(West Lakes Circuit) Black Sail Youth Hotel
WEST LAKES CIRCUIT (SELF-GUIDED)   4 stages . 5 nights . Lake District   Booking

West Lakes Circuit
Self-guided trekking holiday

+ Modest distances but demanding rocky terrain
+ Link famous Lakeland valleys on this natural circuit
+ Options abound for side trips to Lakeland peaks

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

Cross from one remote valley to the next on this exhilarating exploration of the Western Lakes. Highlights of this trip include ennerdale and Wasdale, two valleys into which it is almost as easy to arrive by foot as by car!

The terrain in this key part of the Lake District is more consistently rocky than that of other areas. The emphasis is on stony paths rather than grassy or hard-packed ones. This terrain brings stunning views, in clear weather, of the highest Lakes peaks including Scafell Pike and Great Gable, both of which your route passes close by and which make obvious detours off our route for those who wish.

Starting in Great Langdale, the first stage follows the Cumbria Way as far as Borrowdale, linking the orbit of the South Lakes to that of the North. Next, cross intriguing mining areas before dropping to the wilds of Ennerdale, one of the most remote Lakeland valleys. There follow two obvious crossings of passes, first to Wasdale and finally back to Langdale, after a day on some loose and rocky paths.

Your accommodation is in our varied schedule, mainly in small Lakeland hotels plus one hostel in wild Ennerdale. For this hostel, no extra kit is needed, breakfast is included as per each other morning, and dinner is available.


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


Alpine Exploratory
WLCsg West 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 West trek contains one shorter day, to Wasdale Head, but to combine this with the day either side would make it quite long. We like the flexibility of the short day, to allow exploration to the side.. Pillar and Great Gable are fells to either side.

Rest days
Add a rest day in Wasdale to climb a peak. Or, take an extra night in Great Langdale and 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
+ The North Lakes Circuit is an all-rounder involving low passes
+ This 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 West Lakes Circuit
This is a short and sharp exploration of the logical circuit in the Western part of the Lakes, bordering on the Central and Southern parts too. Starting in Great Langdale, we take the Cumbria Way to Borrowdale and from there strike West properly, to drop to Ennerdale. Here, plus the crossing to Wasdale tomorrow, are the wildest sections of the route, visiting two hard-to-reach valleys that give true Lakes character. The rockiest walking is reserved for the fourth and final stage, crossing the passes to the North East of Scafell Pike before a final descent back into Great Langdale.

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. 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 Great Langdale. The nearest train station is Windermere from where it's a bus ride to Ambleside and then Great Langdale. 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 2019

Trip name: West Lakes Circuit
Guided or self-guided? Self-guided
Trip code: WLCsg
Route: LDC Lake District Circuit
(See our background page on the LDC)
(Prefer the full trek, East, North or South?)
Group size: Any, from solo trekkers to groups
Length: 4 days' trekking
Start: Great Langdale in Cumbria
End: Great Langdale in Cumbria
Typical walk: 10.5km, 520m ascent
Total distance: 41km or 25.5 miles
Highest altitude: 725m
Grade: Red2 (Walking grades)

Prices Summer 2019

4 stages, per person:

WLCsg Classic
GBP 470 (singles 125, dog 50)
West Lakes Circuit (self-guided)

WLCsg Comfy
GBP 550 (singles 150, dog 50)
West 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

Great Gable seen from above Ennerdale
Great Gable (Photo gallery)

Alpine Exploratory's service

5 nights, staying in:
Small hotels (3)
Inn (1)
Hostel (1)

Accommodation and itinerary
Expert and unlimited advice
Routecards WLC1-4 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

Ennerdale and its mountains either side
Ennerdale (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?         
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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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