The best dog walks with a view in the Lake District holiday cottages


The best dog walks with a view in the Lake District

Courtney Kelly 31 July 2019

There are 16 lakes in the Lake District – the most famous perhaps being the evocative Lake Windermere which is also the largest. In fact, only one – Lake Bassenthwaite – is actually officially a lake by name, the others are meres or waters. All of them make excellent walking for dogs and their owners – from low-level lakeside strolls for little pups and forest scampers for hounds who feel the heat to waterfall trails and mountain climbs for the most adventurous canines – whatever type of hound you have, you'll find the perfect walk to match.

While the dog walking is obviously fantastic, you might want to consider seeing the sights from the comfort of a lake cruise. Grab your canine and hop aboard one of the launches or steamers which not only welcome dogs but give you the opportunity to hop off at specific points around the lakes to discover the wonderful walking on offer. 

Whether you want to see the Lake District by foot or by water, there's a walk for you and your pup – read on to find out our top 10 best dog walks in the dog-friendly Lake District.

1. Derwentwater and Cat Bells

A view over Derwentwater on a clear day
Image credit: Cumbria Tourism

You'll be hard-pressed to find a favourite view in the Lakes, but this has to be one of the best. Take the boat from Keswick to Hawes End landing for the circular walk which takes you up to Cat Bells and then back to base. You can carry on for the 50-minute trip around the lake if you don’t want to get off but we recommend disembarking for this lovely circular dog walk. If you do want a non-walking trip around Derwentwater, we love the summer evening cruises which come with a glass of wine. 

Find the full walking route here.

If you're looking for somewhere to eat after viewing all of these fabulous watery scenes, read our guide to the most dog-friendly places to eat in the Lake District.

Why your dog will love this: The views over Keswick are incredible, and great for bonding moments with your favourite canine as you sit back on one of the hills and share a picnic together.

Terrain: Moderate. A short steep section on ascent. Generally good paths.

Difficulty: Medium

Distance: 3.5 miles

Ideal for: Family dogs who love boat trips.

In addition: Boat hire, water sports and a lively marina, café, shop and toilets at Keswick. There is a ramp suitable for wheelchairs to gain access to Pier One at Keswick Boat Landings. It’s not possible to board the launch in a wheelchair and please note that there are four steps into the launch. Wheelchairs can be carried if the person has assistance boarding.

Stay nearby: The Warren, Keswick (sleeps 1 dog and 8 humans)

2. Rydal Water

Dog looking over Rydal Water in Cumbria

Bang in the heart of the Lake District, this is a pretty easy lakeside walk and ideal for those pooches who aren’t so great on their feet. The area is popular for its Wordsworth connections and the walk is commonly known as the 'Wordsworth Walk'. You will take in all of the Rydal Water, walk along the famous 'coffin road', and take in Rydal Mount where Wordsworth lived in his heyday – you can even go up the steps to ‘Wordsworth’s Seat’, reputedly the poet’s favourite viewpoint.

Find the full walking route here.

Why your dog will love this: This lakeside walk has fun woodland trails and pretty waterfalls to give a bit of variety.

Terrain: The route has some moderate climbs so a reasonable level of fitness is required.

Difficulty: Medium depending on the length of the walk.

Distance: 3 miles

Ideal for: Dogs who can’t exercise much for the shorter part of the walk and active dogs for the longer routes.

In addition: Parking in White Moss Car Park, Ambleside, disabled spaces, toilets with baby changing facilities 40 metres from the car park and an ice cream van across the road. Rydal Hall café and gardens on longer routes.

Stay nearby: Beck Head Tarn, Ambleside (sleeps 2 dogs and 3 humans)

3. Loweswater Circuit Walk

A lady sits on a bench and cuddles her dog while looking over Loweswater
Image credit from Instagram: @gemmanicoleh


Nestled in a wooded valley, this tranquil circular lake walk is often overlooked but is one of our favourites. Another easy walk, start at the car park at the easterly end of the lake and experience the sublime scenery as you walk along. Take excited hounds into Holme Wood where they can scamper along through the mixture of oak, sycamore and ash trees, especially beautiful in bluebell season. 

