Top 10 walks in Cumbria

View from High Stile of Buttermere. Credit: Joe Cornish/VisitBritain
View from High Stile of Buttermere. Credit: Joe Cornish/VisitBritain

Cumbria has long charmed visitors with dramatic landscapes, lovely lakes and characterful pubs. Here are our top 10 walks, in no particular order… 

Cumbria, located in the northwest of England, is a wild pocket of unassuming beauty and ramblers often get a unique insight into the area. Donning your hiking boots allows you to go further and get closer to the heart of the county, something Alfred Wainwright, the famed fellwalker and author who immortalised the region with his pictorial guides was only too aware of.

Wainwright once said: “Much of Lakeland’s appeal derives from the very lovely names of its mountains and valleys and lakes and rivers, which fit the scenery so well.”

It is indeed a charming place that lures in the most retiring of explorers, but his description is true of the entire region of Cumbria not just the iconic Lake District National Park. From the sandy coastline to the Eden Valley, there really is something for everyone to explore and here are a few of our favourite walks.

1. Roman ruins

The historic World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall (above) stretches 73 miles across the north of England, beginning in Cumbria’s Bowness-on-Solway. The trail is a firm favourite with walkers who want to discover more about Roman England.

2. The quieter valley

The rural beauty of the Eden Valley should not be bypassed. The river weaves its way through this calm area and makes for a fantastic guide. Follow it as it passes by the Lacy’s Caves, carved out of the sandstone, and through the enchanting woodlands.

3. Wildlife spotters

Alongside the River Kent estuary, by Morecambe Bay, Arnside Knott is a flat-topped rock set in a designated Area of Outstanding Beauty. Paths zigzag up through the woodland and limestone outcrops to the top where the views are astounding. Keep an eye out for the butterflies, which reside in the grasslands.

Beatrix Potter's Hill Top house. credit: National Trust images/Stephen Robson
Beatrix Potter’s Hill Top house. Credit: National Trust Images/Stephen Robson

4. Potter walk

Beatrix Potter bought the 17th-century cottage Hill Top in 1905 with the proceeds from her first book, The Tale of Peter Rabbit. Slip into the charming world that inspired this series and trace her trail down to the town of Ambleside.

View from High Stile of Buttermere. Credit: Joe Cornish/VisitBritain
View from High Stile of Buttermere. Credit: Joe Cornish/VisitBritain

5. Picture perfect

Buttermere is an area of picture-perfect postcard material. It welcomes ramblers with a variety of walks but one of the best is that which winds up the valley to the Rannerdale Knotts. Ridge walks take in the lakes of Buttermere, Crummock Water and Ennerdale, or more adventurous climbers can make their way to the peak of High Stile.

6. On the water

Start your day on the water with Coniston’s famous steam-powered Gondola. The historic boat was first used in 1859 and the National Trust saved it from certain decline in 1980. Team this with a walk starting in Coniston village and venture out to discover the Yewdale Valley.

Sizergh Castle. Credit: National Trust Images/Joe Wainwright
Sizergh Castle. Credit: National Trust Images/Joe Wainwright

7. Historic homes

It’s not all lakes here and the beautiful medieval house of Sizergh sits on a rich estate near the gateway to the Lake District at Kendal. The 1600-acre estate and gardens are a treasure to explore and the local walks will take you to picnic spots with views of Morecambe Bay.

8. The colourful coast

The coastal path runs from the 17th-century harbour at Whitehaven to St Bees. You’ll see mementos, which hark back to the area’s industrial past, such as the Candlestick at Kells, which was formerly a chimney for the boilers at the Wellington coal mine. The path winds along the craggy coast and drops down on to its sandy beaches past the St Bees Head RSPB reserve that is home to a stunning number of birds.

Wordsworth House and Garden. Credit Chris Smith
Wordsworth House and Garden. Credit: Chris Smith

9. Cockermouth

Make base in the market town of Cockermouth with its lovely medieval and Georgian streets – the birthplace of our great poet, William Wordsworth. Visit his childhood home and garden that have been restored to how they would have been in the poet’s lifetime by the National Trust. From here, venture out into the north Lakes region along the Allerdale Ramble, which heads towards the Solway Firth coast.

Castlerigg. Credit: Adam Burton/VisitBritain
Castlerigg. Credit: Adam Burton/VisitBritain

10. Ancient wonders

The sight of the Castlerigg stone circle, which sits on a calm plateau amidst a ring of dramatic peaks, is one to behold. The 48 stones date back over 3,000 years to the Neolithic period. Expect panoramic views from the top of Derwent Water and the mountains of Helvellyn and High Seat.

Related articles

The Lake District and Beatrix Potter country
Celebrating Britain’s national parks
Lake District’s insider’s guide
Photo exhibition of Beatrix Potter’s father
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