Explore Our Out Great Outdoors

Whether you enjoy the outdoors on foot, horseback, or bicycle then you are likely to have used public rights of way on your travels. So how do we know where these routes are and how do we find them to plan our adventures?

From the last blog ‘Take a hike through history’ we discovered rights of way and who could use each type of right of way, now we will look at how to spot these routes so you know where you can access our great outdoors. As well as public rights of way there are also permissive routes and open access land, so you’ll need to know how to identify these too. We will also look at how you can access our great outdoors within the Lake District National Park and the many ways to explore it.

The below legend shows symbols from Ordnance Survey’s 1:25000 (Explorer) and 1:50000 (Landranger) mapping.

Infographic showing map legends

Our Great Outdoors in the Lake District National Park

There are so many ways we can enjoy our great outdoors within the National Park, from hiking up Wainwrights to taking a swim in a tarn, however you enjoy exploring the outdoors there will be something for you. To discover how to access the areas for your activities you can use Ordnance Survey Maps as well as using the Lake District National Park’s Ranger Map to report any issues you might find whilst out and about. You can check the National Parks website for things to do, updates and advice about accessing the Park.

In/on the water:

Within the National Park there are plenty of tarns and more than 16 lakes to take a dip in, there’s also a stretch of coastline if you prefer dipping a toe in the sea. So, there’s plenty of opportunities to explore our great outdoors on the water within the National Park.

You can enjoy tours on the water including cruising on steamers through the stunning Lake District landscapes. You can even combine a boat cruise with bus rides, a walk or cycling to travel around one of the lakes in one day. If you’re keen to head onto the water independently, with friends or your family, there are 4 lakes with water sport centres and boat hire, including rowing boats, motorboats, canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards.

Swimming in lakes, tarns and rivers is an invigorating experience whatever time of year. Make sure you follow the Swim Safe Code and Be Water Wise in open water. There are some quiet spots for swimming such as Wastwater and Loweswater or busier spots such as Ullswater and Windermere where you must be mindful of boats and other craft on the water whilst you swim. If you’re starting out on your open water swimming journey then there are several local suppliers offering instruction and safety support within the Lake District National Park, you can find a list of providers and maps of Lakes for water users here.


The Lake District National Park is renowned for its Wainwright walks, hills that were thought to be true fell tops by Alfred Wainwright, a walker who was the author of Pictorial Guides to the Lakeland Fells, made up of a unique mixture of beautiful pen-and-ink sketches, maps and musings. There are 214 ‘Wainwrights’ which many walkers try to get to the top of or ‘bag’.

There are plenty of other stunning walks within the Park, you can appreciate lakeshore walks and mountain tops, with Scafell Pike the highest mountain in England to be summited. The Lake District National Park has produced a collection of 48 routes suitable for people with limited mobility, including wheelchair users, families with pushchairs, and the visually impaired which they call ‘Miles without Stiles’ so there are adventures to be had by all.

Horse riding:

Lake District views are spectacular from any perspective, but they’re even more special from atop a horse. From hilltop bridleways to the expansive sand of Silecroft beach, there’s plenty of places to explore by horse. You can take part in guided rides atop Lakeland packhorse tracks or delve into the Lake’s heritage riding out on native fell ponies. You can even climb aboard a Clydesdale or a Shire horse and head into the hills or onto the beach with the Cumbrian Heavy Horses. There is plenty on offer for all experience of riders, from beginner hacks to hands on horsey holidays. There’s nothing better than letting a sure-footed pony take you through the fells of the Lakes. Cumbria has the highest total of bridleways in the UK, so there’s even opportunity to bring your own trusty steed to explore the Lakes with and plenty of horse friendly B&Bs to base from.


You can cycle through forests, up to the vistas of the mountains, and along quiet lanes of the Lake District National Park. Both mountain bikers and road cyclists are spoilt for choice in the Park with a selection of bridleways, country lanes and permitted cycleways to suit all levels of experience. If you don’t have your own bike or can’t fit it in the car, then there are plenty of places to hires bikes at affordable prices. Find a list of bike hire venues and cycle routes within the Park here. Once you’ve got a bike to explore on you can even take them on buses and boats including Windermere Ferry, the Windermere Bike Boat and the 599 bus, there’s also the option to hop on a train with your cycle.

With your dog:

Within the Lake District National Park you are spoilt for choice for dog walks, from leisurely lakeside walks to challenging fells, there’s lots of gems to explore with your four legged friend. Not only are there open green spaces for dogs but there’s also lots of dog friendly accommodation, eateries and attractions within the Park. There are castles, gardens and rides on steamer boats and railways to be accompanied by your dog. Wherever you decide to discover with your pup, make sure to follow the countryside code, keeping your dog safe in the countryside as well as the wildlife and livestock you may come across in the Lake District National Park.

When out and about in the Park, make sure you have the appropriate skills and equipment to stay safe. There are lots of great tips and advice on the Lake District National Park’s website about the key hazards, what to do in an emergency and the best ways to stay prepared.

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