Find the full walking route here.

Why your dog will love this: The woods are the ideal habitat for red squirrels: perfect for hours of sitting and staring.

Terrain: Pretty steady, the first part is suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs, and the second only if the ford can be navigated.

Difficulty: Medium

Distance: 3.5 miles

Ideal for: Dogs who like a peaceful walk with their favourite family members.

In addition: Car parking at the western edge of the lake, with a public telephone box. Refreshments near the beginning/end at the Kirkstile Inn – the perfect pub walk.

Stay nearby: Mill Lodge, Cockermouth (sleeps 2 dogs and 4 humans)

4. Stickle Tarn

A view from Stickle Tarn, looking down upon a body of water

Langdale is a haven of walking opportunities for all abilities. Major peaks for those with high ambitions and lower ones for those who like to keep their paws and feet nearer the ground with a relaxing low-level walk. There are three different trails, but the Stickle Tarn walk is a particular favourite, if somewhat challenging. There’s a steep path from the Sticklebarn pub which follows Stickle Ghyll up the side of the valley, interspersed with dramatic waterfalls and rock pools wedged into the mountainside and lovely views across the valley to Lingmoor.

Find the full walking route here.

Why your dog will love this: About halfway around, there's a wooden footbridge over the stream – the perfect spot for a selfie with the human. 

Terrain: Steep, well-defined, stone-pitched path with some short but easy scrambling sections up rocky outcrops.

Difficulty: Challenging

Distance: 1.9 miles

Ideal for: Experienced hounds who are used to climbing, water and rocky surfaces.

In addition: Refreshment stops in Sticklebarn and New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel at the beginning and end of the walk. Public toilets at Stickle Ghyll car park.

Stay nearby: The Bothy - Lake District, Windermere (sleeps 2 dogs and 2 humans)

5. Mickleden

A dog sits upon a on rock in Mickleden in the Lake District
Image credit from Instagram: @frankie_the_sausage

This uninhabited valley is pretty remote – if you are looking for wilderness, this is the closest you’ll come. The trail runs along Mickleden with glacial moraines coming into view as you approach the head of the valley. The path splits at the bottom of two ancient mountain passes, Rossett Gill and Stake Pass which is where you'll turn around for the walk home.

Find the full walking route here.

Why your dog will love this: It's a long flat walk, remote and wild. There's very little climbing as well as lots of space for dogs who aren't very sociable.

Terrain: Well-defined, level, stony track

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: 3.8 miles

Ideal for: Humans and dogs who want some bonding time without too many walkers getting in their way.

In addition: Public toilets at Stickle Ghyll car park, refreshments at Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

Stay nearby: Knipe Fold Barn, Outgate, near Hawshead (sleeps 2 dogs and 5 humans)

Fancy a beach walk instead? Have a look at our guide to the best dog-friendly beaches in the Lake District and Cumbria.

6. Blea Tarn

A view of Blea Tarn from the roadside on a clear day

An easier walk than Stickle Tarn, a scenic afternoon walk at Blea Tarn is one for all ages and abilities and pretty much all sorts of dogs. Gorgeous in the spring and just as delightful in the winter, the views of Lingmoor and Pike of Blisco are phenomenal.

Find the full walking route here.

Why your dog will love this: The stroll is a pretty easy day out for the clever canine. There are various wooded areas with benches where you can sit and beg for treats while your humans are busy admiring the scenery.

Terrain: Reasonably level compacted stone surface with small gradients – boots are a must in bad weather as it can get muddy and waterlogged.

Difficulty: Easy.

Distance: 1.8 miles

Ideal for: Families with dogs who want a gentle stroll and a paddle – nothing too taxing.

In addition: None.

Stay nearby: Ben Fold, Outgate and Tarn Hows (sleeps 2 dogs and 6 humans)

7. Aira Force and Ullswater

Water rushes into a plunge pool at Aira Force Waterfall

Beautiful scenery and a tranquil and secluded spot amongst woodland glades are on offer at Ullswater. Choose from a variety of walking trails, from gentle strolls along the lake to more difficult walks leading from the shores of Ullswater up to the Gowbarrow summit. This National Trust treasure is also home to the enchanting 65-foot Aira Force waterfall while the lake is the ideal spot for a picnic and a paddle in the shallow waters. Undoubtedly, this is one of the best dog-friendly attractions in the Lake District.

