There's a house OS map in the living room to plan your local walks. Feel free to take it out with you but please do leave it for future guests to enjoy.
ViewRanger is a free mobile app that is very useful for following off-road walks. You can also download OS map overlays for a small cost, or it uses open source maps which do seem to show all the main paths.
WalkLakes is a very comprehensive website showing maps, routes, and scales of difficulty for hundreds of walks in the Lake District. We've shown links below but be aware there are often several routes to the top of the well-known fells.
The National Park also has a useful Miles Without Stiles list of walks suitable for limited mobility walkers, including buggies and pushchairs (it includes our very own Kentmere Reservoir walk at number 3)
From the doorstep...
Picnic spot by stream (5 minutes away)
A nice short stretch up the hill after your journey. Turn left out of the house, up the track past 2 Long Houses, through a gate.
At the next double gate take the right hand gate, then a few minutes further on at another double gate take the left hand (yellow arrow) gate.
Shortly you'll reach a bubbling beck and a perfect picnic area with views across Kentmere - or carry on up the hill and bear right for the Staveley walk, or left up the Kentmere Round (see below).
Around Kentmere tarn
A fairly flat 90 minute/4-mile favourite is around the Kentmere Tarn in front of the house. Also a perfect run 6.5km). It's half road and half track. There are views of Long Houses from almost all points along the route and it passes the historic Kentmere Hall and then runs along the west shore of the mere. The short field section by Kentmere Hall can get wet and muddy in winter.
The anti-clockwise route is as follows:
Turn right onto the Kentmere lane and walk to the St Cuthbert's Church
Take the left fork down to Kentmere Hall
At the hall take the first "public footpath only" sign through the gate on the left into the field and follow track
A few hundred metres later take the path up to the right through the gate up a wooded hill track
Follow this all the way along the valley side to the H&V Factory
Cross the bridge, turn left and walk back along the lane to Long House
This walk is found in many guidebooks and is a 7 mile there-and-back so you can shorten it as you like. Turn right onto Kentmere land and walk to St Cuthbert’s. Then take the lane to the right just before the church (or just after if you prefer a firmer route for pushchairs) and follow the lane as it becomes a path along the water meadows of Kentmere valley, bearing right where appropriate and following the river Kent. If you took the lane before the church you will eventually be forced left to re-join the other lane on the left hand side of the valley.
There are many variations to this route, as you will see from the spaghetti of footpaths on the map. For a shortcut home you will see a wooden footbridge on the right that takes you back. Continue up the valley to the reservoir. You can return along the opposite side of the valley (left hand as you look downstream).
Kentmere Round / Kentmere Horseshoe
This is a full-on day walk with the option to reach the old fell-top Roman Road, High Street, at the head of the valley. It is one of the longest and most remote walks in the Lake District. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_14.html
Staveley - along the lane
It takes 1 hour 10 minutes to walk to 3 and a bit miles to the Eagle & Child in Staveley. You can go along the lane, or a prettier route is to take the footbridge over the river Kent about a mile or so down the lane (not the H&V factory bridge, half a mile further on from that) and then meander along the other even quieter side of the valley. The road route is good if you have pushchairs. If it is likely to get dark, do take some of the reflective vests you'll find hanging on the coat hooks - so that cars see you in good time.
Staveley - over the hill
Turn left up the rough lane outside our house and the path twists and turns up the side of the valley. At the top, turn left to continue over to Longsleddale, or right to come back down again into Staveley.
Hugil Fell and Reston Scar
Once in Staveley this 3 mile walk up a Wainwright Fell affords excellent views. The start is right by the bridge over the Kent River at the foot of the Kentmere Lane as you enter Staveley. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_226.html
This is the hill facing the house across the valley. Reached via the pass to Troutbeck, head past the church, take the signed footpaths that head up the gap between the hills, with Kentmere Hall to your left. Up the hill take a left over a stile to walk up the grassy slopes to the Sallow hill top.
The neighbouring valleys - Longsleddale and Troutbeck
These are two parallel, neighbouring valleys to Kentmere and both are accessible by taking the hill paths from Kentmere. To the East, Longsleddale is reached by heading towards the church and then taking the lane to the right signposted Maggs Howe.
