Not all the superb Lake District views require a long walk to get to. Here are some of the best views in the Lake District that are easy to get to by car or a short walk.  

There’s no doubt about it, the scenery in the Lake District is special.

Craggy mountains frame shimmering lakes connected by rivers that course through valleys. Dry stone walls bound fields dotted with sheep, busy maintaining a neat carpet of green.

While we love nothing better than climbing to the highest peaks in the lakes, or taking on the challenge of scrambling to imposing vistas, many of the best views in the Lake District are easy to get to.  

Almost all of these beautiful viewpoints can be reached by car. A few of them require a short walk, but nothing too strenuous.

We have included tips for photographers including where to be to get the best views, the right time to be there, and which locations are good for sunrise and sunset. All of our suggestions are marked on the map including some specific spots we think provide the best vantage points.

IN THIS GUIDE

BEST VIEWS IN THE LAKE DISTRICT

CASTLERIGG STONE CIRCLE
SUMMIT OF LATRIGG
KESWICK WATERFRONT
ASHNESS & SURPRISE VIEW
BUTTERMERE
WASTWATER
LOUGHRIGG
RYDAL WATER
BLEA TARN
ULLSWATER
CONISTON WATER
ELTERWATER

01.

CASTLERIGG STONE CIRCLE

There are many stone circles dotted across England, but none are more dramatically set than Castlerigg. Built about 5,000 years ago, a series of large stones form a circle in a grassy field. No one quite knows their purpose, which only adds to their allure. Nonetheless, they form a beautiful focal point in a stunning area.

On a cloudy dark day it is a moody place packed with atmosphere. Yet on a clear sunny day, the stones and their stretching shadows add a sense of mystery to an already beautiful Lakeland scene.

CASTLERIGG PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

With a large expanse of flat grass surrounded by mountains, the Castlerigg Stone Circle is a great photography location in the Lake District to use a drone. Get here early or late in the day and you might just have sunrise or sunset without the crowds.

02.

SUMMIT OF LATRIGG

There are few shorter walks that deliver more reward in the Lake District than Latrigg. From the carpark at Underskiddaw, it’s a simple 15-minute stroll up a grassy bank to the summit to reach one of the best views in the Lake District.

To the north, the rounded summits of Skiddaw endlessly rise. To the east, the waves of ridges of Blencathra hover over the distant Pennines. And to the south, the town of Keswick rests peacefully on the edge of Derwentwater with the highest peaks of the Lake District rising behind it.

LATRIGG PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

The summit of Latrigg is an excellent spot for a fantastic Lake District sunrise. As the light quickly creeps over the low hills to the east, you have longer to capture golden hour than is possible in many other areas in the Lake District.

03.

KESWICK WATERFRONT

The town of Keswick is the adventure capital of England, but the remarkable views from the waterfront don’t take deftly leaps or tricky scrambles to achieve. Simply amble through Crow Park, around Friars Crag and along Shandstrag Bay to be rewarded with beautiful Lake District views.

Some of the best photography spots include the houses of Keswick dwarfed by towering Skiddaw, Derwentwater backed by the slopes of Catbells, and the tree-lined banks of Friars Crags. All of which are best lit at sunrise.

Keswick is also a great base for your trip – understand the layout of the area in our guide to the best places to stay in the Lake District.

KESWICK PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

The Keswick Waterfront is another great spot for Lake District sunrise photography. If you get a clear morning, you can capture Latrigg, Castlerigg Stone Circles and the Keswick waterfront (in that order) all in one morning.

04.

ASHNESS & SURPRISE VIEW

Tucked along a narrow road that runs from Derwentwater to Watendlath, three of the best views in the Lake District are easily reached by car.

Firstly, stop at Ashness Pier where a wooden jetty stretches into the shallow depths of Derwentwater creating a beautiful peaceful scene with the slopes of Catbells in the background.

Secondly, stop at Ashness Bridge, where an old stone packhorse bridge crosses Barrow Beck. Finally drive up to Surprise view where high up on a platform peering through a gap in the trees, you are rewarded with great views over Derwentwater and the surrounding mountains.

ASHNESS PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

This tiny one-way road can get busy. Try to come here early or late in the day, otherwise the bridge will be very busy with people and cars.

05.

BUTTERMERE

Buttermere is a beautiful lake set in a remote part of the Lake District. In the rain and wind, the mighty crags that surround it form a forbidding barrier to other valleys. But, on a calm day, some of the best lake district views unfold before you.

