Your trip begins with arrival in Ambleside, a charming town in the 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 1000m ascent, 900m descent
An all-round Lakeland walk, this stage begins with the popular path 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. Cross Grisedale Hause, our first pass. 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 25km with 1375m ascent and 1275m descent at Black4 grade.)
B&B in Glenridding (breakfast)
Red 3 (grade) 20km with 940m ascent, 1010m descent
We make a second substantial Lakeland crossing today, from Patterdale over the Sticks Pass to Thirlmere. Once down near Thirlmere our main route takes to fields for a gentler second half, passing Castlerigg stone circle before dropping to Keswick, the main base for the Northern lakes. (An harder alternative from Thirlmere to Rosthwaite takes you into the heart of the Borrowdale valley. It makes the 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 1000m ascent, 970m descent
The defining section of our third stage 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 790m ascent, 810m descent
A highlight of the Tour is today's stage of two passes (Scarth Gap Pass and Black Sail Pass) offering pure Lakeland views into the neighbouring valleys. These passes are similar in their short, steep ascents. In the middle of the passes is wild Ennerdale; we pass the Black Sail hut, one of the few mountain huts/hostels in Britain. Our aim across the second pass 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) 12.5km with 810m ascent, 790m descent
It's 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 (978m), the highest peak 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 15km with 970m ascent and 940m descent, at Black3 grade. We also describe a harder route direct from Wasdale Head.)
Inn in Great Langdale (breakfast)
Blue 2 (grade) 14km with 140m ascent, 175m descent
Complete the circuit by walking the length of the pretty Great Langdale. In the valley, the walking is flatter than the previous days, and the mountainous views are excellent. Pass two delightful villages Chapel Stile and Elterwater, both offering pub lunches. We take a route into Ambleside via Skelwith Bridge and over the side of Loughrigg. (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 the shops of Ambleside before departing. If you're travelling further within the UK, please let us know as we love to give 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. (If you are coming from the North you might prefer to use Keswick as a base.) Please ask us for more details. Due to the pattern of accommodation along the route, it's hard to walk the full route in fewer stages; thus for shorter trips we suggest the normal stages but fewer of them.
Make the trip longer
Making your trip longer is posible by spending an additional night in Wasdale to allow a day to climb Scafell Pike as a day hike. It's 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 also like to add extra nights along the trail to allow you to explore the Lake District further under your own steam. Please let us know when you book or ask us for details. Thank you.
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 one in Keswick. It's our favourite town in the Lakes; a lively tourist bustle and a fine site with a short walk to the shore of Derwent Water. There are attractions (museums), local bus routes in Cumbria, and notable day walks such as Skiddaw, the bulky hill to the North. Or, add another night in Ambleside to explore the town and to use it as a base in the South Lakes. Please do let us know if you'd like to add a rest day and we'll be happy to advise.
Hike with a leader
Hike with confidence in the company of our fully qualified International Mountain Leaders (IMLs), with the navigation, accommodation and all arrangements taken care of. You're welcome to walk on any date within our season and we can adjust the hike to suit your needs. Please get in touch for more details of our private guided option.
Lake District Tour
2 May to 17 September 2021
50 per dog
50 per dog
70 per dog
70 per dog
1 rest day
80 per dog
80 per dog
Group of 4 or more
70 per dog
70 per dog
Group of 1, 2 or 3
|Please ask us|
||GBP 70 per bag|
Our classic Lake District Tour stays in a lovely mix of guesthouses, inns and small hotels. 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. In previous years we ran separate North, South, East and West hikes each of 4 stages and we have come to know some superb places to stay in the Lakes.
For a touch of luxury while you walk, our ‘Comfy’ option is a great option and would upgrade your accommodation on 4 nights: in Ambleside (2 nights), Glenridding and Keswick. With this option we stay in comfier hotels rather than guesthouses and inns, in these villages. On the other nights we book the comfiest rooms available in our normal places. Please ask if you'd like more details or if you'd like to work with us on a specific schedule. Thank you.
We don't have a ready-made 'Hutty' option for our Lake District Tour, but it is possible on some nights to stay in more basic accommodation or hostels. One example is the Patterdale youth hostel with its interesting modern building. Please ask us and we'll be pleased to discuss the options available.
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 (or dogs)! Our dog friendly itinerary allows you to have your dog stay with you in your room each night and walk alongside you each day. We ask for an additional cost of GBP 10 per dog per night. Please let us know if you'd like to bring a dog.
This trip is a full circuit of the Lake District visiting the main valleys of the National Park and crossing a number of great mountain passes. Designed to give a wonderful taste of what the Lake District has to offer, our routecards 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, which has substantial drops on both sides and is a narrow path on a thin crest of rock.) Around the Scafell area the going is particularly rocky and rough, with careful 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 its own way. Many a walker and photographer has fallen in love with the Lakeland fells. The lush green valleys of the South contrast nicely with the bold hills of the North and East, and with 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 with map and compass will be needed to stay 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 that each group has at least one person who is happy to navigate using map and compass, in low visibility. If you'd like to chat about the trail, please email or call us and we'll be delighted to talk.
The trip is first and foremost a hike. There are no via ferrata or climbing sections on our route, and all the 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 (our Black grade for terrain) which means combinations of technical rocky walking ground, less well-defined paths, and drops to one or both sides.
As to pace, our 6-stage Tour is a reasonably bold week, as is needed to see these diverse valleys in the time. The route presses on and will suit those used to longer days.
We describe the difficulties of the trail and the alternatives on our routecards. 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. For an even more detailed read, please see our Lake District Tour Walking Guide
If flying, Manchester Airport is the closest option for a large airport and is host to plenty of international flights. From Manchester Airport, trains run to Windermere.
We are delighted to advise on travel across the UK and we are proud to have ourselves taken so many routes. Wherever you are starting, please ask us and we'll suggest the good approaches to the Lakes. Equally many of our Lakeland hikers are walking as part of longer in the UK; we love to talk about the possibilities.
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.
- 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 (8am until 8pm UK time)
- Travel to and from your trip
- Local transport whilst on the trip unless specified
- Travel insurance
- Lunches, snacks, drinks and evening meals
- Baggage transfers (available as an extra)
Baggage transferLet us carry your bags for you. Each morning simply leave your transfer bag with your host or at reception and just take your day pack with you 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. 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.
If you are traveling onwards after the Lakes, please ask us and we'll make sure you can leave luggage at your Ambleside guesthouse.
Booking form for the Lake District Tour
Lake District Tour enquiry form
If you prefer, please feel welcome to email or call us. Thanks!
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Monday to Friday
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Open to the world
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.