Richard Webber selects his five best walks in the Lake District for all abilities
Best lakeside walk in Buttermere
Owned by the National Trust, Buttermere lake nestles amid the Western Fells. It’s surrounded by some of Lakeland’s most beautiful scenery, particularly the run of fells bordering its southern edge, including Red Pike and Haystacks.
The latter was the favourite of fell-walking legend Alfred Wainwright, whose ashes were scattered on the banks of Innominate Tarn, a small lake atop the mountain.
The path circling the lake offers stunning vistas from every aspect. Relatively easy and flat, it should take two to three hours to complete the 4.5-mile loop – and don’t forget your camera!
Among the most rewarding views is the one looking towards Fleetwith Pike, which drops steeply towards the edge of the lake.
The path occasionally weaves through woodland en route to the tiny village of Buttermere, where it’s recommended you begin and end your walk. Here, you’ll find two pubs, cafes, plus a pay-and-display car park.
Make time to visit the small church of St James, which has a plaque in memory of Wainwright.
The best family walk in Rydal Water
What Rydal Water lacks in size it makes up for in beauty and accessibility. Situated between Ambleside and Grasmere, this walk – which takes in woodland, a river and the lake – is both easy and rewarding.
Parking on the northern shore, cross the A591 and join the ‘coffin trail’, so-called because it was once the route used to carry the dead of Rydal to the church in Grasmere.
On reaching Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s home for nearly 40 years, cross the main road again and then the River Rothay before starting the second half of the walk, this time on the southern side of Rydal Water.
After clearing some woods, you’re soon walking along the open flanks of Loughrigg Terrace with sumptuous views all around before heading back to the car park.
But before reaching your car, stop at Rydal Cave, a man-made quarry that produced top-notch roofing slates during the 19th century.
High fell is the best walk in Helvellyn
At over 3,100ft, mighty Helvellyn is not only the Lake District’s third highest peak but England’s, too. There are several paths to its summit, including the more straightforward route up from Thirlmere, to the west, and the challenging climbs along Striding Edge and Swirral Edge.
None is for the faint-hearted, and great care must be taken. The tiny track weaving its way along the steep, rugged ridge of Striding Edge is little more than three feet wide in places with a huge drop either side.
But on reaching the summit, where a stone shelter provides welcome protection from the wind whistling across this mountain plateau, walkers are greeted with wonderful panoramic views.
While there, you can explore the rocky terrain where, in 1926, John Leeming and Bert Hinkler made the first mountain-top landing in a plane (an Avro Gosport, to be precise). To mark this major feat, a memorial stone has been erected.
With one of the area’s most expansive views, nothing beats looking down towards Red Tarn below the summit and curvaceous Ullswater, the second largest lake in the region.
The best village walk in Grasmere
The charm, picturesque setting and Wordsworth connections of this honeypot village make it a must-see.
The great poet – who is buried with his wife Mary in the churchyard – lived at Dove Cottage on the outskirts of the village for nearly 10 years. Stepping inside provides a snapshot of Wordsworth’s life, with dark-panelled rooms full of the family’s belongings.
And next door, the Wordsworth Museum is home to the world’s largest collection of the poet’s journals, correspondence and hand-written poems.
Away from its literary connections, Grasmere boasts plenty of cafes, gift shops and the world-famous Sarah Nelson’s Gingerbread Shop.
The much-loved gingerbread was invented in 1854, with its eponymous creator selling the delicacy from a tabletop that rested on a tree stump outside her front door.
An easy access walk in Tarn Hows
Once owned by Beatrix Potter, Tarn Hows is a chocolate-box setting situated close to Coniston and Hawkshead. Remarkably, it’s a man-made landscape: in the mid-19th century, it was created out of three smaller tarns by the estate’s then owner. But don’t let that detract from its beauty.
Glorious views are everywhere you look, including north-west towards the iconic Langdale Pikes.
Now owned by the National Trust, the trail around the tarn is less than two miles and suitable for everyone, including those pushing a pram or using a wheelchair.
The Trust also lends out two Trampers (all-terrain mobility scooters) for free. Pre-book by phoning 01539 441 456.
With plenty of seats dotted around, this route is all about gentle walking and admiring the tranquil water, surrounding fells and woods full of spruce, larch and pine trees.
Facts for the best walks the Lake District has to offer
Graythwaite Estate has 18 holiday cottages, sleeping from two to 10 people, with lake or woodland views. Prices at this beautiful country estate, situated on the western shores of Lake Windermere, start at £386 per week. Contact 01244 352 336, or graythwaite.com. For more info on the Lake District, visit golakes.co.uk.