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Windermere Walks for 2022

Windermere Walks for 2022

From William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter to Alfred Wainwright and Arthur Ransome, Windermere has inspired a slew of artists and creatives over the centuries. Fed by multiple rivers, the lake is set in the heart of Lake District and promises not only stunning scenery but also some of the best walking and hiking trails in Britain. We’ve scoured the landscape to pick our best Windermere Walks for 2021.

Waterscapes definitely shine, with dozens of trails promising spectacular views of the England’s largest natural lake. That said, Windermere isn’t just about shorelines. There are plenty of opportunities to explore the Lake District countryside, with trails taking you to chocolate-box villages and centuries-old castles, along ancient drystone walls and past fields of grazing sheep, and up rolling hills and rugged mountain peaks. 

Planning a walking holiday in Windemere? Lace up your boots and check out our guide to the best walks in Windemere. There’s something for everyone, whether you’re looking for a family-friendly ramble or a long-distance slog. 



Windermere Way


As the largest natural lake in England, Windermere stretches for more than 11 miles from north to south and is almost 1 mile long as its widest point. There’s just something insatiably satisfying about circumnavigating large bodies of water and the Windermere Way definitely scratches that itch. The route largely sticks to walking trails and bridleways, though there are some small sections of road thrown in. You’ll cover most of the shoreline paths, as well as some challenging high ascents that surround the lake. 

Walking the entire route from end-to-end should take around four days, with plenty of time to stop and admire the scenery. We’d recommend walking counter clockwise, starting with the Windermere to Ambleside section on Day 1. During this stage you’ll summit Wansfell Pike, the highest point on the Windermere Way. It’s a great place to wolf down an energy bar and take a few minutes to enjoy the views.

On Day 2 the highlight is Wray Castle, a Gothic Revival stronghold complete with towers, turrets and even a coffee cabin where you can enjoy a fresh brew and a slice of cake. Day 3 sees you tramping along the western shores of the lake, passing by picturesque High Dam and the cute little village of Finsthwaite. While Day 4 swaps the lakeside for an inland route, you will be treated to some lovely woodland sections and terrific views from Gummer’s How.  

If you’re braving this gargantuan trail, you’ll need a map. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with the Ordnance Survey map which you can find here.

Length: 41 miles

Average time to complete: 4 days

Starting point: Windermere



Stockghyll Force


While it’s tempting to stick to the lakeshore, walks like Stockghyll Force really showcase the diversity of Lake District landscapes. Starting in Ambleside, you’ll stroll along Stockghyll Lane before veering off onto a footpath that takes you into the woodlands. Before you know it you’ll be gazing up at thundering waterfalls surrounded by emerald-green foliage. 

Turn this into a neat circular walk by looping up around Low Grove, then following Kirkstone Road to get back to Ambleside. Things can get muddy so if you own a good pair of boots, it’s worth wearing them. Autumn is a particularly special time to visit, with the woodlands lighting up in reds, yellows, oranges and golds. In spring the forest floor is blanketed in daffodils. 

Length: 1.5 miles

Average time to complete: 45 minutes

Starting point: Ambleside



Wansfell Pike


This is a proper knee cruncher so be sure to wear supportive shoes and pack plenty of water for the walk up Wansfell Pike. While Baystones is technically higher at 488 metres, Wansfell Pike has better views and is therefore considered the “true” summit. It’s also an impressive 482 metres high, meaning it’s more or less on par with Baystones. The epic views do leave Wansfell Pike pretty exposed so don’t leave without good layers and waterproofs just in case wild weather rolls in. You’ll probably work up a sweat on the way up to the summit but when you see the views extending across Lake District it’s all worth it. Wansfell Pike is also one of the best places to spot fell ponies, adorable locals who are usually happy to pose for a selfie or two.  

Length: 5 miles

Average time to complete: 3.5 hours

Starting point: Ambleside





Loughrigg towers over the eastern shores of Windermere and is a bucket list fell for most serious hikers visiting the region. It’s challenging but doesn’t require a full day commitment, with most hikers getting up and down in around 3 hours. The views are huge, sweeping across the Langdale Pikes and down to Grasmere Lake and the postcard-perfect village. Head back down via Loughrigg Terrace and Rydal Water to check out some hidden caves. Shimmering pools of water and moss-covered steppingstones give the caves a magical feel. 

Length: 5 miles

Average time to complete: 3 hours

Starting point: Rothay Park



Fairfield Horseshoe


When it comes to Lake District, our motto is the longer the better. If you’ve got the stamina, it’s definitely worth lacing up your boots and spending an entire day exploring the landscapes. Fairfield Horseshoe is one of our favourite all-day hikes, starting in Ambleside and taking you up into the peaks that loom over the northern tip of Windermere.  

Take a moment to stop and quote your favourite William Wordsworth quote as you pass by Rydal Mount, the former home of the legendary poet. If you’re not familiar with the famous Romantic, “I wandered lonely as a cloud” is a good place to start. Heron Pike is a great lunch stop, with larger-than-life views over Windermere, as well as the Central Fells and the village of Coniston. Next, you’ll traverse along the Great Rigg ridge, with more views to soak in. 

