Our favourite Lake District walks with the children
The Easter holidays have already arrived, May half term will be here in the blink of an eye and shortly after that, the Summer holidays. And, if you have children, that means finding things for them to do.
Fortunately, if you’re visiting the Lake District, you’re spoilt for choice. Adventure, attractions, amazing restaurants, the Lake District has it all.
But with May having been declared National Walking Month, we thought we’d focus on the great outdoors, and in particular walking. Here are just a few of our favourite Lake District walks which we’ve enjoyed with our children. So why not kit yours out with some sturdy walking boots and take them exploring?
Orrest Head is the perfect ‘first summit’ to do in the Lake District. Not too long or steep for little legs and when you reach the top, the views across Lake Windermere and the Lake District fells beyond are simply breathtaking.
This is the place where author and fell-walker, Alfred Wainwright, first fell in love with the Lake District. In his autobiographical ‘Ex-Fellwanderer’, he wrote, “… quite suddenly, we emerged from the trees and were on a bare headland, and, as though a curtain had dramatically been torn aside, beheld a magnificent view…”.
Staying close to Windermere, our next walk is a relatively short stroll to the summit of Brant Fell. The two mile walk to the top can be quite steep, but like Orrest Head, the reward on reaching the summit is well worth the effort, with views across the lake to Grizedale Forest, the Langdale Pikes and the Coniston range.
At the southern end of Lake Windermere is Gummers Howe, a mini mountain which has long been a firm family favourite. It feels like a mountain and there’s even a scramble to the summit should you decide to veer from the path.
The beginning of the walk is a gentle climb through fields and woodland before becoming a little steeper en-route to the summit.
Like Orrest Head and Brant Fell, the views from the top are amazing. In one direction, the lake stretches out before you, dotted with sailing boats and in the other, Morecambe Bay glistens in the sunlight.
Tarn HowsThe most surprising fact about Tarn Hows is that it’s man-made. Its looks so natural, as if it’s been part of the landscape for thousands of years. It’s also one of the most popular spots in the Lake District. And when you see it, you’ll understand why. It is beautiful, a picture postcard in the heart of the Lakes.
Just above the western shore of Ullswater is Aira Force, arguably the best-known waterfall in the Lake District, as well as one of the easiest to get to – there’s a National Trust car park off the A592, halfway between Glenridding and Watermillock.
The Aira Force circular is another great walk for the youngsters. It could take just under an hour, but by the time they’ve hidden behind trees, marvelled at the 65-foot waterfall and spent time trying to spot red squirrels, it could be almost double that.
At 451m, Catbells is not the highest mountain in the Lake District. In fact, it comes in at 189 when you list the 214 Wainwrights by height. But it’s a fantastic walk for children and like most of the walks in the Lake District, the views from the summit are spectacular.
Located on the western shore of Derwentwater, this will feel much more like a mountain than our previous suggestions. It will be challenging at times, with a few steep scrambles, but nothing too technical. And if you’re looking to bag all 214 Wainwrights, this is not a bad place to start.
If you want something a little more dramatic, Stickle Tarn will not disappoint. It sits below the steep eastern face of Harrison Stickle, with the huge crag of Pavey Ark looming above.
The path to the tarn is steep, running alongside Stickle Ghyll, a welcome distraction if little legs become tired. Towards the top the terrain becomes a little more challenging, with a couple of rocky scrambles, but nothing technical. Pack up a picnic and a picnic rug and spread out on the shore of Stickle Tarn. If you’re brave, why not go for a little paddle?
For those feeling adventurous, there are some Wainwrights to be had once you’ve reached Stickle Tarn. Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle, Pike’o’Stickle, Thunacarr Knott and Loft Crag are all accessible from the tarn. In fact, many will say that this circuit of the Langdale Pikes should be high on any walker’s agenda.
Imagine going on holiday to the Lake District and returning home to tell your friends that you’ve climbed the highest mountain in England. If you decide to tackle Scafell Pike, that’s exactly what you’ll be doing.
This is not a walk for really little legs. But taking the direct, shortest route from Wasdale Head, the trickiest part of the walk will be crossing the river shortly after setting off, where big boulders act as large stepping stones.
The path to the top is pretty obvious, until you are within sight of the summit where it becomes more of a boulder scramble. This can be tricky to navigate, especially in cloudy conditions, so we would advise that you are accompanied by someone with experience of the Lakeland fells, and in particular, Scafell Pike.