Have you made a New Year’s Resolution to get fit and active this year? Forget going to the gym, the Lake District is one giant fitness studio with a plethora of activities available to help you achieve your goals. Best of all, some activities are free! So, what are you waiting for? Check out our top five outdoor sports here and get started on your 2018 fitness plan in one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

1. Fell Walking

The Lakeshore Path along Ullswater

The Lakeshore Path along Ullswater

Almost anyone can go fell walking. You don’t have to aim for the great heights of Scafell Pike or Helvellyn, as here in the Lake District we have a number of small hills that are perfect for beginners. Unlike walking on flat surfaces, fell walking puts greater strain on your lower calf muscles, giving you lovely toned legs. In addition, during the ascent, you are fighting against gravity as you walk, requiring you to put more energy into moving forward and consequently your burn off more calories. Whilst the amount of calories you burn will depend on numerous factors including your weight and speed, some estimates suggest fell walking burns off up to 60% more calories than walking on flat ground.

Where To Try It: Almost everywhere in the Lake District is open for walkers. However, classic beginner fells include Loughrigg Fell, Cat Bells, Latrigg, and Hallin Fell. For guided fell walks with step-by-step pictures to help guide your way, check out our walking section.

2. Scrambling


Scrambling takes fell walking that little bit further, tackling slightly harder routes that require the use of your hands and feet to pick over the rocks. Scrambling bridges the gap between rock climbing, that needs specialist equipment, and normal fell walking. The great thing about scrambling compared to fell walking is that it stretches your upper body muscles, as well as those in your legs, giving you a full body work out. Those with certain back issues often report that scrambling can help ease some of the aches as those muscles are stretched.

As you are using more muscles, scrambling burns off more calories than fell walking. Again, almost anyone can try it and you don’t need any specialist equipment, but you do need good hand and eye coordination and do be prepared to turn back if your route becomes too tricky. Beginners should not attempt scrambling in the winter. Alternatively, book onto a day with an activity company. Check out our section on bouldering and scrambling in the Lake District for more information.

Where To Try It: Helvellyn via Striding Edge is a classic Grade 1 scramble, as is Jack’s Rake in the Langdales. Sharp Edge to Blencathra is slightly more exposed, but reasonably easy to navigate. All of these routes should be avoided by beginners alone in wet weather.

3. Canoeing & Kayaking


Rowing boats on Ullswater

It’s not called the Lake District for no reason. We have 16 bodies of water considered to be the main lakes, plus countless other tarns and waters. You can canoe / kayak without a permit on Coniston Water, Derwent Water, Grasmere, Thirlmere, Ullswater, Wast Water, and Windermere. You can also canoe on Bassenthwaite (LDNPA), Crummock Water (National Trust), Buttermere (National Trust), and Ennerdale Water (United Utilities), but you need a permit from the respective governing bodies.

Canoeing and Kayaking is a great low impact sport that exercises the upper body, and even at a slow pace British Canoeing estimates that you can burn between 177 and 279 calories per hour depending on your weight. You can hire canoes / kayaks at Coniston, Windermere, Derwent Water, and Ullswater, or book onto a day led by an activity company. For more information check out our guide to canoeing in the Lake District.

4. Cycling / Mountain Biking

Biking near the summit of Helvellyn

Biking near the summit of Helvellyn

There are so many reasons why you should take up cycling as part of your 2018 fitness regimen. It’s a cardiovascular exercise that builds muscle in your lower body, burning calories and improving strength. Even at a leisurely pace you can expect to burn around 300 calories per hour. It’s low impact, making it ideal for those with joint issues. It can enable you to explore a much larger area in an hour than walking can (but burn more calories than being sat in the car). It’s also an activity for the entire family with trailers available for younger children.

No bike? No problem. You can hire one from numerous places in the Lake District with some hire shops providing trailers and junior bikes for children. Try mountain biking at Whinlatter or Grizedale forests for a thrilling adventure, or hire a bike at Brockhole, hop on the bike boat and take a leisurely ride exploring the shoreline of Lake Windermere. For more information, check out our guide to cycling and mountain biking in the Lake District.

5. Ghyll Scrambling

Honister Pass

Honister Pass

Ghyll Scrambling is a fun way of exploring the Lake District’s streams that meander down the fells. Best attempted after rainfall when the streams are flowing heavily, the sport involves ascending and descending a fell via a stream. As you might imagine, it’s not one to try with your Sunday bests, and a wet suit and good ankle boots are required.

Like mountain scrambling, this is a full body workout with the added bonus of the adrenaline rush that comes from participating in this exhilarating activity. Unless you have lots of experience and all of the necessary equipment, this activity is best undertaken with instruction from a qualified professional. You can find out more from our guide to ghyll scrambling in the Lake District.