Jonathan Smith, mountain guide and founder of Where2walk
Large areas of the Lake District will be extremely popular this spring and summer, particularly Keswick, Grasmere, Ambleside and Windermere/Bowness. Walks near these hubs are not likely to feel like the secluded peaceful rambles usually associated with this beautiful area. After the first lockdown ended it was chaotic, with simply too many people gravitating to too few places.
However, with a bit of research it is easy to avoid the hotspots. The Lake District is a large area, stretching from Carlisle in the north down to the peninsulas in the south, and from the Atlantic coast across to the M6. If you can avoid the central spine of busy towns, much of the Lake District is quiet, peaceful and a delight to visit and walk in.
My favourite is Duddon valley, away to the west of Coniston. Few will have heard of the Duddon valley, let alone travelled there, yet it is pretty central and barely a half-hour drive from Ambleside. I always prefer approaching the valley from the north, over the Wrynose Pass, with its stunning views.
At the north end of the valley (often referred to as Dunnerdale), the River Duddon runs along a wooded valley floor enjoyed by canoeists and wild-water swimmers, with easy riverside walking…