If I could name the Lake District as one of the 7 wonders of the world then I don’t think anyone would argue with me. I am lucky enough to live only an hour away from beautiful Cumbria and spent much of my childhood there. During lockdown, as did everyone, I developed fast feet and turned to the mountains for peace and exercise when I physically couldn’t do anything else. This initially started off as a fitness opportunity because the gyms were closed, little did I know this would develop into a lifelong passion and became more about my mental strength than physical. I was and am fortunate enough to have a partner who loves hiking. Without him, I would find it quite difficult to drag someone along with me.
I started walking locally during lockdown and each day increased the distance ever so slightly to build on my stamina. Pre-lockdown I frequented at the gym, so I wasn’t completely unfit to begin with. Hiking was a completely different ball game, and I didn’t realise how liberating it would feel to be out in the fresh air on the mountains! Hiking is now “our thing” and we have started to travel and enjoy weekends away whilst incorporating a good hike! I have so much love for the mountains in Cumbria and wanted to share 5 of the most unmissable hikes we have completed. As I said earlier, hiking became something much more than physical effort, it challenged my mind and improved my mental health, knowing I could complete something insanely challenging and gave me an opportunity to push myself outside my comfort zone. All hikes have a “level” on them which I have labelled from beginner-high.
Helvellyn and Striding Edge: High Level
My favourite of the lot. Helvellyn not only hosts incredible views of Ullswater, but also houses “Striding Edge”, a sheer ‘tight rope of rocks’ with nothing either side. The summit is 950m high and is the third-highest point both in England and in the Lake District. There are many routes up the mountain which are available for all level of hiker. This also means it is possible to be approached from all directions. Striding Edge is a popular route as it involves lots of scrambling. If you are just starting out your hiking journey, I would avoid Striding Edge and take another route up. Many routes start from Glenridding and Patterdale, but you can also take a route from Grassmere. With views of Red Tarn and Scafell Pike (England’s highest mountain), this is not to be missed. Helvellyn was also voted Britains best walk in 2018 in an ITV show!
Old Man of Coniston: Mid-level
A firm favourite for locals and a challenging family day out. With a summit of 803m high, sitting to the west of the village, the Old Man of Coniston has been a hiking favourite for 100’s of years. Start climbing over Brown Pike, Buck Pike and Dow Crag and even enjoy lunch at the halfway tarn (or a swim on a hot day). With stunning views over Coniston, you can also go a little off-piste and see caves and old mines on your way up. It has feels of a quarry but there’s no way you won’t appreciate the views. There is a slight scramble at the top which is completely manageable. Many families also take their dogs.
Tarn Hows: Beginner
A truly picturesque walk, perfect for families, couples and dog walking. There are many routes that veer off Tarn Hows, one in particular that leads to a wonderful waterfall, but you can put yourself on the circular route and soak in the absolutely incredible views. Find dogs in and out of the tarn and people stopping for a little snack. There is National Trust parking on site and toilets available in the car park. Tarn Hows is a spectacular walk and is perfect for those either starting off on their hiking journey, or for those who aren’t looking for anything too strenuous. A true gem.
Blencathra and Sharp Edge: Mid- high level
Also known as “Saddleback”, Blencathra provides you with (in my opinion) some of the greatest views in the Lake District. Walking along the many smooth slopes, there are several routes which you can take to reach the 868m summit. One of which is Sharp Edge, similar to Helvellyn’s Striding Edge, just slightly easier. If scrambling over a tightrope of rocks isn’t for you, there is a path that leads you to the top. Stop off at Scales Tarn for a break, or even a dip to re-energize yourself before the final push. Long winding paths and more grass than most of the other hikes I have experienced, Blencathra is completely unmissable.
Place Fell: Mid-Level
Think Jurassic Park. A circular route which is accessible from Patterdale cricket club (parking) with a summit of 657m high it is one of the more popular hikes for those not completely comfortable with the 800+ er’s! Sitting in the middle of Ullswater, Place Fell gives spectacular views of Helvellyn and Scafell Pike and is an Instagram haven! There is so many photo opportunities with the array of greenery and beautiful lakes, you will not want to miss out on Place Fell. A challenging hike for those starting their hiking journey but a huge sense of accomplishment when finished. There is a well-marked path and the route is easy to follow.
By Hollie Wilkinson
I am visiting the Lakes next month these will be super helpful thank you Hollie :)