Your trip begins with arrival in Ambleside, a charming town in South Lakes and a major outdoor base. Explore the restaurants, back-street pubs and outdoor gear shops before settling down for the night at one of our comfy B&Bs.
Guesthouse in Ambleside (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 22km with 845m ascent, 755m descent
An all-round Lakeland walk, this stage begins with the popular walk beside the pretty lakes of Rydal Water and Grasmere. We follow the classic Loughrigg Terrace route which gives fantastic view across the lakes to the mountains behind. Beyond Grasmere the character changes to a steady ascent of the open hillside. Later we roll down the valley to Glenridding in Patterdale, on the shore of Ullswater. (An option today is the ascent of Helvellyn (950m) and descent of the narrow Striding Edge. This makes the day 25.5km with 1265m ascent and 1175m descent at Black 4 grade.)
B&B in Glenridding (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 20.5km with 790m ascent, 775m descent
We make a second substantial Lakeland crossing today, from Patterdale over the Sticks Pass (750m) to Thirlmere. Once down near Thirlmere our main route then takes to fields for a gentler second half. We pass Castlerigg stone circle before dropping to Keswick, the main base for the Northern lakes and popular with tourists and walkers. (We describe an wonderful alternative from Thirlmere to Rosthwaite, that takes you into the heart of the Borrowdale valley. This makes the day 22.5km with 1150m ascent and 1145m descent. Then take the bus from Rosthwaite to Keswick.)
Guesthouse in Keswick (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 17.5km with 720m ascent, 700m descent
The defining section of this walk is the crossing from the pretty Newlands valley to Buttermere over the pass separating Sail and Ard Crags. Before this we climb one of the best-loved Lakeland hills, Cat Bells above Derwent Water. We stay in Buttermere, a gentle haven after a varied cross-country walk, the village sited between Crummock Water and Buttermere.
Small hotel in Buttermere (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 12km with 645m ascent, 680m descent
A highlight of the tour today with two passes (Scarth Gap Pass and Black Sail Pass) offering spectacular views into the neighbouring valleys and across the lakeland fells. These passes are similar in their short, steep ascents but the views are worth the effort put in! We cross into Ennerdale and pass the Black Sail hut. Our aim is Wasdale Head and its inn, famous as an early base for Lakeland mountaineering on nearby Great Gable and Scafell Pike.
Inn at Wasdale Head (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 13.5km with 690m ascent, 670m descent
A grand crossing today through the heart of the Lakes! We link footpaths to Sty Head Tarn and Sprinkling Tarn, crossing the side of the Scafell massif. At the other side of this high ground we find Angle Tarn, then drop into Great Langdale. (It is possible to climb Scafell Pike, highest point in England, during this stage. Our suggestion is to leave the route near Allen Crags for a detour to Scafell Pike that makes the day 21.5km with 1,030m ascent and 1,010m descent, at Black3 grade.)
Inn in Great Langdale (breakfast)
Blue 2 (grade) 14km with 140m ascent, 175m descent
Link the circuit by walking the length of the pretty Great Langdale valley. The walking is relatively flat, with the odd minor and worthwhile climb, and the mountainous views are excellent. Pass two delightful villages Chapel Stile and Elterwater, both offering pub lunches. We take a different route into Ambleside via Skelwith Bridge and over the side of Loughrigg, reaching Rothay Park again. (We suggest a detour to Stickle Tarn (470m) in the Langdale Pikes, that makes the day 18km with 520m ascent and 555m descent at Red2 grade.)
Guesthouse in Ambleside (breakfast)
Take time to enjoy your well earned full-english breakfast and one final stroll through Ambleside before departing. If you're travelling further within the UK, please do let us know and we'd be happy to provide recommendations for places to visit.
It's very possible to opt for a shorter hike over just 4 days by starting in Keswick in the North and walking the 4 stages to Ambleside in the South. It's easy to catch a bus from Ambleside to Keswick so you can still start and finish your hike in Ambleside if you wish. Please do just ask us for more details.
Make the trip longer
Making your trip longer can be made posible by spending an additional night in Wasdale to allow a day to climb Scafell Pike. It's also possible to climb Scafell Pike as an alternative on our main route but it's a great day hike option if you're looking to extend your trip. We're also happy to add in additional nights along the trail to allow you to explore the Lake District further under your own steam. Please do just let us know when you book or ask us for details.
Add a Rest Day
Although we don't include a rest day as standard, if you'd like to add in a rest day, we'd recommend taking on in Keswick, or adding another night in Ambleside to explore these pretty towns. Please do just let us know if you'd like to add a rest day and we'd be happy to advise.
Lake District Tour (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 October 2020
2 May to 17 September 2021
70 per dog
70 per dog
50 per dog
50 per dog
1 rest day
80 per dog
80 per dog
|GBP 70 per bag|
Our classic Lake District Tour holiday stays in a lovel mix of guesthouses, inns and small hotels. Although a rural area, accommodation is plentiful and of a high standard. We place a lot of value on a friendly welcome and comfy place to rest in the evenings; always with a good pub within walking distance.
