Children enjoying Buttermere Lake, Cumbria

Buttermere (the lake) offers one of the best round-the-lake walks in the Lake District. The walk is relatively easy and level with a great 'reward for effort' ratio. The views mean that your photos make it look like you've been somewhere much more rugged. NB The footbridge is closed until mid August, a diversion in place - keep your eyes peeled for signs.

Just so you know...

This article was created before the coronavirus crisis, and may not reflect the current situation. Please check our homepage for the most up to date information about visiting.


Temporary bridge closure

The footbridge at Little Mossthwaites is closed for repairs, after being damaged by floods. Our friends at the Lake District National Park tell us it's likely to be closed until mid August. They've put a diversion in place over Scales Bridge - just 1/2 mile longer. Keep your eyes peeled for diversion signs as you walk out of Buttermere village towards the lake.

A great view

The most popular view is looking down the lake towards Fleetwith Pike, which drops in a near vertical cliff down from the summit towards the infamous Honister Pass of 'Tour of Britain' fame. The lush green fields beside the lake nestle beneath a lowering natural amphitheatre of black rock where Fleetwith meets Haystacks - Alfred Wainwright's favourite fell.

A three hour walk

Buttermere lakeshore path circles the lake for 4½ miles (7km) with one very short stretch on the road and one 'rock step' (short scramble) where you may have to use your hands. We recommend that you allow three hours - you'll want to linger on the way and watch the shadows / waves / mist / sun - depending on what it's doing on the day. Please note the bridge at Little Moss Waites is currently being reconstructed, see diversion on route to complete the round Butteremere walk.

Clockwise or anticlockwise?

Walking with children? We recommend going anticlockwise around the lake. You get to start off through the woods where you'll be a bit more sheltered from any wind. Then on the way back towards the village, you get the added excitement of a tunnel which was carved out in the 19th century by a Manchester Mill owner.

Path closure April - June

The permissive path along the north end of the lake (closest to the village) closes from 1st April - 30th June each year so that the resident sandpipers can nest in peace. These ground nesting birds are particularly vulnerable to being disturbed by dogs and people. You can still walk round the lake, however - it just means that you need to decide which way you're going before you leave the village.

image of PDF map

Map showing path closure for wildlife

We close a stretch of lakeshore from 1 April - 30 June to protect nesting sandpipers. This map will help you plan your walk.

Hotels with a history

There are two hotels in Buttermere: 'The Fish' and 'The Bridge'. 'The Fish' was made famous by the story of Mary Robinson the landlord’s daughter, who was known as ‘The Maid of Buttermere’ after being mentioned in a guidebook as a local beauty! She was later involved in a national scandal when a man posing as a colonel married her bigamously – he was later hanged at Carlisle for forgery.

As well as its hotels, Buttermere has two cafés that provide refreshments. Both cafés sell local products with Syke Farm specialising in ice cream made from the milk from the farm’s herd of Ayrshire cattle.