The Lake District National Park is understandably one of the most popular places in the UK for dog-friendly holidays. Covering a vast area of 2,362 square kilometres, it calls home to some of Europe’s most spectacular scenery – from snow-capped fells to glacial lakes to ancient forests.
Owing to its incredible array of natural wonders, the park provides countless opportunities for walkies with four-legged friends, with each route enjoying an ever-changing roll of stunning backdrop after stunning backdrop. To get you started, here are ten of the best dog walks in the Lake District, including both easy and challenging routes.
1. Claife Viewing Station
Claife Viewing Station sits on the western shores of Lake Windermere and is one of the many destinations around the lake that you can reach on foot (and paw). At the end of a car-free walk along a 4-mile lakeshore path from Wray Castle, it provides safe walking opportunities, gorgeous views and, even better still, the chance to visit and refuel at the dog-friendly Courtyard Café which sits next to the viewing station.
Stay nearby: Try Hawkshead for quality dog-friendly accommodation.
2. The Ullswater Way
At 9 miles long and nearly 200 feet deep, Ullswater is the second largest lake in the Lake District. It also happens to be one of the most beautiful, making it a great choice for walks with your dog whatever the season. Depending on how adventurous (and energetic) you both are, the 20-mile Ullswater Way goes right around the lake: a route that can be broken up and combined with dog-friendly cruises on the Ullswater Steamers.
3. Scafell Pike
Scafell Pike reaches an elevation of 3,210 feet above sea level, giving it the title of both the National Park’s and England’s highest mountain. Towering over the inky waters of Wastwater in the heart of the Lake District, it is one of the park’s most iconic sights – a natural magnet for seasoned walkers. If you are an experienced walker and your dog is fit and capable, then a hike up Scafell Pike can be a truly rewarding experience.
Stay nearby: Take your dog for a stay in Keswick.
4. Tarn Hows Circular
The Tarn Hows circular is a fantastic family and dog-friendly walk that extends for about two miles around one of the most photogenic tarns in the Lake District. Tucked within the low-level hills between Coniston and Hawkshead, Tarn Hows benefits from convenient parking and mostly level walking tracks – a rare bonus for this part of the world. While you soak up the views, your dog will love taking in all the new sights, sounds and scents to be enjoyed along the way.
Stay nearby: The best bet is Coniston for a dog-friendly stay.
5. Buttermere Circuit
The superb 4.5-mile Buttermere Circuit is a walk that everyone can enjoy, with great village access and a Miles Without Stiles section. Wending around Buttermere in the north-western reaches of the Lake District, this circular route affords incredible views across the silvery lake and its surrounding fells. Also impressive is the sight of Sourmilk Gill, a 250-foot waterfall that tumbles into Buttermere from Bleaberry Tarn.
6. Rydal Water Loop
If you are looking for more places to walk your dog in the Lake District, turn your attention to Rydal Water. Just 2 miles north of the town of Ambleside, the Rydal Water loop leads you from the village of Rydal and around its picturesque lake. Approximately 3 miles in total, you can complete this walk in as much or little time as you please, savouring the pure mountain air, glorious views and the pitter patter of your pup’s feet beside yours.
Stay nearby: Ambleside is the ideal base for this walk.
7. Loweswater Lap
Consider a lap around Loweswater to stretch the legs and blow away the cobwebs with your canine chum. Around 3.5 miles in total, this circular walk navigates its way around the lake and cuts through Holme Wood – a small area of atmospheric woodland home to a tumbling waterfall called Holme Force. For the keen-eyed among you, you may also be able to spot some of the wood’s resident wildlife too, including deer and red squirrels.
8. Aira Force and the Gowbarrow Trail
The circular Aira Force and Gowbarrow Trail is another excellent dog-friendly walk in the Lakes. At 4.5 miles long, it starts at the National Trust’s Aira Force car park and meanders its way through stunning countryside – so stunning in fact that it inspired many of Wordsworth’s poems, including Daffodils. While much of the walk covers well-surfaced paths, there are narrower, steeper sections as well as potentially muddy, slippery areas too.
9. Sale Fell
Sale Fell is located around 8 miles from Keswick and, at just shy of 1,200 feet high, is one of the Lake District’s smallest fells. Ideal for those looking to conquer a worthy peak without too much exertion, you and your pup can expect to walk the 4 miles up and down Sale Fell in 2 hours or so. Upon reaching the top, snap a shot of your dog with views of Bassenthwaite Lake and the northern fells beyond for a photo worthy of framing.
Stay nearby: There are some beautiful dog-friendly places to stay in the Bassenthwaite area.
10. Grizedale Forest
The magical Grizedale Forest is a magical destination for walks with your waggy-tailed pal. Home to way-marked cycling trails and eight different walking paths, it offers adventure opportunities galore. Some of its easier walks include the 0.7-mile Millwood Trail, 2.5-mile Bogle Crag Trail and the 4-mile Tarn Trail. That said, if you’d like more of a challenge, you can also choose the 10-mile Silurian Way which traverses the top of Carron Crag, the highest point in the forest.
Stay nearby: Stay close to the forest in a Satterthwaite holiday rental.