Lake District Pub Walks: Our Top 5

International Beer Day is Friday 2nd August! So here are five of our favourite Lake District pub walks.

We’re fond of a pint or three here in the Lake District (and Herdys are partial to a sip or five…) This is reflected in the boom of new breweries in the 2000s, with Cumbria host to more microbreweries than any other County in the UK.

With so many breweries, microbreweries, and pubs in the Lake District, a great way of improving Cumbria’s favourite pastime of fell walking is with the addition of a pub stop!

1. Skelwith Bridge - Elterwater

Map showing the walk from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater village
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The walk from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater is a firm favourite with thousands of people annually. A coffee shop at one end and a pub at the other. What’s not to like?

Skelwith Bridge is usually the start of the walk to Elterwater. You walk alongside the River Brathay in a beautiful wooded gorge, passing the small but powerful Skelwith Force waterfall along the way. Soon you pop out of the woods and a wonderful panoramic view of the Langdale Pikes above the rolling landscape of Birk Rigg Park emerges.

Simply follow the path through the park, saying hello to all the Herdwicks along the way, and eventually you’ll reach the shores of Elterwater with the Langdale Pikes beyond.

A photograph from the eastern shore of Elter Water looking towards the Langdale Pikes and the surrounding fells. Two nearby rocks poke out of the lake. Shot in the summer.

Follow the path around the shore of Elterwater where you’ll shortly arrive at Elterwater Village and the walk’s destination is right in front of you: the Britannia Inn. The Inn was built roughly 500 years ago as a farm house, then converted sometime in the 19th century into an Inn. There are a few staple in-house beers as well as a variety of guest beers; one of the core beers is a delicious Langdale Blonde brewed by the Inn’s sister brewery, the Langdale Brewing Company, made using water taken from the Langdale valley itself.

2. Wastwater - Wasdale Head

A map showing the walking route from the foot of Wastwater towards Wasdale Head
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The view of the Wasdale fells from the foot of Wastwater, shot in the Spring, with perfect reflections. Fells are Yewbarrow on the left, Great Gable in the centre, and Lingmell on the right.

Although it requires quite a long drive, and not an easy one, the view from the foot of Wastwater towards Wasdale Head is often cited as one of Britain’s best.

Located in the Western Lake District, there are numerous free parking bays you can park at near the foot of Wastwater. Then simply follow this legendary Lake District pub walk all the way to Wasdale Head, where you’ll undoubtedly gawk at, and take photographs of, the scenery (and roaming Herdwicks) along the way.

The view of Great Gable from Wasdale Head, it's summit slightly obscured by the clouds overhead.

The tiny hamlet of Wasdale Head, nestled immediately under some of England’s highest peaks such as Great Gable (899m/2,949ft) and Kirk Fell (802m/2,631ft), hosts the Wasdale Head Inn. Much like the Britannia Inn in Elterwater, the Wasdale Head Inn was originally a large farmhouse. It was bought and then extended by Will Ritson in 1856 to house overnight guests. Mr. Ritson went on to become the Inn’s most famous landlord, known for his extravagant and ridiculous stories. So incredulous were his fables that there is now an annual World’s Biggest Liar competition (at Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge), in honour of the landlord.

Also named after Will Ritson is the bar at the Wasdale Head Inn, which stocks a good variety of local ales and serves an excellent selection of meals for weary fell walkers.

Buttermere circuit

A map showing the circular walk from Buttermere village around Buttermere itself
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Sandwiched between Crummock Water and the head of Honister Pass, the lake of Buttermere is set in some of the most spectacular scenery the Lake District has to offer, surrounded on most sides by fells rising sheer from the valley floor to 800m+. The lake is one of the Lake District’s smaller ones and a complete circuit of it is a 4.5 mile walk, taking roughly 2 hours to do.

You can park up at the village of Buttermere then make your way down to the lake’s northwestern foot, where an incredible view towards Fleetwith Pike (648m/2,126ft) opens out in front of you.

From here you can take the trail either way, the choice is yours.

Walking anti-clockwise, you’ll see the roaring cascade of Sourmilk Gill before you turn along Buttermere’s southwestern shore, with Burtness Wood above you. Across the lake you’ll get gorgeous views of the wall of Goat Crag that leads up to the summit of Robinson (737m/2,418ft), with the beautiful Hassness House nestled below.

Taking the clockwise route you’ll see amazing views of the three peaks of the High Stile range: High Crag (744m/2,441ft), High Stile (807m/2,648ft), and Red Pike (755m/2,477ft). You’ll also get to walk through the Hassness Tunnel (mind your head!).

