North Lakes Short Break

Pooley Bridge to Borrowdale in 3 Days Walking Code: NLB4

This is a shorter version of the full route for those with less time, but it still takes in all three lakes. It starts at Pooley Bridge, at the head of Ullswater and concludes in Rosthwaite in Borrowdale.

Following a 12 mile day from Pooley Bridge to Patterdale, there are 2 days of just 7 miles each, allowing plenty of time to take in the beautiful countryside around you.

Miles Km
Day 1 Travel to Pooley Bridge for your first nights accommodation
Day 2 Pooley Bridge to Patterdale 12 19
Day 3 Patterdale to Thirlmere 7 11
Day 4 Thirlmere to Rosthwaite 7 11
Day 5 Depart from Rosthwaite after breakfast

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 St Johns in the Vale

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.

St Johns in the Vale 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.


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.
12.5% discount at Cotswold Outdoors We will issue you with a 12.5% 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 into the day-to-day operation and lets us spot any potential issues before they become a problem.

We use a variety of accommodation. 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, or on a working farm. In selecting the accommodation we look for helpful, friendly hosts with good quality, characterful accommodation close to the trail. Occasionally we may use a chain 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.

We are happy to book single rooms on our holidays but cannot normally book more than two for any one group. Single room bookings include a supplement.


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 trainline 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 – Pooley Bridge:

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 Ptaxi to Pooley Bridge (6 miles).

By Public Transport: Pooley Bridge’s nearest railway station is Penrith (PNR). You can then either travel by bus or taxi to Pooley Bridge (6 miles).

By Road: Travel to Penrith in the county of Cumbria, then the A66 west and the A592 to Pooley Bridge.

Returning from Borrowdale:

By Public Transport: Bus or taxi to Keswick (3.5 miles), and then bus to either Penrith railway station (18 miles) or the larger station in Carlisle (37 miles).

By Road: B5289 to Keswick (3.5 miles), A66 to Penrith (18 miles) for the M6 motorway.


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 £572
with Luggage Transport £632
with Packed Lunches £605
with Luggage & Lunches £662

Other Options

Extra Nights (per night) £90
Single Supplement (per night) £58
Solo Luggage Supplement (per day) £15