North Lakes Traverse

North Lakes Circular from Keswick in 5 days Walking Code: NL6

The whole route starting at Dockray near Keswick, visiting the North West lakes and mountain passes to return you to Keswick.

This is one of our own routes, winding around the Lakes of Ullswater, Thirlmere and Derwentwater, then climbing over the mountain passes that separate them. It takes in the lake shores, fells and mountain passes of the Northern Lakes, stopping in some of the prettiest villages of Lakeland. On the way you will experience quiet woodlands, plunging waterfalls and spectacular views as you climb over the fells.
Wherever possible we have built in high and low level alternatives, so the route can be adapted to suit your ability, or the weather! This is a fine introduction to the North Western lakes, encompassing plenty of variety.

Miles Km
Day 1 Travel to Keswick for your first nights accommodation
Day 2 Transfer to Dockray then walk to Pooley Bridge 8 13
Day 3 Pooley Bridge to Patterdale 12 19
Day 4 Patterdale to St Johns In The Vale 7 11
Day 5 St Johns In The Vale to Rosthwaite 7 11
Day 6 Rosthwaite to Keswick 9 14
Day 7 Depart from Keswick after breakfast

Dockray to Pooley Bridge
You will be transferred to the start of the route at Dockray. The route passes through rolling farmland north of Dockray before descending through woodland to Aira Force, one of the Lake District’s most renowned waterfalls. From here woodlands above Ullswater lead to Pooley Bridge, a small village at the head of Ullswater, for the first overnight stop.

Pooley Bridge to Patterdale
From Pooley Bridge the lower level route takes the eastern shore of Ullswater over its entire length, to the second night’s halt at Glenridding. The path follows the lakeshore closely through fields and woodlands skirting the lower fell sides of Hallin and Place fells. The alternative higher level route goes through the remote hamlet of Martindale to the summit of Place Fell, with spectacular views over the lake to Helvellyn.

Patterdale to Thirlmere
The third day takes the route to Sticks Pass (750m), high on the Helvellyn ridge, on an established path past the old mine workings, before dropping more steeply down to Thirlspot, the next overnight stop. Thirlmere, Bassenthwaite, Ullswater, Skiddaw and Blencathra can all be seen from the pass.

Thirlmere to Rosthwaite in Borrowdale
There are two alternatives for this day. They both climb out of the Thirlmere valley over the Ullscarf ridge to Watendlath, a secluded farming hamlet complete with tarn, ducks and tea shop! The route continues through wooded valley sides into Borrowdale, one of Lakeland’s prettiest valleys, for the night’s halt.

Rosthwaite in Borrowdale to Keswick
The final day passes along the shores of Derwentwater and for the higher level route, over Cat Bells enroute to Keswick, the end of the trip. From the top of Catbells there are spectacular views of the Northern fells, Skiddaw and the lakes of Derwentwater and Bassenthwaite.
The lower alternative takes the lakeshore path along Derwentwater, through ancient oak forests.


The North Lakes Traverse has been designed to cater for a variety of fitness levels and experience. Any reasonably fit person should be able to complete the lower level option, whilst the higher level alternatives provide something for the more experienced fell walker.

Terrain: A mixture of typical Lakeland countryside, from fields in the valley bottoms and wooded lower slopes, to higher mountain passes as the route crosses the Helvellyn range and remote moorland en route for Borrowdale.

What’s it like underfoot? The paths and tracks followed over most of the route are well defined and maintained. There are however sections of relatively high and remote mountain terrain, where the paths are rougher, and boggier.

How Much Up & Down? The climb over Stick Pass between Patterdale and Thirlmere is 600m, and the following day the route climbs over 400m en route for Borrowdale. The other days involve less ascent and descent.

Signposting: None – this is one of our own routes. You will need to use the route description and map.

Navigation: Pretty straightforward on the lowland sections, but you may encounter hill fog or low cloud on Sticks Pass and between Thirlmere and Borrowdale (where the path is indistinct for a while) – so you need to be able to navigate.

Weather: You may be lucky enough to encounter warm, dry weather over the whole route and enjoy dry paths and tremendous views, but you must be prepared because the weather can change quickly. Good clothing and waterproofs essential!

