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Adventure & Travel Blog Lake District Lovers

A Guide to the Best Lake District Walks for Beginners

Spring Hues at Buttermere Lake

Discover this impressive collection of scenic Lake District walks for beginners. The dramatic landscapes of the Lake District attract visitors from all over the world. Hikers and experienced walkers are particularly enamoured with the craggy trails and mountains of the region. However, novice walkers should not be put off by the epic walks on offer as there are equally as many routes to suit beginners too. Many of these walking routes are also dog friendly, but there are places where you may have to keep them on a lead.

1. Friar’s Crag

Begin: Theatre by The Lake car park

End: Theatre by The Lake car park

Length: 0.8 miles

Terrain: mostly flat

Difficulty level: easy

Suitable for young children: yes

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL4

For beginners who want to start things with a relaxing amble, Friar’s Crag is ideal. At less than a mile long, the walk takes in some spectacular landscapes. Stroll past views of the wooded islands and the narrow gap of the Jaws of Borrowdale. Follow the stone path, avoiding the fork to the left, to reach the viewpoint for Friar’s Crag. Take some moments to appreciate the vista before returning to the path you avoided earlier. Now at your right, the path leads through a kissing gate towards Strandshag Bay. Further on, a bridge and another gate take you through a pretty forest. Navigating through the forest, join the road to Stable Hills. Complete the walk with a short meander to the left before turning back to go the way you came. Enjoy refreshments at the Theatre by the Lake or at the Lakeside Tearooms.

Highlights

  • View from Friar’s Crag
  • Theatre by the Lake

2. Pooley Bridge to Gale Bay

Begin: Pooley Bridge car park

End: Pooley Bridge car park

Length: 1.1 miles

Terrain: flat with two instances of slopes

Difficulty level: easy/moderate

Suitable for young children: yes

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL7

Explore the shores of Ullswater on this family-friendly walking route in the Lakes. Beginning on a wide path you’ll pass the Boathouse via a gate. There is a short, yet steep path to climb before reaching a trail that continues above the shoreline. Wheelchair users and parents with pushchairs will require assistance to ascend this incline and the short ascent that follows.

Pass through the gate before crossing a footbridge towards a concrete pad. Here you can enjoy watching the Ullswater Steamers cut through the pristine waters of the lake. Take time to look north towards Dunmallard Hill which boasts remains of an ancient settlement at its peak. Wheelchairs users and pushchairs will turn back the way they came as the continuing path is unsuitable. Others can traverse the rough terrain to gain access to Gale Bay. Turn back to go back the way you came and finish this short, yet satisfying walk. Grab some snacks at a café or restaurant in Pooley Bridge such as The Country Coffee Shop. You’ll find toilet facilities at your starting point of Pooley Bridge car park.

Highlights:

  • Sightings of Peregrine Falcons around Ullswater
  • Red squirrels in wooded areas and grasslands
Light on Ullswater Lake Canvas Print
Ullswater

3. Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge

Begin: National Trust car park at Elterwater

End: Skelwith Bridge

Length: 2.4 miles

Terrain: flat

Difficulty level: easy

Suitable for young children: yes

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL7

Take a meander through lakeside meadows during this tranquil walk by Elterwater Lake. Walkers will enjoy several highlights including Skelwith Force waterfall and the lauded, Woodburn Bridge. Begin by following the stone path that passes by Great Langdale Beck. Continue on this route until you reach the pretty shores of Elterwater. Here you can stop and try to spy mallards and moorhens among the reeds. Continue your walk through the meadow and enjoy the scenery as you pass through the gate to woodland. It is here you will cross the Woodburn Bridge which has been designed to complement the surrounding landscapes. Stop to hear the sounds of the lake and soak up the exceptional vistas that are home to various wildlife. Walk on towards Skelwith Bridge and pop into Chesters Café for refreshments.

Highlights:

  • Woodburn Bridge – designed by Chris Brammall, the bridge is considered a work of art
  • Sightings of wildfowl including mallards, moorhens, and coots
Elterwater and Langdale Pikes
Elterwater

4. Broughton Railway – Market Square to Wilson Park

Begin: Market Square

End: Turn at Broughton Tower and finish at Market Square

Length: 3.2 miles

Terrain: flat with very slight sloping

Difficulty level: easy

Suitable for young children: yes

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL6

Enjoy this walk past historic monuments and pretty landscapes using the disused railway as a guide. Begin by following Knott Lane which passes by the toilet facilities. Continue on the path through Wilson Park. Here you’ll enjoy scenic woodland as you follow the trail by Broughton Tower wall. Take a rest at the bench to appreciate the woodland views. Walk finished, turn back the way you came and head into the historic town of Broughton in Furness. The 11th century town has plenty of wonderful cafes and restaurants where you can enjoy a bite to eat. Go where the locals go and enjoy a meal or snack at The Square Café. Here you can tuck into an organic cake, seasonal soups and other types of hearty fare.

