Lake District Tour
6 stages . 7 nights . English Lake Distict
view of Derwentwater from Catbells
Lake District Tour
Lake District Tour
6 stages . 7 nights

Lake District Tour
Self-guided walking holiday

Key information

Start: Ambleside, England
End: Ambleside, England
Season dates: 1 May to 15 Sept 2024
Length: 6 days' walking
Typical walk: 17km, 640m ascent
Total distance: 99.5km or 62.5 miles
Highest altitude: 750m
(950m with Helvellyn alternative)
(978m with Scafell Pike alternative)
Grade: Red 3 for our main route (Walking grades)
Black 4 with Helvellyn alternative
Black 3 with Scafell Pike alternative
Group size: 2 or more trekkers

From GBP 850 per person

Walk a magnificent circuit of the Lake District National Park, England's largest National Park and home to the highest peak in England: Scafell Pike (978m). Our route links the charming valleys of Patterdale, Buttermere, Ennerdale, Wasdale and Langdale in a circular route in 6 days. In setting our route we have tried to show the best of the Lake District in one week's continuous walking. Walking from point to point is (we think) the best way to see the mountains.

We have applied our many years of Lake District walking to create this fantastic 6-stage Tour. The route starts in Ambleside, the bustling outdoor town in the South Lakes. From Ambleside we set off North East to Patterdale with a chance to summit Helvellyn (950m) and then cross to Ullswater and the mountain town of Keswick in the North. From Keswick we cross to the quaint valley of Buttermere and then to the more remote valley of Wasdale. Finally, we cross to Great Langdale in a bold, high stage via Angle Tarn with the chance to climb Scafell Pike (978m). Complete the circuit by dopping into Langdale and walking through the valley to Ambleside.

We stay in comfy B&Bs, Inns and small hotels, making for a comfy week-long walking trip. Find village pubs in the Northern English style for good food and cosy evenings.


Alternative trip options
Looking for something a little bit different?
logo Coast to Coast A longer walk in England, including 4 Lakes stages
logo West Highland Way Also a week, at lower difficulty and in Scotland
Make the trip shorter
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
1 May to 15 Sept 2024
Hutty Classic Comfy
4 stages
(5 nights)

Please ask
GBP 710
Singles 255
50 per dog
GBP 920
Singles 290
50 per dog
6 stages
(7 nights)
Please ask
GBP 850
Singles 315
70 per dog
Main Trip
GBP 1060
Singles 350
70 per dog
6 stages
1 rest day
(8 nights)
Please ask
GBP 930
Singles 360
80 per dog
GBP 1,150
Singles 390
80 per dog
Baggage transfer
Please ask us

Where we stay
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.

Single Room Supplement
If you would like to stay in single rooms rather than sharing a double, twin or triple room we add our single room supplement. This covers the additional cost of booking single occupancy rooms on a per person basis.

Solo Travel
We do not take bookings for solo walkers on self-guided trips. If you are still interested in this trip, we do have availability on our guided trips.

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.
Our approach to the Lake District
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.

People at Alpine Exploratory
Latest research on the Lake District Tour by Lucy.

The Terrain
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.
Striding Edge in the Lake District
Descent from Helvellyn via Striding Edge on Stage 1 alternative
   For an even more detailed read, please see our Lake District Tour Walking Guide
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 so easily accessible from London, Glasgow, Manchester and Edinburgh.

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.
Happy dog above Derwent Water in the Lake District
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 1 topographical OS map needed
  • Downloadable GPX Tracks covering the route
  • 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)
Not included
  • 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 transfer

Let 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.
Got questions about the Lake District Tour?
Feel free to ask us any questions you have about any aspects of your planning and preparations! Lucy, Steph, Nicky, Rob and Ben will reply with expert advice. We spend a lot of time walking our routes and more broadly exploring ski and hiking trails around the world so do feel free to ask anything at all.


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Lake District Tour Self-guided

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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.

The Alpine Exploratory Team
The Alpine Exploratory team in Edinburgh

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  Fleetwith Pike and Buttermere    Photos from the Lake District Tour


Alpine Exploratory
Alpine Exploratory is a system of knowledge on the best mountain trekking in our areas, giving clients superb holidays based on this exploration.

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