The best vantage point is from Rannerdale Knotts, a 45-minute hike from the Buttermere car park and one of our favourites hikes in the lakes. From here, both Buttermere and Crummock Water appear nestled between the mountains. For more leisurely views, take the easy stroll around the lake (2 hours), or simply park the car in Buttermere or Gatesgarth and wander around.

The highlight of the valley is a lovely stand of trees perched on the edge of the lake under the imposing crags of Haystacks. On a perfectly still day it forms a crystal clear reflection on the lake. There are also lovely views from the Dale Head walk which is nearby.

BUTTERMERE PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS

Photos of the Buttermere stand of trees are best about 90 minutes after sunrise when they are first lit up by the sun.

06.

WASTWATER

Wastwater is remote and wild. The grandest peaks of the Lake District soar around the shore creating and amphitheatre of rock and stone. Scafell Pike and Scafell, the two highest fells can be found here but it is Great Gable that steals the show.

Towering above the head of the valley it is a perfect inverted cone with precipitous slopes above grassy banks. The drive along the north-western bank of the lake is sensational. There’s plenty of places to stop and hop out of the car for a photo, but it does take a bit of time to get here.

If you score a sunny day, it’s also one of our favourite places to wild swim in the Lake District.

WASTWATER PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

With the high mountains on the eastern side of Wastwater the best sunrise photography is later than you would expect. It’s generally a better location at sunset when the mountains are better reflected in the water. Our favourite spots are marked on the map below.

07.

LOUGHRIGG

Loughrigg is a little lump of a mountain which packs a big punch. It sits at the centre of a host of attractive valleys and although only a little more than a thousand feet high, (335 metres) it has surprisingly wide-ranging views.

It does require a 45-minute walk to get to the summit but it’s well worth the effort. From here the villages of Grasmere and Ambleside can be seen surrounded by several summits and lakes.

But the real highlights are the slopes of Loughrigg themselves. Bobbling mounds of grass strewn with sheep, heather-covered hillocks split by zigzagging dry stone walls, and earthen paths heading over wooden stiles combine to create a beautiful setting.

LOUGHRIGG PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

Spend some time exploring the wide top of Loughrigg, rather than just the summit, host of different vistas open as you stroll around.

08.

RYDAL WATER

Tucked under the slopes of Loughrigg, Rydal Water is a lovely lake surrounded by paths crisscrossing a hilly woodland. As one of the best short walks in the Lake District, it’s an easy stroll around the shores, from where a wealth of beautiful views reveal themselves.

Protected by mountains on all sides, Rydal Water is often very still making it a great location for photography. The southern side of the lake is the most picturesque and the perfect spot to set up the tripod and collect some images. The nearby Rydal Cave is a great spot to test your creative side.  

RYDAL WATER PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

As a popular swimming spot, come early in the morning to catch the swimmers braving the elements for a refreshing wake-up dip.

09.

BLEA TARN & SIDE PIKE

High up on the rugged slopes between Great and Little Langdale, Blea Tarn feels like one of those inaccessible places that should be difficult to reach. However, a steep winding road allows you to get here with little effort on one of the great drives in the Lake District.

From the edge of the tarn, the Langdale Pikes – some of the most imposing mountains in the fells – are at their dramatic best. Their craggy summits rise over a swathe of green fields low in the valley. For an even better view take the 25-minute hike to Side Pike where several of the high peaks of the Lake District rise all around you.

BLEA TARN PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

The hike to Side Pike is only 25 minutes if you park in the small space near the cattle grid at the top of the pass, rather than at Blea Tarn car park itself.

10.

ULLSWATER

Ullswater is the second largest lake in the area and much less visited than Windermere, the biggest. But it offers better Lake District viewpoints because of the high mountains that surround its southern end. Additionally, the bays that run from Glencoyne bridge down to Glenridding are beautiful.  

You can drive all along the western bank hopping out of the car and taking photos. But it’s also worth catching the steamboat to Howtown then taking the short walk up Hallin Fell. This vantage point provides great views of Ullswater. but also into the rarely visited valleys of Martindale Common.

ULLSWATER PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

Don’t miss the Duke of Portland Boat House at the north end of the Ullswater. This unique holiday accommodation is a very secluded part of the lake, and features in our top places to stay in the Lake District guide.

11.

