(North Lakes Circuit) Grasmoor and Grisedale Pike from Borrowdale
NORTH LAKES CIRCUIT (SELF-GUIDED)   4 stages . 5 nights . Lake District   Booking

North Lakes Circuit
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ A short trek in the bold Northern Lakes
+ Walk over passes and through valleys
+ Detailed route notes and trekking advice

Latest news September 2019
Please ask us about a trip. We are now taking bookings for our 2020 season. Thank you!

This ingenious 4-day circular walk takes you on a journey through the Northern Lakes. Start in Keswick, the handy base at the top of Derwent Water, and venture through Buttermere, Borrowdale and Threlkeld on your way round.

As a first stage, head out of Keswick and reach the village of Buttermere. The scene here is quite different, enclosed within two mountain ridges and with Buttermere and Crummock Water on hand. Next a rough path takes you over to Rosthwaite in Borrowdale. Carry on the journey across the fells to Threlkeld sitting underneath Blencathra, before the last stage that follows the classic Lakeland route towards Skiddaw House and back to Keswick.

The theme of this short trek is an exploration of the area's less well-known tracks and trails. Many walkers will have climbed the high fells that line the route throughout, but might not have ventured into the quiet valleys and over the high passes. This route lets you put into perspective any previous visits, gaining a proper feel for what's where in this classic outdoor region.

Your accommodation is in our schedule of friendly guesthouses, B&Bs and inns. As always, we favour a handy location in the village and a good welcome. Each night brings new surroundings and a chance to relax.


Map showing the route of Alpine Exploratory's North Lakes Circuit Self-Guided walking holiday


Alpine Exploratory
NLCsg North Lakes Circuit (Self-guided)
12 May to 15 September 2019
Prices in GBP
per person
Hutty Classic Comfy
Popular schedules
4 stages
(5 nights)

Please ask us
Singles 125
50 per dog
Singles 150
50 per dog
Baggage transfer Please ask us

Baggage transfer

Let us deliver your bag to each stop. Each morning simply leave your bag with your host.


We don't have set schedules or start dates - instead we can book your trip to suit you.

Alternative schedules
At 4 stages the North trek is a moderately fast pace and it would be hard to combine stages to make it faster. To add a night and make it 5 stages would be possible, but would need a bus to reach accommodation.

Rest days
Add a rest day in Buttermere, after the first stage, or Borrowdale half-way, to relax in these particularly pretty valleys or to walk local routes.

Which Lakeland trek?

We offer four short treks in the Lakes (each 4 stages). By trekking the outer edge of these four, we make our Lake District Circuit (10 stages):

+ The East Lakes Circuit has longer distances than the others
+ This North Lakes Circuit is an all-rounder involving low passes
+ The West Lakes Circuit gives modest distances but difficult terrain
+ The South Lakes Circuit is the easiest of the treks and stays low
+ The Lake District Circuit is our fabulous loop of the Lakes.

The route

Our approach to the North Lakes Circuit
Your route crosses passes and travels through valleys on a satisfying circuit of many scenic spots in the Northern Lakes. Set off from Keswick into the Newlands Valley. A path leaves to climb a quiet valley and drop down to Buttermere, the small village between Buttermere (the lake) and Crummock Water. The next stage takes a steep path up to the Honister area and drops into Borrowdale, where the villages of Rosthwaite, Stonethwaite and Longthwaite make up the civilisation. Pass through Watendlath and cross the ridge to Thirlmere before a gentle valley walk through St John�s in the Vale brings you to Threlkeld, the village underneath Blencathra. Skiddaw House can be visited on the final stage to Keswick, a day of wide and sometimes wild views.

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!) with stonier sections and some drops to the side.

How to get there

Your holiday starts and ends in Keswick, the small town and resort in the Northern half of the Lakes. A regular bus runs from Penrith to Keswick; Penrith is on the main train line between London and Glasgow. If flying we suggest Manchester Airport and a train to Penrith to change for the bus, or the train to Windermere and the bus through the Lakes to Keswick.

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 2019

Trip name: North Lakes Circuit
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: NLCsg
Route: LDC Lake District Circuit
(See our background page on the LDC)
(Prefer the full trek, East, West or South?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 4 days' trekking
Start: Keswick in Cumbria
End: Keswick in Cumbria
Typical walk: 14km, 500m ascent
Total distance: 57.5km or 36 miles
Highest altitude: 530m
Grade: Red2 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2019

4 stages, per person:

NLCsg Classic
GBP 470 (singles 125, dog 50)
North Lakes Circuit (self-guided)

NLCsg Comfy
GBP 550 (singles 150, dog 50)
North Lakes Circuit (self-guided)

Research Summer 2019

People at Alpine Exploratory Alpine Exploratory's 2019 research on the Lake District Circuit will be led by:
Lucy Rushton in April

Recces 2019

Wild scenery at Skiddaw House
At Skiddaw House (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

5 nights, staying in:
B&Bs and guesthouses (2)
Inns (2)
Small hotel (1)

Accommodation and itinerary
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards NLC1-4 of the Exploratory system
Maps and local information

Season for self-guided treks
12 May to 15 September 2019
3 May to 18 September 2020
Trek on your ideal dates

Buttermere from Warnscale Beck
Buttermere (Photo gallery)

Find out more

About our walking holidays Our FAQs page covering equipment, weather, insurance and more about how our trips work

Walking guides Our LDC background page

Contact us or use this form:

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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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