Windermere Walks: 7 Amazing Hikes You MUST Try! 🏞️
Windermere Walks: 7 Amazing Hikes You MUST Try! 🏞️

Windermere Walks: 7 Amazing Hikes You MUST Try! 🏞️

Of all the outdoor wonder on offer in the Lake District, Lake Windermere continues to be one of the National Park’s most prized possessions.

10.5 miles in length and measuring a whopping 220 feet deep, Windermere takes the title for both the longest & largest natural lake in England.

Best walks in Windermere, Ambleside Lakeshore, Swim
A true marvel to behold, the lake runs from Ambleside up top all the way to Fell Foot at its southern tip, with plenty of scenic splendour to discover in between.

Surrounded by sublime natural beauty, Lake Windermere also an ideal location for hikers.

From epic fells and tranquil tarns, to enchanted woodlands and a number of idyllic villages, each visit here we always have the chance to explore somewhere new!

With a plethora of walking trails weaving through the countryside to choose from, we’ve gone and whittled down a list of what we consider 7 of the very BEST walks in and near the lake of Windermere.

Decide to head out on any of these walking excursions and I’m certain you’ll be in for a fantastic day out!

Interested? Let’s get to it 👇👇

Best Walks In & Near Windermere

Best Walks In Windermere, Lake Windermere

West Shore Walk

Starting point: Harrowslack National Trust Car Park, LA22 0LR
Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)

This walk offers exactly what it says on the tin – a gorgeous 4-mile ramble hugging the famed western shoreline of Lake Windermere.

Starting from the Ferry House on Windermere’s west shore opposite Bowness, this is an easy-to-follow and gentle linear trail with only a few short but steep sections.

Millerground Windermere, Wild Swimming, Lake District

Top tip – For easy access to the start of trail, you can even grab a seasonal ferry directly from Windermere!

Having you walk along a mixture of tarmac, gravel, stone & grassy paths, the trail is packed full of scenic views along the way, including Wray Castle which marks the final landmark of the route.

Once at the castle, you’ll also get to enjoy the serene shingle beach which is often considered one of the best wild swimming spots on the Lake.

After frolicking in the water, you can simply head back the way you came. For those who’d like to extend their outing however, why not keep your eyes peeled for the boat which runs seasonally from Wray Castle Jetty to Waterhead & Brockhole?

Find out full route info on the National Trust website here.

Tarn Hows

Starting point: National Trust Tarn Hows, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 0PP
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)

Tarn Hows Walk, Views, Lake District

While Tarn Hows may look like a natural beauty spot, many visitors are surprised to hear that it’s actually a man-made wonder.

Recognised as one of the best tarns in the whole of Lakeland, there are a number of different hiking trails you can venture on when visiting here.

Fun fact – Beatrix Potter was the owner of Tarn Hows until her passing, whereafter the National Trust took over the Coniston estate.

The glistening body of tranquil water remains one of Lakeland’s most prized beauty spots. One look at the Tarn for yourself and its clear to see why this scenic gem has garnered the reputation it has.

An easy-to-follow and mostly flat loop around the tarn, this short & sweet stroll is perfect for families with young ‘uns and those who require wheelchair access.

A particular favourite with the kids, look out for the mysterious coin studded tree during your ramble. Even better, bring some loose change, embed a coin for yourself and don’t forget to make a wish!

Coin tree, Tarn Hows, Wish
Who says money can’t grow on trees?

The standard route is a relatively flat and easy-to-follow 2-mile loop around the tarn, though there are also a number of longer trail options for more seasoned ramblers.

For the full lowdown, be sure to head on over to our Tarn Hows Guide here.

Tarn Hows Walk Guide

Loughrigg Fell from Ambleside

Starting point: Ambleside, LA22
Distance: 6.5 miles (10.4 km)

For the hill walkers among you, Loughrigg Fell might just be right up your street.

One of the easiest Wainwrights to summit, Loughrigg Fell is great for hiking newbies and has several trail options on offer.

Despite its relatively short ascent, the panoramas up top are absolutely breathtaking & give you the chance to admire Lake Windermere, Fairfield horseshoe, Coniston Fells and Rydal Water just to name a few.

A common starting point for Loughrigg Fell is from Ambleside, with this particular circular route coming in at a reasonable 6.5 miles.

Ambleside, Canoes, Lake Windermere, Best Walks
It’s always worth having a mooch around Ambleside and basking in the lakeshore views before beginning your ramble

For tarn lovers, you may also want to take a detour towards Loughrigg Tarn after your climb; another fabulous open water swimming spot just north of Skelwith Bridge.

Wray Castle to Blelham Tarn circular walk

Starting point: Low Wray, Ambleside, LA22 0JA
Distance: 3.5 miles

 

A walk which incorporates both a castle and a tarn, this pleasant circular trail is certainly in no shortage of interest!

An easy going 3.5 mile loop, there’s little in the way of elevation on this trail making it ideal for families with little ones or those who struggle with more strenuous routes.

Word of warning however, this route does pass through farmland, so you may want to pack your walking boots for this one since it can get rather slutchy.

Providing fantastic vistas of the ever-tranquil Blelham Tarn, species thriving in the waters include brown trout, eel, pike & roach.

Also home to a variety of birds, wildlife photographers will undoubtedly be snapping plenty of pictures all throughout this lovely & historic trail.

Also leading you along a short segment of the Western Shore Path, much of this trail tends to be rather quiet; perfect for those wanting to escape the hustle and bustle.

Find out full route info on the National Trust website here.

