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.
Amongst the chapters are also six ideas for walks and a description of the epic road trip over the Wrynose and Hardknott Passes, the steepest road passes in England.
Best for…a brief but solid overview of the Lake District
Find the Pocket Lake District Guide on Bookshop.org*
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
Find the Wild Guide on Bookshop.org*
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 has 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 further advice on photographing 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
Find The Photographers Guide here
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
Find Hallewell Walking Guides here
5. Swimming Wild in the Lake District by Suzanna Cruickshank
This is my most recent purchase, wild swimming is something I hope to get into more this summer and I’ve found this book provides a really solid grounding with background advice on getting started, equipment, ecology and biosecurity.
Each chapter is set around a different lake and 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
Find Swimming Wild in the Lake District at Bookshop.org*
6. Lake District Low Level and Lake walks by Vivienne Crow
If scaling fells and hills isn’t on your radar, or you need a more relaxed walk, this book 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
Find Lake District Low Level and Lake Walks at Bookshop.org*
Further books for multiple Lake District adventures
If you are looking for an ongoing Lake District adventure, consider an investment in 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 explored the Lakeland fells at the weekends.
A true Lakeland classic and a fine accompaniment to any Lake District adventure.
*Denotes affiliate links on which I can earn a small commission towards running Look With New Eyes
Planning an adventure to the Lake District?
Check out these posts to get started
The 12 best cafes in the Lake District
4 of the best independent bookshops in the Lake District
12 things you need to know before visiting the Lake District
When is the best time to visit the Lake District?
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On the first Friday of the month, I share…
✨A mini letter from me with monthly insights into living in the Lake District
✨ Books, podcasts, essays and articles from the Lake District and outdoor community to inspire you
✨Trail Notes with practical details on how to re-create my most recent walks in the Lake District
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