(South Lakes Circuit) Rydal Water, between Ambleside and Grasmere
SOUTH LAKES CIRCUIT (SELF-GUIDED)   4 stages . 5 nights . Lake District   Booking

South Lakes Circuit
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ A logical route for a short, easy trek
+ Charming, tranquil and captivating scenery
+ Link Hawkshead, Coniston and Langdale

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

This beautiful circular walk leads you over 4 days through the heart of Southern Lakeland. Each day, follow the gentle course to your next destination.

The route is a clever one, though we say so ourselves! It links up the area's classic walking destinations including Grizedale Forest and Great Langdale, as well as the quieter tracks and paths. This region of the Lakes is particularly suited to rambling, or easy walking, thanks to its network of trails and the ever-changing landscape.

Starting in Ambleside and linking up Great Langdale, Coniston and Hawkshead in a logical loop, your pace need never be too high. The terrain is low in comparison to the high Lakeland fells, and the paths underfoot are mostly excellent. A mile of path might take you though woodland, across a field, past a tarn on a wide stony track, and along a country lane.

Your accommodation is in our varied schedule of guesthouses and inns. For your three nights 'on the road' you'll spend two nights in small villages - Coniston and Hawkshead - and one night in a more rural location, the rarified atmosphere of Great Langdale. A friendly guesthouse in Ambleside completes the picture for your first and last nights, letting you get to know this bustling centre of the southern Lakes.


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


Alpine Exploratory
SLCsg South 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 South trek is a moderate pace: while the stages from Great Langdale to Hawkshead via Coniston could be combined into one, we feel that 4 days is about right.

Rest days
Add a rest day at any of the three stops - Great Langdale, Coniston or Hawkshead - for superb walking options locally plus good food and beer in the evenings.

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
+ The North Lakes Circuit is an all-rounder involving low passes
+ The West Lakes Circuit gives modest distances but difficult terrain
+ This 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 South Lakes Circuit
This is a neat, logical and flexible circuit of some beautiful countryside. Set off from Ambleside and take paths around Loughrigg Fell. Undulating woodland paths follow before a stretch of open walled track leads easily through the landscape to Hawkshead. Between Hawkshead and Coniston lies the Northern end of Grizedale Forest and it is here that the next stage�s route lies. From Coniston, cross tracks into Little Langdale and climb past Blea Tarn to Great Langdale. A final, tranquil, walk out of this famous valley takes you back to Ambleside.

Our Lakeland trips involve a broad mix of terrain, within the context of hillwalking in the UK, and within this our South Lakes Circuit sticks to the less challenging end of the scale. Paths are rough and rocky in places but generally stay within the valley on this particular Lakes trip. A typical path is grassy across fields, or 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 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.

Happy clients

"The pack was well written and up to date.

Scenery? "Beautiful. Cannot explain how lovely it is whatever the weather.

"Everywhere was so kind to us and the dog. Very good service. Thank you for a different holiday, loved every minute."

Mr & Mrs Lees and Lottie, UK
(South Lakes Circuit)

Key information Summer 2019

Trip name: South Lakes Circuit
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: SLCsg
Route: LDC Lake District Circuit
(See our background page on the LDC)
(Prefer the full trek, East, North or West?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 4 days' trekking
Start: Ambleside in Cumbria
End: Ambleside in Cumbria
Typical walk: 14km, 300m ascent
Total distance: 51km or 32 miles
Highest altitude: 335m
Grade: Blue2 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2019

4 stages, per person:

SLCsg Classic
GBP 470 (singles 125, dog 50)
South Lakes Circuit (self-guided)

SLCsg Comfy
GBP 550 (singles 150, dog 50)
South 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

Chapel Stile in Great Langdale
Great Langdale (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 SLC1-4 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

Blea Tarn and the Langdale Pikes
Blea Tarn (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:

Rough month?         
Any questions about the Lake District?

Ready to book?

Our booking form to get things started:


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.
About us