To the West, head over to Troutbeck by walking past the church then taking the signed footpaths that take you up and to the right of Kentmere Hall, up the pass into Troutbeck. This one is worth doing just to the head of the pass for super views from Sallows, the hill top to the left of the pass.
Windermere - Orrest Head
This is a cracker if you are short of time and want great views with minimal effort. Or have younger or older ones with you who don't want a longer walk. It takes 15-20 minutes to climb Orrest Head from the Booths Supermarket or Lakeland Store car park in Windermere (right by the station and both worthy shop stops).
Windermere shore - Mitchell Wyke Bay to Wray Castle
A lovely flat walk along the shores of Windermere. Take the car ferry to the other side and park as soon as you can off the ferry. You'll see the National Trust owned Claife Viewing Station (which is worth a detour before the main walk) and you can park near there. There's also a café. From here you can walk as far as you like north along the western shore of Windermere. It's push-chair friendly, at least at the start.
You certainly don't have to walk all the way to Wray Castle (where Beatrix Potter stayed with her parents as a child) but if you do it's a 4 mile flat stretch. You can take a steamer back to the ferry. In fact you could part in Bowness, take the steamer or car ferry over to Far Sawrey on Foot and then from Wray Castle take a steamer back to Bowness.
Townend / Holbeck Lane
Townend is a preserved 1700's farmhouse near the foot of neighbouring Troutbeck valley, owned by the National Trust. You will see signs to it. We chanced upon this walk along the hill contour overlooking Windermere one winter. www.nationaltrust.org.uk/townend
Langdale - Harrison Stickle
Harrison Stickle is the highest of the Langdale Pikes and highly recommended for able walkers. A steep, varied climb with a Neolithic greenstone stone mine half way up that was the centre of the Langdale axe industry at the time. There's a path all the way, but with some steep drops this is not one for young kids. We (an adult group) did route 3 of Wainwright's climb, which is reasonably straightforward. You need to drive or bus to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Langdale for the start of the walk. Fantastic views on the way up and on the top, and many alternative options for the route down.
Ambleside - Under Loughrigg
Our previous house was along this lane that runs north out of Ambleside up to Rydal. It's an easy, pushchair friendly route along the opposite side of the valley from the busy A591. It's an access only road and so blissfully quiet, except for walkers and cyclist doing the holiday season. Starting in Ambleside, head to church which is behind the main shopping street (Vicarage Rd is right by Zerffirellis Cinema).
Cross the fields past the church, take the footbridge over the River Rothay, then turn right along the lane, which is called Under Loughrigg. It takes 20-30 minutes to reach Rydal, from where you can keep left and take easy footpaths along the shores of Rydal Water and on towards Grasmere. Before Rydal look out for the famous stepping stones across the river. You can cross and return to Ambleside there, but it is partly along the busy A591.
If you don't have a push chair, an alternative route is to head up to Loughrigg Fell on the left hand side. Shortly after the Ambleside end footbridge crossing look for the left fork in the road which takes you up the fell. It soon narrows to a footpath. Fantastic views, and you can drip back down to Under Loughrigg via several paths down to the right, depending on how far you go, and return along the lane to Ambleside.
