15 Choice dog walks in Cumbria

Dog walks
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Cumbria is the third-largest county in England and a hugely popular destination for day trips and staycations. Not only does it offer fabulous shopping in the handsome market towns such as Kendall and Keswick, but the Lake District at the heart of the county also attracts walkers from all over the world.

The dramatic scenery in Cumbria, particularly the Lake District, is hard to beat. The numerous lakes and mountains in this county offer incredible hiking opportunities, and what better way to explore them all than with your furry friend.

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We’ve rounded up 15 of the best hikes and dog walks in Cumbria, exploring some of the most famous and loved landscapes that can be found in the county.

Country & country park walks

Loweswater (The Corpse road)

As scary as the name may seem, so-called “corpse roads” can be found all over rural Britain under various names from Coffin Road to Lych Way, which all invariably mean the same thing. That these were ancient trails taken to transport the deceased to larger churches for burial, as many local parishes didn’t have their own burial grounds.

These historical roadways are often some of the most beautiful and secluded walks in the country, making them the perfect place to go for a long, invigorating walk with the dog where you can escape the bustle of everyday life and get back in touch with the great outdoors. This route is no exception and follows a section of the old corpse road before circling back to the start.

You’ll have splendid views of the Loweswater valley and lake, and also take a wander through Holme Wood, which is another paw-some spot to go for a walk with the pooch. There is a shorter and easier circular walk visiting the same scenery, or, you could walk the entire corpse road in a linear walk.

  • Walk Length: 8km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Fangs Brow

  • Terrain: Trails, grassland, woodland, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Cockermouth, CA13 0SU

More information: The Outdoor Guide, National Trust, CountryFile

Duddon valley

The Duddon Valley, also known as Dunnerdale, follows the river Duddon as it meanders through the Cumbrian countryside, fenced in by tall mountain passes. The area, like much of the region, is fantastically beautiful. It is an area the poet William Wordsworth adored and immortalised in some of his works. He dedicated no less than 35 sonnets to the river and valley here!

Evidently the scenery and walks here are enough to capture the imagination, particularly when you come across any of the ancient stone circles that are dotted around the region.

You too will follow the clear waters of the river as it meanders through the hills. Your pup will probably have a paddle in the river, and it makes a great extra for them in addition to this long off-lead walk. You’ll do some hill walking on this route too, so you can be sure that you and the pooch will both be well exercised, just as much as you’ll be enriched by the glorious landscape.

As with many walks in the Lake District, there aren’t any facilities on the walk. However, there are several pubs in nearby Broughton-in-Furness, and The Blacksmiths Arms in Broughton Mills.

  • Walk Length: 10km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Birks Bridge

  • Terrain: Trails, grassland, uneven, hills.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Birks, Penrith, CA11 0PU

More information: CountryFile, Andrews Walks, National Trust

Woodland walks

Whinlatter forest

This man-made forest was born after the First World War, planted to combat a timber shortage. Now, it is England’s only mountain forest, and a paw-some place to head to for dog walks in Cumbria. From the vantage point on the mountainside, you can see across the Lake District and even as far as Scotland.

There are 9 walking trails and 3 bike trails so there is plenty for you and the pup to explore together. The distance and difficulty of each route differ, meaning you could take a relaxing family walk or a challenging hike up Seat How.

This route along the Heavy sides trail is one of the most varied walks on offer where you’ll meet the mighty oaks, wander through pine plantations, and reach wonderful views over the surrounding valleys and lakes.

The forest has a number of other attractions too, including Gruffalo sculptures, segways, Go Ape, and even alpaca walks. Additionally, the visitor centre has live feeds of the resident red squirrels and ospreys, which is worth stopping to watch. As well as the centre, there is a cafe, book shop, and gift shop. Dogs are welcome to join you in the covered area of the cafe.

  • Walk Length: 2.5km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Visitor centre

  • Terrain: Woodland, trails, uneven, slopes.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Braithwaite, Keswick, CA12 5TW

More information: Forestry England, Visit Cumbria, Keswick

Grizedale forest

Grizedale Forest is the perfect place for dog walks in Cumbria. It has miles of well-kept woodland trails, sculptures, and artwork throughout the forest. Plus amazing views and even a cottage and campsite for you to stay in should you want to extend your woodland adventure into a wonderful weekend.

