10 of the best walks in Cumbria

Arnside Knott

Start National Trust car park, grid ref: SD450774
Distance 2 miles
National Trust downloadable route and map
A distinctive part of the north west countryside, Arnside Knott is an imposing Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty with spectacular views of the Lake District and Morecombe Bay from the summit. If you time your visit carefully, you may witness the impressive spectacle of the tidal bore rushing in across the vast Bay, where the tides are said to run faster than a galloping horse and the quicksands can be deadly. This pretty walk to the top takes you through the limestone grassland and mixed woodland that cover Arnside Knott, which attracts a variety of insects and is especially renowned for butterflies.

Distance 8 miles
Start Wordsworth House, grid ref: NY118307
National Trust downloadable route and map
Cockermouth is a great place to start and finish a walk. This traditional market town still retains dozens of independent shops and some lovely restaurants and pubs – and it's the home of Jennings Brewery, so what better excuse could there be for a post-walk pint? Take the chance to visit Wordsworth House and Garden, the birthplace of the poet, and All Saints Church where William was baptised and his father is buried.

Distance 7 miles
Start The Beacon, Whitehaven, grid ref: NX969181
National Trust downloadable route and map
The National Trust manages a stretch of the so-called "colourful coast" at Whitehaven, which is the starting point for the Coast to Coast cycle ride – you'll see riders following tradition and dipping their wheels in the sea before they start. Look out for the remains of Saltom Pit, the first under sea coal mine in England, and bring your binoculars for a glimpse of puffins, guillemots and chough (a member of the crow family with a red bill and legs).

Distance 3.2 miles
Start Acorn Bank car park, grid ref: NY617282
National Trust downloadable route and map
There's a hidden industrial history in this part of north Cumbria. There used to be an abundance of gypsum mines, some of which are now accessible thanks to new footpaths being opened up. But apples are what Acorn Bank (pictured) is known for nowadays and their annual Apple Day attracts thousands of people. This walk also takes you under the impressive Crowdundle Viaduct which carries the famous Settle to Carlisle railway line.

Distance 2.5 miles
Start Sizergh Castle car park, grid ref: SD498878
National Trust downloadable route and map
Tucked away outside of Kendal, Sizergh Castle has a 1,600-acre estate sitting amid an agricultural landscape so take time to visit two National Trust tenants – the great farm shop and the pub, the Strickland Arms, which are both on the estate. There are a host of local walks on offer which will take you to some impressive viewpoints where you can see the Cumbrian fells and the sands of Morecambe Bay. It's also home to a vast array of wildlife – Sizergh is a nationally significant site for hawfinches and work is taking place to encourage fritillary butterflies.

Distance 4 miles
Start Wetheral village green, grid ref: NY466545
Downloadable route and map
The woods on the banks of the River Eden at Wetheral are a shady place to explore on a summer's day. The St Constantine Cells hidden away there are said to have been a refuge for monks from the nearby Priory. Seek out the views of Corby Castle and the giant railway viaduct and stop for an ice-cream in the village green.

Distance 11 miles
Start Glass Centre, grid ref: SD291781
Downloadable route and map
This is the town where three 'ways' meet – the Cumbria Way, the Cumbrian Coastal Way and the Cistercian Way. Ulverston's most famous son is Stan Laurel and those who don't want to venture out of the town can take a heritage trail to explore the town the young actor would have known. A favourite walk circuits the town itself, so you are never more than three miles away from its shops and eateries, yet you can enjoy views across the Cumbrian fells and Morecambe Bay.

Distance 4 miles
Start Biggar Bank Roundhouse, grid ref: SD178676
Downloadable route and map
It's not widely known as a walkers' haven, but Barrow actually has its own very popular walking festival, held every year in July. The town has an intriguing past, thanks to its shipbuilding and steel industry history, but for a complete contrast, head for Walney Island (pictured), joined to the mainland in 1908 by a bridge – a much easier option than waiting for a low tide to reveal the stepping stones. It's a wildlife haven, particularly for its visiting bird population – in particular, you'll see thousands of oystercatchers feeding on its shores.

Distance 3 miles
Start Maryport Maritime Museum, grid ref: NY034365
Downloadable route and map
Love them or hate them, wind farms are a prominent feature in the Solway Firth. As you look from the Cumbrian coast across to Dumfries and Galloway, you can't fail to notice the turbines, but the Scottish mountains are still an impressive sight. These shores have a dark legacy of smugglers and the harbour town of Maryport makes a great gateway to this coast and its Roman history. Visit Senhouse Museum for a taste of this colourful past, then head north to find the remains of Hadrian's Wall.

Distance 11.3 miles
Start Ravenstonedale, grid ref: NY725041
Downloadable route and map
The Eastern Fells are another area which are largely overlooked by visitors, despite their easy accessibility. The Howgills are particularly lovely if you want a deserted walk and offer the opportunity for some wild camping. Please follow the golden rules if you do decide to stay out overnight – be prepared, pitch late and rise early, and leave no trace behind, out of consideration for other walkers and wildlife. You're well placed in this area for walks in both the Cumbrian fells and Yorkshire Dales.


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