Routes To Try In The Lake District
Lake District is England’s national park and there are a plethora of hikes you can go on within her.
There’s just so many routes and so many ways to hike each route, it’s seemingly endless.
And yet, at the same time, you might be tired and looking for some new and adventurous routes to conquer.
Well, look no further because this article is going to be a list of Lake District’s best and most venturesome hikes.
These hikes aren’t your run-of-the-mill around Derwent Water hikes.
Instead, they’re long and arduous hikes that will put you to the test.
Without further ado, let’s get into the best trails in the Lake District!
1. Fairfield Horseshoe (Six Wainwrights)
Chances are, you might have heard of the Fairfield Horseshoe.
It’s practically a classic and it showcases all that Lake District has to offer.
There’s the grassy mountains, tiny ponds, rocky gravel, rolling highlands, precipitous ridges, and the swamp!
Within this hike, you’ll be able to see them all.
In total, you’ll be hiking about sixteen kilometres and ascending about one thousand meters in height.
It should take you at least five and a half hours to complete.
This hike shows you great views and it’s on the easier side for this list.
However, it’s the view that’s had it placed here.
It’s simply amazing. This is especially if the weather conditions are good.
If not, you might not see much too.
So, What’s The Route?
If you’re taking a bus up, you could take 555 up to Rydal.
This would be the Windermere – Keswick route for bus 555.
If you’re driving, you could drive and park at Ambleside.
And from there, you could walk up to Rydal.
From Rydal, you’d head up the hill that’s along a small road.
Eventually, you’d see a path.
This is where you should turn to your right and follow signs F
towards the open fells.
This path would take you up to Nab Scar and then up to Heron Pike.
You’d then hike along a ridge, past Great Rigg and then to Fairfield.
If it’s foggy, stick to the ridge and you go up and you won’t end up lost.
The path from Great Rigg to Fairfield is also marked out with cairns, so look out for those.
The Fairfield summit is your goal but it’s not a steep climb.
Instead, it’s pretty flat and easy.
There are also no peak markers for you so be careful.
At the top, you’d want to be careful as you come back down.
This is a horseshoe hike so you’d want to continue round it.
If you go the wrong way, you’d find yourself on an even longer hike.
If you’re on the right path, your right side would be along a hanging valley’s precipitous edge.
As the path edges towards Hart Crag, the terrain becomes rocky and uneven.
There will then be a wall that goes towards Ambleside.
Both sides of the wall are pretty marshy, so take your pick!
This wall will then lead you over Dove Crag and then onto Hike Pike.
At this point, the route is the most uneven.
If you want to do a little climb, you can.
Otherwise, there is a route that goes around them.
The descent then begins sharply down to Low Pike and then Scandale Beck.
Alternatively, there’s a smoother path at Brock Crags.
It splits off from the wall and has you crossing the High Sweden bridge.
Eventually, this path will lead you back to the wall too.
2. Helvellyn Ridge (Six Wainwrights)
Many have said that Helvellyn is the best mountain within Lake District.
After all, it’s the third-highest mountain within England and has two of the most popular scramble ridges on it.
When the weather is good, you’d have an unparalleled view of the Lake District.
Some have even said that at the top, you’d be able to see Scotland and Wales.
It’s also fairly quiet and you can expect to see little to no people whilst hiking the ridge.
All in all, it’s slightly more than a sixteen kilometres’ hike and the total ascent you’d get is just slightly more than 1100 meters.
This hike will probably take you about six hours to complete.
So, What’s The Route?
You’d start at Stannah, just about where the main roads split into a Y-junction.
Walk up the track that takes you past a farm and continues upward on the wall of Helvellyn Ridge.
This upward climb can be fairly tough, so be prepared for that!
As you go up, you’ll eventually reach a col known as Sticks Pass.
Here, you turn right and continue south on this ridge.
If it’s too foggy, be careful as you make this navigation.
You could easily get lost and start on the wrong path.
Continue on to the south and you’ll end up summiting Raise, Whiteside, Helvellyn Lower Man, and eventually, Hellvelyn itself.
This will be the highest part of your hike.
Here, you’d be rewarded with an amazing view of Patterdale and the beautiful edges of Hellvelyn.
If the weather is poor, there’s also a nearby stone shelter.
This would be a good place to take a short break.
After your break, continue south along the ridgeline.
This path won’t lead you to other summits so you’ll have to eventually break off and head to the left if you want to hit Nethermost, High Crag, and Dollywaggon Pike.
If you look to your left, you’d be graced with amazing views and a sharp drop down, off the ridge. Once you’ve hit Dollywagon Pike, head back to the main bath and you can start climbing down towards Grisedale Tarn.
This would be the easiest part of your hike as well-cut rock steps line the way down.
If you want to see some Valley, you could also turn left and slowly descend using the valley path.
This will take you back down to Patterdale too.
3. Scafell Pike (Three Wainwrights)
Lastly, we have the Scafell Pike, the hardest and most daring hike of all.
This hike has the highest ascent as Scafell Pike is the tallest mountain found in England.
As such, there will be a ton of scrambling and uphill hiking.
If you choose this hike, be well-prepared for some adrenaline-pumping moments.
In total, this hike is about eighteen kilometers and has an ascent of about 1400 meters.
It’s also the longest hike on my list and will take at least seven and a half hours in total.
So, What’s The Route?
You’d begin near New Dungeon Ghyll and from there, you should head along West down the road.
Eventually, you will reach a T-junction and there would be a campsite to your left.
Keep going straight and on a path that heads towards Stool End.
From there, the path will lead to fells.
This path will continue along a ridgeline and you would be going over The Band and Earing Crag.
When you reach the col by Three Tarns, you should turn right and follow an uneven track up towards Bow Fell’s summit.
This is then where it gets a little more tricky as you’ll have to abandon the track and follow onto an unbeaten road.
You’ll be heading west to get to the bottom of the river valley.
It would be where Little Narrowcove descends down from Scafell Pike and instead, joins with the River Esk.
You’ll be faced with a gulley and a track up it.
However, you’d have to cross two rivers and some cliffs.
Eventually, if you do reach the bottom of the gullet, you see a faint path on the left.
Move your way towards it, climb over the scree, and follow along the river.
This track will ultimately lead you to a col that’s between Scafell Pike and Broad Crag.
Then, you’d be back on the main path once you turn left.
Follow along and you’ll reach the peak!
To descend, you’ll have to retrace your path back to the col.
Then, you’d follow a ridgeline path that takes you over Broad Crag and eventually down towards the Great End.
But, don’t follow it all the way down if you want extra adventure.
Instead, you should take the track that veers towards the right.
It’ll have you walking back down south over Esk Pike.
And then, you can ascend Bow Fell again.
Thereafter, you’d be back on the original path you started on.
Just retrace those steps and you’ll be back in Langdale Valley.
These hikes are all on the more daring and bold side of Lake District.
If you’re up to the challenge, take them! However, do remember that safety comes first.
If the weather conditions aren’t ideal, you might want to hold back for another day.
There’s no sense in possibly injuring yourself over a hike!
Heading to The Lake District
Check out these other great articles about the Lake District, from places to stay to places to visit.
Hi, I am Amy I have two loves in my life camping and writing. When I am not writing for The Expert Camper, I am usually camping. Lake District is one of my favourite spots, but really anywhere in the UK under canvas I am happy.