Matt Le Voi, Director of Lakeland Mountain Guides, has pulled together his top 5 recommended family walks in the Lake District!
Catbells – Northern Lake District
This marvellous mid-level mountain has it all and is often regarded as the ultimate family peak. Despite this accolade, it’s not easy as whichever way you approach there will be some
steep slopes to surmount, but the reward is well worth it. The ascent to the summit via the Himalayan sounding ‘North Ridge’ is the classic approach as this offers some short scrambles (giant rock faces to the little ones) and brilliant views throughout to keep you inspired. Due to the ‘Slippery when wet’ nature of the rock Catbells is best enjoyed on a dry day when you’re not having to shield yourself from the rain whipping up the Newlands valley. The start points of this walk are numerous, from Keswick or Portinscale, right through to one of the many car parks at the base. Lingholm Tearooms, Little Town Café or the Swinside Inn all offer great incentives for the kids, and of course some excellent rehydration opportunities for the adults. For a mind-blowing experience on Catbells look in to joining the annual ‘Lakeland Festival of Light’.
Buttermere – North Western Lake District
As far as lake walks go, the walk around Buttermere is a real beauty. Navigationally there are of course no issues and there is just one small section of road walking. At 4.7 miles total I’d expect a solid half day walk with little legs, but there are plenty of opportunities to make it an adventure. From building dens and playing poo sticks, to playing ‘monsters’ in the short, but dark tunnel on the northern shore. Quite often you’ll see some Belted Galloway cows on the trail, and possibly even a Highland Coo! The views are excellent and so to can be the water after a few weeks of warm weather, so don’t forget your swimmers. There is often a catering van open at Gatesgarth Farm which sits at just over half way, but the real treat is the ice cream from Syke Farm Tea room in Buttermere village itself.
Easdale Tarn – Central Lake District
It’s not often walks focus solely on reaching tarns, but if you’re going to do one then heading to Easdale Tarn is a super walk to complete. Weighing in at a total of 5 miles, this walk gradually climbs on good paths alongside a winding river and crashing waterfalls. Once again, if the weather has been warm there are many places to stop and cool your feet – or head if you’re feeling brave! Easdale Tarn sits in an amphitheatre of high fells and rugged buttresses which will leave your little ones feeling like they’ve followed Frodo on one of his adventures. Grasmere is the start and finish of this walk, from which you’ll be able to get ample supplies of the finest gingerbread around to keep the energy levels up for the hike.
Loughrigg – Southern Lake District
Loughrigg could be regarded as the south Lakes version of Catbells. Navigationally this walk is trickier thanks to the undulating nature of the fell top and the dozens of weaving paths so if you’re uncertain save it for a good weather day – the excellent views deserve that anyway. The Loughrigg Terrace path is nice to weave into your route, and a real highlight for little ones is a visit to the Rydal Caves. This walk can be started from Ambleside, Grasmere or even Elterwater, all of which have good pre and post walk facilities. For the shortest approach to the summit start from the top of ‘Red Bank’ near YHA Langdale (Parking is limited).
Binsey – Northern Lake District
This outlaying peak doesn’t look like much and will often get bumped off lists like this for more popular options such as Latrigg or Castle Crag (Both of which are also excellent for families), but one fairly short (1km) climb up the south eastern slopes will offer some of the best views you can expect to get in the Lake District. Skiddaw, the 4th highest mountain in England, dominates to the south as it rises above Bassenthwaite. Beyond that the mountains are layered, but it is to the west where the views over the Solway Firth really amaze to summiteer. We found hiding things on in the bushes for the kids to find as we ascended the
best way to keep them heading for the top of this peak.
If you’re looking for a family friendly event at the festival then check out our Walla Crag Family Challenge . Let us know where your favourite family friend walks are in the comments below!