This centre-based walking holiday, unique to The Natural Adventure Company, offers an ideal, and relaxing, way to explore the finest Lake District scenery, without changing hotels every day with all the associated hassle and with no need of constantly unpacking and repacking. You will spend five nights (with an optional extra night) in a charming hotel in Keswick and devote the days to discovering the beauty of the Lake District on foot.
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Day 1: Arrive Keswick
Arrive in Keswick and check-in at your accommodation. Keswick is a market town in northwest England’s Lake District National Park, surrounded by mountains. The Cumberland Pencil Museum documents the history of pencils, and the Keswick Museum & Art Gallery displays local artefacts. On a hilltop east of town, Castlerigg Stone Circle dates back to the Neolithic era.
Day 2: Castlerigg and Castle Head | 12 km / 7.5 mi
We recommend this as your first ‘warm-up’ walk. It will take you first up Castlerigg, where you encounter one of the most important and oldest British stone circles, thought to have been constructed about 3000 BC. From here, you follow a quiet country lane and farm tracks, to reach Springs Wood on the outskirts of Keswick. A trail leads from Springs Wood to the summit of the 162-metre hill of Castle Head which overlooks the town. From the top, you get a full-length view of Derwentwater, encircled by mountains, and a cairn topped with brass a ‘sighting’ dial gives the name of 30 fells which can be seen from this viewpoint. Descent from the summit brings you swiftly back to your accommodation.
- Walking for the day: 7.5 miles / 12 km, 2-3 hours, ↑360m
Day 3: Honister Pass | 14 km / 9 mi
There are two options for today’s walk. Both start with a short transfer by private vehicle to the summit of Honister Pass, which links Borrowdale to Buttermere and is one of England’s highest road passes. It is also the site of the country’s last working slate mine. Westmorland ‘green’ slate has been quarried in the area since 1728. Today, continuing the extraction of this stone, Honister Slate Mine has become a popular tourist attraction, providing underground tours of the workings. It also boasts England’s first ‘via ferrata’.
- Option 1 Borrowdale Valley (moderate): From the top of the pass, the original mine road, now mostly gravel or grassy path, descends into the Borrowdale Valley, gradually moving away from the modern-day motor road. The trail crosses the flanks of High Spy, where you have the option to make the short but steep ascent to Castle Crag for amazing views. There is an opportunity for refreshment at one of the small cafes in the tiny hamlet of Grange before continuing on a green trail along the footing of Catbells and, finally, along the Cumbria Way right into Keswick.
- Walking for the day: 9 miles / 14 km, 3.5-4.5 hours, ↑500 m
- Option 2 Dale Head (moderate to strenuous): Directly from the top of the pass, you climb the slopes of Dale Head to reach its prominent summit cairn at 753m. Here you are rewarded with an impressive view down into the hidden Newlands Valley, as well as the fells of Buttermere and the Scafell group. After descending to Dalehead Tarn, you then climb to High Spy and from here, follow an undulating ridge with spectacular lake views, crossing Maiden Moor and over Catbells, before descending to Derwent Bay where you pick up the Cumbria Way and follow this back to Keswick as in the moderate option.
- Walking for the day: 8.5 miles / 14 km, 4.5-5.5 hours, ↑770 m
Day 4: Derwentwater | 14 km / 9 mi
For the keen walker, no visit to Keswick is complete without a circuit of Derwentwater, the Lake District’s third largest lake by area. This is a delightfully varied walk which takes you through mixed woodland, across shingle beaches and (via a series of raised boardwalks) over marshland teeming with wildlife. Along the way, there are options to take refreshments, admire sculptures and ancient stones, visit the place where Beatrix Potter spent her childhood summers and all with the spectacular backdrop of the Northern Fells. The ascent is negligible, and it can be walked in 3.5 to 4 hours but best done over a leisurely full day.
- Walking for the day: 9 miles / 14 km, 3.5-4 hours
Day 5: Skiddaw | 18-21 km / 11-13 mi
The mountain that dominates the Keswick skyline is Skiddaw. Ranking as England’s fourth highest peak, Skiddaw is a sprawling fell about which Wainwright wrote: “The summit is buttressed magnificently by a circle of lesser heights, the whole forming a splendid and complete example of the structure of mountains”. Its relative isolation from other fells also provides an excellent viewpoint for the North, East, and Western Lakes peaks. You can choose from two walking options. Both options can be shortened by driving (e.g. taxi, not included) to the car park on Latrigg. This reduces the day by approximately 2 1/3 miles and the total ascent by 250 metres for either route.
