Sometimes you fancy a challenge and sometimes you just want an easy, enjoyable walk without much exertion. Whilst the Lake District is most famous for it’s lofty fells, which often involve some pretty steep climbs, there are also lots of gorgeous walks which are not too difficult.
These walks are also a good bet for when the weather is closing in and you don’t want to be exposed on the windy peaks.
We’ve picked a few of our favourite easy walks in the Lake District that don’t lose any of the beauty found on more difficult hikes. All are able to be walked in just a morning or afternoon, making them perfect to squeeze into your Lake District itinerary.
Easy Walks in the Lake District
Location - Windermere
Distance - 1.4 miles (2.25km) return
Time taken - 20 minutes up, 15 minutes down
Elevation - 108m, short but continuous incline
This walk has to be one of the best in the Lake District for effort vs reward. Beginning in Windermere town centre, the hardest part will likely be finding a car parking space!
Once you have and you get to the trail head it is only around 20 minutes to the top. You can choose to walk on the well maintained concrete path which zig zags its way to the top, or use the short cuts directly off this path up through the wood (this is a little quicker).
Once at the top you won’t believe the view that you get for such a quick jaunt. Even on a miserable day as it was for us, the vista is terrific. You can of course see the ever picturesque Lake Windermere, but if you get a clear day you can see many of the outlying fells, including Scafell Pike, England’s tallest mountain.
This was the first walk that Alfred Wainwright completed in the Lake District, and inspired his life long love of Lakeland.
The Orrest Head track starts just by the train station in Windermere, we’ve marked it on the map below. Parking is difficult to come by at the station, so you’ll have to use one of the big car parks in the town centre.
Grasmere Lake Loop (Flat walk)
Location - Grasmere
Distance - 3.1 miles (5km)
Time taken - 1 hour 15
Elevation - 82m, but can be avoided if you cut out the bracken fell section by Grasmere village/Dove Cottage
We were expecting bad weather (which surprisingly for the Lakes didn’t actually happen!) and we wanted to do a non exposed but still pretty walk.
The Grasmere Lake loop fitted the bill perfectly. Although it does require some road walking - something I normally hate - the roads were so quiet and charming that I didn’t mind.
The White Moss Wood was extremely pretty but the crowning jewel of this walk was definitely circumnavigating beautiful Grasmere lake itself.
The path is in excellent shape throughout, no worries with footing on this track. Here’s a map for the exact route.
You can start the walk at either the centre of Grasmere where there are several pay and display options or park at White Moss Car Park (however, this can get very busy).
Tarn Hows Loop (Flat Walk)
Location - Near Hawkeshead and Coniston
Distance - 1.7 miles (2.74km)
Time taken - 35 minutes
Elevation - 72m, but very very gradual
We love this short loop around the gorgeous Tarn Hows. It’s such a peaceful spot, particularly if you go late afternooon when many of the visitors have already left for the day.
The gravel path is wide and well maintained as it gently undulates around the lake. There are plenty of benches to stop and soak it up along the way.
The track is one of the few that we saw which is perfect for young families, being push chair friendly.
If you are looking for something a little longer, you can also walk to Tom Gill waterfall and Black Fell from the Tarn Hows loop track. Routes and information are detailed here.
The only way to the start of the trails at Tarn Hows is by car and you’ll have to drive along some really narrow roads so take care. The car park is run by the National Trust, so if you’re a member it’s free!
Aira Force Waterfall (Flat-ish walk)
Location - Matterdale near Ullswater
Distance - one mile (1.65km) for the lower loop and walk to the top of the watrefall
Time taken - 35 minutes
Elevation - 60m (only if you take the upper staircase to see the falls from above)
It’s hard to believe you can get to such a pretty spot so easily. There are several paths to and around Aire Force waterfall. The lower track through pretty woodland (a top spot for spotting red squirrels, although sadly we didn’t get lucky!) is flat and even.