CONISTON WATER

Protected by the prevailing winds by the Old Man of Coniston Mountain, Coniston Water is the stillest of the lakes. So still in fact that Donald Campbell set world speed records on water here in the 1950s and 1960s.

It’s a great destination when the rest of the Lake District is buffeted by wind and it’s particularly good for photographers looking for glossy reflections. There are several great spots all around the lake, but our favourite is the pier at Monk’s Head. Additionally, drive a few minutes to Yew Tree Tarn, another beautifully set, but much smaller lake surrounded by trees.

CONISTON PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

Dawn usually sees the lightest winds and the best light; a great combination for Coniston Water and an ideal time to photograph it. Set up at Monk’s Head for some crystal clear reflections shots over the lake.

12.

ELTERWATER

Elterwater is another great Lake District photography spot made even better by the right conditions. Set in a valley surrounded by interesting crags, arrive early on a cold morning and you’ll find the whole area blanketed in a cloud of mist.

Amble along the River Brathay and wait for the sun to burn through and the backdrop of Lingmoor Fell and the Langdale Pikes to be revealed. It’s nothing short of magical.

ELTERWATER PHOTOGRAPHY TIP

If the mist on the lake is low and too thick for photography, walk up to the summit of Neaum Crag near Skelwith Bridge. The views from above as the mist starts to leave the lake are absolutely beautiful.

WHERE TO GO FOR LAKE DISTRICT SUNRISE SHOTS

The Lake District is at its best first thing in the morning as the sun slowly lights up the mountains. The best Lake District views listed in this guide are very easy to get to, so you don’t need to be up too early to get to the right spots. However, in summer, catching sunrise still means a very early start.

KESWICK AREA

The area around Keswick is great for sunrise. The wide valley to the east allows sunlight to reach the land shortly after dawn. Start at Latrigg, then visit Castlerigg and finally stop off at the Keswick Waterfront. If you still have good light, Ashness is only a short drive away.

BUTTERMERE

The area around Buttermere is another beautiful Lake District spot for sunrise. Walk around the lake making sure you are near the stand of trees for when the sun finally appears over Dale Head and lights up the scene.

CONISTON & ELTERWATER

The lakes and tarns around Coniston and Elterwater are at their best on cold mornings when mist clings to the water. Take a flask of coffee, sit down, and watch the sun burn through to reveal magical countryside.

WHERE TO GO FOR LAKE DISTRICT SUNSET SHOTS

While there are some excellent sunset opportunities at the top of the high fells, getting back in the dark can be difficult. Our suggestions for good Lake District sunset locations are either easy to get to in a car or a quick away down. That way you can stay out until the sun has properly set.

LOUGHRIGG

At sunset, the golden shimmer of the grassy slopes of Loughrigg are magical. The lakes glisten in the early evening light and the views back towards the highest peaks – shooting into the sun – provides some beautiful warm atmospheric shots. 

WASTWATER

The dramatic scree slopes of Wastwater are nicely lit by the setting sun. Any spot from the road along the lake will provide a great vantage point to watch the colour drain from the day.  Finish up with a pint at the Wasdale Head Inn.

BLEA TARN

Around one hour before sunset, the view from Blea Tarn across to the Langdales is one of the best in the Lake District. The evening sun lights up the beautiful formation of the Langdales and the whole scene is reflected in the lake. It’s a sight to remember.   

MAP OF BEST LAKE DISTRICT VIEWS

Our map of the best Lake District views contains all the locations listed here along with some suggestions for where you will get the best photo opportunities. Most of these sites are easy to drive to and some involve a short walk to the location.  

MORE READING FOR THE LAKE DISTRICT

We’ve been to the Lake District many times, and never run out of fantastic things to do. From adventurous scrambles to relaxing wild swimming, here are more of our guides from the lakes.

LAKE DISTRICT WALKS
OUR PICK OF THE BEST GRADE 1 LAKE DISTRICT SCRAMBLES
CONQUER KNIFE-EDGE RIDGES ON THIS EXHILARATING WALK UP BLENCATHRA
WALK SCAFELL PIKE VIA THE CORRIDOR ROUTE FOR A TOP LAKE DISTRICT HIKE
OTHER IDEAS
9 ADVENTUROUS ACTIVITIES TO TRY IN THE LAKE DISTRICT
EXPLORE THE REMOTE AND RUGGED LAKE DISTRICT AT THE LANGDALE PIKES
BEST REMOTE SPOTS FOR A PEACEFUL WILD SWIM IN THE LAKE DISTRICT