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Spellbinding hikes in the Southern Lake District

Jessica Mather

Spellbinding hikes in the Southern Lake District

Hiking Collection by Alex Foxfield

8

Tours

31:32 h

56.2 mi

14,400 ft

The Southern Lake District is one of Britain’s most scenic and awe-inspiring regions. It’s home to England’s highest mountain, the rugged Scafell Pike; its longest lake, gorgeous Windermere; and its deepest too, the breathlessly spectacular and remote Wast Water.

Here, idyllic pastures and chocolate box villages give way to sumptuous woodland and glistening lakes and tarns, before the land slopes upwards and away to lofty crags, ridges and mountain summits. It’s easy to see why this land was the cradle of English Romanticism around the turn of the 19th century, when the likes of Wordsworth, Coleridge and Keats would extoll the region’s beauty in their poems and their accounts of derring-do among the fells.

The far south of the national park is dominated by Windermere’s long blue ribbon, thronged with sailing vessels and surrounded by exquisite scenery. Here, the honeypot towns of Bowness and Ambleside have been welcoming hikers, writers, artists and tourists for generations. To the north and west rise some of the national park’s finest mountains, including the lofty Kentmere fells, the visually arresting Langdale Pikes, the peerless Scafells and the grand Coniston Group.

In this Collection, I seek out panoramic summits in many of the aforementioned fells, as well as exploring a few gentler ambles through the heart of romantic Lakeland across eight majestic Tours. This is not a ‘best of’, but rather a mixed bag of delectable treats, with flavours to suit every palate.

Whether you’re hankering after a challenging fell walk or seeking easygoing ambles among staggering scenery, there’s a hike for you here. Objectives like the outlying Black Combe allow you to escape the crowds, while the ascent of Scafell Pike rewards you with the ultimate bragging rights. I have roughly ordered the Tours in terms of difficulty, with the less challenging itineraries first.

For the longer hill walks, you will have to be self-sufficient and carry plenty of food and drink, as there’s nowhere to restock once you are on the fells. The number of hikers that use the region means that refilling from mountain streams is not recommended. Waterproof layers and sturdy hiking footwear are a must too.

Many of these routes take place on some of Lakeland’s busiest trails. Yet it is still possible to achieve solitude by setting out early or late in the day, or by avoiding weekends and public holidays. It’s also wise to book accommodation well in advance, though in Southern Lakeland you are spoilt for choice. There’s a superb range of places to stay, from campsites and hostels to luxury spa hotels and holiday cottages.

Windermere can be reached by rail from the town of Kendal and its Oxenholme train station, which is on the West Coast Mainline. Windermere, Bowness and Ambleside can also be accessed by bus and are all blessed with facilities, gear shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants. You’ll also find plenty of accommodation and things to do in the villages of Coniston, Grasmere, Hawkeshead and Newby Bridge.

For more information on where to stay, visit: visitcumbria.com/south-lakes-towns-villages
For information on travel and getting around, visit: lakedistrict.gov.uk/visiting/plan-your-visit

On The Map

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Tours & Highlights

  • Map data © OpenStreetMap contributors

    Bowness Bay and Brant Fell - Southern Lake District

    Easy
    01:04
    2.13 mi
    2.0 mph
    425 ft
    425 ft
    Easy hike. Great for any fitness level. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    The great thing about this easygoing route is that you escape the crowds with such little effort, it almost feels too good to be true.

    

    As a tourist honeypot, Bowness-on-Windermere can get very busy indeed. Upon setting off you might find it hard to imagine that, within just a few miles, the crowds melt

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    01:53
    4.29 mi
    2.3 mph
    325 ft
    325 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Great for any fitness level. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    If you enjoy mountain scenery without having to climb into the clouds, then this route is perfect for you. With the majority of the hike at lake level, and lots of things to keep you interested, it is a delightful outing that most will find easy enough.

    

    Strolling along the glassy River Braythay, breathing

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    02:13
    3.79 mi
    1.7 mph
    975 ft
    975 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The trails around Rydal make for some of the most popular low levels walks in the Lake District, while an ascent of Loughrigg Fell treats you to superb views of this, the heart of romantic Lakeland.

    

    Despite being short, this is a mildly challenging route. However, there are plenty of opportunities to

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:51
    11.7 mi
    2.0 mph
    2,150 ft
    2,150 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Tucked away in the far southwestern corner of the Lake District, this route is a hidden gem for visitors wanting beauty without the crowds. While the honeypots of Ambleside and Windermere flood with tourists, you can experience solitude and peace while gazing back towards the distant centre of the Lakeland

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Intermediate
    04:42
    8.23 mi
    1.8 mph
    2,450 ft
    2,450 ft
    Intermediate Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Easily-accessible paths. Suitable for all skill levels.

    It is hard to imagine visiting Coniston without tackling the ‘Old Man’. Standing at 2,634 feet (803 meters) high, the Old Man of Coniston dominates the landscape from the village and simply begs to be climbed.

    

    This wonderful route takes you through the remains of the copper mines that thrived in the area

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    06:38
    12.2 mi
    1.8 mph
    3,075 ft
    3,050 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Mostly accessible paths. Sure-footedness required.

    The Kentmere Horseshoe is one of the longest and most spectacular horseshoe routes in the Lakes, rivalling the likes of Mosedale, Coledale, Newlands and Fairfield. Traversing the fells bounding the upper Kentmere valley, it is a grueling yet rewarding hike with lots of interest.

    

    Starting from the village

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    05:33
    8.51 mi
    1.5 mph
    3,025 ft
    3,025 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Very good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    England's highest mountain is suitably rugged and remote, making for a marvellous adventure regardless of your route to the summit.

    

    Most who ascend from Wasdale Head take the direct route to Scafell Pike via Brown Tongue. While a superb hike, it misses out on exploring the Pike's surroundings in more

    by Alex Foxfield

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  • Difficult
    03:38
    5.39 mi
    1.5 mph
    2,000 ft
    2,000 ft
    Expert Hiking Tour. Good fitness required. Sure-footedness, sturdy shoes and alpine experience required.

    The Langdale Pikes are a familiar sight on the skyline from many places in the Southern Lake District.

    

    They may not be as high as the nearby Scafells, or as Bowfell and Crinkle Crags on the opposite side of the valley, but what the Langdales lack in height they make up for with their breathlessly craggy

    by Alex Foxfield

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Questions and Comments

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    8
  • Distance
    56.2 mi
  • Duration
    31:32 h
  • Elevation
    14,400 ft

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