That sweet anticipation of planning and booking a new trip. As thoughts move towards summer, I’ve put together a little guide of my six go to books for planning your Lake District adventure.
All of these books I own and have loved and used in various ways since moving to the Lake District two years ago.
I hope they bring as much joy and surprise to you as they have for me – let me know over on Instagram which books you would add to this list.
1.Pocket Lake District Guide by Lonely Planet
This pocket guide from Lonely Planet gives a solid introduction to the Lake District. Split into 5 regions across the national park plus coastal and inland Cumbria, each section has highlights on what to do, plus ideas on where to eat and where to stay.
In amongst the chapters are also six ideas for walks and a description of the epic roadtrip over the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, the steepest road passes in England.
Best for…a brief but solid overview of the Lake District
2. Wild Guide Lakes and Dales by Daniel Start and Tania Pascoe
Out of all six books, this one is hands down my most used and loved (plus it includes the Yorkshire Dales which I’m yet to explore much of!).
Each Lake District area has a number of subsections which include lakes & waterfalls, wildlife wonders, hilltops & scrambles, sacred & ancient, lost ruins & caverns, slow food, and sleep wild. Comprehensive directions and OS grid references are also included to make navigating simple.
I’ve found it perfect for looking for hidden gems I’ve never heard of and avoiding the Lake District crowds on summer days.
If I was going to invest in one guide only, this one would be it!
Best for…off the beaten track/hidden gem spots to avoid the crowds
3. The Photographers Guide to the Lake District by Ellen Bowness
I picked up this guide at a photography exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham just before moving to the Lakes and I’m so glad I did!
Each of the eight geographical sections have ideas on where to photograph iconic Lakeland spots, advice on where to park, how to get there and the best time of day to shoot – plus where to get alternative angles of well photographed shots. At the back of the book, there is furher advice on photgaphing the different seasons as well as sunset and sunrise times.
I also found a few spots I’d not read about in other guides, such as Tewet Tarn just outside Keswick which has stunning reflective views back over to Blencathra.
Best for…those looking to get creative in the Lake District landscape
4. Mini Walk Book Guides of the Lake District
I’ve used these super little pocket guides whilst living in Scotland before and began collecting the series when I moved to the Lakes.
Each book has around 25 walks which range from short strolls to long hikes. I love this variety, as it means if I just want a quick bit of fresh air when I arrive in a new place, there are a few around 2/3 mile walks as well as longer hikes of 8-10 miles, usually up in the hills.
Whilst I’d recommend taking an OS map on the longer hikes, these books are small and lightweight and give some really great ideas if you plan to stay in one or two areas of the Lake District.
Best for: Great value, lightweight books for walkers of all abilities
5. Swimming Wild in the Lake District by Suzanna Cruickshank
This is my most recent purchase, wild swimming is something I hope get into more this summer and I’ve found this book provides a really solid grounding with background advice on getting started, equipement, ecology and bioseecuity.
Each chapter set around a different lake then has a detailed description which includes advice on where to swim, technical information plus where to avoid swimming.
Suzanna also provides workshops and sessions on wild swimming in the Lake District – you can find more info at Suzanna Swims
Best for….adventurous souls and wild swimmers
6. Lake District Low Level and Lake walks by Vivienne Crow
If scaling fells and hills isn’t on you radar, or you need a more relaxed walk, this books is perfect for more chilled, low level walks.
Each of the five regions (North, East, Central, Western, and South Lakes) has around 5-6 walks varying in length from 4-9 miles with a detailed rundown of total ascent, grade, and estimated walking time, plus an OS map of the route and comprehensive details of the walk.
At the front of the guide is also a handy chart with all the walks so that you can quickly pick a walk based on time and distance.
Best for….moderate/chilled walkers
Further books for multiple Lake District adventures
If you are looking for an ongoing Lake District adventure, consider an investment into the Wainwright series. Set out over seven books, Wainwright documented 214 fells with his unique hand-drawn maps and quirky observations which he wrote whilst he lived in Kendal and exploring the Lakeland fells at the weekends.
A true Lakeland classic and a fine accompaniment to any Lake District adventure.
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