The Lake District is one of the most stunning destinations in the UK, with various spectacular trails and walks to explore. The Buttermere Circular is one of my favourites, as it offers breathtaking views and scenic landscapes from start to finish!
If you’re a novice hiker looking for a perfect beginner trail or an experienced hiker searching for a scenic picturesque hike, this walk is for you. In this guide, we will take you through everything you need to know about the Buttermere circular walk so that you are well-prepared and can enjoy your day out to the fullest!
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The Buttermere circular walk offers a scenic loop through the heart of the Lake District National Park, taking you through the tranquil forest, serene valley, and beautiful lake. The total distance of the walk is 4.2 miles and typically takes around 2 hours to complete.
The walk is easy to moderate, making it accessible to all fitness levels. The trail is well-marked, and the terrain mixes tarmac paths, gravel, and rocky areas. You’ll walk through the forest, alongside the lake, and through rugged terrain, so be sure to wear suitable footwear.
Please note that although this is a relatively easy route, some parts of the trail are a bit rocky with a slight scramble so that it would be unsuitable for those with mobility issues, wheelchair users and pushchairs.
- Length: 6.7km (4.2miles)
- Elevation Gain: 172m
- Route Type: Loop
- Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
- Difficulty: Easy
- Walk Highlights: Stunning lake and mountain views, as well as a 19th century rock tunnel towards the trail’s end.
How to get to Buttermere
Buttermere Village is situated in the heart of the Lake District National Park between 2 lakes, Crummock Water and Buttermere. The nearest towns are Keswick and Cockermouth, both approximately 10 miles away.
If driving to Buttemere during the summer, I recommend arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon, as the car parks can quickly fill up, especially in warm weather! If you are staying in or near Keswick, I recommend leaving the car and catching the bus.
- From Keswick, take the B5289 towards Seatoller and along the Honister Pass.
- From Cockermouth, take the B5292 and then the B5289 towards Lorton and then alongside Cummock water.
Please note – The B5289 road is narrow and twisty with passing places. It can be edged with a mixture of rocky outcrops, walls, and hedgerows and can be very busy sometimes. The part along the Honister pass can be especially tricky if you’re not an experienced driver. Please drive carefully and patiently, as there may be times when you need to reverse to a passing place to let someone pass. Sheep, cows and chickens may also be encountered on the road (dairy herds from local farms may be walked through the village at milking time) or in surrounding fields.
- Gatesgarth Car Park (Pay and display)
- Gatesgarth Farm, often open on busy days (Honesty box)
- Small car park in the village (pay and display) – Near the Syke Farm Campsite.
- National Trust layby
- National Trust car park – just North of the village (towards Crummock water). Free to National Trust members
- Small layby on the Newlands Pass Road
From Cockermouth, buses run every Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday from 13 May to 28 August 2023.
From Keswick, catch the 77A Keswick-Buttermere circular. Daily services run from 08.30-18.30
Facilities On The Walk:
Public toilets are located within the National Park car park in the centre of the village.
The Bridge Hotel – Bar serves hot food and is open for walkers.
Buttermere Court Hotel – Has a lovely bar and beer garden and serves traditional pub grub (dogs welcome).
Croft House Farm café – Serves food all day with takeaway options.
Syke’s Farm tea room – Offers ice cream made on-site from milk produced on the farm, as well as snacks and cakes.
Gatesgarth farm – Has a small stall offering hot & cold drinks, snacks and ice cream.
Buttermere Circular Route:
I usually start this route in Buttermere village as this is where I usually park; it is also where the bus stops, so it’s the most convenient place to start and finish for most. However, you can also start at Galesgarth if that is where you have parked.
The trail starts close to the Buttermere Court Hotel at Grid Ref NY 175 169 and takes you along a track to a gate with a sign indicating you are entering the National Trust property.
As you go through the gate, take the path that goes towards the right, cross the bridge, and the Sour Milk Ghyll waterfall will be straight ahead.
To the left of the waterfall is a gate with a path that leads around the lake; take this path to Peggy’s Bridge. This bridge will take you back across the stream and onto Gatesgarth Farm, where you can treat yourself to delicious homemade Lake District ice cream! Along the way, keep an eye out for the forest cows.
Once you leave Gatesgarth Farm, you’ll walk along a small portion of the road before the lakeside path starts again. This path will eventually lead you back to Buttermere Village.
However, before you reach the village, there is a small section where you may need to scramble up and across a rocky pathway before entering the famous 19th-century tunnel. Although not very long, the tunnel can be dark and full of puddles, so using the torchlight on your phone may be helpful.
Please note – From July to March, a permitted path opens to allow visitors to walk along the northern shingle shore. Outside these months, hikers are usually requested to use the path to the village to avoid disturbing the ground-nesting Sandpipers.
Here are a few more pictures from my last Buttermere circular walk:
Please note ‘Easy Life Traveller’ accepts no responsibility for any injuries or accidents resulting from walking any of these published routes. We always recommend wearing appropriate footwear and proper equipment, such as a map and compass. For more details on walking safely in the countryside, check out The Ramblers safety advice here.
The Buttermer circular walk is the perfect way to experience the beauty of the Lake District. The trail takes you through some of the most incredible landscapes in the area, and the views are breathtaking. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or a beginner, this walk is easy to navigate and a great way to spend a day. Wear sturdy shoes, dress appropriately for the weather, and bring some tasty snacks to enjoy along the way!
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