With the bright, sunny days of summer on their way, everyone is eager to don their walking boots and get out and about. So, I’ve collated just a few of my favourite Lake District walks for the summer that will introduce you to beautiful scenery and local wildlife. From the shimmering shores of Buttermere to the lush woodlands surrounding Aira Force, your summer is about to get a whole lot brighter.
1. New Dungeon Ghyll to Blea Tarn
This walk from Great Langdale to Blea Tarn is fairly easy and can be completed in just a couple of hours and you’ll be rewarded with some of the Lake District’s most incredible fell scenery. Starting out at the car park at New Dungeon Ghyll, follow the road through the Langdale Valley, passing below the likes of Harrison Stickle, Pavey Ark, Pike of Stickle, Bowfell, Lingmoor, and Pike of Blisco. As you cut through the National Trust campsite on your left, you’ll start to climb up Side Pike. It’s a relatively short ascent but if you want to catch your breath, it’s worth taking in the views behind you as you look down over the valley.
As Blea Tarn comes into view, take the winding path on your right that takes you through the woodland and down to the water’s edge. From here you’re greeted with one of the most impressive views of the Langdale Pikes peering above the tarn.
2. Aira Force, Ullswater
Gushing through ancient woodlands, this magnificent waterfall is a real force of nature that’s even more stunning when the trees are in full bloom. Aira Force is one of the best Lake District walks in summer as the woodland is filled with wildlife and the leafy canopy and mossy ledges give it a tropical rainforest vibe. You can access the circular woodland trail from above or below and it takes you on an undulating route among hidden pools and money trees. I’d highly recommend taking a picnic with you as it’s a great place for just chilling out and enjoying nature. Make sure you keep your eyes open for red squirrels.
3. Hawkshead to Wray Castle
Standing majestically on the western shore of Windermere, Wray Castle was built as a private house in the Victorian era and makes a great destination for this walk from Hawkshead. Setting out from the village, follow the signs for the bridleway which takes you through the open countryside, past tarns and outbuildings. The route is approximately 3 miles and although it isn’t a particularly difficult walk, there are quite a lot of ups and downs, however, views of the distant fells offer a good distraction. As you exit the bridleway, turn right onto the pavement and walk uphill to where you approach a long driveway on your left that leads to the castle.
4. Buttermere and Haystacks
Depending on how far you want to walk, you can park at either end of Buttermere and make your way to the foot of Haystacks. In my opinion, this is one of the most beautiful of all the lakes, only second to Wastwater. You can really make a day of it here as there are lakeside spots for wild swimming and picnics. The route up Haystacks starts just further along from Peggy’s Bridge on a footpath that winds up to Scarth Gap. It’s worth making a few short tops to take in the views over Fleetwith Pike and Buttermere before the ground starts to get rockier. Although there are a few scrambles to the summit, they aren’t too dangerous as long as you take care.
From the summit of Haystacks you can walk across to Innonimate Tarn where Alfred Wainwright’s ashes are scattered. The views over to Pillar are staggering and you’ll probably want to spend a while soaking them all up. Follow one of the two descents that lead you back down to Warnscale Bottom via Warnscale Head and Buttermere.
5. Wastwater, Wasdale
Rippling below the rugged peaks of the Wasdale Valley, Wastwater is England’s deepest lake and boasts one of the most dramatic lakeside settings. You’ll find various parking spaces along the shore but try to avoid busier times as they soon fill up and the single road in can easily get congested. It’s best to avoid the difficult walk over the screes and stick to walking along the western shore. From the lakeside you’ll have fantastic views of peaks such as Scafell Pike, Great Gable and Yewbarrow, which create wonderful reflections on the water. The Wasdale Head Inn is a wonderful fellside watering hole for wetting your whistle afte a walk.
6. Fairy Glen, nr Stonethwaite
This is the perfect Lake District walk for summer as it takes you through remote scenery and along a series of waterfalls. Park in the hamlet of Stonethwaite by the red telephone box, pass the Langstrath Inn and through the field to follow the beck upstream. The walk is approximately one mile and mostly flat although there are a couple of hilly bits but nothing too strenuous.
As you continue on the path, you’ll come to a series of small waterfalls on your left just after the gate. This is a great little place to explore but if you want to carry on, you’ll soon arrive at Fairy Glen, also known as Galleny Force. The scenery here is simply magical, and you’ll see why it’s been named the Fairy Glen. The frothing waterfall plummets into an emerald-green pool where you can take a dip in the summer. You’ll also find plenty of little spots for settling down with a picnic.