The Lake District is a bucket list destination for any lover of nature. There are mountains, fells and routes for all ages and capabilities. So whether you’re looking to tackle the foreboding Scafell Pike, the tallest mountain in England, or simply fancy some easy scenic walks, the Lake District has it all. Here are the best Mountains and Fells to climb in the Lake District.
The Lake District has harboured worldwide fame for being home to some of the most spectacular peaks and mountains. In addition to these stunning mountains and fells, you will stumble upon tranquil lakes, delightful towns and villages, and beautiful countryside views on your journey, making it as popular with couples as adrenaline junkies and seasoned hikers. If you’re planning on taking a nature trip to the Lake District and want to find out some of the best spots to visit, read on for our best mountains and fells to climb.
Takes 3 hours to reach the summit depending on route and fitness level | Difficult walk | 3rd highest mountain in England
Helvellyn is the third highest mountain in the Lake District and is home to one of the area’s most highly regarded grade 2 scrambles that will have your heart rate racing without becoming too dangerous due to the ample width of the route. The breathtaking views from the peak of Helvellyn offer views that reach as far as Scotland and Wales on lovely, clear days. Additionally, there are several routes to try out, so there is typically an option for everyone. Helvellyn stands at a considerable 950m tall, and to reach the peak; you’ll need to contend with a fairly steep incline that will require a few well-positioned pit stops along the way.
A selection of Helvellyn route options;
Helvellyn from Thirlmere
The easiest route, 3.5 km.
This is one of the easier routes to climb Helvellyn; this route from Thirlmere takes you via Helvellyn Gill and Lower Man to the summit. You can ascend from Wythburn end directly to Nethermost Pike. Both ways have their benefits.
Helvellyn via Striding Edge
The most rewarding route, 6.5 km, with a challenging scramble.
This route is a very popular scramble for anyone visiting the Lake District. The route starts from the village of Glenridding on Ullswater, first ascending Birkhouse Moor before heading over Striding Edge. This is an exhilarating scramble, not for the faint-hearted! Avoid this route in adverse conditions.
Helvellyn via the Pony Path and Keppel cove
The route to take when the weather puts Striding and Swirral Edges out of the picture, 8km.
As the name suggests, this route was reputedly used to take tourists to the summit on ponies. It is a long 8km, but it’s one of the more accessible routes underfoot and a more steady route when the weather is not idyllic.
Takes 3 hours to reach the summit depending on route and fitness level | Moderate walk | Great for hiking beginners
Despite Catbells being one of the smaller peaks on this list, and in the Lake District, it is a prevalent choice for many. The smaller peak makes the walk much more manageable without compromising the views. Even if you are a season walking pro, the views from Catbells make it a must-visit. Most commonly, you set off from Hawes End, making the 451-metre summit a walk in the park, if you can excuse the pun. Stunning views of Derwent Water and the Northern Lakes await you at Catbells’ peak. Compared to the other Lake District routes, this is considered easy, especially for experienced walkers. However, whilst short in distance and quick to do, it is steep in two short sections and considered a moderate walk. So, if you want to take dogs or kids or are new to hiking, Catbells might be the best choice for you.
A selection of Catbells route options;
Catbells circular route
The route that offers the most incredible scenery, 6.2 km short circular route.
This is an excellent option for anyone looking for a short circular walking route. This route starts from the foot of Skelgill Bank and goes in an anti-clockwise direction. The return leg takes you along the eastern edge of Catbells. It offers the most amazing views of Derwent Water on the entire walk.
Skelgill Bank to Catbells circular route
The quickest walking route to Catbells, 4.8 km.
This route is a great option and is the shortest; however that does not mean the easiest, it is still a moderate route. It starts at the Car Park at the foot of Skelgill Bank, then straight up Skelgil bank. There are two scrambles up rocks that you will need to use your hands to climb. If you are new to walking, it can get a little scary as you are exposed, so take care. This route returns via the western edge of Cat Bells, looking over Newlands Valley.
Skelgill to Catbells returning via the Cumbrian Way and Derwent Water
The longer varied route great for woodland and lake views, 6.7 km.
If it’s a more scenic and varied route you are after, this is an excellent choice as you return through the woodland in Manesty Park and the edge of Derwent Water. The trail starts from Skelgill Car Park, and on the descent, you will see some pretty views of Borrowdale, Manesty Forest and Walla crag and the Ashness Bridge area.
3. Scafell Pike
Takes 3 – 4 hours to reach the summit depending on route and fitness level | Difficult walk | England’s highest peak
Scafell Pike is England’s highest peak, at a staggering 978-metres tall. The mountain is a true bucket list attraction for many walkers across the UK and even the world. There are many ways to tackle the mountain, ranging from grade 1 and 2 scrambles to less demanding routes.
