Everybody loves a lakeside walk and the circular walk around Buttermere is one of the most popular in the Lake District. In summer, and on any given weekend, Buttermere can feel crowded, that said however, it is a lovely walk with spectacular views in every direction.
With this in mind...where do you start and where do you park are the first decisions you need to make. As a National Trust member, I choose the National Trust car park at the village end of the lake. (This is also the first car park you come to if getting to the village from the Crummock water side). If you are not a member then the options are the Lake District car park (pay and display) besides the Fish Inn, or there is free parking just after the church which you find by turning at the sign post for Keswick just as you are leaving the village, the layby is just a 100m or so up this road. It is always a popular parking spot, so we recommend trying to get there early...or late.
If none of these have any space you can head to the other end of the lake, towards Honister Slate Mine, where there is parking at the farm. Parking is not free here though, there is an honesty box with a daily rate.
Getting to Buttermere from Kestrel Lodge is easy. Head towards the A66 in the Cockermouth direction and then turn right on to the A66, towards Cockermouth. After a mile or so there is a turning on your left signposted Buttermere and Lorton. Follow this road to a T junction and turn right, again signposted Buttermere and Lorton. Keep on this road to another T junction where you turn left, again sign posted Buttermere and Lorton. Keep on this road through the village of Lorton until you see a signpost on your left for Buttermere. Follow this road the B5289 along the side of Crummock Water all the way to Buttermere.
For this walk I’m starting at the Bridge Hotel as an easy point of reference where ever you park.
Walk towards the lake passing the Fish Inn on your right-hand side and go through the gate. Keep to the well-defined path and going straight, there is a fork in the path that is sign posted “Crummock Water and Scale Force”—do not take this for this walk—although it is a very nice and less travelled walk for another day.
Walk straight to the lake, here it’s worth lingering a while taking in the views of Fleetwith Pike straight in front, Haystacks with its undulating top in the back and to the right, plus the Giant Red Pike to the immediate right. After enjoying the view keep going around the lake to the gate and waterfall beyond. After the waterfall turn right and follow the track around the side of Buttermere.
Keep on this track, it’s a good path all the way to the end of the lake, through woodland, passed waterfalls, and has great views all around. At the end of the lake you come to a T junction in the path. If you turn up this path it would take you to Haystacks to the left or Seat, High Cragg, High Stile, and Red Pike to the right. Both walks can be done from this point to Bag Wainwrights and as a circular back to the car.
However, for this walk we simply keep heading around the lake, over the footbridge, and to the farm. Here we meet the road. Turn left and follow the road for about ½ a mile until you see the footpath. Follow the footpath back to the lake and along the lake-side all the way back to your start point.
There are a few interesting features along the way including walking through the rock tunnel, passed a small natural harbour, and some rock features along the water’s edge.
Follow the path all the way around to the far end of the lake and you’ll be at your start point. This saves any further road walking which I always try to avoid as much as possible with the dogs.
Then, it’s simply back towards the Fish Inn. In Buttermere village there are a few refreshment options. The Bridge Hotel has a nice bar and is dog friendly—so my usual pit stop, the Fish Inn is another option bust does not allow dogs in, and the third is the café. Again not dog friendly, but a good coffee and cake option with seating outside on a sunny day.