Detailed Guide To The Buttermere Lake Walk (2024) – Suitable For All Abilities 🏞️
Detailed Guide To The Buttermere Lake Walk (2024) – Suitable For All Abilities 🏞️

Detailed Guide To The Buttermere Lake Walk (2024) – Suitable For All Abilities 🏞️

Buttermere is not only one of the most idyllic villages in the Lake District, but it’s also home to one of the very best lake walks in the whole National Park.

Just a few minutes stroll from the heart of town and you’ll lay eyes on Buttermere Lake; an expansive body of glistening freshwater encircled by one of the most jaw-dropping fell landscapes you’ll ever see.

Buttermere Lake Picture, Stunning Views
The crystal-clear lake reflects the sweeping and steep-sided mountain range as you traverse this gentle & picturesque 4.5-mile trail.

A favourite amongst families, the circular loop is predominantly flat with no real challenging segments, making it suitable for pretty much anyone and everyone! Plus, the variety of nearby fell walks and other off-shoot nature trails means there’s always a new adventure waiting each time you visit.

Interested in heading to the village and taking a stroll round Buttermere Lake for yourself? Then be sure to check out our comprehensive guide below 👇👇

What is Buttermere famous for?

A popular spot since the beginning of tourism in the Lakes, Buttermere is famous for being one of the most beautiful and charming villages in the whole of the Lake District National Park.

Buttermere Walk Landscape
Did you know – It’s said that the name Buttermere means ‘the lake by the dairy pastures’ (from the Old English ‘butere mere’)

Visited by thousands each year for its awe-inspiring setting among the northern fells, the village is also home to Buttermere Lake. Coming in at 1.24 miles in length, 620 yards (570 m) wide and 75 feet (23 m) deep, this lakeshore trail provides ramblers with a wonderfully picturesque circular loop.

A craggy haven for fell-walkers, surrounding the Lake you’ll enjoy epic views of the dramatic High Stile range to the south west, Robinson to the north-east, Haystacks and Fleetwith Pike towards the south-east and Grasmoor to the north-west.

Buttermere Lake Walk
Beautiful in all the changing shades of nature, Buttermere remains a year-round hotspot for outdoorsy types

Buttermere Lake Walk – Route info

Route Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 7km (4.5 miles)

Route Elevation: 67m

Start Point: Lake District National Park, Buttermere The English CA13 9UZ

Finish Point: Lake District National Park, Buttermere The English CA13 9UZ

How to get to Buttermere Lake?

Starting from the Bridge Hotel in the heart of the village, take the footpath to the left of the Fish Inn (opposite the car park) and simply keep to the trail, passing several gates until you reach Buttermere Lake.

Buttermere, National Trust Sign
The National Trust sign marks the spot.

Once you arrive at the water, you can choose whether you’d like to start the circular route from the footpath heading either left or right. Personal preference I prefer sticking to the left side!

Buttermere Walk Trail

Top tip – At the opposite end of the lake, you’ll also come across a mobile station at Gatesgarth Farm; a great spot to enjoy the dramatic hillside scenery with a refreshment!

How long is the walk around Buttermere Lake?

With the standard circular trail coming in at 4.5 miles in length, the walk can easily be completed by most in under 3 hours at a relaxed pace.

On our last stroll around the lake, we paused on several occasions to sit by the water and admire the cracking views and still finished the ramble in around 2 hours.

Buttermere Lake Views, Walk

Where do you park to walk around Buttermere?

There is a small National Trust carpark located in the centre of Buttermere village. We’d recommend getting here early however since the spaces are sparse and tend to fill up rather quickly.

There is also the small layby carpark just beyond St. James Church which offers free parking, although this fills up equally as fast.

National Trust Carpark Location:

Grid reference: NY 172 169
Nearest postcode: CA13 9XA

Pay and display prices:
Up to 2 hours £3.50
Up to 4 hours £6
Up to 12 hours £8
Full week £28

Alternatively, you could always start your trail from the opposite end of Buttermere Lake instead and park on Gatesgarth Car Park.

Gatesgarth Address: Cockermouth CA13 9XA

How difficult is the Buttermere Lake walk?

