South Lakes Short Break

A walk from Windermere through the landscapes that inspired William Wordsworth and Beatrix Potter.

4 to 7 nights
36 miles
Easy / Moderate to Moderate / Demanding

From £390 per person

Discover the available tours

About this route

As well as beautiful scenery, the Lake District is also famous for its associations with a number of poets, novelists and essayists. This lovely short break option visits many of the places associated with some of its most famous writers.

Beginning at the iconic Lake Windermere, the trail meanders through valleys, over hills and along riverbanks, and enjoys spectacular views from the viewpoints of Orrest Head and Jenkin Crag. The countless beauty spots and charming villages along the walk have inspired numerous writers and artists through the years, including William Wordsworth, Arthur Ransome, John Ruskin and Beatrix Potter, to name just a few.

© Contours Walking Holidays South Lakes Short Break map
Circular trail beginning at Windermere
36 miles (58 km)
2nd January to 24th December

Holiday highlights

Taking in the sensational views of Windermere from the famous viewpoint of Orrest Head.

Sampling the superb Gingerbread in Grasmere, before wandering through the ‘Daffodil Garden’ and visiting the final resting place of William Wordsworth.

Feeling inspired by the magnificent fells surrounding Hill Top, the home of Beatrix Potter.

Available tours

CodeTourDurationDifficultyPrice per person
SLSB1 A circular trail beginning at Windermere 4 nights, 3 days walking Moderate / Demanding£390
SLSB2 A circular trail beginning at Windermere 7 nights, 6 days walking Easy / Moderate£680

South Lakes Short Break 4 nights, 3 days walking

£NNN per person
  • Itinerary
  • What's included?
  • Extra nights?
  • Tour facts
  • Route profile
  • Travel info
  • Weather

Important information

Please note that due to the popularity of the Lake District as a holiday destination, accommodations in some towns have a two night minimum booking policy at weekends.

When planning your holiday dates we would advise to avoid arriving in Windermere, Ambleside, Coniston or Great Langdale/Dungeon Ghyll on a Friday or Saturday night if possible.  If you are unable to avoid arriving on a Friday or Saturday night an additional supplement may be necessary, or alternatively, transfers to and from nearby accommodation may be provided.  Any transfers required are included in the holiday cost. You will be contacted if an additional supplement should arise for your booking. 

Please also note that dog friendly accommodation in Grasmere is particularly expensive. Therefore an additional upgrade supplement may be necessary for your accommodation in Grasmere if booking a dog friendly tour. Please feel free to contact us to discuss your requirements.


Travel to Windermere where your first night's accommodation has been booked

Day 1

Windermere to Grasmere. 11 miles (17.5km)

Day 2

Grasmere to Coniston. 13 miles (20.5km)

Day 3

Coniston to Windermere. 12 miles (19.5km)


Depart from Windermere after breakfast

Your Itinerary

This itinerary lists our preferred overnight stops for this tour. Sometimes there may be a shortage of available accommodation in a preferred location, in which case we will transfer you from the trail to your accommodation and back again at no extra charge. Overnight stops marked with a (T) will always require transfers as standard.

Overnight stops marked with an (L) have very limited accommodation, and therefore more often than not will also require a transfer, particularly on bank holidays and weekends. We will use non-transfer accommodation wherever possible.

The daily mileages quoted are average trail miles only and do not include the distance from the trail to your accommodation. We do not expect you to have to travel more than a mile from the trail to your accommodation; should your accommodation be further than this, transfers will be provided as standard.

Below are the additional costs that may apply depending on your requirements. Dog-friendly tours are subject to a Daily Dog Charge, which will be listed below if applicable. Our standard prices per person are based upon two people sharing a room; if you are on your own, or are part of a group but require a room of your own, then the Solo Traveller or Single Supplements apply respectively:

A note about transfers
Solo Traveller Supplement
£40.00 per person / per night
Single Supplement
£30.00 per person / per night

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£50.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Grasmere)
£60.00 per person / per night

What's included?

  • 4 nights' accommodation in en-suite rooms (where available) in selected B&B’s, hotels, inns and guesthouses along the trail, or a short distance away via taxi provided at our expense.
  • Breakfast each day.
  • Door to door luggage transfer.
  • Maps with the route marked on and a guidebook or route notes describing the trail.
  • An information pack containing an itinerary, instructions on how to find your accommodation each night and a kit list.
  • Detailed travel instructions on how to get to the start of your holiday and back from the end of it.

Extra Nights & Rest Days

If you wish to spend an extra day exploring the South Lakes, Grasmere is a good choice for a rest day. You could visit Dove Cottage, the best-known home of William Wordsworth; the school where Wordsworth once taught, now home to Sarah Nelson's famous Gingerbread Shop and St. Oswald's church, the last resting place for the Wordsworth family.

