Best Winter Walks in the Lake District

Friday 08th December 2023

6 of the best winter walks in the Lake District

There’s nothing like a winter walk in the great outdoors on a crisp, clear winters day. The crunch of frozen grass underfoot, the gorgeous views and plenty of fresh air. And, there’s no better place in the UK to do it than the Lake District.

If you’re beating the winter blues and heading to the Lakes in 2024, here are six of the best winter walks in the Lake District.

  1. Castlerigg Stone Circle, Keswick

    Best for: a spiritual experience
    Nearest train station: Penrith - then hop on the X4 or X5 bus to Keswick

    The Lake District’s answer to Stonehenge is a beautiful sight in winter. The hike from Keswick up to Castlerigg Stone Circle is a four-mile return walk from the town. It’s a very accessible walk up the B-road and should take you about two hours in total.

    It’s well worth your time. At the top of the hill, you’ll be treated to a large circle of 30 stones, each around two metres high, and a smaller inner circle. It’s calming and tranquil any day of the year, but you can’t beat it on a cold and crisp winter’s day.

  2. Aira Force

    Best for: a dramatic waterfall
    Nearest train station: Penrith - then take the 508 bus from Herald Office in Penrith to the Aira Force National Trust car park

    Thanks to some extra rain in winter, the waterfalls in the Lake District are flowing strong and always make for a fantastic sight. Aira Force is a dramatic and imposing waterfall, hidden away in the woods close to Ullswater.

    You’ll find a stone bridge at the top of the falls and a deep pool at the bottom. If you’re really lucky, the falls might even be frozen. Once you arrive at the National Trust car park on the bus, there’s a 2.1km circular loop which takes around an hour to walk.

  3. Brant Fell, Bowness

    Best for: views across Windermere
    Nearest train station: Windermere – then take the 755 bus from Baddeley Clock in Windermere to Brook Road and walk 0.8 miles to Bowness on Windermere

    For an easy two-mile walk in winter head up Brant Fell, overlooking the town of Bowness-on-Windermere and offering breath-taking views across one of the most famous lakes in the region. You’ll start in the centre of town and pick up the Dales Way. After a short walk, you’ll leave the Dales Way and head up to Brant Fell.

    The viewpoint at Post Knott on the way up is not to be missed. Keep your eyes peeled for the stone bench, sit down and breathe in the 360 degree panoramic views across Lake Windermere. When you hit the summit of Brant Fell, the large outcrop of rocks is makes a great photo.

    After reaching the peak, the walk loops back for another two miles or so down into Bowness. If you fancy a little refreshment before the sun starts to drop, make a beeline for the Royal Oak.

  4. Wansfell Pike, Ambleside

    Best for: seeing multiple Lake District sights
    Nearest train station: Windermere – then take the 505 or 555 bus from Windermere to Ambleside

    You can walk up to Wansfell Pike from the centre of Ambleside. The hike to the summit – 488m above sea level – should take around two hours. The first half is relatively easy, although it’s quite steep on the second half. If you’ve got a reasonable level of fitness and decent walking boots and gear, you'll be fine.

    The view from the top is majestic – you can take in Ambleside, Lake Windermere, Langdale Pikes and Kirkstone Pass. On a clear winter’s day, you can even see the sea. And if you fancy a little detour on route, Stock Ghyll waterfall is another great winter walk.

  5. Easedale Tarn

    Best for: a decent family hike on a winter’s day
    Nearest train station: Windermere – then take the 505 or 555 bus from Windermere to Grasmere

    This walk from Grasmere up to Easedale Tarn is a good option if you’ve got some good walkers in your group.

    It’s fairly long for a family walk at around six miles and will take around four or five hours in total. Beginning in Grasmere, you’ll head out of the village through farmland, follow Easedale Beck and then to Sourmilk Gill up to Easedale Tarn. Along the way, you’ll see stone bridges, waterfalls and spectacular views.

    Once at the summit, you can turn back the way you came for an easier walk, or take the farmland route on the other side of the waterfall and beck. Just remember it can be quite boggy and isn’t ideal after heavy rain, so potentially best avoided in winter.

  6. Letterbarrow from Hawkshead

    Best for: post-walk pubs
    Nearest train station: Windermere – then take the 505 bus from Windermere to Hawkshead

    This 4.6 mile walk from Hawkshead up to the top of Letterbarrow Hill is fairly easy going and a good walk for the whole family. It may be a little boggy in winter, but nothing a good pair of walking boots won’t cope with.

    At the top, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views across Coniston. The tall beacon at its crown is perfect for a photo opportunity! Plus, there are plenty of pubs to relax in and unwind with a well deserved drink in Hawkshead.

If you’re heading to the Lake District on the train this winter, book your tickets in advance online or on the TPExpress app to save yourself money and time at the station.

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