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Put simply, Cumbria is a mecca for hikers. The finest walks in Cumbria rank amongst the most scenic in Britain. England’s third largest county is home to its highest mountains, longest and deepest lakes, and the UK’s most popular national park: The Lake District. Awarded UNESCO World Heritage status in 2017, the Lake District is one of the most picturesque regions you are likely to experience on these shores. From flowing hills to classic Lakeland landscapes, you would be hard pushed to find a better place to hike than Cumbria.
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When it comes to walks in Cumbria, there is a lifetime of possibilities. The main draw for many hikers is the incomparable Lake District, which sits in the heart of the county. Its legendary mixture of lake and mountain scenery has inspired artists and poets – such as Wordsworth and Coleridge – for generations. Meanwhile, the charming farmsteads and villages that are dotted amongst its picturesque valleys are responsible for the works of world-famous children’s book author and illustrator Beatrix Potter.
For hillwalkers, there are hundreds of dramatic mountains and rugged hills to explore both in the Lake District and the broader Pennines to the east. Many set out to attain the summits of the 214 Wainwright fells – named after the prolific guidebook writer and illustrator Alfred Wainwright.
Some of the best hiking trails in Cumbria include conquering England’s highest mountain Scafell Pike as well as smaller family favourites, such as Catbells and Haystacks and the exciting ridge traverses on the likes of Helvellyn and Blencathra. The Wainwrights are a pleasure to explore and – in good weather – the whole family can enjoy and attain any of the summits. However, in winter conditions the higher fells are the preserve of mountaineers and winter walkers with appropriate skills and equipment.
The low-level valley walks of the Lakes also rank amongst the finest hikes in Cumbria. Find peace and calm in one of the national park’s various woodland areas where you might run into rare wildlife, such as the red squirrel. Or take in the spacious panoramas from the trails that line the many lake shores, exploring nearby streams and gushing waterfalls. Such routes are deservedly popular, with dramatic mountain views that stretch for miles.
After a busy day exploring the region, check out the pubs, restaurants, cafes and gear outlets in the Lake’s characterful towns. This is the outdoor capital of England, after all.
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Explore more of England: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.