Take a break at the Fairfield stone wind shelters, ideally with a chunk of Kendal Mint Cake you picked up in Ambleside before setting off. Fun fact: did you know climbers and mountaineers have been refuelling with Kendal Mint Cake for more than a century? The famous sugar-based candy was born and bred in Cumbria and continues to be a staple in backpacks around the world. After a sugar hit get back on your feet and start to head back to Ambleside, passing over a few more crags and pikes on the way. This is a big day and if you’re tempted to head straight to a cosy pub for dinner, you’ve earned it. 

Length: 11.5 miles

Average time to complete: 6 – 8 hours

Starting point: Rydal Road Car Park in Ambleside



Orrest Head


Challenging enough to get your pulse up but still suitable for younger kids, Orrest Head is a great little hike. The walk starts in Bowness near Booths Supermarket, a good place to pick up a few snacks before you set off. You’ll start by crossing through a series of fields, then meandering through woodland before starting the climb up to the summit. The views from the top are incredible, with Orrest Head rumoured to be one of Alfred Wainwright’s favourite fells. 

To quote the famous British fellwalker, “Orrest Head for many of us, is ‘where we came in’ – our first ascent in Lakeland, our first sight of mountains in tumultuous array across glittering waters, our awakening to beauty. It is a popular walk, deservedly, for here the promised land is seen in all its glory. It is a fitting finale, too, to a life made happy be fellwandering. Dare we hope there will be another Orrest Head over the threshold of the next heaven?”

Length: 3 miles

Average time to complete: 1.5 hours

Starting point: Bowness



Wray Castle to Blelham Tarn Circuit


More than just a pretty face, Lake District is one of England’s most fascinating historical destinations. The circular walk from Wray Castle up to Blelham Tarn not only skirts the Windermere shoreline but takes in a Victorian castle built in the 1800s and a picturesque mountain lake where an Iron Age sword was unearthed. As you cross the steppingstones at Blelham Black you’re passing over the site of a medieval bloomery where iron was once smelted. 

If you want to add an extra leg to your itinerary, head up 245-metre Latterbarrow hill. A cairn marks the top of the summit, where you’ll get panoramic views over Lake District on a clear day. Another fun side trip is starting in Ambleside or Brockhole and catching the ferry across to Wray Castle. A leisurely boat ride across Windermere is the perfect way to start and finish your hike. 

Length: 3.5 miles

Average time to complete: 2 hours

Starting point: Wray Castle



Claife Viewing Station and Ash Landing 


Starting at the Ash Landing Car Park, this elevated trail showcases the pristine western bank of Windermere. It also takes you up to Claife Viewing Station, one of Lake District’s most iconic historic landmarks. We’ve got the pioneers of the 18th-century Picturesque Movement to thank for the Lake District we see today. Before masters like Thomas Gainsborough and Joseph Mallord William Turner romanticised the area, Lake District was considered a wild and unappealing wilderness. In the 1700s this all changed, and Victorian holidaymakers started flocking to the area. The Claife Viewing Station was built in the 1790s to enchant Lake District sightseers, with coloured glass used to recreate the summer, autumn, spring and winter landscapes. 

From the lookout, you can explore a handful of scenic lakeside trails and woodland paths. The walk from Claife Viewing Station to Ash Landing Nature Reserve is a gem, taking you through a patchwork of different habitats. The spring bluebells and daffodils are a treat, as are the butterflies fluttering around the wildflower meadow. If you’re on the hunt for red and roe deer, Claife Woods is the place to be. If you have time, you can tack the walk to Wray Castle onto the end of your hike. With the extra few miles you’ll well and truly have earned a plate of Cumbrian salt marsh lamb at the end of the day. 

Length: 7.5 miles

Average time to complete: 4 – 5 hours

Starting point: Ash Landing Car Park



Gummer’s How


If you’re looking for big views with very little effort, Gummer’s How is your walk. You can drive most of the way up, parking at the Gummer’s How Car Park and walking the remaining distance up to the summit. Follow the easily signposted trail, with awesome views from the top. You can reach the summit in two ways – follow the easy route around the back of the hill or get your hands dirty and opt for the short scramble. It’s nothing too serious and is great for adventurous kids. 

From November to March Gummer’s How is one of the best places in Lake District to catch an inversion, a meteorological phenomenon that sees clouds blanker the lower section of the valley, leaving the upper peaks drenched in sunshine and backed by blue skies. 

Length: 1.5 miles

Average time to complete: 45 minutes

Starting point: Gummer’s How Car Park 



Town End House


Combining history, scenery and a fantastic tearoom, the walk to Town End House is a favourite with families. This route includes Orrest Head, making it great if you’re chasing big views. From Windermere you’ll follow a path to a Town End House, a beautifully restored 17th-century farmhouse hidden away in the sleepy village of Troutbeck. A stroll past Troutbeck Park Farm takes you by the former home of Beatrix Potter, who once bred Herdwick sheep on the property. 

Don’t leave the village without stopping by the Old Post Office tearooms, a historic building that’s been reimagined as a cosy café. The scones topped with jam and cream are heavenly, as is the chocolate orange cake. If you’re loaded up on sweets, you may want to take the longer route back to Windermere via Dubbs Resevoir and Causeway Farm. 

Length: 4 miles

Average time to complete: 1.5 hours

Starting point: Windermere


Want to see your favourite Windermere walk featured? Give us a shout and share your trail with our likeminded community of walkers. Already been there and done it? Check out our list of the finest walking trails nationwide here.