langdale and along the side of the valley to the starting point. (12.9 kilometres or 8 miles)
Where to stay in the Lake District
There are many options for accommodation in the Lake District and the YHA has no less than six hostels! I have stayed in the YHA Patterdale and found it good. There are also hostels in Windermere, Buttermere, Keswick, Ambleside and Helvellyn.
On another walking trip to the Lake District we stayed at The Wild Boar, a gorgeous old inn with blazing fireplaces, a really good restaurant and luxuriously appointed rooms. This is a great option if you’ve got a bigger travel budget.
By Natasha von Geldern
Have you been walking in the English Lake District? What were your favourite walks?
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