This is a lovely circular walk that we have been doing in all weathers with our children since they were very tiny. This walk around Grasmere Lake takes in Grasmere village, woodlands, and plenty of Grasmere lake access. Along the way there are plenty of areas to stop for snack and picnic breaks, and areas for children to play.
The route is approximately 3.2 miles and is suitable for little legs. The walk is generally pram friendly, although a small section goes through a wood and feels very ‘off road’ so I have always found a sling or carrier to be a better option here. It is also worth noting that part of this walk is on a pavement alongside a busy road; this section lasts for about 10-15 minutes.
How to get to Grasmere
Grasmere sits on the A591 north of Ambleside, and south of Keswick. It is easy to find, but traffic can be heavy in the summer months.
An alternative way to get there is by bus. The 555 bus route has been voted England’s most beautiful bus journey and starts at Lancaster, with stops all the way up to Keswick. Any of the Grasmere village stops or the stop outside the Daffodil Hotel on the A591 are perfect for this walk.
Where to park in Grasmere
If you’re driving, the easiest and my recommended place to park is in Grasmere village. Stock Lane car park is signposted clearly on the route into Grasmere from the A591, shown by a number 1 on the map.
I would recommend arriving earlier or later in the day as parking can get busy, especially in the summer months.
*NB – We often park on the layby on the right as you drive towards Grasmere from the south, just past Rydal (shown by the red pin on the map). This is really handy, and free, but you have to cross the A591 from the layby and quickly go through a small gap in a low wall, so I couldn’t in good conscience recommend it. I had to mention it though as my route tracker picked it up on our last visit so it’s there on the picture!
How long does it take to walk around Grasmere?
It can take anything from 90 minutes to 3 hours. It took us 90 minutes ( a record for us!) in the pouring rain in January with no stops, and in the summer we played for hours at the lake side half way round.
Three hours gives enough time for a stop off at the famous Grasmere Gingerbread shop, time to stop to eat it with a view, and enough time to let little legs walk on the lakeside paths and the woodland boardwalks.
I will describe the walk today setting off from the car park, although you can begin at any point on the loop. You can take the route clockwise or anti-clockwise, its up to you. I’ll describe the route going anti clockwise but it’s very easy to reverse. If you go anticlockwise you go through the village first so you can buy all the gingerbread you need for your walk! But if you go clockwise you get the road section out of the way first.
Setting off from the car park, head into the village and go past the Grasmere Tea Gardens. Just after the Potting Shed Cafe you will see a sign for the footpath to the lake side off to your left.
* A sidenote: if you want to stock up on Grasmere Gingerbread, at this point you will need to walk further into the village, where you will find the little shop on your right.
Back on the route take the signposted road, being mindful of cars which may need access to houses (there aren’t many of these). The road continues and narrows, with a bit of an incline and becomes more path-like as it goes on. Keep bearing left and eventually the lake comes into view.
You will come to a gate on your left that gives access down to the lake shore. Go through this gate and down the hill to the lakeside path. This is the first opportunity for a stop and a play, or a snack and a flask of hot chocolate.
Then, continue along the lake path with the lake on your left. This path is flat and easy to navigate, with a few little ‘beaches’ to stop off and play or paddle.
Eventually you will come to the far end of the lake, and the path goes through Deerbolts Woods. You will then come out on the southern lake shore, which has loads of room for setting up picnics, and playing on the shore. This is a lovely spot for paddling and enjoying the views right up the valley. On a lovely warm day we can spend hours here!
To continue the loop, exit the lake shore via the wooden bridge visible from the lake shore. This will lead you through a rocky wooded area; lots of fun to be had here climbing on the rocks! Continue on until you come to the boardwalks and walk over these as they lead you through the woods.
Eventually this path will bring you out on to the road, where you will walk along the pavement heading back towards Grasmere village. There is a pavement all the way along so just continue along here until you pass the Daffodil Hotel.
Turn left after the Daffodil Hotel and you will see the car park where you started up ahead on the right hand side. Now its time for a cup of tea and some well earned rest!
Advice for walking in the Lake District
Whenever you choose to walk in the Lake District, please make sure that you and your family have your route planned, and that you have appropriate clothing and footwear.