For a touch of luxury whilst you walk, our ‘Comfy’ option is a great option and would upgrade your accommodation on 4 nights; in Ambleside (2 nights), Glenridding and Keswick. Our comfier options tend to be Hotels rather than guesthouses and Inns. Please do ask if you would like more details.
We don't have any ready made 'Hutty' options for our Lake District Tour however it is possible on some nights to opt to stay in more basic accommodation or hostels. Please do ask us for details of your are interested in a more basic option.
The single supplement covers the difference in cost between a single room and a double room on a per person basis.
Bring your dog
In common with most of our UK trips, we're delighted that you can walk with your dog! Our dog friendly itinerary allows you to have your dog stay with you in your room each night and walk along-side you each day. We ask for a small additional cost of GBP 10 per dog per night as charged by the hotels and Inns. Please just let us know when you book if you'd like to bring a dog.
This Tour is a full circuit of the Lake District visiting the main valleys of the National Park and crossing a number of great mountain passes. This Tour is designed to give a wonderful taste of what the Lake District has to offer. We also give options on Stage 1 and Stage 5 to claim some key summits; Helvellyn and Scafell Pike.
Our Lakeland trip involve a broad mix of terrain from easy paths across fields to rocky paths across the massifs. Everything is within the context of hillwalking in the UK and is achieveable for a normal fit walker. A typical path is hard-packed earth, or mud if it has been raining! We also find stonier sections and some drops to the side (particularly on the optional descent from Helvellyn via Striding Edge)! Around the Scafell area the going is particularly rocky and rough, with navigation required if the cloud is low.
Is it for me?
Exploring the Lakes is a treat for any walker who likes to spend time in the mountains (and valleys). The Lake District, although not as high as the mountains of the Alps, is dramatic and beautiful in it's own way. Many a walker and photographer has fallen in love with the Lakeland fells. The lush green valleys of the South contrast nicely to the bold hills of the North and East, the rockiness of the West.
With good solid paths for the majority of the route, the trail is achievable for most fit walkers and our alternatives offer a great challenge for those who want it. Although the route goes on known paths, marked on the map - the path (in small sections) is not always visible on the ground! In clear weather the route is obvious, but if the cloud is low then navigation will be needed to head in the right direction. These sections are generally short and soon link to the clear path on the far side of the col. It is for these sections that we ask each party has atleast 1 person who is happy to navigate using map and compass, in low visibility. If you'd like to chat about the trail, please do just call or email us and we'd be delighted to help.
There are no difficulties other than those of walking on our main route. There are no via ferrata on our route and no climbing sections and all walking is on rocky mountain paths, forest trails, field paths or country lanes. The optional alternative routes via Helvellyn or Scafell Pike are at the higher end of difficulty and technical walking ground with rougher ground, less well defined paths and drops to one or both sides.
We describe the difficulties of the trail and the alternatives on our routecards and you can always ask us to describe the route in more details if you would like. While your routecards make up the walking for the trip, you are of course free to walk wherever you choose, taking side trips or going by a different route of your own choice. Please note that if you follow your own route you will have left the holiday for the duration.
Descent from Helvellyn via Striding Edge on Stage 1 alternative
For an even more detailed read, please see our Lake District Tour Walking Guide
Travel to and from the trip is not included in the holiday price. We take care to give the most useful notes possible about all the travel options. We supply these both on booking and in your info pack, and we offer personalised tips at any point. The aim is that our trekkers arrange their travel by the simplest and most scenic means as suits their plan.
Bring your dog - Poppy enjoying herself above Derwent Water
- Bespoke accommodation itinerary - tailored to suit your particular requirements
- Breakfast every morning
- Detailed Routecards LDT1-6 of the Exploratory system, printed on waterproof paper
- The 4 topographical OS maps needed
- Expert advice and local information
- A comprehensive 'Season Update' following our pre-season recce
- Full support during your trip from the Alpine Exploratory team (9am until 9pm in the Alps)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals in the towns (this would be 7 nights on our main trip)
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferLet us carry your bags for you. Each morning simply leave your main bag with your host or at reception and just dake your day pack with your for the day. We offer baggage transfer as an additional service knowing that some trekkers prefer to carry their kit for the week, and in fact there is not too much to carry in the Lakes and it's possible to trek with quite a light pack even allowing for the necessary waterproofs, warm layer including hat and gloves, and food and water for the day.
2020 and 2021
Lake District Tour enquiry form
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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Since Alpine Exploratory started in 2005 we have loved getting to know our clients from around the world. Along with the UK, our best-represented countries are the US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand. Please use our national-rate numbers for a cheaper call to contact our office in Edinburgh.
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.