5 Family-Friendly Nature Trails in Cumbria

With rugged landscapes, dramatic peaks, serene lakes and charming villages to discover around every corner, walking in Cumbria and the Lake District is the single best way to experience the region’s abundant natural beauty.

While the challenging climbs and breathtaking views of the county are hard to beat, not all walks in the Lake District are suitable for little legs or pushing pushchairs. In this post, we’ll share our top 5 easy walks in the Lake District that are suitable for the whole family.

These low-level walks in Cumbria are just as fulfilling as some of the more strenuous fell walks, but with manageable terrain and routes that aren’t too long for young children. From idyllic lake shores and hidden caves to ancient woodlands and famous sculpture trails, there is so much for you and your little ones to discover during your visit to Cumbria and the Lake District.

So, let’s get into it.

1. Grizedale Forest

With views of the surrounding Lake District fells and the shelter of the trees and sculptures in the forest, there are many walks in Grizedale Forest to be enjoyed by the whole family.

Why not climb to the summit of Carron Crag for spectacular views of the southern Lake District, the Howgills and Morecambe Bay? At 314 metres high at its summit, this circular trail offers the perfect challenge for older children, but don’t forget your youngster’s walking boots or wellies as it can be wet and muddy in places.

For a shorter low-level trek, younger visitors will enjoy exploring Grizedale Forest’s Ridding Wood and Millwood trails. The Ridding Wood Trail takes you through beautiful oak woodland where you can spot the many forest sculptures while the Millwood Trail offers a shaded walk under some of the oldest trees in Grizdale and along the stream on the valley bottom.

Whichever route you choose, keep an eye out for the magical sculptures and artworks hidden amongst the forest. Don’t forget to pay a visit to Café Ambio and the play area located near the visitor centre after your adventure.

2. Whinlatter Forest

Whinlatter Forest, located near Keswick, is home to stunning views, fantastic walks, exhilarating mountain biking trails and rare wildlife. Set within the Lake District National Park, a World Heritage Site, Whinlatter has views across Bassenthwaite Lake, Derwentwater and Keswick.

With 9 exciting walking trails to explore, Whinlatter Forest provides the perfect day out for adventure-loving families. Here, you’ll venture through lush woodland where you can spot a variety of animals and enjoy the surrounding landscapes.

Opened in 2023, the all-new Wonders of Whinlatter trail showcases the story of England’s only mountain forest. The trail allows you to truly experience the forest, be it through catching a glimpse of the wildlife which call the forest home or through soaking up the stunning views.

For shorter walks suited to families with younger children, the Tracks Trail Children’s Trail, Whinlatter WildPlay trail and Revelin Moss trail at Whinlatter are a perfect alternative. A popular trail with youngsters, the WildPlay trail takes you through the trees with 9 different play zones set in the amazing mountain forest.

3. Dodd Wood

Located a few miles north of Keswick, Dodd Wood is an area of woodland managed by the Forestry Commission, where you will find a network of trails through huge Douglas firs, waterfalls and streams. The routes range from short trails of 1 and 1.5 miles ideal for younger children to the longer and steeper Dodd summit trail.

If you follow the Dodd Wood Summit Trail you’ll be rewarded with fabulous 360 degree views of Derwent Water, Bassenthwaite Lake and the surrounding northern Lake District fells. On a clear day the views stretch as far as Solwith Firth and the hills of Dumfries and Galloway.

The route is a little over 3 miles, but the path is steep and strenuous, guiding you along forest paths and past waterfalls and streams. For this reason, this Dodd Wood walk is not suitable for push chairs and young children.

4. Ennerdale

With peaceful woodland, Lakeside walks and picturesque views to discover, Ennerdale has much to offer. The Ennerdale Views walk is a featured ‘Miles Without Stiles’ route, a list of 50 more accessible walks in the Lake District that are suitable for wheelchair users, families with pushchairs and anyone who wants to enjoy an easier low-level walk. The trail is a circular 2km loop along the lakeshore that is suitable for all ability levels and a longer 4.2km walk that is categorised as a route suitable ‘for many’.

If you’d prefer a longer route, the Ennerdale Forest Road is 18.5km and another Miles Without Stiles route ‘for some’, meaning it is suited for some walkers, confident pushchair and wheelchair and mobility scooter users with all terrain equipment. It takes you close to the shoreline of Ennerdale Water for the first 2km and how far you walk before turning around is up to you. On the path, you will pass some magnificent mountain scenery that makes for truly a memorable experience.

5. Rydal Water and Caves

Starting at Whitemoss Common, there are actually several routes you can take from this starting point but heading towards Rydal Water and Rydal Caves provides the most exciting experience for young children. Nestled into the side of Loughrigg Fell, Rydal Cave is one of the best easy walks in the Lake District with easy terrain, impressive views over Rydal Water and a cave to explore.

It should be noted that the path leading up to Rydal Caves is unsuitable for regular pushchairs as there are sections with loose scree, but this should be manageable for young children.

Rydal Cave itself is man made as a result of quarrying for slate around 200 years ago to roof the surrounding villages and towns. No longer in use, today it is a point of interest amongst locals and visitors alike, and it is clear to see why.

At the entrance of the cave is a shallow pool of still water and visitors often enter the cave via a series of stepping stones. If you plan on entering the cave, it is important to be remain vigilant.

As is evident in this blog post, walking is the best way to immerse yourself in the lush wildlife and landscapes in Cumbria. This guide to the best walks in Cumbria and the Lake District captures only a handful of the many amazing nature trails you will discover during your visit to the county. Having encountered enchanting hidden gems and spectacular panoramic views, you will return home with incredible memories of your adventures and a love for the region that will be difficult to shake.

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