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Lake District Guided Walks

By 6th September 2020June 3rd, 2021Summer, Walking

Introduction

Finding the best routes, viewpoints and photographs can be tricky, but not if you join us on our Lake District guided walks. Maybe you want to find good viewpoints or places of interest along your walking route. Or maybe you want to plan a day’s itinerary based on visiting the most popular spots. Either way, a guide can help keep you safe and comfortable; make your experience more successful and enjoyable, including keeping the right pace; and can make the day a valuable learning experience, including passing on a whole host of useful tips.

Booking and Prices

If you’d like to know more about our Lake District guided walks, then see our main page for more details and prices; or have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events and see what our clients say about us.

When you are ready, then get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

We also guide mountain walks in Snowdonia and the Scottish highlands.

Skiddaw viewed from Catbells looking over a sea of low clouds - a typical view on guided winter walk or winter skill course in the Lake District
Skiddaw seen from Catbells in winter

Lake District Guided Walks – The Langdale Pikes

There are three peaks which make up the Langdale Pikes – Pavey Ark, Harrison Stickle and Pike of Stickle. As UK mountains go, these really aren’t at all high. The highest of them, Harrison Stickle, is only 736 metres high. But what they lack in height they more than make up for in character and drama. The Langdale Pikes lie at the heart of what was once an enormous area of volcanoes.  It is the remnants of, and debris from, these volcanoes that have created the Pikes. Without a doubt, the Langdale Pikes are one of the Lake District’s most iconic views. Our guided walks can take you through their jagged ridges and cliffs – or to the best viewpoints of them.

Easy walks in the Langdale Pikes

One of the easiest and most popular walks in the area is the ascent up to Stickle Tarn. This takes us up into the heart of the Pikes. There’s no need to continue further and one can just enjoy this tranquil spot. However, we can extend the walk by going up and around the summit of Pavey Ark on some of the easier paths in the area.

Harder walks in the Langdale Pikes

The Langdale Pikes is one of the most rugged areas of the Lake District. Apart from the many rock climbs and scrambles (below), there are many tougher walks in the area too. Rough, scrambly paths take us between the summits of the three Pikes, including Pike of Stickle and Harrison Stickle. The famous Dungeon Ghyll has a path which ascends its upper reaches. With dramatic views down into the gorge, this path is ‘old-school’ and eroded so is not a place for novices where a tumble could turn into a long fall.

Scrambles in the Langdale Pikes

The Langdale Pikes are a scrambler’s paradise offering a wealth of scrambles, long and short, of all grades. However, many of them are outside the scope of what could be termed a ‘guided walk’. Possibly the most famous scramble in the area is the Grade 1 scramble, Jack’s Rake, up Pavey Ark. While not technically difficult, at Grade 1, it is a dangerous route for a number of reasons. It has become an accident blackspot and is not to be taken lightly.

There are many other shorter and easier sections of scrambling to be had in Stickle Gill and Tarn Crag on the way up to Pavey Ark. These can be combined into one long, but easy, scrambling adventure.

Walks with views of the Langdale Pikes

The Langdale Pikes are one of the Lake District’s, and indeed the UK’s, most iconic landscape views. Unsurprisingly, you don’t get those views when you are standing in the heart of the Pikes themselves – you get them from  further away. These are some of the most popular walks in the area which give superb views of the Langdale Pikes from different angles.

Side Pike

Side Pike is the diminutive summit on the opposite side of the Langdale Valley. The top of Side Pike, and its surrounding slopes, offer outstanding views. For the more adventurous, we can traverse Side Pike and negotiate the infamous ‘squeeze’ through a narrow gap in the rocks.

Pike o’Blisco

Pike o’Blisco is one of the main summits in the Langdale valley. It can be taken in as a walk from Langdale or approached from the south, from Wrynose. Arriving at the summit then gives us ‘surprise’ views of the Langdale Pikes.