The Bogle Crag trail is a particularly popular walk but expect to be tired by the end of it! This walk is rated as moderate, but we think it’s quite tricky as there are a lot of steep uphill climbs. Keep an eye out for the handful of sculptures hidden amongst the trees.

If you want a tranquil walk, you should avoid the centre of the forest where the Go Ape area and bike trails are. But beyond the busy centre, you’ll find peace amongst the tall conifer plantations. There are facilities in the forest too, including picnic areas and a cafe, perfect for a pit-stop after a long walk.

  • Walk Length: 4km

  • Difficulty: Moderate/Challenging

  • Starting Point: Visitor centre

  • Terrain: Trail, even, hills.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Grizedale Forest, Hawkshead, LA22 0QJ

More information: Forestry England, Visit Cumbria

Waterside walks

Tarn Hows

Once owned by Beatrix Potter, Tarn Hows is a beautiful attraction in the Lake District popular with people of all ages for the scenery and easy-going walks. Yet, this area is not as natural as it would first appear. The land surrounding the tarn was landscaped to accentuate its beauty.

Regardless of human intervention, the tranquil lake is undeniably pretty and the majesty of the surrounding landscape is irrefutable. The mountainous backdrop and tall conifer forest make this the perfect backdrop for a dog walk in Cumbria. Be aware that dogs do need to be on leads here.

The surfaced path around the lake offers an accessible route that is not only easy to follow but suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs too. This is a paw-some option for a family walk that the dog can accompany you on. You could choose to take the short linear path (0.5km) beside the waterside or you can walk the full circuit of the lake. There are toilets on-site, but no other facilities. However, there are several dog-friendly pubs within a short drive. These include The Ship Inn in Coniston and the Outgate Inn in Ambleside.

  • Walk Length: 3.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Car park

  • Terrain: Path, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: No (Free to National Trust members)

  • Address: Tarn Hows, Ambleside, Cumbria, LA21 8DP

More information: National Trust, Walk Lakes, Lake District

Rydal water & Grasmere

A walk around Rydal Water is another easy-going lakeside circular, perfect for people and pooches who prefer a leisurely pace. There are some climbs though so it is still sure to stretch your legs. You and the pooch will be treated to a variety of scenery on this ramble, which will keep the pair of you engaged with your surroundings and keen to explore further.

You’ll wander around the woods and waterside of both Rydal Water and Grasmere, as well as passing a few cave entrances. There are also patches of grassland, perfect for the dog to have an unbridled runaround.

This spot is a favourite walking destination, as well as a pilgrimage for fans of William Wordsworth. The poet lived in the area and you’ll walk by his house, Rydal Mount, on this route as well as a few other locations he was known to frequent and admire. But with your faithful hound by your side, you certainly won’t be wandering lonely as a cloud.

There are plenty of pubs in this area, so you can take your pick should you need a pit-stop. Additionally, there is a cafe at Rydal Mount, which includes an outdoor seating area.

  • Walk Length: 8.8km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Pelter Bridge car park

  • Terrain: Trails, even, slopes, woodland, grassland.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Ambleside, LA22 9LW

More information: Lakes Walks, Walk Lakes, GPS Routes

Cumbria coastal way

If you’re looking for a walking holiday or a few days of adventure for you and the pooch, you could try walking the entire 180 miles of the Cumbria Coastal Way. However, if you are only looking for a day out by the seaside with your dog, you can pick a section and take a day to walk along a section of the long-distance trail.

One popular afternoon’s walk is in Whitehaven. This is a station to station walk, so you’ll be getting the train back to where you began. Although if you leave early enough and have the stamina, you could try walking back. As it is a clifftop route and there is livestock in some of the fields, make sure your dog is under close control. There are picnic areas on the route and local facilities at either end in Whitehaven or St Bees. The beach at St Bees also happens to be dog-friendly.

The walk follows the coastal path along the cliff tops with lovely views over secluded beaches and industrial heritage sites. In addition to starting your walk at the historic harbour in Whitehaven, you’ll pass by quarries, mines, a WW2 radar station, and a priory. This means there are plenty of points of interest to make this as exciting a walk for the humans as it is for the pooch, who will love the open grassland, hills, and potential paddles. The walking is generally easy-going, but the few climbs are steep and uneven.

