Walk the Lakeland Haute Route – 6 days, 13 lakes, 72 miles, 200 mountains

Six days. 14 mountain passes. Every Lakeland valley. 13 lakes. Over 200 optional mountains. 72¾ miles.

Grisedale Tarn Lake Diterict Lakeland Haute Route

by LFTO |
Updated on

In Europe, Haute Routes are some of the finest hiking trails you could ever wish to find, taking in the high mountain passes between valleys and giving walkers outrageous views of the major peaks, without the need to climb them.

The Lake District isn’t exactly short on possibilities for long-distance walks, so in August 2010 our team cooked as plan to make our own, and a few weeks later the legendary Trail magazine Lakeland Haute route was born. Taking in 14 mountain passes, every major valley, 13 lakes, and 200 (optional) mountains, all in 72¾ miles and 6 days, the response it got makes us think it just might be the Lakeland route to rule them all.

Hikers skimming stones into Buttermere with Fleetwith Pike beyond
©LFTO

Like all good ideas it was conceived in a pub. Based on the concept of Europe’s haute routes in the Alps, which take in high mountain passes with unrivaled views of the major peaks, our Lakeland Haute Route is designed to do exactly the same thing. Taking advantage of Youth Hostels rather than mountain huts, offering ascents of big-name Lakeland peaks for those who want to tailor their route, and making sure every night brings you back down to earth close to great food and public transport links.

The Haute Route is a celebration of the Lakes: a way to see the National Park at its very best, focusing less on the summits, and more on the journey, linking the best high passes with a great sense of exploration. Here’s how to walk it for yourself…

CLICK HERE for a map of the entire 6-day Lakeland Haute Route.

DAY 1: Ambleside to Coniston

Start: Ambleside | Finish: Coniston | Distance: 16km (10 miles) | Total ascent: 575m | Terrain: parkland, access tracks, low fells, minor roads, lanes, rough bridleways , cycle tracks

The first day between Ambleside and Coniston is a perfect warm-up. It climbs straight
out of the village onto the shoulder of Loughrigg Fell to give all-round views that set the
scene for the rest of the day. Once Loughrigg Fell is behind you the route sets into a
friendly routine of old lanes and tracks interspersed with villages and hamlets. Along
the way there is a great selection of tea rooms and pubs so this is a great opportunity to
stop, relax and fine-tune your gear.

Step-by-step route guide

  1. The route leaves Ambleside via Rothay Park then climbs up Miller Brow to gain
    the col on the east side of Loughrigg Fell.

  2. From the col descend the bridleway to join the minor road at Tarn Foot. Turn
    right on to it, then turn left at the T-junction and follow the lane down to Skelwith
    Bridge. Across the junction with the A593 and the B5343 head along the access
    drive to Chesters Tea Room. By the tea rooms and between slate cutting sheds
    is the start of a path. Join this and follow it along the River Brathay to Elterwater.
    Along the way don’t forget to take a peek at Skelwith Force and the new
    Woodburn footbridge.

  3. Elterwater is an important slate quarrying centre , but most of the quarries are
    screened by heavy woodland. The Haute Route heads south out of the village
    then a short distance after the youth hostel it turns south-west and uses some of
    the old quarry tracks to head over to Little Langdale.

  4. Across the Little Langdale road a path leads to the rather fragilelooking Slater
    Bridge and a track on the other side. Take it and once across the bridge turn left
    on the track, which leads to a junction (by a ford and footbridge). The junction is
    the start of another old quarry track; this is joined and followed south to the road
    head at High Tilberthwaite.

  5. Now follow the road south through the Tilberthwaite valley to the A593 at
    Yewdale. Low and High Yewdale Farms were part of Beatrix Potter’s estate.
    They were bequeathed to the National Trust on her death.

  6. The busy A593 is avoided by following a pleasant cycle track alongside it to
    Coniston.

Accommodation

Youth Hostels: Ambleside, Langdale, Elterwater, Coniston Holly How, Coniston Coppermines, or visit www.yha.org.uk

Camping in Elterwater (Baysbrown) and Coniston. Hotels and B&Bs in Ambleside, Elterwater, Little Langdale, Tilberthwaite, Yewdale and Coniston. For accommodation listings visit www.golakes.co.uk

DAY 2 CONISTON TO ESKDALE

Start Coniston SD302975

Finish Eskdale NY175008

Strenuousness ■■■■

Navigation ■■

Technicality ■■

Distance 20.5km (12¾ miles)

Time 8 hours

Total ascent 950m

Terrain steep road, fell tracks, high mountain passes, valley roads, boggy woodland track and old packhorse tracks

Maps OS Explorer OL6 (1:25,000); OS Landranger 90 & 96 (1:50,000); British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40,000): Harvey Superwalker Southern Lakeland (1:25,000)

Accommodation

Youth Hostels: Coniston Holly How – tel. 0845 371 9511; Coniston Coppermines – 0845 371 9630; Eskdale

– tel. 0845 371 9317 or visit www.yha.org.uk

Camping in Coniston, Dunnerdale and Eskdale. Hotels and B&Bs in Coniston, Dunnerdale and Eskdale.