Bowfell and Crinkle Crags

Bowfell is one of the Lake District’s major summits and dominates the head of Great Langdale. The ‘crinkle-cut’ outline of Crinkle Crags is its neighbour to the south. Combining both of these peaks into a circular walk is one of the most popular walks in Langdale. The ascent of The Band up to Bowfell gives a view of the Langdale Pikes that gets better with every step. To spice things up a little, we often follow ‘the Climbers’ Traverse’, a rough track which skirts the foot of Bowfell’s cliffs. From here, the side of the ‘Great Slab’ provides a more adventurous way up to the summit of Bowfell.

Wetherlam

The lower slopes of Wetherlam, around the Tilberthwaite area, is another spot from which to see the classic profile of the Pikes while exploring some of the old quarrying areas.

Have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events or get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

Lake District Guided Walks – Helvellyn (including Striding Edge)

Helvellyn is located right in the centre of the Lake District and offers superb views in all directions. It has technically difficult routes to the top, more of which later, but also easier options too. Once there, the views around are breathtaking. It makes a particularly good place for a night walk ready to watch the sunrise. When the sun comes up, it lights up the southern fells around Coniston and the central/western fells, including Scafell Pike in a pink glow.

Easy walks on Helvellyn

The easiest route up Helvellyn, from a technical perspective, is the path from Swirls on Thirlmere. It is the most direct and therefore shortest in both distance and time. However, it’s no pushover physically as the path rises steeply and relentlessly. We can make numerous variations on this route, from a straight-up-and-down the same path, or circuits of varying length.

Harder walks on Helvellyn

One way of making the walk up Helvellyn from Thirlmere a little tougher is to widen the circuit and include the neighbouring peaks of Nethermost Pike and Dollywagon Pike. A detour to include Fairfield is also an option.

From the Ullswater side, we can extend the Helvellyn walk by incorporating St Sunday Crag, and potentially Fairfield too, to make a a long but very rewarding day out.

Scrambles on Helvellyn

Any mention of Helvellyn is almost always followed by the words ‘Striding Edge’, in the same breath. For those with good balance and agility and a head for heights, then Striding Edge is definitely the way to do Helvellyn. As a graded scramble, it is a ‘light-touch’ Grade 1 and so makes a good introduction to scrambling. Combined with a descent of its brother/sister ridge, Swirral Edge, this circuit makes the classic day out on Helvellyn.

Walks with views of Helvellyn

The view of Helvellyn from anywhere west of it is, in my view, disappointing. It appears as a huge rounded mass, not looking especially interesting or dramatic. The cliffs of the face above Red Tarn and Striding and Swirral Edges are hidden from view from the west.

However, there are great views available of the exciting side of Helvellyn from the east. Some of our walks on the lower fells around Martindale Common give excellent views of Helvellyn.

Have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events or get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

Lake District Guided Walks – Scafell Pike

Scafell Pike, the highest mountain in England, sadly isn’t exactly the most beautiful. It is very rocky but has an indistinct shape so it’s not all that photogenic. However, the views from the top and from areas all around Scafell Pike can be breathtaking.

Easy walks on Scafell Pike

Okay, let’s be frank. There are no “easy” walks on Scafell Pike. There are routes up which are easy from a technical perspective, but they are hard graft. 

The most-used route is the direct path from Wasdale to the summit via ‘Hollow Stones’. It’s the shortest distance there and back, and for that reason is the chosen route of those undertaking the National Three Peaks Challenge. This means that it is by far the busiest way up the mountain. As a result, good paths have been laid for much of the way to prevent erosion. 

However, this route gains all of the height of England’s highest summit in the shortest possible distance. So, it is a steep haul with very little respite to catch breath. Prepare for several hours of hard work, even if it isn’t tricky or dangerous walking.

Harder walks on Scafell Pike

There are numerous different ways up Scafell Pike. There’s no need to to feel obliged to follow the crowds up from Wasdale. Everything is on offer, from rough rocky paths, to remote valleys where I can all but guarantee that you won’t see a soul.

Corridor Route

Starting from Wasdale Head is a logical enough idea as it is close to Scafell Pike. But instead of taking the busy path with the Three Peaks, on this walk we take the far more interesting Corridor Route. This means a much more gradual ascent overall. But it also involves short sections of scrambling, a meandering route through dramatic Lake District summits, and views down steep ghylls (or canyons). The Corridor Route is by far the most rewarding, but still popular route to the summit. The return to Wasdale can be made directly down the busy main path.

