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10 Harder Fell Walks in the Lake District

By Dave Roberts   

on October 19, 2018    5/5 (1)

Posted as a walk in – England, Europe, Lake District National Park

10 Harder Fell Walks in the Lake District

There’s no shortage of hard hill walks in the Lake District, so here’s a selection of ten harder routes to get you going. Are they the hardest walks in the Lake District? Probably not, as you could easily pin a couple of walks together and make an epic walk that’ tougher than most of these, these are a selection of natural walks that are just longer or harder than popular walks such as Coniston Old Man from Coniston, Skiddaw from Keswick, Scafell Pike from Wasdale or Helvellyn from Thirlmere.

There’s no hard and fast rule to these walks, with the distances ranging from 10 to over 30km, but might involve a bit more challenge or scrambling. Do however, expect these walks to provide a worthy day out on the Lake District Fells! For those looking for easier fell walks in the Lake District, we’ve got that covered too!

Scafell Pike from Langdale

Height Gained – 1700 metres ,  Distance – 22 km, Time –7 hours

Where better to start the list than with the longest walk up England’s highest mountain, Scafell Pike. The route starting from Great Langdale heads up Langdale before climbing up to Esk Hause and climbing over some of the other highest English mountains in Great End, Ill Crag and Broad Crag. You can also add the summit of Scafell onto the day, making it a truly epic outing.

Great Langdale Round

Height Gained – 1400 metres ,  Distance – 19.5 km, Time –6 hours

Staying in Great Langdale, how about combining the previous walk up Scafell Pike with this Great Langdale Round for a full weekend’s walking. This route starts off climbing Pike of Blisco before heading around and over the multiple summits of Crinkle Crags before the highest point of the day is reached –  Bow Fell. The return leg takes in the Langdale Pikes and you could also add on the summit of Pavey Ark for a slightly longer day out.

Blencathra via Sharp Edge

Height Gained – 625 metres ,  Distance – 5 km, Time –2 hours

Hard doesn’t have to mean long! In fact, it’s rather difficult to walk a long route over Blencathra! The hardest of the routes up is Sharp Edge, an exhilarating scramble on an exposed ridge. Cap the day by descending Hall’s Fell for a short but satisfying circular scramble.

Helvellyn and Catstye Cam via Striding Edge and Swirral Edge

Height Gained – 930 metres ,  Distance – 13 km, Time – 6 hours

While we’re on the subject of Scrambling, the other of the famous three scrambles in the Lakes are Striding Edge and Swirral Edge on Helvellyn. This walk incorporates both of these grade 1 scrambles, and is probably the best full day’s scrambling in the Lake District.

Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike and Seat Sandal Walk from Glenridding

Height Gained – 1550 metres ,  Distance – 22.5 km, Time –8 hours or longer

If scrambling’s not your thing, or the weather’s against you then Helvellyn has other options for hard walking. This route takes a reasonably straightforward route up onto Helvellyn, but involves a significant amount of ascent on the way as you descend over some of Helvellyn’s subsidiary summits. Just to make sure you’ll feel this walk at the day’s end, tag on the outlying Seat Sandal just to kill of the last bit of energy in your legs.

Scramble up Helvellyn via Swirrall Edge

The Deepdale Horseshoe from Patterdale

Height Gained – 970 metres ,  Distance – 15.5 km, Time – 5 – 6 hours

Another classic walk in the Eastern Fells is the Deepdale Horseshoe. There’s a bit of everything on this route, with some scrambling and not so easy to follow sections making it less straightforward than the southern ascent of Fairfield. It also includes the summit of St Sunday Crag.

Fairfield Horseshoe from Ambleside

Height Gained – 1100 metres ,  Distance – 17km, Time –8 hours

The Fairfield Horseshoe is another classic route, which involves a bit more distance and ascent than the Deepdale Horseshoe but is more straightforward and popular. This can be turned into a real hard walk by extending it over Red Screes – especially as there’s a significant loss of height

The Mosedale Horseshoe

Height Gained – 1570 metres ,  Distance –19 km, Time – 8 hours

Yet another of the Lake District’s famous horseshoes, the Mosedale Horseshoe starts from Wasdale Head with the main target being the summit of Pillar – the 6th Highest Mountain in England.  There’s a total of 8 summits on this walk, including 5 Wainwrights (Kirk FellPillarScoat FellRed Pike and Yewbarrow).

Mosedale Horseshoe

High Street from the North – Via the High Street from Pooley Bridge

Height Gained – 900 metres,  Distance – 32 km, Time –5 hours.

You wanted longer walks? Here’s a lengthy route up High Street starting from the north near Pooley Bridge on Ullswater. Clocking in over 30km of walking, this is a full day on the hills but might not be the most spectacular of the numerous walking routes up High Street.

High Street from Kentmere
7b – High Street’s summit

A High Level Tour Of Ennerdale – Pillar and High Stile

Height Gained – 2000 metres ,  Distance –33 km, Time –12 hours or longer

The final route on this rather eclectic list is a high level tour of Ennerdale. This includes the high point of Pillar, as well as the ridge of High Stile and High Crag along the northern edge of Ennerdale. Ideally walked as a wild camp, or even an overnighter at the Black Sail Hut if completing this beast of a walk in one day seems a bit excessive. Those wanting even more challenge could extend it to include Brandreth, Great Gable and Kirk Fell.

We have more walks in the Lake District on the category page. Got a better one? Why not share your walk on the trip report forum?

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Dave Roberts

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2 thoughts on “10 Harder Fell Walks in the Lake District”

  1. Thanks Larry – we’ve made the guidance a bit more vague now – just so we’re in line with the rest of the country! We’re still locked down further than England over in Snowdonia, so we’re still in hibernation! With any luck we can remove the warnings entirely in the next few weeks (only once all 4 home nations are allowing walking).

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