The waterfall itself is lovely, particularly if you go after heavy rain (common in the Lake District) and the flow is in full force.
You can also walk to the top of the falls and get a decent view looking down at it from the bridge. A further track continues to other falls if you want a longer walk, though we didn’t have the chance to check this one out.
Aira Force is located close to Ullswater and is a short drive from Glenridding. It’s run by the National Trust, so you can find out more about the parking and prices here. It is incredibly popular, so plan your trip to avoid the midday rush or weekends if you can.
Easy Fell Walks in the Lake District
Want to bag a summit but don’t want to embark on something too challenging? These smaller peaks are the perfect introduction to fell walking in the Lake District. None take more than a few hours and you’ll be blown away by the spectacular views along the way.
Location - Grasmere
Distance - 4.2 miles (6.6km)
Time taken - 2 hours return
Elevation - 337m - Steep sections from the wood to the summit, but the rest is flat
Despite its small size this was one of our favourite walks in the Lake District. It’s easily achievable in just two hours, meaning it is the perfect walk for sunset.
It gives you a good taste for fell walking in the Lake District without any difficult scrambles, or issues finding the path. It is quite steep but there are plenty of rocks to stop and sit to catch your breath, and the views are just stunning.
Keep an eye out for red squirrels again, this time we were lucky enough to see one in the woodland just after passing the hotel. You can read more about our experience walking Helm Crag in our detailed blog post.
The walk to Helm Crag is easily started from Grasmere town centre. The path leads out of town towards Allan Bank (the National Trust Property) and then curves through country lanes to The Lancrigg Hotel. From here, the track is well signposted.
Castle Crag Loop
Location - Borrowdale (Rosthwaite)
Distance - 4.1 miles (6.74km) if doing the loop, shorter if you return the way you came
Time taken - 2 hours
Elevation - 285m, some steep sections to get to the summit, but the rest is flat
This is another short fell walk, a little more challenging that Helm Crag but still achievable for most people.
There are a couple of different routes you can take, we recommend starting at Rosthwaite, this is a short route but has a lovely flat beginning to warm up as you walk along the river, before a quick but steep climb to the summit.
The summit itself does require venturing up a big slate pile, being unsteady on my feet I thought this actually looked more slippery and precarious than it actually was, (though I wouldn’t walk it in the rain) but it only takes a few minutes.
The summit of Castle Crag was one of my favourites of all the fells we walked on our recent trip.
For the return journey we strongly recommend taking a right at the bottom of the slate heap towards the river to create a loop, rather than going back the way you came.
Follow the signs round to Rosthwaite, this is a much less steep descent and it was utterly beautiful. Meandering along the river and through the woods, felt like a peaceful walk in Lakeland at its best.
The track to Castle Crag starts at Rosthwaite, a tiny village that has an equally tiny National Trust Car Park, that’s free for members. If you don’t get here early, it’s unlikely you’ll get a parking spot!
You can find out more about the trail on this website.
Loughrigg Fell Loop
Location - Grasmere or Ambleside
Distance - 6 miles (10km)
Time taken - 3 hours
Elevation - 434m, a mixture of steep and flat sections
This is the most difficult walk on our list but with the views and variety along the way it is definitely worthy of your time. Starting on pretty country lanes before coming out to the wide open views of the fells, it’s a particularly lovely walk.
As you descent from the peak the fantastic lake view stays with you most of the way, you’re just above busy Grasmere but it feels like it’s worlds away.
There is a small section of scrambling on the descent (unless you go back the way you came instead) which is good practice if you’re thinking of taking on some of the bigger fells.
You can read a detailed account on Loughrigg Fell here.
You can start the walk to Loughrigg Fell from either Ambleside or Grasmere, but Ambleside seemed to be better kitted out for parking if you have a car. If you go from Ambleside, you can find the location to the start of the walk on the map below.
The England Lonely Planet Guide
Are you planning a trip to the Lake District? Have we missed a great easy walk from our list? Let us know in the comments below!