Five Family-Friendly Walks in Cumbria

by Beth Pipe

Cumbria is well-known for its majestic sweeping fells (and rightly so) but not everyone is cut out for the high hills; plus even those of us that are enjoy the odd easier day or two. So here are five walks you can take with your family and, as with all good family walks, there’s always somewhere for tea and cake at the end (or something a little stronger!) I’ve included a variety of distances and challenges, so there’s something for everyone.

Ambleside River Walk – about 1 mile

Ambleside River Walk

This is a beautiful and usually very quiet walk alongside the river in the heart of Ambleside. From the town, follow the signs to Rothay Park – there’ll be a steady stream of people crossing the park and heading off up nearby Loughrigg. For something a bit different, turn left immediately before the river and follow the footpath alongside the riverbank. The footpath isn’t marked on the map, but it’s definitely there, although it is criss-crossed with lots of routes so it’s not good for folks with pushchairs. After half a mile or so you’ll pop out at the bottom end of Ambleside just below the car park – simply turn left along the road and you’ll be back in the heart of the town before you know it.

Coniston Adventure – 2 to 3 miles

Coniston Stone Skimming

The last time our nephews came to visit we spent a fabulous sunny afternoon exploring the banks of Coniston Water. From the town, follow the way-marked route down along the lake – keep going through the campsite and you’ll arrive at the lake shore where there are lots of long stony beaches, perfect for picnics and stone skimming competitions. There are usually plenty of places to sit and, if you’re lucky, you may even find a rope swing attached to a nearby tree (NB Obviously you use these at your own risk/discretion, but they can be fabulous fun!)

River Glenderamackin – 2 to 3 miles

Glenderamackin Picnic spot

Surely one of the finest river names in the country, the River Glenderamackin starts out alongside one of the most dangerous routes in the Lake District – the infamous Sharp Edge on Blencathra – but as it winds out past Threlkeld it broadens out, and there is a lovely walk along the riverbank. There’s parking near Townfield Bridge and you should be able to pick the route out on an OS Map. One of the best bits of this route is a perfectly placed bench with spectacular views of Blencathra, ideal for catching your breath. Of course if you’re feeling energetic, you can follow the old railway cutting from there all the way back into Keswick, where there are plenty of perfect places to eat.

Kentmere Valley – 6 to 8 miles

Kentmere Valley

I’ll admit I was torn here about whether to include the Kentmere Valley walk or the walk along neighbouring Longsleddale. The Kentmere Valley walk is the better walk as it’s a long, broad, circular walk – clearly marked on the map and not too tricky to follow. It might be a bit long for little legs, but the scenery is stunning and the paths are mostly well away from the roads, so the more energetic ones can run on ahead without getting into too much mischief.

Postman Pat Sadgill

Over in Longsleddale (the neighbouring valley) there’s also a lovely walk but it’s more of a “there and back walk” – the only thing it has over Kentmere is that it’s the valley that inspired Postman Pat, and the bridge at Sadgill (where you park for the walk) is the one Postman Pat drives over in the opening credits (well, maybe not the actual one, but the one it was modelled on.)

High Cup Nick 6 to 8 miles

High Cup Nick

If you’ve read any of my other articles you’ll know I like to include things a little off the beaten track, and High Cup Nick fits that bill perfectly. Although it’s a high, long walk, the route is broad and rises very gradually for the most part. Once you get to the top the views are utterly spectacular, with the added opportunity for an impromptu geography lesson as you admire the glaciated valley and meandering stream down below. There’s a small car park with free toilets in the village of Dufton – where the walk starts and ends – and in nearby Appleby there are a number of excellent pubs and cafes to rest your weary limbs afterwards.

Originally published 22/05/17

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