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The Lake District in October

My husband and I are hoping to visit England for the first time next year (2023) and would like to spend a few days in the Lake District. We both love autumn and would like to come in October. I know it is rainier then, but we don’t mind hiking in drizzle, as long as we can (hopefully 🙂) avoid a downpour.

Does anyone have experience visiting the Lake District at this time of year, and would you advise it? We sort of like gray cool weather and hope to go on lots of walks in this beautiful area. We’ve been looking at staying in or around Keswick so any recommendations on good walks nearby are also welcome.

I should also add that we are hesitant to rent a car in the U.K. since we lack experience driving on the left side of the road and feel it may be safest for everyone if we don’t try it on our first time there. We are planning to get the most out of Keswick and the immediate vicinity rather than exploring the wider area by car.

Thanks in advance for any helpful hints or advice.

Posted by
2253 posts

Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that it will be grey and overcast. 🌧 It could be sunny, warm, windy, chilly or wet on any given day.

The clocks go back at the end of October and visitors will be out and about taking advantage of the daylight hours.

What you need are a book of walks and an OS map. https://shop.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/pathfinder-guidebooks-range/

Posted by
1030 posts

Hi there -

The Lake District is great all year round, but you are right, in October it could be cool and grey. And wet. But that wouldn’t stop me! Just dress appropriately! Waterproof boots, full waterproof body coverage, layers, hat and gloves. Map and compass. Free U.K. phone app ‘OS Locate’ gives you a compass, your altitude and six figure grid ref so you can identify your exact position on a paper map.

Walks without a car from Keswick? From centre of town walk to the lake and assuming ferries are running take launch to Hawse End and climb Catbells (Rick Steves video piece on this). Descend from summit by way you came up and return to Keswick via Lingholm (where Beatrix Potter wrote ‘Squirrel Nutkin’ I believe), Nicholl End and Portinscale (refreshments available at all three, certainly pre Covid), crossing the river by the suspension bridge and turning right back to Keswick.

From centre of town climb Latrigg. If feeling strong and weather is set fair, there is a straightforward path to the summit of Skiddaw, one of the Lakeland 3000 footers, so while easy to follow, not without effort. Return is same route as ascent.

From bus station behind supermarket take bus to Lodore Hotel. Tea and coffee etc., available here. Behind hotel are the Lodore Falls made famous by Southey’s poem (“How do the waters come down at Lodore…..?”) and seen to best advantage after rain. Path through the wood to the left of the falls reaches a path (Caffel Side) running alongside a large stream which leads to the tiny hamlet of Wathendlath (inspiration for ‘Rogue Herries’ novel’). Occasional refreshments in Watendlath, but not always. At far end of village path climbs up right and over ridge (easy, obvious path) which descends to Rosthwaite (hotel/pub, cafe) and buses back to Keswick. Check bus times nearer time of your visit in all cases. Or you could walk back, another six miles, via Cumbria Way.

A more ambitious walk would be to see if there’s a bus to nearby Braithwaite and climb Grisedale Pike, but this would need a clear day and would be probably overly tough if you don’t regularly climb large steep hills (as would Skiddaw of course). If climbing hills is your thing try and acquire the relevant ‘Pictorial Guide to the Lake District’ by Alfred Wainwright - seven guides as he divided the entire Lake District up into seven blocks. These hand written and illustrated guides have never been bettered in my opinion and are little works of art, as well as being very detailed guides.

Walk circuit of Derwentwater. Walk to Castlerigg stone circle (a bit of planning and map reading can make this into a circular walk). Walk to Dog and Gun pub (easy one!).

If you need any more please feel free to ask or PM me. I’m sure you’ll love the Lakes. It’s wonderful all year if the weather cooperates!

Ian

Posted by
821 posts

I've had some wonderful holidays at the end od October. The trees should be changing colour then too - an added bonus.

Keswick would make a good base and I found this website detailing lots of walks from Keswick. Some have already been mentioned by Ian and Julie.

You can get OS maps on your phone but you may do better to buy a paper copy of the OS 1:25,000 map of the area. This is at a scale of 4cm n to 1 km and is used by all walkers. It is very detailed and marks all footpaths and field boundaries (so you know where to head for the stile or gate!) The North Western Area covers Keswick, but depending on where you are wanting to get to, you may need to buy the North Eastern map too. They maps are readily available in shops in Keswick, or you can buy on line here.