- Option 1 (moderate): The most popular route to Skiddaw’s long summit ridge is via the Jenkin Hill Path. Established as a pony route for Victorian tourists when the railway first arrived in Keswick, the path is an excellent route that is easy to follow and suitable for all walkers. There is the option on the ascent or descent to take in Skiddaw Little Man’s secondary summit.
- Walking for the day: 11 miles / 18 km, 5-6 hours, ↑900 m
- Option 2 (moderate to strenuous): A quieter and simply delightful route to Skiddaw’s summit first climbs beside the Glenderaterra Beck to the lonely Skiddaw House. Once a gamekeeper’s cottage and now one of England’s most remote youth hostels, it welcomes wayfarers throughout the year. From the back of the hostel, old hunting trod ascends Sale How to reach the long summit ridge of Skiddaw. After reaching the summit, you will return along the Jenkin Hill path back into Keswick. 13 miles. 1100m ascent.
- Walking for the day: 13 miles / 21 km, 7-8 hours, ↑1100 m
Day 6: Walla and Falcon Crags / Departure or Extra Night | 11 km / 7 mi
For the final day’s (optional) walk, the trail takes you across Walla and Falcon Crags’ tops, which together form the skyline top of the bounding eastern ridge above Derwentwater. You will visit the picturesque Ashness Bridge, one of the most photogenic spots in this part of the Lake District, before returning to Keswick on a lesser-known trail below the crags to Great Wood and then via Calfclose Bay and Friars Crag to the famous Theatre-by-the-Lake. Departure or extra night Keswick.
- Walking for the day: 7 miles / 11 km, 3-4 hours, ↑490m
What to Expect
Accommodation on this centre-based tour is in a charming 3-star hotel or guesthouse in Keswick, carefully selected for its location, atmosphere, cuisine and unique services. All rooms have en-suite or private bathrooms.
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*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a particular hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a hotel of equal or higher value and quality level. We will provide exact accommodation details to you upon booking confirmation.
Breakfast is included on all days. When no restaurant location is available on the route, lunches and snacks should either be bought from local shops, or packed lunch can be pre-ordered from your hotel the night before. You can have dinner at the hotel you are staying at or at the numerous Keswick pubs and restaurants.
Difficulty & terrain
This itinerary is suitable for regular walkers, but as all walks are circular they can be shortened so it is accessible to less experienced walkers too. Most days offer 4-6 hours of walking. You will cover a variety of terrain including rocky mountainous terrain, some boggy sections and lakeside and woodland paths. Some days will involve a couple of (optional) steep ascents and descents (read more about difficulty grades). The route is partially waymarked. However, it is relatively easy to navigate. We strongly advise you to follow only marked trails and never try to shorten the path through the unknown and unmarked terrain. We will provide you with detailed road notes and maps, and you can call our 24/7 local assistance phone number anytime. More detailed info on route navigation will be included in your holiday information pack.
When to go
This trip is available from the beginning of April until mid-October. The flexibility of self-guided holidays means that there are no fixed dates and you can start your trip on any date during the season. If you are a seasoned and well-equipped hiker, we can eventually book you on off-season dates.
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By train or bus
- The nearest railway station is at Penrith on the main North-West rail link between London and Glasgow. From Penrith, there are taxis and a regular bus service to Keswick – a journey of 16 miles. Check the Traveline or Trainline website for up-to-date travel information or use the Omio planner above.
- 5 nights in a twin or double rooms with an en-suite or private bathroom in a 3-star hotel/guesthouse
- 5 breakfasts
- Detailed journey documentation and practical information: personalised trip notes, laminated route cards, maps and details on local facilities and attractions (emailed before departure and a hard copy provided at the first hotel; one set per room)
- 24/7 phone assistance by our local office/representative in the Lake District
- Airfare and connecting land transfers
- Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
- Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
- Personal expenses
- Local tourist taxes and entry fees (payable on-site)
- Any items not explicitly listed as included
Options, extras & supplements
- A supplement applies to members of a group who require a single room
- This holiday is available for solo travellers; a supplement will be charged as accommodation and luggage transfer costs are not shared (we never mix and match – solo travellers will be accommodated in single rooms)
- Extra nights are bookable upon request (highly recommended!)
Excellent trip. All walks are very well organised. I stayed in Hazeldene B&B, the place is very nice, clean, comfortable and the breakfast is excellent