hikers in the lake district

The wainwrights are a popular collection of peaks for ramblers or hikers. They vary in difficulty and can offer a great starting point for climbing in the Lake District. We will explore some of the more popular Wainwrights, how they became a Wainwright and what to expect.

What Are the Wainwrights?

The Lake District, just a stone’s throw away from our caravan parks in Lancashire, is home to some of the most impressive fells and peaks in the UK and has much to offer the modest rambler. Each mountain has its own name and history, with various mentions in English literature. The Wainwrights are a collection of fells outlined by British walker and author Alfred Wainwright in his seven-volume pictorial guide to the Lakeland fells, published between 1955 and 1966.

wainwright hills

One of the most controversial points to make about the Wainwrights is that they are subject to discussion as to whether some are individual peaks or merely an edge of higher mountains within the Lake District. There are no significant characteristics to these peaks dotted across the area other than all of them, aside from one, being over 1000ft above sea level. However, we will explore some of them and their locations and which are best to start with if you intend to cover the complete collection.

How Many Wainwrights Are There?

There are 214 peaks as part of the Wainwrights, and they are all located in the Lake District, varying in size and height. Many avid amblers are keen to bag the peaks as a personal triumph, with others conquering the larger ones as a charity event.

The highest of the Wainwrights is Scarfell Pike which stands at 3209 ft above sea level and is a favourite for those intending to complete the national three peaks challenge. As the largest peak in England, this peak can be tough to hike, with much of the top requiring steady footing and partial climbs.

The lowest of the wainwrights is Castle Crag which sits at 951ft above sea level and is an excellent start to conquering the peaks. The summit area is believed to have been an ancient hill fort, although the western section has been sliced away by quarrying. Below the fell is Borrowdale, a valley and civil parish. Upon the top is a well-constructed circular cairn of slate to commemorate the Borrowdale men killed in World War I.

Which Are the Best Wainwrights to Start With?

The best peaks to begin ticking off your list will all depend on your walking ability. Although many of the peaks are reasonable for most walking abilities, some do offer a challenge. We will cover some of the more favourable Wainwrights, including their difficulty ratings.

Latrigg Fell – Easy for All Abilities

National park hills

If you are looking for a more accessible peak to climb as you begin your journey to conquering the Wainwrights, we highly recommend starting with Latrigg. This peak offers a leisurely walk for all ages and walking strengths and only takes two and a half hours to complete at a comfortable pace. It can get rather steep through the woodlands, but once you are past that part, the gradient evens out and becomes slightly more manageable. There’s a car park approximately one mile from the summit, which prevents the need to walk through the Keswick town centre.

Loughrigg Fell – Requires a Bit of Stamina

If you are looking for half a day of walking, then Loughrigg fell is a perfect hike. Although it can get tricky in parts, it can still be accomplished by those with good stamina. The panoramic view from the top is stunning and worth the challenges some of the steeper parts of the route offer. It can be immensely popular fell to climb, so you will be sure to meet a few friendly people on the way. The 6-mile loop walk can be accessed from the centre of Ambleside and provides an array of Lake District beautiful features. The route can take around 3 hours, a beautiful walk on a clear sunny day.

Catbells – Moderate Difficulty

catbells hill national park

The fell is situated on the western shore of Derwent Water and is within 5km of Keswick, providing beautiful panoramic views of the area. Offering some steep inclines and the need for a bit of steady footing, Catbells is another one of the more popular Wainwrights many like to start with. Although it is only 3.5 miles, there are some points where scrambling may be required, which raises the route’s difficulty.

Ling Fell – A Family Friendly Walk

Close to the village of Wythop Mill, this fell is one of the easier ones to climb. The peak is shaped like a broad dome, with no particular dangers. Its name derives from the fact that it is primarily covered in heather, also known as “ling”. The summit has excellent views of the town of Cockermouth in the valley below. Although it offers a beautiful walk on its own, it could easily be paired with its near neighbour, Sale Fell, another of the wainwrights.

Helvellyn – A Challenging Climb

Helvellyn hill top lake district

Although there are several routes up to this monster of a mountain, it is not for the faint-hearted. This peak is the third highest in England, and to conquer this, you will need practice and preparation. The easiest climb starts at the Helvellyn base camp in the car park at Glenridding. From there, there is a moderate ascent to the fell along a track road. Once you reach the youth hostel, it changes to a single dirt track until just past the youth hostel.

The entire climb can be done in three to four hours, with a decent of around two hours. The hike requires a lot of stamina from the beginning with steep climbs. As you near the summit, there are sharp drops along the path with the need to scramble. There are more difficult paths to take, such as along Striding Edge, but these are recommended for experienced hikers, especially through challenging weather.

Be Prepared

Lake district hikers

Although some of the Wainwrights mentioned above are reasonable to accomplish, preparation is vital. Even on the most beautiful days, the weather can change drastically when you reach the summit. Comfortable old walking shoes are necessary, and layers are much better than heavy coats. Other things to take are plenty of water, a snack to keep up your energy, and a mobile in case you encounter any difficulties. Although the signal can be scarce, the emergency services can still be reached, but there is no quick exit once you start climbing.

After a long climb on your touring holiday, why not stop off with your motorhome at our seasonal touring pitchers in Lancashire and take advantage of the excellent facilities and the perfect base to and from the Lake District? We also have some of the best holiday homes in Lancashire, which can put you in a perfect location for both the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District, ideal for any rambler. Contact us today to check our onsite availability.


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