For accommodation listings visit www.visitlakedistrict.com/

DAY 3 - ESKDALE TO BUTTERMERE

Start Eskdale NY175008

Finish Buttermere NY174169

Strenuousness ■■■■

Navigation ■■

Technicality ■■

Distance 20.5km (12¾ miles)

Time 8 hours

Total ascent 1055m

Terrain lanes, fell tracks, exposed moorland, valley roads, high mountain passes, remote valley head, steep pitched bridleway and lakeside woodland

Maps OS Explorer OL6 & 4 (1:25,000); OS Landranger 90 (1:50,000); British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40,000): Harvey Superwalker Lakeland West (1:25,000)

Accommodation

Youth Hostels: Eskdale – tel. 0845 371 9317; Black Sail Hut, Ennerdale – tel. 0845 371 9680; Buttermere – tel. 0845 371 9508 or visit www.yha.org.uk Camping in Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere. Hotels and B&Bs in Eskdale, Wasdale and Buttermere. For accommodation listings visit www.visitlakedistrict.com

DAY 4 - BUTTERMERE TO KESWICK

Start Buttermere NY174169

Finish Keswick NY265234

Strenuousness ■■■

Navigation ■■

Technicality ■■

Distance 22.6km (14 miles)

Time 7 hours

Total ascent 770m

Terrain valley roads, packhorse track, high open col, quarry workings, old tramway, high pass, stony bridleway, village lanes, lakeside woodland, wooded gardens and riverside pasture

Maps OS Explorer OL4 (1:25,000); OS Landranger 90 (1:50,000); British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40,000): Harvey Superwalker Lakeland West (1:25,000)

Accommodation

Youth hostels: Buttermere – tel. 0845 371 9508; Honister Hause – tel. 0845 371 9522; Longthwaite, Borrowdale – tel. 0845 371 9624; Keswick – tel. 0845 371 9746 or visit www.yha.org.uk

Camping in Buttermere, Seatoller, Grange, Keswick. Hotels and B&Bs in Buttermere, Seatoller, Rosthwaite, Grange, Portinscale, Keswick. For accommodation listings visit www.golakes.co.uk

DAY 5 – KESWICK TO GLENRIDDING

Start Keswick NY265234

Finish Glenridding NY386169

Strenuousness ■■■

Navigation ■■

Technicality ■■

Distance 19km (11¾ miles)

Time 7 hours

Total ascent 900m

Terrain roads, lanes, pasture, valley bottom bridleway, steep packhorse track, high open col, high remote corrie, steep side gill, mine workings, rocky valley and village lanes

Maps OS Explorer OL4 & 5 (1:25 000); OS Landranger 90 (1:50,000); British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40,000): Harvey Superwalker Lakeland Central (1:25,0000)

Accommodation

Youth hostels: Keswick – tel. 0845 371 9746; Greenside, Glenridding – tel. 0845 371 9742; Patterdale – tel. 0845 371 9337 or visit www.yha.org.uk

Camping in Keswick, Dale Bottom, Legburthwaite, Glenridding and Patterdale. Hotels and B&Bs in Keswick, Legburthwaite, Thirlspot, Glenridding and Patterdale. For accommodation listings visit www.golakes.co.uk

DAY 6 – GLENRIDDING TO AMBLESIDE

Start Glenridding NY386169

Finish Ambleside NY374043

Strenuousness ■■■

Navigation ■■

Technicality ■■

Distance 18.6km (11½ miles)

Time 7 hours

Total ascent 750m

Terrain lanes, low wooded fells, long steep-sided valley, high-level tarn, open corrie, high mountain pass, steep corrie and ghyll, main road, minor roads, wooded hamlet, valley side track and parkland

Maps OS Explorer OL5 & 7 (1:25,000); OS Landranger 90 (1:50,000); British Mountain Maps Lake District (1:40,000): Harvey Superwalker Lakeland Central and Lakeland East (1:25,000)

Accommodation

Youth hostels: Greenside, Glenridding – tel. 0845 371 9742; Patterdale – tel. 0845 371 9337; Grasmere – tel. 0845 371 9319; Ambleside – tel. 0845 371 9620 or visit www.yha.org.ukCamping in Glenridding and Patterdale. Hotels and B&Bs in Glenridding, Patterdale, Grasmere, Rydal and Ambleside.

See www.golakes.co.uk

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