All Holidays
Accommodation Overnight Bed and Breakfast accommodation in selected hotels, farmhouses, village inns, guest houses and family B&Bs.Full English or Continental breakfast.
Route Description
A route description detailing both high and low level alternatives.
Information of Services Along the Route A comprehensive Service Info sheet, including services such as cash points, banks, post offices, village shops, inns, cafes and taxis.
Maps 2 Ordnance Survey Explorer (1:25000) maps covering the entire route.
Personal Itinerary A personal itinerary setting out each overnight stop, including large scale maps of each accommodation, to ensure you find it easily.
Emergency Telephone Support If you get in to difficulties during your holiday, we are always available to help, even out of office hours.
15% discount at Cotswold Outdoors We will issue you with a 15% Discount Card valid at all Cotswold Outdoor stores, and online, for the whole year on confirmation of your booking.
Luggage Transport We will transfer your luggage between each overnight stop – if you leave your luggage at the accommodation when you set off in the morning, it will be moved on to your next B&B. You only need to carry a small day sack with the clothes and provisions you require during the day’s walk.
Packed Lunches
Provided for each day’s walking and recommended on this holiday as there will not always be a handy shop or cafe on the route.
Off Road Parking If you are travelling by car we can usually arrange off road parking for the duration of your trip. (There may be a small charge for this).
Arrangement of return transport We can also arrange your transfer back to your car, (or advise you when public transport is a better option)!
What’s not Included
Evening Meals Your evening meal isn’t included in the package, but we include full details and recommendations for each evening meal in your itinerary. You will normally be within walking distance of a pub and/or restaurant, or where there is good food available at the accommodation, we’ll book that for you. Allow about £20.00 per night.
Transport to the Start & Away from the Finish Have a look at the “Travel Info” tab above for suggestions. If you’re still struggling, get in touch and we’ll help you sort it out.
Travel Insurance Even if you are based inthe UK travel insurance is worth having.

Good accommodation and friendly hosts are an essential part of any holiday. We understand this and go out of our way to find the best. We put a great deal of effort into hand picking our accommodation and matching it to individual customer requirements. As well as visiting the accommodation ourselves, we ask all our customers to complete a short evaluation on each night’s accommodation, which then gives us an insight in to the day-to-day operation, and lets us spot any potential issues before they become a problem.


We use a variety of accommodation, including small country house hotels, guest houses in market towns, bed and breakfasts in farm houses, country cottages and Victorian town houses. In selecting the accommodation we look for helpful, friendly hosts with good quality, characterful accommodation close to the trail. For example, over the course of your trip you might stay in a village inn, a bed and breakfast in a converted barn, a Victorian guest house, on a working farm, and in a Georgian hotel.

We always try to arrange en suite accommodation, i.e. rooms with their own bathrooms for each night of your stay. However, in some of the more remote locations accommodation is limited and occasionally we may have to book rooms with shared bathrooms for one or two nights of your holiday, (especially if the booking is made at short notice), but we will always let you know if this is likely to be the case.

General travel information for the North Lakes area will be in your holiday pack including train and bus timetables where available.

Detailed instructions on getting to your first night’s accommodation by car, or on foot from the nearest train or bus station, will also be included in the holiday pack on individual accommodation maps.

To view train times please visit qjump where you can also purchase tickets in advance. For information on bus timetables please visit traveline

If you require secure car parking whilst walking this route, please contact us for information.

Getting There:
By Air:
The nearest international airports are Manchester (MAN) or Newcastle (NCL). You can then travel by train to Penrith (approx 2 hours from both) and then bus or taxi to Keswick (18 miles).
By Public Transport: Keswick’s nearest railway station is Penrith (PNR). You can then travel one of the regular buses to Keswick, or a taxi (18 miles). Keswick has a central bus station, and you are usually no longer than a 5/10minute stroll to your accommodation, or a couple of minutes in a taxi.
By Road: Keswick is in the Northern Lake District in the county of Cumbria. The A66 passes right along the edge of the town, and the nearest motorway is the M6.

Returning from Keswick:
By Public Transport:
You can travel by bus from Keswick to either Penrith railway station (18 miles) or the larger station in Carlisle (37 miles).
By Road: A66, which passes by Keswick, to Penrith (18 miles) for the M6 motorway.


Keswick is a bustling market town centred around the historic Moot Hall, with a vast array of outdoor shops – if you need any outdoor gear, you will get it here! There is a wide choice of places to eat or have a coffee, and a range of galleries to visit. Enjoy one of the easy, short walks down to the lakeshore from where there is a regular launch service around Derwentwater. Or pop into our offices to say hello or book your next holiday!


Patterdale offers spectacular scenery in a peaceful location. This tiny village in the heart of the English Lake District will give you a well earned rest before heading onwards on your walking route. Boat trips can be taken on the Ullswater Steamers to Pooley Bridge, with several opportunities to disembark and explore the lakeshore attractions along the way.

Prices GBP (£)
Accommodation, map & guidebook only £497
with Luggage Transport £567
with Packed Lunches £532
with Luggage & Lunches £598

Other Options

Extra Nights (per night) £56
Single Supplement (per night) £26
Solo Luggage Supplement (per day) £17