Ambleside - Fairfield Horseshoe
This is a serious walk that you can do in a circle, starting and ending in Ambleside. We did it clockwise, taking the Under Loughrigg (see Under Loughrigg walk) back route north out of Ambleside up to Rydal Mount, then on up to Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Great Rigg, Fairfield (the high point) then Hart Crag, Dove Crag, High Pike, Low Pike and then onto Nook Lane and into Ambleside and home. It's a good six hour plus walk and has some pretty rough rocky parts to it. The view from the top, at Fairfield, is spectacular. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_42.html
Grasmere - Easdale Tarn
One of our favourite shorter walks, with lots of water falls, and great with kids. Walk 4 in the “South Lakeland Walks with Children” and also walk 3 in “Walks with Wordsworth”. You can walk up one side of the valley to Easdale Tarn, and back down the other (we like going up the more rugged right hand side, and down the better path'd and waterfall speckled left hand side). The problem is parking close to the start. If you drive up the road towards Easdale out of Grasmere you'll come across a large house which is owned by the Quakers. We have found that a polite request to use their car park along with a donation yields a parking place. The photo below is us resting at tarn at the top of the walk. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_56.html
The achingly beautiful Buttermere has a lovely flat circuit walk around its shores. Great for kids. It' a bit of a drive, but worth it. And there are a couple of nice pubs there for lunch. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_90.html
Coniston - Old Man
You need to drive to the other side of Coniston for the start of this climb. The OS map shows several routes to the top – we chose the one from the nearest parking spot which involved a drive up a narrow lane and then a walk along the Walna Scar road (it's on the map) before striking north up the slopes, keeping the slate quarry to our right. Eventually we linked up with the wider path that takes a more circuitous route to the top, around Low Water. It's a real slog of a climb, but its safe with often wide paths (especially the Low Water route - which might be the better option) and no steep drops to worry parents. We did it with a 10 and 7 year old. Above the clouds at the summit, it's a real sense of achievement. Allow 4-5 hours. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_2.html
The highest mountain in England is a must at some point in your life. It's a longish climb, steep towards the summit, and there are several routes. See our guidebooks for details. Our usual route is to approach via Borrowdale, which involves driving up to Keswick. We park at Seathwaite, where the walk up to the base of Scafell is worth it on its own. WalkLakes has an alternate route up from Wasdale, which it considers shorter and easier. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_158.html
Closer to base than Scafell Pike, Striding Edge on Helvellyn is another hill walker's must see.
There are many routes from both the A591 Grasmere to Keswick road side, or from the Ullswater side. www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_41.html
Running and fell-running
This heat map from Strava shows the most popular routes in the wider area, including the above. The white dotted lines approximately represent the hilltop ridges between the Troutbeck, Kentmere, and Longsleddale valleys, so tracks crossing these lines will be VERY steep. You can explore in more detail at the link below.
Do wear bright clothing when running - not only so cars see you on the lane but also to help find you in an emergency. Some of the runs are pretty remote. We have reflective vests on the coat hooks in the house.
Around Kentmere tarn 6.5km
This is the same as the walk described above. The going is firm along the lane or track except for a short field stretch by Kentmere Hall.
The length of the valley 5km/10km/15km
A more off road and hillier alternative with many distance options. Run to the church and then instead of forking left, take the lane to the right just before the church. Follow this as it turns into a track, bearing right, out into the open Kentmere water-meadow valley floor. Follow the river Kent until you can go no further, turn left along the dry stone wall towards the house in front of you where you meet a lane and turn left to run back to the church, or extend the run 5km by turning right and run up to the reservoir. Once back at the church, turn left along the lane back to Long Houses, or left-then-right down to Kentmere Hall to extend your run with the loop of the "Around the mere" run above.
UKClimbing.com notes that "this beautiful valley has quickly developed into one of the major bouldering venues in the Lakes". Two useful links below - the first listing the 156 climbs in Kentmere, the second takes you to a detailed document listing the main bouldering challenges in the valley.
www.ukclimbing.com - search for Kentmere
We have a large barn to store your bikes (please request the lock code). Kentmere valley is a popular bike route as it is so quiet. Wheelbase is the UK's largest bike store, based 3 miles down the road in Staveley. They do e-bike hire (need a driving licence). Next door is the Hawkshead Brewery bar which on a Saturday lunchtime is packed with cyclists quenching their thirst. Wheelbase's staff are all cyclists and can advise on local routes, or you can use the Strava link to browse. Brockhole does regular bike hire and has the advantage of being right on Windermere.
All the larger lakes have boat hire of all sorts - canoeing, rowing, motor and sailing. Nearest to us is Low Wood Bay Watersports on the road between Windermere and Amblside which has a large range from canoes to sailing keel boats. Brockhole also does small boat hire on Windermere.
Tree Top Treks
There are several outfits offering kids and adult treetop adventures. Brockhole on Windermere is the most touristy but has lots to do (also boating and bike hire), or for the more adventurous the 2-3 hour High Ropes Course in Grizedale Forest over at Coniston.
Day permits to fish in Kentmere Tarn and along the river Kent are available from the Staveley Angling Association via the email on this link. The website also details fishing opportunities across the Lake District.