Typically, climbers will set off towards Wasdale Head, but why not take the scenic route from Borrowdale to make the most of your visit? No matter which option you choose, don’t underestimate the difficult ascent and ensure that you prepare with maps, safety and emergency equipment to prevent any issues. However, the effort will be worth it when you can stand atop England and look at the beauty below.
A selection of Scafell Pike route options;
Scafell Pike via the Corridor Route from Borrowdale/Seathwaite
The most rewarding route, 15 km.
This route takes you along the Corridor Route, which is quite something. The route starts by heading up Styhead Gill to Styhead Tarn before joining the scramble section of the Corridor Route towards the summit of Scafell Pike. The views are fantastic. This route descends over Ill Crag, Broad Crag, and Great End, then returns to Seathwaite via Grain’s Gill.
Wasdale to Scafell Pike
The easiest route, 9 km.
This is the most popular and is considered to be the easiest walking route to reach Scafell Pike. While Wasdale has the most popular way – it also boasts a variety of routes up Scafell Pike and the option to make a circular walk too. The Corridor Route can be ascended from Wasdale and the usual approach from Seathwaite.
Langdale to Scafell Pike
The longest route, 18 km.
The longest route at 18 km but well worth it, as it offers the opportunity to climb some other peaks in the process. This route includes the summits of Ill Crag and Broad Crag, with Great End only a diversion of a few 100m. You will have earned a pub drink after this one!
4. The Old Man of Coniston
Takes 2 – 3 hours to reach the summit depending on route and fitness level | Moderate walk | Great for hiking beginners
Just 4.3km from the village of Coniston, The Old Man of Coniston involves some serious climbing and is not for the faint of heart. However, standing at 803-metres tall, the views from the peak are truly mesmerising. On a clear day, look for views of the Isle of Man across the west. There is so much to absorb on this hike. On the route, you will find everything from historic mines and tarns to stomach-churning cliff scapes and even aircraft wreckage. Keep your head on a swivel during this walk – you won’t want to miss a thing!
A selection of The Old Man of Coniston route options;
Coniston to The Old Man of Coniston
The most popular route to The Old Man of Coniston, 4.7 km.
This route is the most popular way to reach The Old Man of Coniston; the path guides you up on a metalled road for a reasonable distance before you get to the car park. From this car park, a well-trodden way guides you on and over Big Hill and The Bell then passes through the ruins of the slate quarry. The path then climbs to the tarn of Low Water before the final sharp pull to the summit of The Old Man of Coniston.
The Old Man of Coniston Via Goat’s Water
A longer route to The Old Man of Coniston, 6.5 km
This longer route takes you to The Old Man of Coniston via Walna Scar Road and Goat’s Water. You will ascend to the col of Goat’s Hause, then climb up to contour to the south of Black Crag and the summit.
Coniston Old Man via the Jack Diamond Path
The shortest route to The Old Man of Coniston, 4 km.
The Jack Diamond path is the quickest way to reach The Old Man of Coniston. It’s a great alternative to the most popular route from Coniston. You will venture off along the Walna Scar Road and take a direct path up Coniston Old Man’s southern slopes. Then, finally, you’ll join the primary way not far from the summit.
Takes 3 – 4 hours to reach the summit depending on route and fitness level | Difficult walk | 7th highest mountain in England
Fairfield is the tallest of the eastern fells and an absolute local favourite for the best mountains to climb in the Lake District. You are standing at a height of 873-metres. This is an excellent option for those seeking a little adventure, as the route to the top is stony and rocky. Fairfield is quite an exciting option here as the most popular way to reach it is to complete the Fairfield horseshoe, which takes you across 8 of 214 Wainwright fells. This is ideal for newcomers, as you can tick off a few peaks in a single hit! There’s a fantastic village of Rydal where you start your journey, full of pubs, shops and B&Bs, which puts you in the right mood for tackling the peak!
The classic Lake District walk, with incredible views, 7 km from Rydal and 9 km from Ambleside.
You can start this famous route from either Rydal or Ambleside. The path is steep, to begin with, and then follows the grass ridge of Heron Pike and Rydal Fell. You can also start this route from Grasmere via Stone Arthur. The Fairfield Horseshoe is an absolute classic Lake District walk and deserves its popularity.
We advise you to thoroughly research the walk you will take before setting out. We like to read honest trip advisor reviews before any route to get a good idea of what we are taking on. Always wear suitable footwear, and take water, snacks, waterproofs and extra layers as the weather may and usually does change quickly. A map and a compass are essential incase of bad weather conditions or lack of phone signal.
There are genuinely so many peaks, mountains and fells to visit in the Lake District that no blog could hope to name them all. However, honourable mentions go to Skiddaw, Blencathra, The Langdale Pikes, Great Gable, High Raise and The Great End. The unique composition of the Lake District never fails to impress both the avid walker and the newcomer. The beautiful towns, stunning views and satisfying hiking routes will leave you with memories of a lifetime. In addition, hiking is a fantastic way of getting fit, pushing yourself and, of course, getting to see some breathtaking views as a reward.