It’s not difficult to see why the Lake District is such a popular destination for keen hikers and walkers. Even in the frosty last days of December and early January, the Lake District was a hive of activity, with people running with their dogs, walking off that Christmas pudding and enjoying the stunning scenery that this area is renown for.Staying among new friends who knew the area well and who had done recces of the local pubs and cafes in preparation of the trip (we hit it off immediately on this basis alone), we plotted most of our walks around these two essential stopping points.
The Lake District is England’s largest National Park and there are countless walks you can do and places to visit and explore. While the best way to see the Lake District is by foot, the easiest way to get around and get to the starting point of walks is by car. Some areas of the Lake District are fairly remote so if you’re able to bring or hire a car this is probably your best bet of getting around. If this isn’t an option however, there is a train station (Oxenholme) and a number of buses (although I would definitely check timetables as they are not always the most regular). There are taxis as well but they are not readily available like they would be in big cities like London, Edinburgh etc.
We arrived in the Lake District mid-afternoon towards the very end of December and were keen to squeeze in a walk before darkness descended entirely. We did a version of this walk here which was a circular route and took us through a farmyard to the Low Sweden Bridge. We started our walk just as the sun was beginning to set, and the colours dancing across the sky were spectacular. We headed from the walk into the town of Ambleside, stopping for gingerbread parkin and mulled wine in the family-run cafe The Apple Pie. As we were there just before closing time, we were given some free scones that the cafe weren’t able to keep! A really lovely, warming place and somewhere I’d go back to in a heartbeat.
The next walk we did started in Skelwith Bridge, which is a small village in the southern area of the Lake District. We walked from Skelwith Bridge into Elterwater village towards the Cavendish Quarry. From there we headed into Little Langdale for the first pub stop of the trip at the Three Shires Inn at Wilson (which is hugely reminiscent of the cosy, steamy pub featured in The Holiday – although that pub is actually in Shere, England).
After warming up in the pub with half a cider, we went onto Slater Bridge, which happens to be the second most photographed bridge in the Lake District. It’s an ancient handmade stone bridge that most likely got its name from when miners would cross the river to work in slate mines. It’s in a beautiful setting and is definitely worth making a slight detour for in you’re in the area.
We ended our walk in Chesters Bakery which is back at Skelwith Bridge – I opted for a hot chocolate and a mince-pie slice which were both delicious! If you’re looking for a route without styles then this one could be a good option and follows a similar-ish route to what we did!
In contrast to our other walks, we started our third walk of the trip at a traditional, somewhat quirky, olde-worlde pub, the Badger Bar. After downing a coffee, we heading over to Rydal Water and Loughrigg Terrace – it’s one of the more easier walks we did but the views was still breathtaking and it was so peaceful and seemed such a world away from city living.
We looped back and finished our walk at the Badger Bar (where we started) for some nibbles and a cider to warm us up. This was one of my favourite walks we did and is ideal for dog-walkers and for the more trepid hiker as the inclines are not so steep and it’s more easy going on the legs! A very similar walk to the one we did can be found here.
For this walk, we drove to the car park at the southern end of the lake and followed the surfaced path (which is helpfully labelled for Brothers Water). We enjoyed a lovely walk along the lake in the winter sunshine and headed towards Hartsop village where we believed there was a pub.
There’s a similiar-ish route here that you can follow if you like the sound of Brothers Water – it’s great in the sense that there’s no stiles for a good portion of the trail. Unfortunately the map we were following was a little out of date and said pub no longer existed! This however, did not deter us and we headed onto Pooley Bridge where there’s a really modern, chic pub called The Crown (it’s been refurbished in the last year or so). After some light refreshments and more cider (you can sense a theme developing here), we went onto the Aira Force tree trail. This is a National Trust area and is absolutely beautiful. It was drizzling when we went but if anything, this made the waterfalls even more spectacular. A lovely little escape and a fascinating place of natural beauty.
We started our walk up Loughrigg Fell from Ambleside and it was definitely one of the more challenging walks we did but the views were beyond incredible. There’s a fair few ‘false peaks’ and a fairly steep incline so it might be worth taking a walking pole if you’re a little unsteady on your feet or if you feel like you’d need a little extra support. A similar route to the one we did can be found here. It’s difficult to put into words quite how beautiful the scenery was, so I’m going to leave some photos below so you can get a sense of this gorgeous fell for yourself. Whilst on our walk we stumbled across a couple who had just got engaged – such a wonderful backdrop for a proposal!
Somewhere not to miss is Todd Crag, which boasts a stunning view of Lake Windermere. On our walk back down to Ambleside, we stopped (again) at The Apple Pie which was just as good the second time around as it was the first.
Although this walk was one of the most challenging we did, I definitely think it was one of the best and would highly recommend doing Loughrigg Fell for any keen walkers out there!
Our final walk of the holiday started at Wray Castle, which is another National Trust property in Ambleside. From there we headed to Outgate Inn and enjoyed a drink and an enormous sandwich in the warmth of this lovely old, white-washed inn. We went on, tummy’s nicely full, to Latterbarrow (similar walk can be found here) which is a popular, beautiful little fell close to Hawkshead. A lot less strenuous than Loughrigg but still some lovely views. After reaching the top, we made our way back to Wray Castle and then finished our day in the Traveller’s Rest, Grasmere which used to be a coaching inn and now offers food and accommodation. It was a brilliant way to end our trip in the Lake District!
What are your favourite walks in the Lake District? Any cake shop recommendations I’ve missed? Let me know in the comments below!