A view towards the High Stile range of fells from the northern shore of Buttermere, framed with trees

In either route you’ll reach the halfway point at Buttermere’s southeastern head with an inspiring panorama across the flat-bottomed Warscale Bottom towards both Fleetwith Pike and Hay Stacks (597m/1,958ft). You can continue your way along the other side of the lake back to Buttermere village, finishing off this Lake District pub walk.

Refuel yourself at the Bridge Hotel in the village. The bar stocks an excellent range of local ales, beers, ciders, and spirits, and the menu serves exquisite and hearty food to restore you after your walk. The Bridge Hotel even features a dog-friendly food menu, called Muddy Paws, with a selection of homemade and freshly prepared dog-friendly meals for your loyal canine friend.

Rydal Water circuit

A map showing the circular walk from Pelter Bridge car park around Rydal Water, ending at the Glen Rothay's Badger Bar
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Rydal Water and Grasmere are very much Wordsworth Country, with Grasmere home to Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage home and Rydal being the location of Rydal Mount, Wordsworth’s family home until his death.

Rydal Water is a small lake northwest of Ambleside. The main A591 through the Lake District runs east-west along Rydal Water’s northern shore. North of the lake is the massive wall of Nab Scar (455m/1,493ft), whilst on the southern side is the short but sprawling mass of Loughrigg Fell (335m/1,099ft). A circuit of the lake is about 3 miles, taking about an hour to complete.

You can start by parking at Pelter Bridge car park, just off the A591 before you get to Rydal village. Then follow the path west through the woods until you pop out the other side with a splendid view of Rydal Water and the surrounding fells. Simply follow the path down to the shore and continue on. There is an option to take a higher path along the shoulders of Loughrigg Fell, which takes you to the incredible Rydal Cave if you fancy an extension to the walk. Otherwise follow the trail around the shore where it will start to rise up.

The view of Rydal Water and its fells, not from the start of the walk

Once you reach White Moss Woods take a sharp right and follow the edge of the woods before dropping down, crossing the bridge at the River Rothay, and heading towards White Moss car park. Carefully cross the A591, take the path alongside the falls and join the old Coffin Route, heading east. You can then simply follow this trail all the way back to Rydal village, enjoying phenomenal views of Rydal Water and Loughrigg Fell along the way.

Before you head back to the car make sure to stop off at the Badger Bar, part of the Glen Rothay Hotel. Built in the 1600s, this is how an ancient Lake District pub should be, with log fires, real ale, and good food. The bar is essentially built into the face of Nab Scar, which can be clearly seen when you visit the loos!

Old Dungeon Ghyll to Stickle Tarn - Great Langdale

A map showing the walk from the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel in Great Langdale to Stickle Tarn
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A favourite of the Herdy HQ Flock, the Great Langdale valley is one of the most breathtaking areas in the whole of the Lake District. Clearly the main feature of the valley is the giant, craggy peaks known as the Langdale Pikes, and tucked underneath them is the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

You can get a bus into the valley or park your car in the hotel’s car park (National Trust). Head east towards the National Trust’s Sticklebarn pub then find signs for Stickle Tarn/Stickle Ghyll, this will take you around the pub and through a gate. This is the start of the Stickle Ghyll hike, which is immediately steep but thankfully well-defined and laid. Be sure to bring some water with you on this hike; our Roam Free Tumbler Flasks are a great way of keeping cold water at refreshingly icy temperatures. Follow the stone studded path all the way up to Stickle Tarn, but feel free to take breathers along the way, using those opportunities to shoot photos of the amazing cascades and waterfalls of Stickle Ghyll.

After much panting and resting you’ll reach Stickle Tarn, a small body of water that reflects the walls of Pavey Ark (700m/2,300ft) and Harrison Stickle (736m/2,415ft). Take a rest. You’ve earned it. When you’re ready, head back down the Stickle Ghyll trail and retrace your route back to the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel.

A view of the cliffs of Pavey Ark and Harrison Stickle from the shore of Stickle Tarn. Photo by nagualdesign (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Photo by nagualdesign (CC BY-SA 4.0).

The bar at the hotel, called the Hiker’s Bar, was once a range of stalls for housing cows, 300+ years ago. As you would expect for a place of this age, the bar is complete with curvy beams, wonky floors, and low ceilings. After a long hike in the valley or a day spent clambering on the crags of Langdale, a refreshing pint of local real ale can be just the ticket, which the Hiker’s bar stocks plenty of. If ale’s not your thing there is a good selection of Scottish whiskies and they also have a wine cellar. Hearty and traditional Cumbrian pub meals are also served 12pm–9pm.

What are your favourites?

Have ewe been on any of these Lake District pub walks? Or do you have your own favourites? Sound off in the comments below or via our Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or email us. And please remember: DO NOT drink and drive.

Products mentioned in this guide

Roam Free Flask