Rydal Water & Rydal Caves Walk

Starting point: White Moss Car Park, Ambleside LA22 9SE
Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)

One of my favourite walks in the whole National Park, Rydal Water & Rydal Cave truly are a sight to behold.

The remnants of an old Lake District slate mine dating back to the 19th Century, thousands of visitors make the journey each year to explore Rydal Cave and admire the gorgeous views of its surrounding craggy landscape.

Rydal Caves, Lake District, Walk, Swim, Stepping Stones
Recently used as a filming location for Netflix’s hit fantasy series ‘The Witcher’, the site has grown even more in popularity in recent years!

The standard route is a scenic 2-mile trail to the cavern that takes you around the serene waters of Rydal Water and can conveniently be started from either Rydal or White Moss Car Park.

Likewise, for those craving a longer ramble, there’s also the option to walk to the idyllic village of Grasmere from Rydal Water.

With plenty of interest to see in the village of Grasmere, I’d say the hike is worth it just for the village’s world famous gingerbread alone!

Grasmere Gingerbread, Sarah Nelson
 Freshly made each day, you’ve never tasted gingerbread like this 

For the full lowdown, be sure to check out our detailed Rydal Caves Walk Guide.

Hawkshead to Windermere

Starting point: Hawkshead, Ambleside LA22 0NS
Distance: 5.5 miles (8.9 km)

 

An ancient township renowned as a flourishing market town back in its heyday, Hawkshead still retains much of its historic splendour.

Home to quaint & compact cottages, walking around the village almost feels like stepping back in a time capsule, with the strict ban on cars only further adding to its authenticity.

Hawkshead Cottages, Hawkshead to Windermere Walk

One of the few villages in the area that still hasn’t succumbed to modern commercialism, the scenic trail from Hawkshead to Windermere is an ideal hike for those wanting a trail on the quieter side.

To start this outing, fellow blogger The Walking Englishmen recommends taking public transport from Windermere to Hawkshead and taking some time to explore the village before starting the hike back to Windermere.

Likewise, with plenty of pubs and cafes on offer, it’s also worth filling up with some tasty grub before beginning your ramble!

A well-signposted and varied trail guiding you over classic Lake District countryside, you’ll enjoy marvelous & enchanted vistas throughout. 

Likewise, with the route finishing on Lake Windermere’s western shore at the ferry house, its super easy to hop on a boat across the water back to Bowness to complete your excursion.

Top tip – With ferries running every 10 minutes, just be sure to check beforehand that boats are running during the time of year you’re hiking since I believe they only operate seasonally.

Cathedral Cave (& Hodge Close Quarry)

Starting point: Little Langdale, Ambleside LA22 9NY
Distance: 1.6 miles (2.6 km)

Cathedral Cave, Quarry Window

Now this is a true hidden gem of the Lake District!

Despite the name, Cathedral Cave does not stand alone, but is actually part of a series of interlinking & historic mining quarries situated just above Little Langdale.

Fun fact – Cathedral Cave derives its name from the atmospheric & church-like lighting that’s filtered in through the main chamber’s ‘window’

Starting from Little Langdale, this picturesque & gentle 1.6 mile route is full of interest throughout; though the views you enjoy once inside the cavern undeniably takes the cake!

Likewise, for the particularly adventurous among you, why not extend your trek and also check out Hodge Close Quarry?

Hodge Close Quarry Cave, Lake District
Also dubbed ‘Skull Cave’, this cavern has even previously been dubbed the scariest in Britain!

Only around a 20-25 minute ramble from Cathedral Cavern, you can even climb down into the heart of Hodge Close Quarry via a hidden scramble path.

Notoriously hard to find however, for a detailed breakdown I’d recommend heading on over to our Hodge Close Quarry Guide 👈

Hodge Close Quarry, Cave, Skull, Rail Track

Fell Foot Park

Starting point: A592, Newby Bridge, Ulverston LA12
Distance: 1.6 miles (2.5 km)

Finishing our list at the southern tip of Lake Windermere, Fell Foot Lakeshore Park is the perfect option for families wanting a faff-free and laid-back day out.

Offering walkers a gentle & scenic 2.5km loop around the whole park, the park is also home to plenty of open greenery for playing and picnicking to keep the little ones occupied.

In addition to walking however, Fell Foot Park is also full of other activities you could try your hand at.

From yoga sessions and orienteering, to parkruns and a variety of watersport activities, the park even includes changing rooms with hot showers and lockers for the price of just £2 for a day pass.

Not a big price to pay to avoid the hassle of trying to get changed in public under just your towel!

For full park info, you can check out the Fell Foot National Park website here.

Windermere walks map

Map courtesy of Wanderlog, an itinerary planner on iOS and Android 

Can you walk around the whole of Windermere?

Yes, it is possible to walk around the whole of Windermere, but this 28-mile mammoth trail certainly isn’t for the faint of heart!

Likely taking over 12 hours to complete, this challenge should only be reserved for well-prepared and experienced ramblers.

Large chunks of this trail are also on country roads, so please take care if you do decide to tackle it since there will be cars zipping by.

More resources

While you’re here…

Don’t forget to also check out our recent posts listing ’10 Unmissable Things To Do In Windermere’ and ‘4 Of The Best Wild Swimming Spots On Lake Windermere’ for even more outdoor inspiration!

Likewise, why not explore more of the Lake District resources available on our blog?

From the best waterfalls & wild swimming spots in the National Park, to the top rated hikes & scrambles; I’m sure you’ll find something that’ll perk your interest.

Ambleside, Borrans Park, Wild Swimming

Happy walking 🚶🚶