Which trails in the Lake District are best suited for amateur hikers?

Hiking is not a simple act of walking. It's a communion with nature, a journey of self-discovery, and a fantastic way to stay fit. The Lake District, a mountainous region in North West England, offers a diverse range of trails for all hiking enthusiasts, from the professional to the amateur. This article will guide you through some of the best trails in the Lake District that are particularly suitable for amateur hikers.

1. Cat Bells hike: A beginner-friendly trail with panoramic views

The Cat Bells hike, situated on the western shore of Derwentwater, is a popular choice among beginners. This route is renowned for its stunning panoramic views of the surrounding lakes and fells, which will reward you for every step you take uphill.

This trail can be easily accessed by car, with ample parking available at the base of the fell. The path is well-marked and relatively easy to navigate, making it a fantastic starting point for those new to hiking. The hike to the summit is around 451m and can be completed in a few hours, depending on your pace.

While the initial ascent might be a bit steep, remember to take your time and enjoy the journey. As you reach the top, you'll be greeted with breath-taking views of Skiddaw and Blencathra mountains, reminding you why hiking in the Lake District is an experience unlike any other.

2. Latrigg: A leisurely walk with wheelchair accessibility

For those seeking a more leisurely stroll, Latrigg offers a perfect balance of natural beauty and accessibility. It's also one of the few wheelchair-friendly walks in the Lake District, making it a great choice for families and those with mobility issues.

This gentle walk starts from Keswick, a charming market town that's just a short car ride away from the trailhead. The route to the summit is a moderate 1.3 miles with a gentle incline, leading you through picturesque woodland before revealing wide-open vistas of the Northern Lake District.

Latrigg doesn't have the height of some of the other fells, but its views are still impressive. From the summit, you can see the Skiddaw range, Helvellyn, and the Keswick town. This route showcases the Lake District's natural beauty in a compact, easily accessible package.

3. Tarn Hows: A circular route for easy navigation

If you're looking for a hike that requires minimal navigation skills, Tarn Hows is a fantastic option. This circular route allows you to enjoy the beauty of the Lake District without the worry of getting lost.

Tarn Hows is located between Coniston and Hawkshead and is easily accessible by car. This area was acquired by Beatrix Potter in 1929 and later handed over to the National Park. It's a well-maintained path with clear signposts, and the entire loop takes about 2 hours to complete at a leisurely pace.

This walk offers a little bit of everything – serene lake views, charming woodland, and stunning mountain vistas. If you visit during spring or summer, you'll also be treated to a vibrant display of wildflowers.

4. Grasmere: A literary walk through Wordsworth's village

Grasmere is more than just a hiking destination. It's a journey through history, taking you through the village that was once home to the famous poet, William Wordsworth.

This walk starts and ends in the village of Grasmere, which is accessible by car and public transportation. The route takes you through the heart of the village, past the historic Dove Cottage, and finally to the serene Grasmere Lake.

While not as challenging as a mountain hike, this walk offers a different kind of reward. You'll walk the same paths that inspired some of Wordsworth's most famous poems, and the beauty of the Lake District will unfold before your eyes, just as it did for him.

5. Buttermere: A picturesque valley walk

The Lake District isn't just about steep fell walks and mountain summits. For a more relaxed hike, the Buttermere valley offers a tranquil getaway from the hustle and bustle of life.

Buttermere is a straightforward, flat walk, making it ideal for beginners and those looking for a more laid-back hiking experience. This circular route takes you around the lake, offering great views of the surrounding mountains such as Haystacks and High Crag.

The tranquil waters of the lake, the verdant pastures, and the majestic mountains come together to create a peaceful, idyllic setting that is perfect for a leisurely hike. The entire walk is approximately 4.5 miles and can be completed within 2-3 hours.

6. Rydal Water: A Scenic Walk with Literary Connections

Rydal Water is a small yet incredibly scenic lake in the Lake District National Park. It's also known for its connections to the famed poet William Wordsworth, who lived nearby for 37 years.

Starting from the White Moss car park, this walk is a modest 3 miles long, making it perfect for amateur hikers. The path is well-maintained and marked, ensuring no navigational issues for newcomers to the hiking experience.

As you meander along the trail, you will encounter luscious woodland, cascading waterfalls, and stunning views over the lake. The highlight of the walk is the viewing point of Rydal Caves, a man-made quarry that provides an exciting detour from the main path.

Rydal Water is perfect for those looking for a short but rewarding hike, offering a delightful blend of natural beauty and historical interest.

7. Helm Crag: A Moderate Hike with a Unique Summit

If you are an amateur hiker seeking a bit of an elevation challenge, Helm Crag is for you. With a modest elevation gain of around 396 meters, this walk offers a unique summit experience without being too strenuous.

The trailhead is found at the edge of the charming village of Grasmere. It is well-signposted, so no need for a detailed maps route. The estimated time to complete this hike is around 2-4 hours, depending on your pace and rest stops.

The Helm Crag route takes you through a variety of terrains, including woodland, open fell, and rocky summit. It offers splendid views of the Grasmere valley and the surrounding peaks including Steel Fell, High Raise, and Fairfield.

Once at the top, you'll marvel at the unique rock formation known as the 'Lion and the Lamb,' making your hike to the summit worth every bit of effort.


The Lake District National Park is a hiking paradise, offering trails that cater to all levels of hikers. For amateur hikers, the park offers a variety of spectacular trails with manageable distances and elevation gains. These trails, including Cat Bells, Latrigg, Tarn Hows, Grasmere, Buttermere, Rydal Water, and Helm Crag, not only provide stunning views of lakes, woodlands, and fells but also offer glimpses into the region's rich history and literary connections.

Remember to prepare adequately before embarking on a hike. Pack essentials such as water, snacks, a map, and suitable clothing. Most importantly, take your time, enjoy the journey, and let the natural beauty of the Lake District inspire you as it has inspired many before. Whether you're looking to embark on your first ever hike or seeking a manageable trail to enjoy the outdoors, the Lake District's variety of beginner-friendly hikes are sure to create lasting memories.

As with all outdoor activities, remember to respect the natural environment. Stick to the clearly marked trails, don't disturb the wildlife, and take all your rubbish with you. By doing so, you're helping to preserve the Lake District for future generations to enjoy. The Lake District is an experience to be relished, a gift to be cherished, and most importantly, a treasure to be protected. Happy hiking!

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