Buttermere Walk Guide
For more chilled hiking trails, be sure to check out our ‘9 Easy Lake District Walks (Suitable For All Abilities)’ blog post!

The terrain throughout the circular loop is predominantly flat with no real ascents or tricky sections. The footpath is also well-laid out and easy to follow for the most part, though it is worth noting a few things to be aware of:

  • There is a short and very light scramble section near Gatesgarth Fam but nothing beyond most ramblers’ abilities.
  • There’s a brief segment of the trail where you’re required to walk along Honister Pass. The road is never too busy but it doesn’t have any pavement for walkers. Keep on alert and give oncoming traffic plenty of room.
  • At one point, the lakeside trail runs through a narrow but short rock tunnel. Again, this won’t be an issue for most, but it may startle those who aren’t good with tight or dark spaces.

Can you walk right around Buttermere?

Yes, the circular trail takes you all the way around Buttermere Lake.

The footpath hugs the lakeshore throughout, deviating only briefly during the small segment where you’re required to walk along Honister Pass road by Gatesgarth Farm.

Can you wild swim in Buttermere?

Indeed, Buttermere is a fantastic wild swimming location!

Buttermere Lake, Wild Swimming Lake District
Also be sure to check out our list of the BEST Wild Swimming Spots In The Lake District 👈

The crystal blue freshwater, the awe-inspiring scenery and the unrivalled tranquility – you’d be hard-pressed to find a better place to take a refreshing dip.

Plunge into Buttermere Lake or perhaps paddle out into the serene waters of Crummock Water lying just north-west of the village.

Warning – Never swim alone and take extra care in the water during colder months. For those new to wild swimming, we’d certainly advise reading through these wild swimming safety tips.

Crummock Water

Crummock Water, Wild Swimming

The longest lake in Buttermere Valley, Crummock Water provides visitors with expansive and incredibly beautiful vistas as you peer out over the sparkling freshwater.

A splendid spot to visit after your gentle stroll around Buttermere Lake, Crummock Water has outstanding water clarity and is universally hailed as a must-visit location for both open water swimmers and wild campers alike.

Camping in Buttermere

Speaking of camping, on our last trip to Buttermere we had such a fantastic stay at Syke Farm Campsite.

A rustic and back-to-basics camping spot providing just the bare necessities, Syke Farm is situated in the heart of the village (just beside Buttermere Lake) and is the perfect spot for those looking to plug out from modern life and enjoy some good old country walking.

Syke Farm Campsite, Buttermere - How to stop condensation in a tent - open vents
As the village begins to slow down once evening approaches, you’re just left with the sound of wildlife and serene trickling of the nearby river flowing through the campsite.

For more information, be sure to read through our camping in Buttermere blog post!

Other nearby spots to check out

Sour Milk Gill – Less than a mile from the village, Sour Milk Gill can be found hiding along an off-shoot trail accessible from Buttermere Lake. Deriving its unusual name from the the cascading and white curdling waters, Sour Milk Gill is a perfect little detour for those wanting to extend their ramble around the lakeside.

Haystacks and Red Pike – Additionally, deviating from the standard lake trail you’ll discover some fabulous fell hikes which take you all the way to the summits of Red Pike and Haystacks – Alfred Wainright’s favourite fell and the very spot where his ashes were scattered.

Buttermere and Alfred Wainwright

If you’re a fan of fell-walking in Lakeland, I’m sure you know who Alfred Wainwright is!

Most famed for his seven handwritten and hand-drawn Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, Wainwright died in 1991 and you can find a memorial to him in the little Church of St James church at Buttermere.

Buttermere Old School
Buttermere’s Old School

Pub grub after the Buttermere Lake walk!

As with any hike, there’s no better way to finish your adventure than with some good food and drink at a classic country pub!

We went to the Bridge Inn and couldn’t recommend the place enough. Great beer, scrumptious pub grub and absolutely breathtaking views. What more could you ask for? 🍺🍺

The Bridge Hotel, Buttermere Pub Food, Pie, Views
A pint and a pie beneath the craggy landscape

For more great walks in the area, don’t forget to have a sift through all our Lake District posts here!

Likewise, for more camping inspiration, be sure to have a read through our recent post ‘5 Of The Best Campsites In The Lakes’.

Happy walking 🚶🚶