Cumbria’s Lake District is a walker's paradise but you don't have to walk for miles up England's highest mountain to enjoy the stunning scenery. Here are some of our favourite ‘Nano-walks’ - little hikes with big views!
1. Tarn Hows, Coniston
Regardless of the weather, it's always easy to get around one of the Lake District's best viewpoints - Tarn Hows. Although set over 600ft in the hills above Coniston, you can drive up the narrow B-road to its top, park up then walk the 1.5 mile circular pathway, which takes about half-an-hour. The walk shows off the best of the Lake District's mountains for minimum effort. Tarn Hows is three tarns joined into one with views of the Langdale Pikes mountain range. Beatrix Potter bought Tarn Hows in 1929 before bequeathing it to the National Trust. With a big car-park and a well-maintained circular path, there are seats along the way making it suitable for buggies, the elderly and little ones too.
www.golakes.co.uk/explore/the-lake-district/coniston.aspx Coniston TIC: 015394 41533
2. Ruskin's View, Kirkby Lonsdale
One of England's most acclaimed but least known views is Ruskin's View in the chocolate box town of Kirkby Lonsdale. The mile-or-so riverside route starts at Devil's Bridge over the River Lune, and helpful signs direct you to the viewpoint, although this way culminates in a steep set of steps. Alternatively, start this walk from the charming town centre, where it's less than half-a-mile on the flat all the way. There's seating available so you can admire a scene painted by Turner and described by Victorian philosopher Ruskin as "one of the loveliest in England."
www.kirkbylonsdale.co.uk Kirkby Lonsdale TIC: 015242 71437
3. High Dam, Windermere
Many people know Lake Windermere from their travels, but few find their way to the tiny village of Finsthwaite. Close to the village, you'll find magical High Dam, a superb, gently rising walk through a leafy carpet of oak, birch and conifer. There's a car park to put your boots on and then it's a straightforward stroll through the woods which gently climbs a few hundred feet. The short trip is rewarded at the top as it opens out to reveal a panoramic tree-lined tarn. Water from the Dam was once used to power the village mills, which churned out bobbins for the Lancashire textile industry.
You can download a map to this walk from http://www.lakesidehotel.co.uk/lake-district/hotel/walks/Walks1.pdf Bowness-on-Windermere TIC 015394 42895
4. Holme Fell, Coniston
Peaks like Helvellyn, Scafell Pike and Great Gable are known to many due to the Lake District walking guides writer, Alfred Wainwright. But at just over 1,000ft, Holme Fell on the outskirts of Coniston is one of the smallest Wainwrights and is slap bang in the middle of the Lakes surrounded by fantastic scenery, yet of little interest to the hordes. From its summit, you can marvel at Lake Coniston and features big mountains in the distance like Pike O'Blisco, Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark.
www.conistontic.org Coniston TIC: 015394 41533
5. Orrest Head, Windermere
The first walk the famous author Alfred Wainwright ever did in the Lake District was Orrest Head, which starts just yards from Windermere Railway station. Wainwright was so impressed, he went onto explore pretty much every summit of the Lake District, writing seven pictorial guides to walking the Lakes. The path up to Orrest Head has changed since Wainwright's first steps back in 1930, having been asphalted in places so that those in wheelchairs or buggies can reach certain vantage points peering down on Lake Windermere. What hasn't changed are the views. It's a meandering 783ft all the way to the top with plenty of seats to rest and signposts pointing the way round every corner. The sign at the start of the walk proclaims it's 20 minutes to the top, but even Wainwright disagreed with that.
Windermere TIC: 015394 46499
6. Talkin Tarn Country Park, near Brampton
This six acre lake near the village of Brampton, is set amid 120 acres of farmland and woodland within sight of the Northern Pennines. Whatever your mood, it's the ideal place for a stroll along the quiet water's edge. The 1.3 mile path around the tarn is suitable for wheelchairs and the surrounding woodlands are perfect place for catching a glimpse of the ever-elusive red squirrels.
www.aboutbritain.com/maps/talkintarncountrypark-map.asp Brampton TIC: 016977 3433
7. Hoad Monument, Ulverston
Standing proud on a high fell-side above the town of Ulverston is the Hoad Monument, a soaring 100ft lighthouse landmark. This vantage point - over 400ft up - offers awesome views over the cobbled streets of the market-town and the vast sands of Morecambe Bay, one of the largest stretches of seaside in England. The pathways to the top are well-made and you can easily do this walk from the town centre. This is a popular place at Easter for pasche egg rolling - rolling painted eggs down the hillside - as well as being a big Boxing Day hike for local families - particularly if there's been a spot of snow. The monument itself was built in honour of Sir John Barrow, a naval explorer from the town, and modelled on an earlier version of the Eddystone Lighthouse.
www.sirjohnbarrowmonument.co.uk/ Ulverston TIC: 01229 587120
Follow in the footsteps of Wordsworth and walk Grasmere, one of the iconic lakes of the Lake District. It's easy to see why Wordsworth lived in the village and was inspired to write some of his best poetry. The best section to walk is on the lake's western flank found from a wrought iron gate off Red Bank Road. To access the path from here head to the centre of Grasmere, take a left at the Dale Lodge Hotel opposite the Church, and then carry on round Red Bank Road until you find the gate. Another way in is parking up at White Moss Car Park just off the A591 on the outskirts south of the village, and then following the paths from the car park and over the beck through the woods.
www.golakes.co.uk/places/towns/grasmere-and-rydal.aspx Ambleside TIC: 015394 32582
9. Latrigg, Keswick
Walkable from the centre of Keswick, it's two and-half miles and 950ft of ascent to Latrigg but when you get to the summit it offers peaks as far as the eye can see and spy on the tiny rooftops of Keswick below. The early slopes of this walk can feel like a backbreaker, but they soon level out to offer "the easiest of Promenades," as Wainwright put it. From the centre of Keswick, find Keswick Cottage Hospital and just along from here is a historic signpost pointing the way to Latrigg.
www.dokeswick.com/walks/latrigg.htm Keswick TIC: 017687 72645
10. Whitehaven Maritime Walk
The proud sea-faring town of Whitehaven was once one of Britain's biggest ports second only to London. It now offers a 1.8 mile long walk along its newly-regenerated harbour and Georgian streets. With the cry of gulls in your ears and the smell of sea salt, you too can discover its swashbuckling-history. The walk starts at the Whiting Shoal sculpture on the Millennium Promenade and takes you around its harbour and the Old Quay overlooking the magnificent Solway Firth. There are streets to discover as well as The Rum Story attraction. Learn how mariner John Paul Jones led a bunch of American desperadoes on an ill-fated attack on Whitehaven in 1778 which ended when they decided to get drunk at the local pubs instead.
whitehavenmarina.co.uk/ Whitehaven TIC 01946 598914
For further information about visiting the Lake District, visit www.golakes.co.uk