• Walking

Best autumn walks in the Lake District

By Scott Mcalister

Published on 9 min read

Loughrigg Fell, Lake District

Experience autumn in the Lake District

Autumn in the Lake District is a feast for the eyes. An array of reds, yellows and oranges span the horizon and cover the ground. Here are some of the best autumn walks to be enjoyed in the Lake District this season.

Seasons change, but none more beautiful than that from summer to winter, namely autumn! It is now when the temperatures drop, and the morning mists appear that the lush summer leaves begin to change from green to amber and red, like nature’s own traffic lights (but less frustrating). The shorter days allow for the enthusiastic adventurer to witness both stunning sunrises and spectacular sunsets in equal measure. The wildlife that call this place home are awakened by the warming sun as it radiates throughout the valleys, and the morning dew glistens on the fells.

If you are looking for new routes in the area or simply fancy trying something new, then read on….Mountain Leader Scott McAlister shares his favourite routes.

1: Loughrigg Fell

Grid Ref: NY 34703 05133

Loughrigg Fell, Lake District

Loughrigg Fell

For a small fell, standing at 335 metres Loughrigg commands big views. It overlooks Rydal water, Grasmere and the very quaint Loughrigg Tarn (the location of many a photographer on a misty morning). If you catch the weather right there is no better place to observe autumn’s splendour, especially if there has been a dusting of snow on the surrounding high fells.

This is a great family walk where you can choose to ascend to the summit as this route does, or you might simply want to walk along the path the skirts both Grasmere and Rydal. Be sure to visit the old quarry caves whilst there. There is ample parking in the area, including the pay and display car park at Pelter Bridge at the start of the route

After building up an appetite on whichever route you decide on, you can then take this opportunity to visit Grasmere for some world-famous gingerbread.

2: Lingmoor Fell & Blea Tarn

Grid Ref: NY 29312 04462

If you use social media such as Instagram and you follow any accounts that showcase the Lake District, then chances are you will have come across an image of Blea Tarn and Lingmoor Fell.

These feature heavily on the accounts I follow and rightly so. I get a lot of inspirations and route ideas from images I see on there, and the first visit I paid to Blea Tarn myself was inspired by an image I had seen. A fantastic sight to see is the Langdale Pikes reflecting in the still waters of the tarn. On my visit in late autumn the tarn was frozen solid as it was an early morning visit. I didn’t get to see the reflections, but the views were still beautiful. Also it was worth the trip just to witness my pet dog on his first encounter with ice! Think Bambi and you are not far wrong.

Blea Tarn Lake District

Blea Tarn

Unfortunately, like so many hidden gems in the lakes, this location is not straightforward to get to. Depending on the direction you are coming from you will most likely arrive via Wynrose Pass as it sits high above Langdale (an adventure in itself!). Don’t let the journey put you off though, as once there you`ll find it was worth it. I have created a route for this walk that is relatively short, but again it is just a guide. You may find you want to stretch your day and route out when you get there? I decided to ascend Lingmoor Fell on my visit as it was such a beautiful day for it. If you follow this route then take care on Side Pike as a section of path is very narrow (the squeeze), and involves squeezing through a narrow crack in the rock face. At Side Pike where the footpath meets the road be sure to stop and take in the wonderful views down into Mickleden, and across to the Langdale Pikes. A truly impressive view.

The short section of woodland walk to the West of Blea Tarn is like a scene from an enchanted fairytale, and will stay etched in your memory for years to come I am sure. I have visited this location on 3 or 4 occasions now at this time of year and never left disappointed.

3: Walla Crag & Ashness Bridge

Grid Ref: NY 27181 21433

Perhaps the most strenuous of the walks here, I have included this one for the views it offers of Skiddaw and Derwent Water. The route starts from Great Wood pay and display car park and heads North east through the woods, rising gently as you go. As you clear the woodland the views of Skiddaw and Blencathra present themselves in all their glory. Again, if there has been a dusting of snow then you are in for a treat here. Using Bleaberry Fell as a target feature head South towards the summit of Walla Crag. Take care on the top as it a sharp drop that is camouflaged by trees on the crags face. The views from here over Derwent Water to Catbells and the NW fells are some of the best in all of lakeland. On a quiet day you can stand in silence and imagine the hustle and bustle below in the busy town of Keswick that sits in the shadows of Skiddaw. You may want to call here for refreshments post walk…

Walla Crag lake district

Walla Crag

After taking in the views, you then descend a rocky path on the flanks of Falcon Crag towards Ashness Bridge. The display of colours all around you as you walk this path are a joy to behold. The bridge is without doubt the most photographed man-made feature in the area, so expect a few photographers to be there when you arrive. Barrow Beck meanders its way under the bridge as it navigates its way into Derwent Water. Sit on the rocks beside the bridge, close your eyes and just take in the moment. Autumn here is a scene on many a calendar, and rightly so.

