Top five hiking routes in the Lake District

Scafell Pike, Lake District

Few people leave the Lake District without having done some hiking. From gentle walks around its lakes to strenuous mountain hikes, hiking is accessible to all. For keen hikers, the most popular attractions in the Lake District include Helvellyn, Skiddaw and Scafell Pike, Lake District hotels are available in the area to suit all budgets.

Known as Munros because they are over 3000 feet, they attract thousands of people every year. Helvellyn is the UK’s third-highest mountain and is home to Red Tarn Lake, named for the colour of its surrounding scree (rock fragments).

The Striding Edge route is a popular ascent for Helvellyn. The route is very well-marked but has some narrow ridges and steep sections. This route is dangerous in bad weather and is not suitable for those who dislike heights.

The hike usually commences from Glenridding at the southern end of Ullswater, or there is a shorter route from Patterdale. Starting from Glenridding, it is a 9.5-mile loop, taking around seven hours to complete.

The Striding Edge route incorporates a stony climb and at 850m there is a rock tower overlooking a ridge. This stretch of the walk is quite easy in good weather, although there is some scrambling required at the rock tower known as ‘The Chimney’.

Another Munro, Skiddaw is just north of Keswick in the northern Lake District. There are a number of routes up Skiddaw, including Ullock Pike Ridge, which follows a narrow ridge. Other hikers may choose Slade’s Beck as it offers a gentler ascent.

Skiddaw is also a popular choice for families as it can be less challenging than other mountain hikes in the Lakes. Starting from Ormathwaite, the climb up Jenkin Hill offers hikers a stunning view of Derwentwater.

From here, the route heads up towards Skiddaw Little Man and then continues on to the summit of Skiddaw. As with all summit ascents, the weather is often much cooler at the top and hikers should be prepared for changeable weather.

Those seeking more of a challenge should consider Scafell Pike. There are a number of routes up it and hikers should take time to plan their hike beforehand, as it is particularly easy to wander off a path.

Starting from Wasdale Head, the route is slightly less strenuous than starting from Seathwaite in Borrowdale. For less experienced hikers, this route can take around eight hours to complete. The landscape is quite steep in places and there are plenty of boulders strewn around.

Much of the ascent is up a rock staircase and to reach the summit hikers have to go up and down a number of other peaks. Those who reach the top of Scafell Pike will find that they are on top of the highest peak in England.

For those staying near Seathwaite, there is an opportunity to take a hike of around 5.5 miles that offers some interesting sights. Stockley Bridge near Seathwaite is unique in that it is actually a Grade 1 listed building. This area also holds the record for having had the most rainfall in 24 hours and is home to the vendace, a rare fish that survived from the last glacial period.

Although there is some climbing on this hike, there are great picnic spots and the shorter walk means that it is more attractive for families on their holidays. For those looking for shorter family walks, Hawkshead to Lake Windermere is another popular option.

There are some easy climbs on this walk and just one sharp descent to Lake Windermere at the end. Hawkshead is a village that retains a quaint charm and is a popular with visitors. The walk to Lake Windermere takes in woodlands and fells and because it finishes at the ferry house, it is easy to catch a ferry back.

For those who want to add a challenge to this walk, there is the option to take a steep descent to Claife Station. Built in the 1790s, this was a viewpoint for Lake Windermere and was a popular attraction with visitors in the 1830s and 1840s. Although its windows and roof are long gone, it is still a fantastic way to take in the vista.

Hikers should always be aware that the weather can change very quickly in the Lakes and novice hikers especially should take care when considering mountain ascents or other challenging routes. With many more hiking routes available, everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their visit to the Lake District.

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