If, like yours truly, many of your childhood vacations were spent walking in the Lake District, then perhaps you also have fond memories of feeding Kendal mint cake to random sheep, or your mum shouting at you constantly not to get too close to the edge of the lake. Walking here is a formative experience for many, the changeable weather shaping a strong constitution, the soggy sandwiches at picnics helping to manage expectations of life. You’ll see families with multiple generations on their vacations here, the Lake District being the type of place where you bring your kids, then they bring their own, and you then find yourself geeing your grandkids up the next hill with the promise of an ice cream in the afternoon.
The Lake District National Park is one of the best places in England for walking. Skip the shorter routes around popular locations such as Windermere, Kendal and Keswick, however – the places that get ludicrously busy especially in summer – in favour of longer, more challenging walks, and you’ll pass through lesser-seen but just as beautiful Lakeland scenery. Your views, and the serene atmosphere, will be pleasingly uninterrupted. You probably won’t be wandering lonely as a cloud, not least because most Lake District walking vacations involve small groups, but neither will you be queuing up at viewpoints or short of a spot to eat your lunchtime sandwiches.
Beyond the pleasure of escaping the crowds, simply walking amid beautiful countryside and fresh air does wonders for your mental health. Bella Somerset, owner of our specialist operator Bella’s Magic Mountains, is a qualified mountain leader and her group tours aim to restore this balance: “I find that being out in nature grounds me. Walking in natural landscapes is a temporary but very effective way to gain clarity, to reset and discover what makes you feel at peace, and help mental struggles to evaporate. When you’re walking I think the social mask is stripped, conversation and friendships form naturally. I hope that encourages people to find the human connections, which I think are so important and the absence of which can lead to depression.” The Lake District, full of wide open spaces, is the perfect place to reconnect with nature in this fashion.
Another aspect of responsible walking vacations that deserves trumpeting loud and clear is that they will often raise funds for conservation organisations. These help maintain paths, stiles and bridges, while other richly deserving organisations such as Fix the Fells
and Lake District Mountain Rescue
also put such money to excellent use. From lakeshore to fells peak, valley floor to high pass, and farmland to moorland, this region is sheer joy to explore on foot. Here we present a handful of classic Lake District routes to consider, and what you need to know before you go.