  • Walk Length: 11.2km

  • Difficulty: Challenging

  • Starting Point: Whitehaven harbour

  • Terrain: Trails, even, slopes, woodland, grassland.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: The Beacon, Whitehaven, CA28 7LY

More information: National Trust, GPS Routes, Visit Cumbria

Ravenglass beach

This dog-friendly beach is well worth a visit for a serene stroll by the estuary, where a trio of rivers meet and flood into the Irish Sea. The beach has no restrictions for dogs either, making it the perfect destination for you and the pup year-round. The flat beach is mostly sand and mud, with a little shingle, and is ideal for the dog to race around on or dig up, as well as the mandatory doggy paddle in the sea.

Ravenglass is a paw-some day out for you and the dog because there are also a number of interesting local walks. You could wander to nearby Muncaster Castle, or take this walk to the remains of Glannoventa. Glannoventa was once an important Roman fort, but now little is left behind except the magnificent bathhouse. You can also access the Cumbria Coastal Way from Ravenglass too.

For facilities, you will have to walk back into the village where both The Inn and the Ratty Arms are dog-friendly.

  • Walk Length: 2.2km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Ravenglass

  • Terrain: Beach, sand, mud, flat, even.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Ravenglass, CA18 1SQ

More information: The Beach Guide, Lake District, British Beaches


No visit to Cumbria would be complete without at least one trip to Windermere. The west of the lake is particularly good for visitors accompanied by a four-legged friend. You could enjoy this walk along the shoreline, then pay a visit to the dog-friendly cafe and the viewing station. The cafe offers tasty treats for your four-legged friend, and the viewing station is dog-friendly throughout and has unrivalled views over the lake and the surrounding mountains.

This linear walk explores the woodland and parkland that runs along the west bank of Windermere with splendid views over the lake and of the islands. You will also come across Wray Castle, an imposing Gothic fortress that was actually only built 180 years ago. In Ambleside, by the castle, you can take a trip on the ferry to Brockhole and Waterhead to catch the bus back. Otherwise, simply retrace your steps to return to where you started your walk.

  • Walk Length: 6.4km (12.8km there and back)

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Harrowslack car park

  • Terrain: Paths, flat, even, trails, slopes.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Ambleside, LA22 0LR

More information: National Trust, Visit Cumbria

Elterwater, Skelwith Force & Colwith Force

This walk will take you and the pup around the beautiful Elterwater lake, following the Cumbria Way for a spell, then over fields and through the woodland to find the waterfalls of Skelwith and Colwith Force. Both falls are impressive, although Colwith is the taller of the two at around 40ft.

However, despite being less than 20ft tall, the narrow Skelwith Force forms a powerful curtain of white water. This is perhaps one of the most magical dog walks in Cumbria. Not to mention, your pup will love the opportunity to get their paws wet in the lake, enjoy long off-lead runs over the fields, and feel the spray on their nose by the falls.

There are few facilities on the walk itself, but the Britannia Inn in Elterwater is close to the start and end of this circular route. There is a National Trust car park (P&D) near the bridge, but also a free car park in the North of the village, where we suggest you begin your walk.

  • Walk Length: 7.8km

  • Difficulty: Easy

  • Starting Point: Elterwater

  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, slopes, woodland.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Ambleside, Cumbria, LA22 9JQ

More information: Walking Englishman, Visit Cumbria, Walk Lakes

Hill walks


Although not as famous or as high as Scafell Pike or Sca Fell, the mountain of Helvellyn is still a fabulous climb and far more dog-friendly than the higher peaks. It is the third tallest summit in the Lake District and in England, so it is still a challenging hike with momentous views. As such, make sure you and the pup will have the necessary stamina and plenty of provisions for this unforgettable walk.

To make things easier for you and the dog, perhaps avoid the Striding Edge or Swirral Edge routes as these require scrambling, but it is not unknown for people and pooches to walk there. This route along Sticks Pass poses no real problems for people and pups. There are no facilities, so make sure you have all the equipment and refreshments you and the pup will need for a long day’s walking.

Once you’ve conquered the mountain, head to the Traveller’s Rest after your hike for a well-deserved drink. The route begins and ends in Glenridding, not far from the pub, making it a great place to rest after your long walk.

  • Walk Length: 18.2km

  • Difficulty: Challenging

  • Starting Point: Glenridding car park

  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, hills, grassland.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Glenridding, CA11 0PD

More information: Mud and Routes, Walk Lakes, Fiona Outdoors


This “mountain in miniature” is a fabulous introduction to the Lake District and to fellwalking because it has everything you want from a good uphill hike, but with a smaller peak and easier walking. This means it is ideal for novice fellwalkers, youngsters, and our furry friends. The route is relatively short but can be shortened further or extended should you need to. It also has no stiles, making it even more dog-friendly.

