Of all the lakes in the Lake District, none blend waterside strolls, woodland rambles, glorious fell walks and mountain expeditions quite like Bassenthwaite. Nestled in the north west of Lakeland, away from the honeypot regions, walks around Bassenthwaite Lake are quieter than many in Britain’s favourite national park. And they’re all the better for it.
To the south and west, the shapely North Western Fells rise likes green waves; layer after layer of undulating ridgelines beckoning you to adventure. To the east is the mighty, rounded bulk of Skiddaw and its subordinates, the Lake District’s most ancient mountain family.You can choose to tackle any number of trails amongst the fells or alternatively set out on gentler hikes around Bassenthwaite Lake itself. Explore the forests and woods that cling to the lower slopes, offering gorgeous viewpoints of the northern Lake District, and from which you might even catch sight of Bassenthwaite’s resident ospreys.
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Bassenthwaite is the Lake District’s only named lake, the others being meres and waters. Whilst the trails that splay out from the lake are quiet compared to some regions of the national park, the lake itself is compromised by the busy A66 running the length of its western shore. Regardless, with a bit of clever route picking there are some lovely lakeside rambles to be had.
Keswick is a fantastic base for your walks around Bassenthwaite Lake. England’s adventure capital will charm and tempt you. It’s chock-full of gear shops, pubs, cafés and restaurants tailored towards pleasing discerning hikers.
Some of the finest hikes around Bassenthwaite Lake explore the majestic Skiddaw family. Rising to 3,054 feet (931 m), Skiddaw is the fourth-highest mountain in England. On a clear day it offers a staggering panorama from its summit, encompassing a vast swathe of Lakeland, the Isle of Man and the Southern Uplands of Scotland. Hoisted on the shoulders of a family of fells, there are half a dozen ways to its rounded summit: all are strenuous, none are complicated. In full winter conditions Skiddaw becomes the realm of the mountaineer, with the associated skills and equipment a prerequisite.
In the south west of the Skiddaw massif rises Dodd, its bare 1,647-foot (502 m) summit rises above a gown of conifers. Between April and September, Bassenthwaite’s spectacular ospreys can be seen circling high above the lake from designated viewpoints.
Many of the best hiking trails around Bassenthwaite Lake follow the sumptuous, long ridgelines of the North Western Fells. Many of these hills rise from woodland, such as Whinlatter, often cited as England’s only mountain forest. It is a superb place to ramble, with charming trails and startling mountain views. When a cloak of white snow rests on the peaks in winter, this conifer woodland is nothing short of a winter wonderland. It offers a more grown-up alternative to Santa’s Grotto if you’re searching for that ‘Christmassy’ feeling.
A word to the wise: the diminutive fell of Barf snares the unwary with a steep trail that climbs its south east flank, past a white-painted pillar of rock named the Bishop of Barf. This route is a mountain rescue black-spot, as it requires some pretty advanced scrambling that takes many an innocent hiker by surprise.
Explore more of Cumbria: Browse the best Hikes in other regions.