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Walking in Grasmere

Landscape of green fields, hills and lake in distance and blue sky
View towards Grasmere from Dunmail Raise at Allan Bank and Grasmere | © John Malley

From relaxing lakeshore strolls to fell-top expeditions, when it comes to walking you’re spoilt for choice here in Grasmere. Here are some popular walks to get you started.

Helm Crag: 3.5 miles (6km)

Helm Crag, or the 'Lion and the Lamb' as it’s more commonly known, is possibly the best known of all the Lakeland fells. Despite its challenging appearance with its steep, craggy sides, this walk is a great introduction to hiking in the Lake District, requiring moderate effort and offering far-reaching views.

The ascent is moderately steep with well-laid paths until you reach the summit which is strewn with shattered and jagged rocks. This is a popular half-day walk but well worth making a day of it with a picnic and camera.

Loughrigg: 5 miles (8km)

Loughrigg is one of Wainwright’s ‘midget mountains’ – more of a sprawling hump than a mountain. However, it's an absolute must for anyone visiting this part of the Lake District. The Allan Bank team think the best approach is via Red Bank Hill which takes you through ancient woodland and then out onto the open fellside for a fairly steep but short ascent. There’s a rocky knoll about halfway up – the perfect place to stop for a breather and soak up the views.

Take care – the network of paths can be confusing particularly if it’s misty. The 360-degree views from the summit give a taster of the surrounding landscape for those that want to explore further.

Brackenfell and Alcock Tarn: 3 miles (5km)

This is a great circular walk that starts and finishes in Grasmere village. The well-maintained paths gently climb uphill through the woods of Brackenfell before zigzagging up the side of Grey Crag and leading you on to Alcock Tarn. From the top you can see views of Windermere to the south, a skyline silhouette of Helm Crag to the north-west and views of Grasmere below.

Alcock Tarn lies 1,000 feet above Grasmere village. Originally a natural tarn, it was extended in the late 19th century by means of a small stone and earth dam to create a trout lake. There are plenty of grassy areas around the tarn making it perfect for a picnic and a spot of minnow catching.

A view of Grasmere and Rydal Water from Silver Howe
A view of Grasmere and Rydal Water from Silver Howe | © National Trust Images/John Malley

Silver Howe: 2.8 miles (4.5km)

Silver Howe forms part of the Blea Rigg ridge: the backbone that bisects Grasmere from Langdale Valley. This relatively easy walk includes Allan Bank and delivers all the charm and natural beauty that you might expect in Grasmere.

A short detour to Wray Gill is well worth a little extra effort if you have the time. The ascent is not difficult and the pathways are well-maintained, making this a great option for all ages. You will be rewarded with stunning views of the vale of Grasmere and at some points Langdale Valley. The summit is grassy and open with plenty of space for a picnic.

Easedale Tarn: 5 miles (8km)

A moderately easy ascent takes you through meadows and farmland before you head upwards, following the course of Sour Milk Gyhll, past the frothy white cascades of the waterfall and onwards until you reach the tarn.

Easedale Tarn is surrounded by towering fells that rise steeply from the crater-like valley. The tarn feels isolated and peaceful, making it perfect for a picnic and a paddle.

If you’re looking for a challenge, the tarm offers access to more lofty summits: Sergeant Man offers far-reaching views of the Langdale Pikes, and Blea Rigg is a ridge walk that links Easedale Tarn to Stickle Tarn. These walks are suitable for experienced walkers who have allowed plenty of time.

Grasmere Lakeshore: 4 miles (6.5km)

This lake sits to the south of Grasmere village and was once a favourite of William Wordsworth, who was inspired by its natural beauty. The lake remains popular among visitors to the Lake District.

The walk, along a moderately level lakeshore path, is a great option for all the family with plenty of fun to be had along the way. Look out for the hollow tree – it's a great spot for a game of hide and seek.

There’s lots of wildfowl to spot as you go, and don’t forget to head to Penny Rock Beach to test your stone-skimming skills before heading back through Deer Bolts woods.

High Close Estate and Arboretum: 4 miles (6.5km)

A short walk from the hustle and bustle of Grasmere village lies the peaceful haven of High Close. Amble through this woodland walk, sit on one of the many stone 'courting seats' set into the walls and stop at the bottom of the path for a picnic where the views open up across Loughrigg Tarn and Elterwater.

Originally planted in the 1860s, there were once nine gardeners and a full-time path sweeper to tend this special place. Now most of the work is carried out by National Trust rangers and volunteers, who are slowly bringing this designed landscape back to life. Explore the High Close Tree Trail.

Visitors walking at Dora's Field, Cumbria
Visitors walking at Dora's Field, Cumbria | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

Dora's Field

This semi-open woodland, renowned for fine displays of bluebells and daffodils, was once owned by William Wordsworth. He acquired the land to build a house but it was thankfully never developed.

Wordsworth’s daughter Dora sadly died in 1847 and William, together with his wife, sister and gardener, planted hundreds of daffodils as a memorial to Dora.

A relaxing stroll through Dora’s Field is a lovely way to spend a bit of time in Rydal.

Grasmere and Rydal Water: 5.3 miles (8.5km)

Rydal Water, one of the smallest lakes in the Lake District, sits glistening at the foot of Loughrigg Fell. The best way to enjoy this lake is on a circular walk from Grasmere village, taking in Grasmere Lake along the way.

There is a well-maintained and low-level path that skirts the shores of Rydal Water. This means there are plenty of opportunities for picnics, paddling and skimming stones en route.

Children looking out at the autumn view from Allan Bank in Grasmere

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