Easy walks in the Lake District: A circular walk of Buttermere Lake


If you are looking for an easy, scenic walk in the Lake District, a circular walk around Buttermere lake is a perfect choice, with views of the towering Fleetwith Pike on a clear day and cheeky little ice cream stop halfway around!

The walk at a glance

Type of walk Circular lake walk with a few gentle inclines

Suitable for a moderate level of fitness, the path is suitable for kids

Footwear Decent trainers

Length 4 1/2 miles/7km

Refuel stop

Ice cream kiosk at Gatesgarth and cafes/pubs in Buttermere – I went to Croft House Farm Cafe but I’ve also heard good things about Skye Farm Cafe

A circular walk of Buttermere

On my first set of days off since arriving in the Lake District, I was in need of a decent walk to stretch my body, which had become a little lazy since returning from my whirlwind trip to South America.

Something a little low level, but with a bit of distance. I hopped on the 77 bus from Keswick which does a loop of the Borrowdale and Buttermere valleys to the south of the town.

The bus climbs steadily over the Honister Pass which peaks at around 300m before descending sharply into the valley to the village of Buttermere. As the bus pulled in, this place looked perfect for my wander.

After making a note of the infrequent buses back to Keswick, I followed the signposts down to the lake, and had a few peaceful moments to myself, marvelling at the calm April morning.

I sat and stared at my OS map and realised I could do a loop of the lake, winner!

I decided on an anti clockwise loop of the lake but as I made my way to the start, a notice advised that the bridge which originally went over the small river to the start of the walk was under construction until June 2019.


A detour it was, then. The map indicated to go back up towards Buttermere and take the path towards the waterfall instead. Despite the detour, the path afforded pretty views back down towards Buttermere.


I picked my way through the rocky path, dodging mini streams until a small bridge connected up to the flat, circular path of the original walk.


A set of steep stone stairs direct hardy hikers off up into the fells, towards Red Pike, Buttermere Fell and  Haystacks, the beloved fell of the famous explorer Alfred Wainwright, whose ashes are scattered on the summit.

The path then flattens out for open views of the lake before heading into Burtness Wood, all dark and forboding, the smell of pine punctuating the spring air.

I paused to watch a small waterfall trickle down the fellside, struck by the peace.




Beyond the woods, the path opens out again with the towering Fleetwith Pike an awe-inspiring sight. Cute little Herdwick sheep graze and bounce among the pastures.





The path rounded the head of the lake, passing a farm and leading to a small car park at Gatesgarth. I’m tempted by an ice cream from the busy little kiosk but resist and stop by a small stream and dry stone wall for my healthy pack lunch instead.

The next small section required walking along the road, but thankfully traffic is light and the path soon skirts back inland to a little rocky ground section.


Shadows began to lengthen in the late afternoon sun, and I watch as a paddleboarder sails peacefully from one end of the lake to the other.



The path has a little treat in store before returning to Buttermere – a trip through a small cave!

The children behind me splashed in the puddles and squealed in delight as they chased each other through the darkness.


You can choose to return to Buttermere along the shoreline, meeting up with the head of the lake, or you can choose the path which heads inland but has a number of steps – I went for the easy option!


Happy after a decent walk and a good listen to some of my favourite podcasts, I pop into the Croft House Farm Cafe for a quick drink before hopping back on the bus back to Keswick, this time following the shore of Crummock Water and winding over the Whinlatter Pass.

An altogether very satisfying first walk on my summer Lake District adventure!

How to get to Buttermere by public transport

The 77/77A is a seasonal bus that runs from April to October. The bus runs around every 2 hours, you can check the times here.

You can choose to do the loop clockwise, going first through Portinscale, past Cat Bells and into the Borrowdale Valley and over the Honister Pass to Buttermere and then the Whinlatter Pass or anticlockwise in reverse.

More Lake District Walks

Tiny walks in the Lake District: Ambleside Bridge House to Low Sweden Bridge

My experience of hiking the Ullswater Way over 2 days

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Easy Walks in the Lake District - A circular walk of Buttermere Lake

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