Over the Central Fells

Scafell Pike lies at one end of a chain of peaks which form the central ‘hub’ of the Lake District. This means that we can reach Scafell Pike by linking together the summits of Great End, Broad Crag, Ill Crag and finally Scafell Pike.

How we first reach Great End is itself an open-ended question as there are numerous approaches, including from Langdale and Borrowdale. These all tend to be long, hard days and best kept for the summer months when there is more daylight. But there is no better way to take in many of the highest tops in the Lake District.

From the South (the quiet way)

If you’d like to avoid the crowds completely, then approaches from the south will probably enable this. The Eskdale side of Scafell Pike is grassy, boggy and very, very quiet. There are again several options for us to take, but this include ascending to Mickledore from Eskdale. After taking in the superb views down to Wasdale from Mickledore, the summit is not far away. A similar variation on this idea is to take the path up Little Narrowcove from Eskdale

Scrambles on Scafell Pike

Unlike Helvellyn, there is no easy scramble that takes you directly to the top of Scafell Pike. On the Wasdale side of the mountain, the terrain does not lend itself to good, continuous scrambling. However, from the Corridor Route there are a number of scrambles that leave the path and head up to the summits of Great End and Ill Crag. These provide a further more exciting option for reaching the top.

From the other side of the mountain, upper Eskdale, there are a couple of long and really excellent scrambles up Ill Crag. One of these is Grade 1 and the other Grade 2/3. The first of these, Cockly Pike Ridge, is a long mountaineering-style route. You need good -all round skills for a route like this, including navigation and route-finding ability. This deserted side of the mountain is no place to become crag fast or injured. Once on the top of Ill Crag, we can follow the crowds to the summit of Scafell Pike.

Walks with views of Scafell Pike

Being so high, and central to the Lake District, Scafell Pike is visible from many different points in the Lake District. Mickledore, the prominent gap between Scafell and Scafell Pike, is a landmark feature once you know what it looks like, so it is very easy to identify Scafell Pike from a long way off.

However, there are four fells and areas that do give particularly notable views of Scafell Pike. 

  • Great Gable – directly across Lingmell Beck from Scafell Pike, with excellent views of the deep gorge of Piers Gill and the Corridor Route.
  • Yewbarrow and Red Pike area, on the opposite side of Wasdale
  • Swirl How, often combined with the Old Man of Coniston, gives a fine long-distance view of Scafell Pike.
  • The area of Crinkle Crags above Langdale offers another angle on the Eskdale side of Scafell Pike.

Have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events or get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

Lake District Guided Walks – Old Man of Coniston

The Old Man of Coniston is not only a hill with spectacular views. A walk around this area, including the Coppermines Valley, takes us to the heart of some of Britain’s early mining. The history of copper-mining here goes back to the 1600s when Elizabeth I was on the throne. But the views from here are also well worth the effort, with many of the Lake District’s famous summits all in view.

Easy walks on the Old Man of Coniston

The easiest route up the Old Man is from the car park on Walna Scar Road (the extra height gain by car helps!). From here, good tracks and paths take us to Low Water, a small tarn nestled below the cliffs of the Old Man. A final steep haul up a zig-zag path brings us to the summit.

The start of the walk can be extended by starting from Coniston village itself and heading up to explore the Coppermines Valley before joining the path mentioned above and climbing up to Low Water.

A fun highlight in the area is the ‘Pudding Stone’, a large boulder which you can scramble to the top of (with care).

Harder walks on the Old Man of Coniston

There are many options for harder walks which still include the Old Man.

On the west side of the mountain, we can include a loop taking in either Dow Crag’s summit, or Goat Water which lies below Dow Crag. To the north, the ridge that runs away towards Swirl How can be included, along with one of the paths to or from Levers Water. There are several options available to make the day as long as we want.