Highlights:

  • The Georgian market square and monumental obelisk

5. Wray Castle to Loanthwaite

Begin: Top of Dower House Lane at Wray Castle

End: Turn at Low Loanthwaite and finish at Dower House Lane

Length: 4.5 miles

Terrain: Some slopes and muddy/rocky terrain

Difficulty level: easy/moderate

Suitable for young children: no

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL7

This relatively easy walk may be a little more strenuous for some. However, if you can tackle some clambering at parts, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views. Your route is very clearly signposted as part of the Hawkshead Trail. The walk takes you past historic farm buildings and through a National Nature Reserve. Following the trail, you’ll cross the bridge over Belham Beck before continuing briefly until you reach a defined grassy knoll. Here you can pause to appreciate the views over Blelham Tarn and you may be fortunate enough to catch sight of the local wildlife.

Continuing the walk for approximately 200 metres, you reach a hill. Here, decide whether to turn back towards Wray Castle or to climb the hill. The views from the top of the hill are stunning, stretching beyond Ambleside. Next, turn right to follow the trail once more. Should you want to wet your whistle with a pint or two, veer right towards the Outgate Inn. Alternatively, continue on the path to the left to walk through the meadow and woodland. From here you’ll be treated to beautiful views over Hawkshead. Walk finished, turn back to return to Wray Castle.

Highlights:

  • Whooper swans and goldeneye during winter months
  • Great crested grebes and waterfowl

6. Buttermere Lakeshore

Begin: Buttermere village

End: Turn at Buttermere Lakeshore and end at Buttermere village

Length: 0.9 miles

Terrain: flat

Difficulty level: easy/moderate

Suitable for young children: yes

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL4

This simple walk is suitable for all. Leave the car park to turn right past the Fish Inn. You’ll then follow the left lane that leads down to the shoreline of the lake. Although a short trail, it leads to fantastic views of Buttermere, Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks fell. Stay a while to enjoy the landscape before returning to the starting point of Buttermere village. The Fish Inn is a great family-friendly spot to enjoy lunch and a pint of real ale.

Highlights:

  • Views of Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike

7. Gait Barrows National Nature Reserve – Haweswater Trail

Begin: Burnbanks

End: Burnbanks

Length: 10 miles

Terrain: flat with slight inclines

Difficulty level: easy/moderate

Suitable for young children: no

Facilities: yes

Refreshment stops nearby: yes

Map: OS Explorer OL7

Sitting at the centre of the Arnside and Silverdale Area of Natural Beauty, this route is stunning. Haweswater Reservoir is one of the lesser frequented attractions and will, therefore, be quiet. This walk is for beginners who wish to hike with more experienced friends rather than alone. Its length will please experienced walkers, and the beautiful flora and fauna will delight everyone. Although the 10-mile distance may seem off-putting, the moderate terrain is easy to navigate.

Beginning at Burnbanks, opposite the car park you’ll follow the path towards Upper Mardale. You’ll soon reach a steady upwards walk towards a wood. Half an hour into the walk you’ll see The Forces waterfalls, the first of many you’ll meet during this trail. As a circular route, it’s easy to follow as you make your way around the reservoir. Stop for a tipple at the Haweswater Hotel and enjoy the spectacular views of the water and landscapes.

Highlights:

  • The rare Lady’s Slipper Orchid
  • Various species of butterfly, moth, dragonfly, and damselfly
  • Birds such as the Green woodpecker, Reed Warbler, Marsh Harrier, and Bittern

If you’ve enjoyed reading about these walks for beginners, discover more easy walks in the Lake District with incredible views.

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  • Sarah Wright
    September 9, 2021 at 7:28 am

    Our first time in the Lake District, wish I had found your website before 🙂 will definitely look at doing these walks next time

    • Lifehop
      September 13, 2021 at 3:32 pm

      Thanks for your comment, Sarah. I’m really pleased you find the blogs useful