Top 5 Lake District Autumn Walks
Updated: Oct 31, 2019
We have beautiful seasons in the Lake District and it's looking like Winter will be a white one. With the high fells guaranteed their annual covering in snow soon. Before that we have the magical months of Autumn and there's no better place in England to go walking than the Lake District. With it's variety of sublime locations from dramatic valleys, cliffs, rivers, gorges, waterfalls and caves, we have an abundance of places to go and explore.
A walk in the Lake District is hard to beat. We are 'of course' bias as we live and guide in the Lakes with INTO THE OUTSIDE, but having travelled and worked all over the world we are always the happiest when we are back home, relaxing and guiding our clients.
Here are our Top 5 Lake District Autumn Walks;
5. Castle Crag from Grange
This is a wonderful little walk any time of the year but we have chosen this one especially, and some of the following, because they have sections of forest walking as part of the route. And nothing says Autumn more than the changing colours of the leaves. Everything turns from lush greens to vibrant browns, yellows and oranges. And there no better feeling than throwing dead leaves over your head!
This walk begins in Grange, the small village at the start of the Borrowdale Valley, and follows the trail through Hallows Farm to the forest that was once the home of the Cave Dweller and 'Professor of Adventure' Millican Dalton. Millican once lived in the Caves below Castle Crag, and rafted the river daily, escaping the trappings of city life to explore the Lakes and eventually became one of the first mountain guides. He opened people minds to the importance of conservation and an alternative way of living back in the early 1900s. It is here where you can stroll along the River Derwent and peek into the remains of the caves, once mined for slate.
The forest path leads you through the forest canopy to the top of Castle Crag where you are rewarded with the most spectacular views of Derwent Water and beyond. A lovely spot for lunch, maybe an Autumn shot of Sloe Gin to gather you thoughts. The world slows as you make your way back to Grange for coffee and cake in the village.
4. Claife Heights from Far Sawrey
The is a great spot for an Autumn amble. Far Sawrey is near Hawkshead and across Lake Windermere from Bowness. It is from the top of Claife Heights, at Latterbarrow, that you get a wonderful 360 degree view of the central Lakes, above Wray Castle and overlooking Ambleside and Windermere towards the towering Fairfield and Wansfell Pike.
Claife Heights is covered in Oak, Larch and Birch and the walk gives you a real sense of being in the woods. Tarns are spotted all around and make the perfect place for lunch. Moss Eccles is perfectly positioned with its views towards Coniston Water. A favourite of Beatrix Potter. You can imagine her sat drawing sketches of Rabbits. A perfect Sunday walk finished with a roast and a pint in the pub below.
3. Walla Crag from Borrowdale
Walla Crag is spectacular rock face that stand proud of Great Wood and overlooks Derwent water from the East. The views from the top are unrivalled and it cam be climbed from paths via Brockle Beck, Great Wood or Cat Gill. The wood belongs to the National Trust and is mainly conifers but there is still a sense of Autumn with colours turning.
A fine walk on a crisp day and can be reached with a couple of hours. There are waterfalls and other hills like Bleaberry Fell that can be included in a route which give you excellent views over St John's in the Vale and Thirlmere. What we love about this walk are the sights from the top, over Derwent Water as you peer over the wood.
The browning bracken and heather in the distance over Skiddaw and Catbells. It's a view that never gets old. The added bonus for the geek amongst you is that Star Wars the Force Awakens was filmed up here. Maybe that's a bonus to you, we don't know. A great walk all the same!
2. The 'other' Borrowdale Valley
The other Borrowdale as we call is it actually called High Borrowdale and it is 8 miles North of Kendal along the Shap road. It is a place we are falling more in love with for it's solitude, woods, river and ridge lines. It is accessible from the Shap road, but we prefer to explore from the Tebay side. The tops of Whinash and Whinfell are a delight to explore and you really get a wild feel up on the tops when the long grass is blowing.
At the bottom of the valley is the Borrow Beck, which runs into the River Lune. The Friends of the Lake District have been doing a lot of work recently and are in the process of planting 10,000 trees including ash, oak, rowan, holly, hawthorn, alder and willow to enhance habitats and battle erosion.
It is a spectacular place especially in Autumn where you can spend the entire day speaking to wild ponies. It has been a little secret of ours but we couldn't resist putting it in our top 5.
1. Scafell Pike from Eskdale
An ascent of Scafell Pike is almost necessary in every season but Autumn from Eskdale is perfect for the soul. Eskdale is an English wilderness. The hanging valley, the crags on either side, Bowfell Pike towering in the distance, with Crinkle Crags reaching above to your right. You follow the River Esk to the foot of her spectacular waterfalls to find an ancient stone bridge and sheep fold. This valley is so dramatic. It has everything you want from a big day out in the Lake District mountains.
As you reach the stone bridge at the foot of the waterfalls you see Scafell Pike in the distance. In Autumn there may be a dusting of snow already settling, the white offset against the browning bracken. The approach to the mountain is a trekkers paradise. It is by far our favourite ascent up England's highest mountain, but one we don't do that often.
Start early as the nights draw in. It is a long drive to Eskdale but it's worth it. As you climb to the top you have views in every directions and into all the major valleys. On a clear day you can see the Isle of Man and even Mt Snowdon. Shelter below the summit cairn and sip your tea. There's no better place to eat last nights leftovers!
Hike back to the car and stop for a pint and pub grub in Eskdale before you return. Or if you have a van, stop out and do it all again!
We hope you liked our TOP 5 Lake District Autumn Walks. This is the first time we have written a top 5 list and if you like it we might do another one for Winter or other stuff like kit, books, destinations. Who knows?
We hope you enjoy Autumn and if you would like to book a Lake District Guided Walk with INTO THE OUTSIDE please check out our page https://www.intotheoutside.co.uk/lake-district-guided-walks and get in touch.
All the best,
Dan, Becki & Pan.