Find the full selection of walking routes here.

Why your dog will love this: After having a walk and visiting the waterfall, tired pups are welcome in the tearoom where there are water bowls dotted around for a well-deserved drink.

Terrain: Well-maintained path, but difficult for pushchairs

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: Depends on trail taken.

Ideal for: Family dogs who like a day out at a National Trust attraction with their favourite people.

In addition: Tearoom, shop, car parking at Aira Force and Glencoyne Bay.

Stay nearby: Grammar School House, Watermillock (sleeps 2 dogs and 8 humans)

8. Watendlath Valley

The still water reflects the sky and hillside at Watendlath Valley

Watendlath Valley is a minuscule hamlet owned by the National Trust with a small 7-acre tarn of the same name. This peaceful and varied walk follows a narrow, walled lane which winds its way along a hidden valley to reach the village. Explore the packhorse trails which take you up to the valley slopes in the midst of woodland and ancient farmed landscape. Return via the footpath on the other side of the river.

Find the full walking route here.

Why your dog will love this: There's everything a hound could want from their walk – ancient oak wood, a riverside walk and a lovely hamlet to stop people for cuddles.

Terrain: Pretty flat with a few hilly bits and one steep ascent – can be boggy and wet.

Difficulty: Moderate

Distance: 5.3 miles return trip

Ideal for: Romantic strolls for the three of you.

In addition: Parking in the National Trust car park.

Stay nearby: Thornthwaite Rowan, Keswick (sleeps 2 dogs and 4 humans)

9. Grizedale Forest

A shaggy dog in a nine-sided wooden structure in Grizedale Forest
From Instagram: @bearcoatbruno


Situated between Coniston and Windermere, this hugely popular forest has lots to offer all the family, with woodland trails, glistening lakes and mountains to explore at your leisure. Discover the fabulous sculptures along the way and settle down with a picnic in either the picnic areas or in the café. If somebody can keep an eye on Fido, there are zip-wiring and Segway trails as well as bikes for hire.

Find the full selection of walking routes here.

Why your dog will love this: The forest boasts a choice of 10 walking trails for every type of dog from the laziest to the most enthusiastic.

Terrain: Mainly flat but some hills and mountains depending on the trail chosen.

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: Between 1 and 10 miles depending on the trail chosen.

Ideal for: Families with dogs who love walking through shady forests (and who don't mind a human suddenly zip-wiring overhead).

In addition: Picnic area, café, playground, zip wiring, information centre, small shop, parking.

Stay nearby: Honeysuckle - Hawkshead, Satterthwaite and Grizedale (sleeps 3 dogs and 7 humans)

10. Lowther Castle and Gardens, near Penrith

A view of Lowther Castle in the Lake District

A 130-acre estate near Penrith with the shell of a grand castle, built at the beginning of the 19th century. Dogs will love the masses of woodland and gardens to sniff around and explore, while families with little ones in tow won't be stuck for things to do as the estate is home to one of the country’s largest adventure playgrounds. Dogs are allowed on leads on the grounds and at some tables but not in the Lost Castle Playground.

Find out more about the walking routes here.

Why your dog will love this: Lots of woodlands ripe for exploring, followed by a snack in the café. When the children get too noisy, send them to the playground and take advantage of a quiet snooze on the lawns with a chosen human.

Terrain: Flat

Difficulty: Easy

Distance: Depends on the trail chosen.

Ideal for: Families with little ones who need to be kept occupied on doggy days out.

In addition: Café, shop, ruins and exhibition, adventure playground, parking.

Stay nearby: Rockery House Cottage, Shap (sleeps 1 dog and 4 humans)

Come and stay with us in the Lake District!

These walks are amongst the best walks in the whole of the UK, but walkies are no fun if tired hounds haven’t got a comfy bed to come back to at night. We can help with that – just have a browse through our selection of dog-friendly cottages in the Lake District to choose the perfect place for all of your brood. 

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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