+ Cover the major areas in a week's tour of the Lakes
+ Rocky peaks, charming valleys and tranquil spots
+ Trek each day to your next guesthouse, inn or hotel
Latest news October 2019
Our 2020 dates and prices are up! Availability is great at this early point. Please ask us about a trip - thank you.
Walk a magnificent circuit of Lakeland. Our route visits most of the major valleys, linking Patterdale, Buttermere, Ennerdale, Wasdale and Langdale. Walking from point to point is a satisfying way to see this National Park, bringing a new hamlet, village or small town at the end of each stage.
We have applied our years of Lake District walking to create the 6-stage Tour. Start in Ambleside, the bustling centre for the South Lakes. Set off North East to Patterdale and Ullswater, then cross to Keswick firmly in the North. The linked Western sections come next as we cross to Buttermere, then in one day to Ennerdale and Wasdale. Now cross to Great Langdale in a bold, high stage via Angle Tarn. Finally, Langdale gives a new perspective on the trip, distant hills rising above the woods.
The terrain in a circuit of the Lake District is bound to be varied. Our emphasis is on good mountain paths that cross passes into the next valley. Some paths are stony and hard to distinguish, for example across the Scafell massif, while on the lower-level sections including Langdale we walk on field paths, woodland tracks or country lanes. There is the chance to climb two high peaks of the area, Scafell Pike and Helvellyn, on detours from our main route.
LDTsg Lake District Tour (Self-guided)
3 May to 18 September 2020
Prices in GBP
70 per dog
70 per dog
50 per dog
50 per dog
1 rest day
80 per dog
80 per dog
Here is our normal schedule of 6 stages.
Arrival day: Arrival in Ambleside
Your trip begins with arrival in Ambleside, the holiday centre of the South Lakes and a major outdoor base. Explore the restaurants and back-street pubs.
Guesthouse in Ambleside
Stage 1: Ambleside to Glenridding
Red3 grade, 22km with 845m ascent, 755m descent
An all-round Lakeland walk, this stage begins with the popular walk beside Rydal Water and Grasmere. We follow the classic Loughrigg Terrace route. Beyond Grasmere the character changes to a steady ascent of the open hillside, crossing Grisedale Hause. 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 Black4 grade.)
B&B in Glenridding
Stage 2: Glenridding to Keswick
Red3 grade, 20.5km with 790m ascent, 775m descent
We make a second substantial Lakeland crossing today, from Patterdale over the Sticks Pass (750m). Once down near Thirlmere our main route then takes to fields for a gentler second half. We pass the well-sited Castlerigg stone circle before dropping to Keswick, main base for the Northern lakes and popular with tourists and walkers. (We describe an alternative from Thirlmere to Rosthwaite, that takes you into the heart of beautiful Borrowdale. This makes the day 22.5km with 1150m ascent and 1145m descent. Then take the bus from Rosthwaite to Keswick.)
Guesthouse in Keswick
Stage 3: Keswick to Buttermere
Red3 grade, 17.5km with 720m ascent, 700m descent
The defining section of this walk is the crossing from the 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 the lake Buttermere.
Small hotel in Buttermere
Stage 4: Buttermere to Wasdale Head
Red3 grade, 12km with 645m ascent, 680m descent
Today's two passes (Scarth Gap Pass and Black Sail Pass) are similar in needing short, steep ascents and in giving quick views into the next valley. 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
Stage 5: Wasdale Head to Great Langdale
Red3 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
Stage 6: Great Langdale to Ambleside
Blue2 grade, 14km with 140m ascent, 175m descent
Link the circuit by walking the length of Great Langdale. 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. (Loughrigg Terrace is a possibility by diverting.) Congratulations! (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
Departure day: Departure from Ambleside
Depart after breakfast from Ambleside; in fact this is a great point from which to take buses across the Lakes or trains via Oxenholme to Manchester or London. We love to advise on onward travel.
On any of our treks, please add a second night at Wasdale Head in order to climb Scafell Pike (978m) which is England's highest mountain. Or, make the ascent during Stage 5 (as noted above).
Scafell Pike ascent from Wasdale Head
Black3 grade, 12km with 970m ascent, 970m descent
For those staying at Wasdale Head a second night, our out-and-back route to Scafell Pike goes up the Lingmell Beck and onto the stony open summit slopes. Scafell Pike (978m) is a worthy peak, often popular. In bad weather the summit area needs careful route-finding.
Our usual schedule of accommodation might not be available, especially if there is not much time between booking and your trip. We book accommodation as closely as possible to this itinerary and present a schedule for you to check before we proceed.
Let us deliver your bag to each stop. Each morning simply leave your bag with your host or at reception.
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. Your hotels and B&Bs supply towels and shampoo. 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.
As well as the alternative paths (above) that can be chosen on the day, there are some variants to our Lake District Tour that we would plan in advance:
Trek 4 stages
If you'd like to spend 4 days in the Lakes then we can readily recommend the Keswick to Ambleside stages. Joining at Keswick, you might travel through the Lakes if coming from the South and would gain the sense of scale. As a base, Keswick is super fun. Then start with Stage 3 to Buttermere, a good all-round Lakeland walk. (Our 5-night trip.)
Stay in Rosthwaite instead of Keswick
If the Rosthwaite alternative on Stage 2 appeals then you might also like to spend the night there. To stay in Borrowdale is more rural than Keswick. The next day, take a morning bus to Keswick and start Stage 3. (No change to the price.)
Stay an extra night at Wasdale Head
Spending two nights in Wasdale lets you climb Scafell Pike as a day walk, returning to base afterwards. Then pick up the trek with the normal Stage 5. (Our 8-night trip.)
Our approach to the Lake District
This Tour is a full circuit of the Lake District. Inevitably in one week we cannot see every corner of Lakeland which is a particularly dense and intricate area of hills. Starting from Ambleside in the South, your route takes you slightly to the East at Patterdale on the shore of Ullswater. Cross back to Keswick, the tourist centre of the North Lakes. Head South West to the hamlet of Buttermere and then enter the highest hills. The remote valley of Wasdale is a highlight across another rough pass. The roughest day underfoot comes next as we cross the Scafell massif to Great Langdale. Here difficulties ease and your last stage offers contemplation of the hills explored as you follow the tranquil course of Langdale to Ambleside.
Our Lakeland trips involve a broad mix of terrain from easy paths across fields to steep rocky paths. Everything is within the context of hillwalking in the UK. 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. Around the Scafell area the going is particularly rocky and rough, with navigation at a premium if the cloud is low.
How to get there
Your holiday starts and ends in Ambleside. The nearest train station is Windermere from where it's a bus ride to Ambleside. Windermere is on the branch line from Oxenholme which is on the main London-Glasgow line. If flying, direct trains run from Manchester Airport to Windermere.
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.
Key information Summer 2020
Trip name: Lake District Tour
Prices Summer 2020
6 stages, per person:
Research Summer 2020
Buttermere (Photo gallery)
Alpine Exploratory's service
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