The picturesque mountainous expanse of the Lake District stretches for around 1,000 square miles, with charming lakes, lush forests and green, rolling countryside in between. Some of the stunning landscapes are home to ancient ruins, with stone abbeys and Roman forts in the foreground, making the Lake District a giant playground for photographers. Certainly, it's among the most naturally beautiful regions in the United Kingdom.

    We’ve singled out the best views in the Lake District that hikers, photographers or simply those looking for an Instagram-worthy shot could ask for. Some sights are of isolated, untamed beauty and some others attract visitors in their droves. Even so, there are enough stunning spots that you’ll likely have these most beautiful views of the Lake District to yourself.


    Hardknott Pass

    Challenging terrain yet impressive views

    The Hardknott Pass is among the steepest roads in England – the hill pass isn’t for the faint-hearted or inexperienced drivers. If you’re willing to push to the limits you’ll be rewarded with a sense of satisfaction at having reached heights of 1,289 feet, with views out over the heath – and, given good visibility, as far as the Isle of Man.

    Hardknott Pass runs right through the middle of the Lake District to West Cumbria and was first carved out by the Romans to connect their coastal fort at Ravenglass with the Ambleside and Kendal garrisons. Dangerous ice on the road often closes it during winter, but the beauty of the narrow and snaky hill road is breathtaking.

    Location: Hardknott Pass, Holmrook, CA19 1TH, UK


    photo by Tim Fields (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Castlerigg Stone Circle

    Perhaps the UK’s most dramatic stone circle

    The Castlerigg Stone Circle is perhaps the most atmospheric and dramatic of its kind in the United Kingdom. There are around 1,300 stone circles spread throughout the British Isles and French Brittany, which date back to the Late Neolithic and Early Bronze Ages. Castlerigg Stone Circle alone attracts thousands of visitors each year and is overseen by the English Heritage charity for historical sites.

    The site’s popularity isn’t only due to the undeniable curiosity of the stones themselves – the natural amphitheatre offers incredible views over the surrounding mountain ranges, which include some of the Lake District’s tallest peaks.

    Location: Castle Lane, Underskiddaw, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RN, UK


    Scafell Pike

    England’s highest mountain

    Scafell Pike is the highest mountain in England and belongs to the Lake District’s Southern Fells group of hills. Adventurous climbers often tackle Scafell Pike in conjunction with Snowdon and Ben Nevis which are Wales’ and Scotland’s tallest peaks, as part of the National Three Peaks Challenge. To add to the challenge, the 3 mountains are often climbed in the space of 24 hours!

    Climbing Scafell Pike is no easy undertaking, but it’s also a given that those who make it up here are rewarded with sublime views across the Lake District and beyond. The hilly terrain also has sections with beautiful rocky streams that you’ll often need to cross.

    Location: Scafell Pike, Seascale, CA19 1TH, UK


    Aira Force

    A stunning waterfall in a romantic garden setting

    Aira Force is among the most well-known and popular waterfalls in all of the Lake District. The stunning falls rush down from a height of 70 feet. It’s surrounded by an attractive hillside that’s decked out with an immeasurable number of trees that were planted over the course of centuries – during which the site was a privately-owned sporting and recreational estate.

    The result is mesmerising: the untamed force of nature in the falls themselves, surrounded by the aesthetics of a richly curated garden. Over the years, the waterfalls have provided inspiration for numerous British literary heavyweights. A stroll over the stone bridges that cross some of the water’s path makes it easy to see how they found the place so captivating.

    Location: Matterdale, Penrith, CA11 0JY, UK


    Surprise View

    A sudden cliff drop and a sea of clouds

    Surprise View lives up to its name as a wonderful lake and mountain vista that’s just beyond Ashness Bridge. You can find it along the route to the hamlet of Watendlath. From the open and expansive viewpoint atop a cliff, you can look right out over some of the most impressive parts of the Lake District. These include Derwentwater lake, the town of Keswick, and Bassenthwaite lake.

    The breathtaking drop at Surprise View was naturally formed when a glacier carved out the valley of Borrowdale during the Ice Age. The result is simply amazing. Come in the winter and you might even find yourself looking down at a sea of clouds, making it even more spectacular.

    Location: Borrowdale, Keswick, CA12 5UU, UK


    Coniston Water

    The ideal lake for kayaking

    Coniston Water is the 3rd largest lake in the Lake District, which stretches for a whopping 5 miles. This means there are plenty of places where you can pull up to catch a view of it. Formerly known as Thurston Water, the mountains surrounding the lake were home to a copper mining industry from the Roman age right through to the 19th century, and the remains of Bronze Age agricultural settlements can be found nearby.

    Look out for the Old Man of Coniston, a fell (mountain) just north of the lake. Kayaking and canoeing are the order of the day on the lake. You can also visit the village of Coniston about half a mile away.

    Location: Coniston, LA21 8EH, UK


    photo by Samuel Bailey (CC BY 2.0) modified


    Loughrigg Fell

    Small but perfectly formed

    Loughrigg Fell might not be anywhere near as tall as the other famous mountains in the Lake District, but that’s no reason not to pay it a visit. It stands at a little over 1,000 feet, compared to Scafell Pike at over 3 times that. What Loughrigg Fell lacks in height, it more than makes up for with views and beautiful surroundings. The scene you’ll find here really is just about as photogenic as it could possibly be.

    Loughrigg Fell is easily accessible – you can find it on the outskirts of the town of Ambleside. Its isolated setting means that from its peak you’re rewarded with a pretty much unobstructed, panoramic view of the surrounding mountains framed around Grasmere lake.

    Location: Ambleside, LA22 9HQ, UK



    A walker’s paradise

    Beautifully surrounded by numerous mountain ranges, Buttermere is a 1.25-mile-long lake that is close to fertile dairy pastureland from which it takes its name. The scenery here is every bit dramatic, and this is considered one of the best corners of the Lake District for walkers, with low-lying hills like Haystacks among the most popular for climbing.

    There’s also an extensive path that runs around the lakesides of Buttermere, including an atmospheric diversion through an underground tunnel below the Hassness area. But perhaps the best thing of all to do here is simply to admire the fascinating reflections of the mountains on Buttermere’s surface.

    Location: Cockermouth, CA13 9UZ, UK



    A peaceful corner of the Lake District

    Loweswater is a photogenic lake amid a wooded valley to the western edge of the Lake District. It’s one of the region’s smaller lakes and makes for an easily accessible walking route. Despite requiring no great struggle to reach, far fewer travellers make the trip out here – you might find you have it pretty much to yourself on your visit.

    The lake’s surrounds have much more in common with rolling country hills than the steeper, more dramatic mountains found elsewhere in the Lake District, but the sights are no less rewarding. There’s an abundance of wildlife on the path around the lake, and Holme Force waterfall is also worth a look.

    Location: CA13 0RU, Cockermouth, UK


    photo by Paul Hermans (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified


    Friar's Crag

    Easily accessible dramatic lake views

    Friar's Crag offers some of the most incredible views of the Lake District  Located on the lakeside of Derwentwater, it's just a short walk from the town of Keswick. The incredible vistas over the enormous lake are sure to leave a lasting memory of your visit to this part of the world.

    Enjoy an unobstructed view over the water and onward to the Walla Crag, Maiden Moor and Castle Crag mountains. Victorian English art critic, John Ruskin, whose reflections on the place played a role in inspiring its preservation, described it as among Europe’s most beautiful scenes, which we wholeheartedly agree.

    Location: Keswick, CA12 5DL, UK

    Chris Wotton | Contributing Writer

    Start planning your trip

    Keep exploring


    United Kingdom

    Back to top