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Fell Walking in the Lake District – Useful Links and Resources
In this review of fell walking in the Lake District the following topics are covered.
Fell walking goes hand-in-hand with a holiday in the Lake District and is one of the most rewarding ways of experiencing the fells. With careful choice, it is possible to walk directly from many of our Lake District cottages - there is usually a nearby walk that will provide you with many photo opportunities. However, when walking on the fells, you should be aware that the weather conditions can quickly deteriorate and this is something you should be prepared for.
Walking is a very accessible recreation for those visiting the Lake District and one of the main reasons for its many visitors. However, you do not need to scale the highest fells in order to enjoy the beauty and vistas that the Lake District can provide. There are many low-level walks, around the lakes, which provide stunning scenery and opportunity to view the wide diversity of wildlife. Buttermere, Loweswater and Derwent Water provide short, low-level walks, whilst the valley bottoms themselves again offer a wealth of walks, for example Rosthwaite in Borrowdale, the Newlands Valley, Little Langdale and Wasdale.
If you feel more adventurous, then family outing over Catbells by Derwent Water offers fantastic views of the surrounding fells, Derwent Water and Keswick. Alternatively, a walk across Loughrigg Fell that lies between Grasmere and Ambleside, places you in one of the most idyllic places of the Lake District. Many of the lower lying and less popular fells provide for unrivalled peacefulness and tranquility. Amongst these you may not see another soul all day. Try the fells on the north side of Skiddaw, or the fells around Shap.
For those looking for a challenge, there are many opportunities to test yourselves on the higher fells. The Lake District is home to Englands highest point – Scafell Pike at 978m (3209ft). It is popular to combine several of the higher summits and create ‘rounds’ – circular walks that are both demanding and extremely rewarding. Kentmere Round and Fairfield Horseshoe are our particular favourites.
If you want to take your knowledge of fell walking further, then consider:
Clothing should be layered, in order that the amount you are wearing can be adjusted to suit the conditions and exertion expended. In colder conditions (which can extend in to June) a thermal base layer is also a good idea. Be prepared with wet weather clothing (incl. over-trousers) on all but the most obvious of clear days. Hats, gloves and scarves are also useful – remember that fell-top conditions can be significantly colder than temperatures in the valley bottom. And, the most important item – stout boots or walking shoes.
Boot and Equipment HireBoots and equipment can be hired locally from the following outlets:
Maps, along with a compass, are essential pieces of equipment you should go walking without. A map with a scale of 2½ inches to 1 mile (4 cm to 1 km) is required. Our suggestions are:
Ordnance Survey Maps
General touring maps for the area
Specialist Maps - Climbing
Maps for the surrounding areas
The tried and much loved Wainwright Guide to the Fells (Vol. 1 – 7) provides a very informal and entertaining guide to walking all the fells (214 in total) in the Lake District. However, they were written several decades ago and changes to rights of way and landmarks may have occurred. Bearing this in mind, we would still recommend them, along with a few other books that we love.
If you are unsure about venturing on to the fells for the first time, it is worth considering joining a organized guided tour or hiring a walking guide. Guided walks are organized by the Lake District National Park as well as private companies and individuals. Here’s a brief selection of tour guides.
Researching your planned walks before you arrive is often as much fun as undertaking the walk itself. There are several good websites that allow you to ‘view’ your walk in terms of terrain covered and altitude climbed. From these factors you can judge the severity of the walk and ensure it is suitable for all members of your walking party. Here are a few websites that you may find useful.
Weather conditions play a critical role in your enjoyment of and safety on the fells, especially in winter. It is therefore essential that you check the weather forecast before starting your walk and always keep an eye on the conditions as they can deteriorate quickly.