Posted by
4 posts

@ramblin'on Thank you for the link to the ordinance surveys. Point taken about the weather. If the sun insists on shining (or if it rains cats and dogs) we will just have to make the best of it. :)

@ianandjulie Many thanks for the excellent response with so many wonderful details. We will definitely be re-reading your post as we get into the planning stage of our trip. Thanks also for the literary references! I've requested a copy of Rogue Herries from my local library, as I had not heard of it before. Also, the Wainwright books look beautiful.

@wasleys Thank you for the link to the maps of the area, and also to the Walks from Keswick webpage. It looks like a great resource and the pictures are lovely. I'm glad to hear that you've been to the area in October and enjoyed it. I think we will too.

Posted by
1030 posts

Hi Deborah -

I would confess to never having read any of the ‘Herries Chronicles’ novels, so kudos to you for giving it a go. I’m told Walpole tells a good tale, but the novels fell from the general public’s taste after his death.

The fiction about the Lakes that I read as a kid are the ‘Swallows and Amazons’ novels (which I reread occasionally) written by Arthur Ransome. I devoured them as a kid and discovered that Ransome was using disguised actual locations in the otherwise fictional books (see ‘Captain Flint’s Trunk’ by Christina Hardyment) which set me off in search of them - though debate still rages over where ‘Swallowdale’ actually is! The books are aimed at kids, and are now very much of their time, a time that maybe never really existed, but what I like about them is a wealth of practical information on all sorts of stuff and that the kids weren’t universal heroes, implausibly catching the bad guys every book (there are no ‘bad guys’ in most of the books) and generally muck things up and get into bother, like real kids (in the second book they manage to sink ‘Swallow’ for heaven’s sake!).

Always preferring fact over fiction, the Wainwrights I have read enthusiastically over and over, never ceasing to be amazed by them. They are the books I would take to my desert island if I could only have the one (I’d cheat and plump for the boxed set!).

I’ll be interested to know how you get on with Walpole though and if you think I should add ‘Rogue Herries’ to my ever growing ‘to read’ list!

Ian

Posted by
257 posts

I enjoyed staying in Keswick and hiking around the area in mid-October of 2018. It was beautiful, and the weather ranged from sunny and warm to cloudy, rainy, and chilly.

There was so much rain at one point that the Launch was not running on Lake Derwentwater.

You’ve received good advice about clothing, preparation, and possible hikes already, so I’ll just add a few more things.

The boat launch is a good way to get to some hiking trails:

https://keswick-launch.co.uk/

There are also local buses that you can use to get to trails or towns/villages that are further out.

https://www.keswick.org/visitor-information/gettingaroundkeswick

On one of the rainy days, I walked to the Castlerigg Stone Circle. The cloudy windy weather actually made them more mysterious and interesting than seeing them on a sunny day. On others, I spent part of the time visiting indoor sites such as Wordsworth’s Dove Cottage in nearby Grasmere.

Fortunately, there were also sunny days for hikes such as Catbells (a wonderful hike with amazing views; there were hang gliders launching that day, so I could see them from above).

Most schools have their autumn half-term holidays starting around Oct. 23, which means there will be families visiting the Lake District with their children, so it may be a bit more crowded then than the first few weeks of October.

Enjoy planning and visiting the area.

All the best,

Raymond

Posted by
4 posts

@fcraymond76 Thank you for the link to the boat launch site. There was a brief mention of a boat launch in the RS video on the Lake District and it looked intriguing, but I had not looked into further as of yet. I think we may end up using that option to access other trails, or maybe just to take a cruise around the lake. And the buses too--good information. We certainly want to walk Catbells, and the Castlerigg Stone Circle is an interesting possibility too. We may need to add a little time to our trip....

@ianandjulie I will definitely let you know how it goes with Rogue Herries. I'd not heard of Swallows and Amazons before either, but I can see how the books would appeal. In particular, the title We Didn't Mean to go to Sea made me smile.

Posted by
6146 posts

We did a four week drive tour in S. Wales and England, including 3 nights in Keswick (Lake District) in October 2017.
Our stay in Keswick was toward the end of the month and it was chilly then but not too bad. We did a great drive one day around the large lake next to Keswick. It was a recommendation in our Rick Steves guide of Great Britain.
Here is my detailed review of our trip.
28 days in Britain and Celebrity Eclipse home
https://www.cruisecritic.com/memberreviews/memberreview.cfm?EntryID=599139

Posted by
4 posts

@geovagriffith Thank you! I enjoyed reading your description of your trip.