Top Wellness Benefits of Hiking in the Lake District

Imagine a place where the stunning natural beauty and countryside serenity come together to create a perfect backdrop for both physical and mental rejuvenation. Welcome to the Lake District, a hiker’s paradise that offers much more than just picturesque views. Here, every step you take on its diverse trails is a step towards better health and wellbeing. Whether you’re scaling challenging peaks or strolling around glistening lakes, the Lake District provides an ideal setting for enhancing physical fitness, mental clarity, and a deeper connection with nature.

1. Physical fitness

Improving your physical health is a fantastic benefit of hiking; it provides a full body workout that strengthens muscles, improves cardiovascular health, and enhances flexibility. The Lake District is the perfect place to do this with its varied terrain, from gentle slopes to difficult summits, offering routes for all abilities whether you are a seasoned hiker or a new beginner. Each step you take on these scenic paths helps to build stronger bones, endurance, and stamina contributing to your overall fitness.

2. Mental wellbeing

The Lake District is renowned for its natural beauty and offers a tranquil escape from the chaos of everyday life, allowing you to breathe in fresh, clean air. Immersing yourself in nature has been proved to reduce anxiety, depression, and stress.

  • The tranquil lakes, lush forests, and panoramic vistas create a calming environment that can boost your mood and mental clarity, leaving you feeling rejuvenated and refreshed.
  • When you hike, endorphins are released which lowers blood cortisol levels and leaves you feeling more relaxed.
  • Feel a rush of endorphins as your hike reaches completion, there is no feeling more joyful and rewarding.
  • Taking on challenging routes enables you to build resilience and strength which in turn increases your confidence.
  • The act of hiking encourages mindfulness, allowing you to be present in the moment and fully engage with your surroundings. The rhythmic pace of walking, combined with the natural beauty of the Lake District, creates an ideal setting for meditation and self-reflection. This practice can lead to greater emotional balance and inner peace.
3. Connect with nature

In this modern age, it is easy to get lost in the realms of social media and technology which seem to rule everyday life. Spending time outdoors can help you to disconnect from these platforms which can sometimes become addictive and toxic to your wellbeing. Learn to foster a deep connection with nature, stripping back these artificial notions and reminding you that there is more to life. The Lake District’s diverse ecosystems and abundant wildlife provide countless opportunities for mindful observation and appreciation of the natural world. This connection promotes a sense of peace, belonging and feeling alive, enhancing your overall wellbeing.

4. Improved sleep

Regular physical activity, especially in the fresh air, can significantly improve sleep quality. The combination of exercise and the soothing natural environment of the Lake District helps regulate your sleeping patterns, ensuring you wake up feeling more rested and energised. Naturally, expending more energy during the day means that you will feel more tired, and this may help you to fall into sleep more deeply and quickly.

Research from doctors at the Cleveland Clinic has found that hiking can help to improve sleep in the following ways:

  • Exposure to sunlight (even if it’s through the clouds) stimulates the body to create more vitamin D which plays a crucial role in regulating your sleeping pattern; it is integral to the production of melatonin which has been nicknamed the “sleep hormone”. Don’t forget – always ensure you are using SPF to protect your skin.
  • Whilst exercising, your body’s internal temperature naturally rises. After hiking your temperature will cool down which is thought to ‘lull you into sleep’. You can enhance this by incorporating a cool down routine post-hike, for example get a cold shower, switch on your fans, and avoid alcohol.
5. Social interaction

The Lake District has a fantastic hiking community providing a wonderful way to socialise and meet like-minded individuals. Whether you decide to join a guided hike or venture out with friends and family, the shared experience of exploring the trails forge meaningful connections and strengthens relationships, contributing to your social wellbeing. Use this time to get those bad vibes off your chest, engage in conversation with your loved ones and feel relieved letting those bottled-up emotions free.

6. Increased creativity & focus

Time spent in nature has been linked to enhanced creativity and improved focus. The serene landscapes of the Lake District provide the perfect backdrop for clearing your mind and sparking inspiration. Whether you’re an artist, writer, or simply looking to solve problems more effectively, a hike can help you tap into your creative potential. The beauty of the Lake District has inspired famous writers such as Beatrix Potter, Wordsworth and Coleridge, and artists like Edward H Thompson and Aldred Heaton Cooper.

Popular routes to try...

Keswick to Threlkheld Railway Path

Level: Easy

Average time to complete: 2 hrs 30 mins.

This trail is a lovely leisurely walk which starts from behind the old Keswick Pool. The ground is tarmacked to a high standard, it is flat and smooth, making it suitable for pushchairs, wheelchairs, and bikes. It is a very popular choice of route so expect to give out lots of smiles and ‘hellos’ on your journey.

Latrigg Circular

Level: Easy

Average time to complete: 47 mins

Latrigg Circular is the perfect route for beginner fell walkers as a short and sweet circular which can be started from the outskirts of Keswick. This trail is popular for families as it is a generally easy ascent but there are some steep inclines, so appropriate footwear is advisable. The views from the peak are truly tremendous, enjoy sweeping views of the beautiful Keswick and its surrounding areas.

Derwentwater Circular

Level: Moderate

Average time to complete: 3hr 40 mins

This route is a good option if you would like to take a long walk that doesn’t involve steep inclines. A beautiful walk with varied terrain, there are plenty opportunities to extend your walk via routes such as Walla Crag, Lodore Falls waterfall and Surprise View. Ensure that you are wearing appropriate footwear as there are parts which may be wet and muddy depending on the weather.

You will find Lodore Falls Hotel & Spa and the Borrowdale Hotel along your route, why not stop to reenergise with a refreshment or a bite to eat?

Please be aware that there are sections which take you along the roadside – not advisable for pushchairs or wheelchairs. Be prepared to take a detour should flooding affect the normal route.

Cat Bells Fell

Level: Moderate

Average time to complete: 3 hours

You can’t visit the Lake District without walking the iconic Cat Bells fell. A popular route that provides spectacular views over Derwentwater, you will find yourself in awe when you reach its peak. This route is moderately challenging and does require some scrambling, walking shoes or boots would be recommended for this route.

Ullswater Way

Level: Hard

Average time to complete: 9 hours

For those experienced walkers, the Ullswater Way is a challenging route that offers a real varied terrain. You will see a plethora of wonderful sights from the lake itself to Aira Force waterfall to the characterful villages of Patterdale and Glenridding.

Be aware that there are sections which are steep and uneven; take care and ensure you are wearing appropriate footwear. For those who may struggle to tackle the full circular, there are buses and boats on hand which can make life easier for you.

Aira Force Waterfall

Level: Moderate

Average time to complete: 49 minutes

With its own pay & display National Trust car park, this easy to access route offers scenic surroundings through lush forestry as you make your way to the magnificent 65ft drop Aira Force waterfall. As always, take care when walking and be wary of rough, slippery and steep grounds.

Helvellyn – Striding Edge Circular

Level: Very hard

Average time to complete: 3 hours

Famously one of the most popular Grade 1 scrambles in Britain, Striding Edge offers a real challenge in the form of a steep, rocky climb. If you’re looking for a hike that is going to push your resilience to a whole new level, this is the perfect option for you. Due to obvious risks, this route is only suitable for experienced and well-seasoned hikers. Be rewarded with magnificent views that will leave you in awe and feel on top of the world as you reach the peak.