The Lake District is hiking country! There are some absolutely fabulous trails stretching for miles across this beautiful landscape, taking in steep mountains, high ridges, rocky scrambles……But what if you are not looking for anything quite so adventurous or challenging just now? Perhaps today you just want an easy, low level walk in beautiful countryside where no compass is required, civilisation is not far away and walking boots are optional? You just want to enjoy a walk without worrying about having to call out mountain rescue? If that is the case, here are three easy walks in the Lake District to enjoy.
Easy walks in the Lake District #1: Rydal Water and the Coffin Route
The Coffin Route walk above Rydal Water is one of my favourite walks. The views are wonderful at all times of the year and the trail is interesting with lots of variety. This walk is a loop and is just under 6km
Rydal is between Ambleside and Grasmere, a tiny hamlet set on the beautiful Rydal Water. It is also the location of Rydal Mount, home of poet William Wordsworth. The trail runs along the edge of Rydal Water on one side and then back along the Coffin Route on the other side (or vice versa). The Coffin Route is the trail along which the coffins were carried from Rydal to the church in Grasmere in days gone by.
The route is largely flat with a few undulations and one short steep section. Most of the path is very even and could be managed with a buggy, but there is a significant section on the Coffin Route itself which is rocky and not suitable for pushchairs. There are also a couple of streams with stepping stones along the side of Rydal Water.
The loop can be undertaken in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction and can be started from several different points. I would suggest parking at Pelter Bridge car park and from there taking the narrow road/path up towards the lake. Pass through the gate and continue along the trail. The trail splits and there is the option of taking the low trail along by the lake or the higher trail which goes to the slate mine caves. I have marked the lower trail on the map above, but you can see where the trial forks to head up to the caves.
On a clear day there are fine views of the Langdales. Both trails end up at the same place at the end of Rydal Water. From there, follow the path towards the road and cross over the foot bridge. Cross the road look for the sign post:
This path leads up to the Coffin Route and is the steepest part of the hike, but it is not long. When you reach the intersection of trails, turn right, back towards Rydal. (If you turned left along the Coffin Route at this point, you would end up in Grasmere.) The first part of this trail is a little rocky and up and down, but it does level out and become much easier. There are some wooded sections along the trail and also some wonderful views across Rydal Water.
Eventually you arrive at a drive way and will see St Mary’s Church off to the right. Adjacent to this is Dora’s field, named for Wordsworth’s daughter. This is full of daffodils and bluebells in the spring and is very beautiful.
As you come to the main drive, Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s home is slightly up the hill to the left.
Turn right down the hill towards the main road. Cross the road and head up to the left a little way. It will take you back to the bridge you crossed to reach the carpark at the start.
Easy Walks in the Lake District #2: Orrest Head
The Orrest Head walk is a out and back walk near Lake Windermere and the views from the top are among the finest in the Lake District. The whole walk takes about an hour and in dry weather trainers or flat shoes are sufficient. The first part of the route is on a clearly marked uphill trail, but it is not particularly steep or long. I have also suggested this short walk as part of an itinerary for a one day visit to the Lake District. From the top of Orrest Head, it is possible to take an alternative route down the back of the hill to make this walk into a loop. This would take a little longer than the out and back route and if it has been raining, it can be quite boggy on the way down, so boots would be required.
The starting point is just across the road from the Railway Station in the village of Windermere. Cross the road and the path is marked. Follow the trail up. Most of the main trail is broken tarmac or gravel, but the last 100 metres is a bit steeper and rockier. There are one or two options as the trail winds its way up the hill, but they all end up at the top. Watch out for the Gruffalo!
Update June 2021: the path to the top has been extended, omitting the final rough section. It is now possible to reach the top of Orrest Head on a very easy, well maintained path which would be suitable for strollers and wheelchairs.
At the top, admire the view! On a clear day from Orrest Head you can see right across to the Langdales and it is beautiful. Unfortunately it was a little hazy when I took these photos, but still impressive.
Easy Walks in the Lake District #3: Gummer’s How
The walk up Gummer’s How is a little more challenging in that there is a bit of a scramble at the top. However, the views from the top make the climb well worth it and there is a slightly easier route if you go round the side of the hill near the top. The whole walk there and back takes less than an hour, depending how long you spend admiring the view and taking photographs! The uphill trail is well marked and at first is very even, but it becomes rockier towards the top and there are steps cut into the rock in places. The route is an out and back, apart from the very top where it is better to take a slightly different way to avoid descending the steep scramble.
Gummer’s How is at the Lakeside end of Lake Windermere . It is signposted off to the left on the A 592 as you approach Lakeside from Bowness. The drive up is quite steep, but not single track. There is a small car park area off to the right near the trail head, and a few spaces on the road too.
The trail starts on the opposite side to the car park about 100 meters further up the hill. There are likely to be cattle roaming around. This special Scottish breed were introduced as a conservation measure, as a notice explains at the start of the trail.
The first part of the path is easy, but it does become a little more challenging as you climb and there is section with rocky, uneven steps.
The trail wends its way upwards and, as indicated above, the last section is a bit of a scramble but not too difficult.
There is a track off to the right instead if you would like to avoid this. This track takes you round the back of the hill where there is an easier climb to the top. I would recommend coming down this way, regardless of which way you went up.
There are fantastic views over the lake and towards the fells. Enjoy!
Please note that in the maps above where I have drawn in the walking trail, this is an approximation to give a rough idea of the direction.
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