The walk is still steep, so expect to feel it in your legs, but it is only short given the hill’s modest height. The vantage point is richly rewarded with superb panoramic views, even before you’ve reached the summit, including a fantastic vantage point over Derwent Water.

There are no facilities on the route, but you can head to the nearby Swinside Inn for a pit stop before or after your walk. The pub is also a pet-friendly B&B so you could stay here for the night and continue your Cumbrian adventure in the morning.

  • Walk Length: 4km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Gutherscale car park

  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, hills, grassland.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Keswick, CA12 5UE

More information: Lake District, Walking Britain, CountryFile


One of the easier and more accessible fell walks in the Lake District is that of Latrigg. At only 368 metres high, Latrigg is significantly shorter and less demanding than any of the neighbouring hills and mountains. The short route and easier climbs make it the perfect place for family hikes and dog walks in Cumbria.

For the shortest route, start from the car park on the side of the hill. From there, you will already have fantastic views as well as only a short stroll to reach the summit and the even more splendid vantage point. From the peak, you can see over the town of Keswick, Derwentwater, and the larger fells enveloping them both. However, the best way to enjoy this walk is by starting in Keswick and walking up the hill in its full height.

Back down the hillside in Keswick, you’ll find plenty of delightful and dog-friendly facilities and eateries such as the Square Orange Cafe and Cafe Hope. If you fancy a stiffer drink, head to the Dog & Gun, The Packhorse, or the Bank Tavern.

  • Walk Length: 5km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: Keswick market square

  • Terrain: Trails, even, hills, grassland.

  • Free Parking: No

  • Address: Market Square, Keswick, CA12 5BG

More information: CountryFile, Keswick, Mud and Routes

Buttermere & Rannerdale Knotts

You and the pup will wander past serene lakes and ramble up rocky fells on this route. A walk around Buttermere, featuring a climb up Rannerdale Knotts, is another of the most-loved walks in the Lake District. This small mountain offers a challenging but manageable walk sure to tire out the most energetic of pups, despite being on the lead, with exceptional views over the trio of lakes and surrounding fells which you both will enjoy.

The scenery here is unmistakably beautiful, and you will probably find you paw-se quite often to take it all in. A favourite view is of the Buttermere Pines, a line of tall trees which stand to attention at the water's edge. Additionally, should you visit in late spring, the whole valley comes alive with bluebells. This moderate circular walk allows you to explore the valley and climb the ridge in around 2 hours, but there are many other options and your walk can be easily extended.

As with many dogs walks in Cumbria, there are few facilities once you’re out on the walk. However, there are plenty of local facilities in Buttermere, including public toilets, cafes, and pubs.

  • Walk Length: 4.8km

  • Difficulty: Moderate

  • Starting Point: National Trust car park

  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, hills, grassland.

  • Free Parking: No (Free for National Trust members)

  • Address: Buttermere, CA13 9UZ

More information: National Trust, CountryFile, Walk Lakes

High street

There are a number of wonderful walks you can take on High Street, a mountain that gained its name from the Roman road that crosses the plateau. It has another name, Racecourse Hill, another literal meaning as horse races were held on the summit in the 18th and 19th centuries.

There are several routes up to the ancient road, and although a steep climb, you and the pooch shouldn’t encounter many obstacles or difficulty, only a small scramble to reach the summit. The route we suggest begins in Hartsop village and takes you through the secluded valley before climbing Thornthwaite Crag to reach the Roman road.

The views from the crag are exceptional and continue for the rest of the walk towards Angle Tarn, including the best vantage point over Hayeswater Reservoir. If you wanted to extend the route or enjoy an easier walk, try walking from Hartsop to the reservoir.

Hartsop has several charming holiday cottages, but for refreshments, you will have to head down to the Brotherswater Inn. Otherwise, you will need to drive to Patterdale or Glenridding for other facilities.

  • Walk Length: 16.4km

  • Difficulty: Challenging

  • Starting Point: Hartsop

  • Terrain: Trails, uneven, hills, grassland.

  • Free Parking: Yes

  • Address: Hartsop, CA11 0NY

More information: 10 Adventures, Walk Lakes, Ramblers

More information about Cumbria: CountryFile, The Guardian, Visit Cumbria

More dog walks: Wales, Peak District, Dumfries and Galloway