Hiking in England: Lake District

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Family Hiking in the Lake District

While we were in the Lake District, we did five different walks together as a family. All of our walks were fairly “lightweight” compared to what many of the other hillwalkers we met were doing, but we were happy with doing shorter walks and taking breaks from the rainy weather in between.

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All of these walks are very handy to Buttermere Village, where we we stayed at the Buttermere YHA. The first four are loop hikes that are right around four miles. On both Friday and Saturday, we did one walk in the morning and one in the afternoon. Then we did one more even shorter walk on Sunday morning before driving back home to Aberdeen.

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Loweswater was our first hike on Friday morning. It was raining when we woke up, but it cleared off a little bit so we did not get too wet on this walk around Loweswater. This lake is a little further from Buttermere, so we drove our van over there to walk around the lake. The walks around the lakes in the Lake District were the kids’ favorites because they are always flat. Also it is very easy to map your progress when you can see the lake you are walking around the whole time. Simon loved knowing when we were halfway around on our lake walks.

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Loweswater was also the least muddy (or boggy in British speak) of all the lake walks we came across. We found all the trails in the Lake District to be very well maintained, but this one was particularly so. On one side of the lake, you have to walk for a short distance on the road, but for the most part, the trail wanders right alongside the lake.

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After lunch we stumbled on this hike that we think is called Steeple and Haycock, but all along we thought we were on the Rannerdale Knotts, so we were a bit confused. Both have trailheads on the road to Buttermere Village.

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On this walk, two ridges run parallel along a deep glen that is cut by a river. We climbed one of the ridges and walked along a path that got steeper and steeper. It started to rain on us a bit and the wind was very fierce, so we decided to descend to the river and walk back through the valley.

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I read later that you can make a loop back to the trailhead by continuing to follow the ridge and then the path cuts across and brings you back along the opposite one. We were glad to walk in the middle, which gave us a little break from the wind.

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Of course, we met loads of sheep and found about fifty spots I would love to come back to on a sunny day and sit. Little patches of green right by the running water were calling my name.

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However, the rain started to fall much harder towards the end and so we were sloshing through the grass back to the car as quickly as possible.

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Thankfully we did not have far to go before we were back at the hostel, taking off our wet things and making soup for dinner.

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The next morning we headed right back out into the falling rain, this time just a slight drizzle, and walked around the lake that was just outside our door, Buttermere.

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The whole time we were in the Lake District, I marveled at the bright green grass and moss.

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The autumn is a wonderful time to be in this area, especially if you don’t mind the rain. The colors made it worth our while to get a little wet.

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Somewhere near this little brook, we stopped for a snack so that we could get in one more hike before a late lunch back at the hostel. The rain stopped for long enough for us to decide to stay out longer.

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From Buttermere, it is easy to make your way over to Crummock Water, which is a much larger lake. Across the road from Crummock Water is the Rannerdale Knotts walk we were searching for the previous day.

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You can ascend the ridge from Crummock Water and walk right along the top of the ridge all the way back to Buttermere Village.

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Going up is a little bit steep but not treacherous. In the drizzle though, these rocks are a little bit slippery, so we were careful as we made our way to the top.

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Once you reach the pile of rocks that is the highest point, the ridge opens up and is a wide grassy path the rest of the way down. The kids all took off running along the top of it.

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I kept stopping to gasp at the views below. You can see both Buttermere and Crummock Water from the top, as well as the little Buttermere Village where you can stop to warm up with tea. Even though we were wet and cold when we got to the village, the boys all chose ice cream over tea. They could not resist! Mary Polly and I had tea and scones though, and we took our time sipping it in the cozy cafe.

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After our walk, it was back to the drying room with our clothes and boots. Everything was dry when we put it all back on the next morning to leave. We left the Lake District as great storms were blowing in all over England, so we were happy to be headed north.

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Before leaving, we made one last quick hike to these falls, getting soaked in the process! We cut this last walk short, so we will have to come back and do it again. I will welcome the opportunity to return to this beautiful country! It will be fun to see it at another time of year and compare the colors.

If you go: All of these hikes and several more are detailed on this wonderful website.

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