December, so much to do before Christmas in such little time. Keeping the fridge loaded and buying gifts seems to take up all of your spare time and leaves your list of to-dos growing ever-longer. This stress and cramming is tiring and a break is absolutely necessary and certainly deserved. While your initial idea of a break is likely an afternoon in front of the TV asleep when in reality, a winter walk might just be the perfect way to re-energise.
Grab yourself a windproof umbrella, Head out your front door and marvel at the stunning Lake District on these frosty mornings with these scenic walking routes.
Originally a lake, this valley has been transformed into a reservoir since the dam was implemented back in 1935. This spot is off the beaten track, so you’ll be guaranteed peace and quiet tucked away in the valley of Mardale — you can access Haweswater from a single track road from the village of Bampton near Shap. There’re ruins of what was once a village beneath the water and in drought season they become visible — but in winter, they’re likely to be encased below the icy depths. If you’re keen to walk around the reservoir then you’ll cover around 10 miles. A good starting point is Mardale Head. Old Roman roads are nestled throughout the area, making it a notably historic spot. The car park towards the south of Mardale Head will fill up quickly, so arriving early is advisable! This is a relatively easy route with a few challenges, but if you do fancy pushing your limits then head towards High Raise and take on the summit.
The Old Man of Coniston
Quite an intensive climb which will certainly test your stamina, however the immense panoramic views from the top of this 2,634 ft mountain are more than worth it. Start your walk at either the Scout Scar car park or the school in Coniston, and you’ll begin on relatively easy terrain, but this does become more challenging as you get further up. You’ll have an unrivalled birds eye view of the surrounding area, looking down onto the sleepy village of Coniston. On a perfectly clear day, you’ll also see glimpses in the distant of the Irish Sea and Morcombe Bay. It’s a breath-taking route and depending on the route you take you could be walking for up to six miles, so after you’ve tackled the decent, be sure to stop off for a pint of the local ale or a much-deserved coffee. For dog friendly places, there are a variety of hotels in Coniston Village which will be happy to welcome your furry friends.
Dodd Wood and Fell/Skiddaw
While it may not be one of the tallest summits in this part of the world, it still offers a lengthy hike to any who chose to tackle the 3-4 hour journey. If you’re looking for a walk that child-friendly, Dodd Fell is a great option (it’s also suitable for multi-terrain prams!). If you choose to tackle the climb on Christmas Eve then you won’t have to worry about any restless little ones when it comes to putting the presents under the tree — they’ll use up all their energy for the walk! There’s also baby changing facilities in the toilets, with onsite light refreshments too. Dodd is extremely accessible, near Keswick and the close-by M6. Once you reach the top, you’ll be able to look out over Bassenthwaite Lake, with the Helvellyn range, the Derwent fells and Whinlatter Forest all visible depending on your spot.
With Windermere just to the south, Loughrigg Tarn is a beautiful trek. Begin your walk bright and early in the picturesque town of Ambleside, the 3.4 mile journey is brisk and refreshing, and it’s achievable in around two hours. Whether you’re walking with a loved one, the whole family or even if it’s just you and your four-legged companion, this is a delightful wintery walk and the trail is varied. From fells to descents and a skim around the tarn, you’ll come across a bit of everything. Stop off at Skelwith Bridge when you’re finished, taking in the unique natural scenery, admiring the jutting fells that decorate the landscape, laced with snow.
There are some easier walks on this list, this is not one of them. Thirlmere to Blea Tarn is a real test of stamina and persistence as the challenge increases as you continue. Following the Harrop Tarn route will give you some light relief, but if you want to justify eating those extra few slices of turkey on Christmas Day then push yourself and venture towards Blea Tarn! The views are almost otherworldly, and on a calm, frosty December morning it’s an unmissable sight. Nestled just beyond Keswick, enjoy your walk and then head into the town centre for a warming hot chocolate afterwards.
There’s no better way to feel refreshed than by getting active, and the Lake District offers up a whole host of stunning spots for doing exactly this. Why not even make it a new Christmas tradition, and work your way through all of these routes each year?
What better way is there to relax and refresh than fresh air and being active? Great as a one off or as a new Christmas tradition, a winter walk will be sure to take your mind off that pile of presents you are yet to wrap and get you excited for Christmas again.