There is plenty to see and do around Coniston including a walk to the summit of Coniston Old Man, boat trips on Coniston Water on the elegant Victorian steam yacht 'Gondola', the Ruskin Museum in the village and the home of John Ruskin, the author, critic, artist and philanthropist who lived at Brantwood on the eastern side of the lake.

Windermere provides a perfect base from which to explore the southern Lake District at the start or at the end of your walk.

You can add rest days at any of the overnight stops:

Extra night (Standard)
£50.00 per person / per night
Extra night (Grasmere)
£60.00 per person / per night

Tour Facts

Total distance: 36 miles (58 km)
Duration: 4 nights, 3 days walking
Minimum daily distance: 11 miles (17.5 km)
Maximum daily distance: 13 miles (20.5 km)
Code: SLSB1 Grade: Moderate / Demanding
Season: 2nd January - 24th December
Start of holiday: Windermere
End of holiday: Windermere

Route Profile

South Lakes Short Break Route Profile

Travel Information

Useful information and travel links that will assist you in your plans to travel to the start of the holiday and back from the end of it are sent to you with your full tour pack. A summary is given below:

By Air - The most convenient major city and international airports are Leeds Bradford and Manchester.

By Rail - There is a rail station at Windermere.

By Bus - Various bus services run to and from Windermere.

From London - Trains run from London Euston station to Windermere.

Return To The Start - The South Lakes Short Break is a circular tour beginning and ending in Windermere.

Weather Information

To find out more about the weather forecast for your chosen holiday's general location, please see the following websites:

  • MetCheck - This website allows you to look up detailed weather information for specific locations as far as six months in advance.
  • Met Office - This website shows regional area forecasts a few days in advance, with a general UK forecast description of up to 30 days in advance.
  • Mountain Forecast - This website shows what the forecast is like up on specific hills and fells, and offers forecasts a few days in advance.

Routes on this trail

4 nights
29 miles
Moderate / Demanding+
From £370 per person
A scenic walking holiday along the old tourist route, starting and ending in the market town of Keswick.Find Out More
6 to 7 nights
74 miles
From £630 per person
A challenging self-guided walking holiday traversing 42 of the Lake District's mighty fells.Find Out More
7 nights
74 miles
Moderate / Demanding+
Dog friendly
From £685 per person
A self-guided walk circling the lakes, mountains and villages of the Lake District National Park.Find Out More
4 nights
25 miles
From £430 per person
A circular walk through Borrowdale, Langdale and Wasdale in the Lake District National Park.Find Out More

Customer reviews from the South Lakes Short Break

“Lovely route – easy to moderate walking and wonderful scenery. Although the location were familiar, the paths were not so there was still a sense of adventure and exploration.”
Mrs Mackenzie, UK
“Loved the variety of scenery on this walk. The baggage transfers worked exactly as they should have. Contours did a good job in general.”
Ms Gordon, USA
“It was a beautiful walk, and we were very fortunate with the weather. The accommodation was all well chosen and we enjoyed each place we got to.”
Mr Mawdsley, UK
“Everything went very smoothly. The accommodations were all very good and my suitcase was transferred without fail each day. The walking directions were good. I even cheated and took a bus on the rainiest day, so I appreciated that option as well. I really enjoyed the trip!”
Mr Ganzer, USA
“The countryside was beautiful.”
Ms Ames, USA
“Likewise, my companions and I (6 of us walked together) enjoyed our Contours Lakes District walk. The route and area where we walked are beautiful”
Ms Ames, USA
“This was wonderful.”
Mr Lawshe, USA
“We absolutely loved it and felt taken care of every day.”
Mrs Slob, Netherlands
"View of Lake Windermere" by Jim Bigelow (2019)
"Between Grasmere and Great Langdale" by Jim Bigelow (2019)
"Between Langdale and Coniston" by Jim Bigelow (2019)
"River Stock Ghyll in Ambleside" by Jim Bigelow (2019)
"Packhorse Bridge" by Jim Bigelow (2019)
"Between Windermere and Ambleside" by Stephanie Gordon (2019)
"Sunset over Hawkshead" by Stephanie Gordon (2019)
"Great Langdale" by Stephanie Gordon (2019)
"Tarn Hows Cottage" by Stephanie Gordon (2019)
"Between Grasmere and Dungeon Ghyll" by Stephanie Gordon (2019)
"On the Way up Great Langdale" by Debby Allen (2018)
"At the Head of Little Langdale" by Debby Allen (2018)
"Climb out of Grasmere" by Debby Allen (2018)

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