Good planning is the key to an enjoyable experience with all long-distance walks. Whether it is well in advance or at short notice, the act of picking the dates and booking the accommodation can be almost as exciting as walking the route itself. So, once you’ve decided to tackle the Lakeland Way, there’s the fun and thrill of sorting out the logistics, and choosing where to stay and eat for a twelve-day walk in the beautiful English Lake District.
When to go?
There’s no doubt that the Lakeland scenery is lovely and green during the summer months, but if you like photography, then waves of bracken and a distant haze may not be to your liking. At the height of summer, the bracken can be shoulder high between Jubilee Bridge and Penny Hill Farm, and can also hinder navigation from Devoke Water to Barnscar. The summer months do benefit from longer daylight hours though, which allows more time for exploring the wonderful villages and towns along the route. If I chose to walk the Lakeland Way in the winter months, then I would favour late January or early February, when the slopes are clad in beautiful shades of bronze and the valleys are in a state of hibernation. This peacefulness can be very rewarding for any walker passing through. However, there are fewer daylight hours in winter and, even though much of the Lakeland Way path is low level, there is a greater possibility of having to negotiate the mountain passes in bad weather conditions.
So, when would I go? Personally, spring or autumn are the best times to walk the Lakeland Way as it’s neither too hot or too cold. In early spring and late autumn the paths are much quieter, but more importantly the scenery is at its very best with blankets of colour enhancing the slopes and valley bottoms. There’s simply no better place on earth to walk than through Lakeland in late October or early November, but sadly the chance of a good weather window is much reduced. With that in mind, my second option would be late April or early May, when birds are in full territorial song, bluebells carpet the woodland floors, and gorse bushes flank the fell slopes with dazzling bands of yellow.
Crossing the River Esk
On the last day, just a mile from the village of Ravenglass, one last obstacle awaits the adventurer – a tidal ford. Crossing the River Esk at Eskmeals Viaduct is an opportunity to bathe those aching feet, and to thank them for taking you along 144 miles of breathtaking scenery.
The most likely time you’ll be crossing the ford at Eskmeals is late afternoon, when you are near the end of the walk. However, the daily changes of tide times means that suitable low tides will only occur for two weeks at a time, then not for two weeks, then for two weeks etc. So, now that you’ve chosen your preferred month in which to walk the Lakeland Way, the next step is to look at the tide charts.
For more detailed information, please follow this link: Crossing the River Esk
Where to stay?
Are you going to stay in bed and breakfast, hotel or bunk house accommodation along the way? Or carry a tent and use campsites? Perhaps a mixture of them all? Or would you plan to wild camp the whole route? Check the route sections and think about how far you want to walk in a day, and where you might be able to reach. It is also important to consider where you can get snacks, an evening meal and a shower, and where to recharge your batteries.
Each route section on the Lakeland Way has been carefully devised to have the perfect mileage, with places to stay and to eat. However, you may want to walk a little off the route to stay at a place of your choosing.
For some recommended places to stay, please follow this link: Accommodation
A great luxury to have when walking a long-distance path, is knowing that your luggage is there waiting for you at your accommodation, full of clean clothes and snacks for the following day. The leading company to provide this service locally is Lake District Baggage Transfer. However, due to the geography of the Lakeland Way, this service maybe subject to availability and could turn out to be quite expensive for the twelve-day walk.
Alternatively, you may choose to have parcels sent to you at certain points along the route. This would be a great option if you are camping the whole of the Lakeland Way and where the extra weight in your pack is an issue. For example, my personal choice of pick-up points would be Keswick and Ambleside.
Whilst most long-distance walks in the UK are well signposted, the Lakeland Way is not an “official route”, and thus is not way-marked. With that in mind, it is important to have some basic navigation skills in case you lose your way or want to check your progress throughout the walk. The route includes mountain passes that are not clear to navigate in poor weather, and some places where the path is faint or easily missed – therefore, some sort of GPS device will be very helpful.
A4 PDF maps and GPX files for each route section are provided on this website for you to download. A good tip is to download the PDF maps to your phone; these maps are really crystal clear and easy to use. Please remember though, a paper map and compass (and knowing how to use them) are a great back up and should always be taken with you.
To download all the files you’ll need, please follow this link: Downloads
Some segments of the Lakeland Way do include exposed paths, so please take care and always check for weather updates prior to venturing out. Lake District conditions are notoriously changeable, so remember to pack accordingly. Make sure you have plenty of food and water, and the right outdoor gear to keep you safe and make for an enjoyable experience.
Whilst I’m happy to provide the information on the website, you are fully responsible for your own health and safety. If you do have any questions regarding the route or require any other information, please don’t hesitate to contact me.