You have the option here to extend the route up to Surprise View which overlooks Derwent Water from a height. A worthy detour as the views here are great, unsurprisingly!

From the bridge or Surprise View simply follow the path North back towards Great Wood, with Derwent Water giving good views to your left.

4: Brothers Water & Ullswater

Grid Ref: NY 40274 13387

The first time I visited Brothers Water was purely by chance! I was heading to Ambleside via the Kirkstone Pass as I often do. On this particular morning as I drove past Brothers Water something caught my eye! The sun was just beginning to rise and an eerie looking mist hung above the water. I stopped the car and armed with my camera headed down to the waters edge. The first thing that struck me (other than the branches by the water) was the silence that filled the air. I sat on a rock and looked out over the water. It was truly hypnotic and also therapeutic to just relax and take it all in. Time stood still and to this day I do not know how long I was there for? We need more moments like that in our busy lives!

Brothers Water Lake district

Brothers Water

I park at Cow Bridge when I walk here and head south to walk alongside the water through the lovely Low Wood. The vibrant colour of the trees and the murmur of wildlife bring the woods to life. As you exit the woodland path the majestic fells of High Hartsop Dodd and Middle Dodd come into view, as does Harstop Dodd (which is actually higher than High Harstop Dodd?) on the other side of the pass. As shapely fells go, these are up there with the best. If you feel energetic enough High Harstop Dodd offers amazing views back over Brothers Water and across to Place Fell and Angletarn Pikes. If you do not fancy a steep ascent, you can retrace your steps back to the start.

I have included Ullswater in this purely based on the new Ullswater Way national trail the follows the lakes shoreline. I have only walked a short section of this myself to date, but I imagine it to be a beautiful autumn walk.

5: Borrowdale Valley

Grid Ref: NY 25262 17497

Borrowdale Valley is officially the wettest part of England. However the benefit of this is the rich diversity of wildlife that thrives there. Visit here in autumn and you will be enchanted by the woodland colours and the clear emerald green waters of the river Derwent.

Starting from the quaint village of Grange (which has an amazing tea shop), follow the woodland path through first Dalt Wood then Low Hows Wood as the path contours the river Derwent to the left. Keep an eye out for the caves that self-styled ‘Professor of Adventure’ Millican Dalton called home.

Borrowdale Valley lake district

Borrowdale Valley

The more adventurous may want to go on to the summit of Castle Crag, the smallest of the Wainwrights at 290 metres in height. The route then continues Southerly towards Rosthwaite, before heading east to cross the B5289. From here the route rises to its steepest point of 215 metres before descending back down into woodland. A kilometre or so on you will come to the impressive Bowder Stone. This huge Lava boulder fell some 200 metres from Bowder Crag above and came to rest here. It has not moved in the 10 to 13 thousand years since!! A fascinating sight. From here marvel at more dense woodland as you head back to the wonderful tea shop back in Grange for a well earned pot of tea and a scone.

The Lake District in autumn is something every outdoor lover should experience. The lakes are a great place to visit at any time of year but there’s something special about autumn. If you need a paper map for your Lake District autumn walk try these:

OS Explorer: The English Lakes: North-eastern area OL5

OS Explorer: The English Lakes: South-eastern area OL7

OS Explorer: The English Lakes: North-western area OL4

OS Explorer: The English Lakes: South-western area OL6

Liked by 0 users

By Scott Mcalister


Digital Maps

Use OS Maps to see more detail including footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and rights of way.

Use world-renowned Ordnance Survey mapping with unlimited use of every OS Explorer and OS Landranger map for the whole of Great Britain. That’s instant access to 607 maps to view, print, or download to your phone – all included in your subscription.

Launch OS Maps


OS Shop

Use OS Maps to see more detail including footpaths, bridleways, cycle tracks and rights of way.

Go to the shop