The five most scenic dog-friendly walks in the Lake District

The Lake District has been full of tired humans trailing in the wake of their dogs for many years. If you know the area, you know the joy of the seemingly endless trails, from the famous Scafell Pike to the less-trodden wilds of the western side of the enormous national park. For the less familiar, here are a few of our favourite walks in the Lake District. They’re all dog-friendly of course, because it’s a safe bet that if you can manage, they can too.

Written by Chris Elmes

Derwentwater

Derwentwater is one of the most popular lakes in the Lake District and a great place to base yourself for a few days. The town of Keswick is a lively place full of cafes and pubs and there are a number of routes available for dog walkers. You can climb up the hills to the east and look down on the sightseeing steamers leaving slow tracks on the water, or take the easy and level loop around the shore, stopping at the many wonderful viewpoints.

Keswick to Thirlmere

Another easy trail from a Keswick base, this eight-mile walk takes you from the town through some of the most picturesque parts of the Lake District. The route follows an old railway line, so it’s flat and easy walking with plenty of growth for your dog to bomb in and out of. You’ll pass through woodlands and meadows and get some stunning views of Skiddaw mountain along the way. When you reach Thirlmere, you can cool off with a paddle in the lake before heading back to Keswick.

Windermere shoreline

Windermere is the largest lake in England, and its shoreline is absolutely breath-taking. The path around Windermere is level and well-maintained, making it perfect for a leisurely stroll with your four-legged friend. Be sure to take plenty of breaks to enjoy the views and maybe even have a picnic! When you’re done, head into Bowness-on-Windermere for some lunch or shopping, or visit the sleek grey vaults of the Windermere Jetty museum and maybe take a trip on their vintage steamer.

Orrest Head

This short walk and the view from the top is where Wainwright’s love of the Lake District began. It’s all uphill, but not too much of it, as you can reach the top in about 20 minutes, where you’ll find your dog waiting for you with that, “what took you so long?” look on its face. You can push on to St Catherine’s Wood and link up to many other trails, but for a quick bit of fresh air, the hop to the top and back down to Windermere can’t be beaten.

Duddon Valley

It seems strange to recommend a spot in the Lake District that doesn’t have a lake, but the Duddon Valley, one of the lesser-known parts of the park, is well worth a snuffle. Wordsworth wrote several sonnets about the river and its surroundings, where paths wind between hills and bare rock, giving you a sense of isolation that’s rare in the popular Lake District. You can keep the wandering to ground level or, if you feel like a challenge, haul yourself up Hardknott Pass, which is probably marginally easier to walk than it is to drive.

There are a few dog-friendly walks to give you anything from a scenic stroll to a challenging hike in the Lake District. Remember to pack for any kind of weather, whatever the sky looks like in the morning. As a local steamboat captain (yes, really) once told us, “it rains an awful lot here, but it’s a good thing. It’d be the Big Hole in the Ground District otherwise.”

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Written by Chris Elmes

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