The classic ‘big day’ in the rare is to combine an ascent of Wetherlam with the Old Man of Coniston. Doing this circuit will give us huge variety of views. To the south and south-west are Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea. To the south-east Coniston Water and the Grizedale Forest. To the north from Swirl How we can see the central fells from Bowfell to Scafell. Finally from Wetherlam, there are views across into Langdale.

Scrambles on the Old Man of Coniston

Although this is more of a scramble low down on Wetherlam, it’s closeness to the Coniston village mean it must be mentioned. Long Crag Buttress is an excellent Grade 1 scramble low down on the hillside and perfect for a shorter day’s outing or perhaps an evening jaunt.

We can ‘spice up’ a standard ascent of the Old Man by the normal route with the inclusion of a number of easy scrambles. First, there is the south ridge of The Bell, which adds very little time to the day but an enormous amount of fun.

For those who like an adventurous feel to the day, and a little exploration, then there is the option of climbing the Old Man via Goat Crag. On the southern slopes of the mountain, the steep hillside is peppered with lots of small cliffs which we can link together to make a scrambly way to the top.

Walks with views of the Old Man of Coniston

We have to be very selective when looking for views of the Old Man of Coniston. From many angles it is either mostly hidden or presents an uninteresting view.

It is only really from the east that its dramatic cliffs are visible, and one can appreciate the full size of its bulk. These views are mostly to be found in the low-lying hills between Coniston Water and Windermere.

Have a look at the Calendar for forthcoming “Open” events or get in touch to make an enquiry or a booking.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the different parts of the Lake District?

There are many different ways that the Lake District can be sub-divided. The important thing to understand is that geologically speaking it is described as having ‘radial drainage’. This means it is formed like the spokes on a bicycle wheel, and the only way to get from one spoke to another is by either going to the centre and on to another spoke, or going around the outside of the wheel.

This means that once you have chosen one valley to be in (a spoke on the wheel), it is quite difficult to get to a different part of the Lake District.

Some books divide the Lake District into regions, such as the Northern Fells; the Western Fells; the Central Fells; the Southern Fells; and the Eastern Fells. Other books describe what you can do from the main valley bases, such as Keswick, Ambleside and Windermere.

What is it like walking in the Lake District?

The Lake District offers a huge variety of types of walking. There are physically easy, leisurely walks around the lakes in the valleys. There are small hills which families with small children can reach easily, to get beautiful views of the lakes close down below. Finally, there are the high fells, a different world of wild, mountainous terrain which can be subjected to extremely bad weather.

What is the most beautiful part of the Lake District?

There is no answer to this question as everyone has their own favourites. However, I think of Buttermere being the most ‘beautiful’ part; and Langdale as being the most ‘rugged and dramatic’ part.

What is the best walk in the Lake District?

Again, there is no easy answer to this question. However, here are some suggestions. (1) For easy walks around low-lying and beautiful small lakes, try Rydal Water and Grasmere. (2) For small hills that can be reached easily in an hour or so, try Catbells or Loughrigg Fell. (3) For mid-sized fells (mountains), try Haystacks, or the Old Man of Coniston, or the Langdale Pikes. (4) The very highest fells include Scafell Pike, Helvellyn, Bowfell, and Blencathra to name just a handful of popular ones.

What is the easiest mountain in the Lake District to climb?

One of the very easiest small fells to climb, but with amazing views out of all proportion to its height, is Catbells near Keswick and Derwent Water. This should be high on everyone’s list to do early on in their Lake District walking.

What is the highest mountain in the Lake District?

The highest mountain in the Lake District is Scafell Pike. It is 978 metres high and is also the highest mountain in all of England (but not in Wales or Scotland). The shortest route typically takes around 5 hours to walk (total for both up and down).

What do I need to wear for walking in the Lake District?

If you are going to venture up any of the hills, even the small ones, you should have all of the following:- (1) Good footwear with a grippy rubber sole – either a good walking/hiking boot or, if you are used to them, a good quality trail running shoe. (2) A waterproof jacket (such as Gore-Tex). (3) A map and compass and the knowledge of how to use them. The paths are not signposted and you should not rely on a smartphone alone. (4) A head-torch, in case you are delayed on your walk, or have planned a long walk.