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Switch off, settle down, and relax in the most secluded valley in Lakeland

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  • Duration

    2 Nights
  • Accommodation

  • Food

    Some provided. Details below
  • Difficulty Levels

    Multiple walk options available See itinerary below
    for more details

Join us on a guided walking weekend in the wild west of the Lake District. Staying deep in the valley of Ennerdale, we’ll walk the mountains and forests, see nature at its best, and relax with a sociable group in a great hostel with freshly prepared meals.

At the western edge of the Lake District lies Ennerdale, a valley of peaceful forests and tumbling streams, where the hillsides are cloaked in natural woodland. At one end is Ennerdale Water, and at the other, some of Lakeland’s highest mountains stand over the valley head. There are few buildings in this valley, and we’ll be spending the weekend in one of them, the secluded YHA Ennerdale. With dozens of walks from the doorstep and a guaranteed chance of seeing wildlife, this is a walking weekend on the wild side.

Autumn Adventures,

The weekend is fully guided and hosted, with meals provided and Large Outdoors guides on hand to show you the best of the valley through a range of walks. Whether your goals are the peaks or the riverside, there’ll be something for you.

In a nutshell:

  • Explore Wild Ennerdale, a valley in the western Lakes that has been returned to nature.
  • Enjoy the tranquil setting of our hostel, set in the woods and with views to the river and the mountains.
  • Head out on two guided walks where you’ll get to see the best of the valley.
  • Relax with our freshly prepared food, endless hot drinks, and log burning stove, on this social weekend away from daily life.
  • Meet a great bunch of people all keen to explore the hills.

Guided Walking Weekend in the Lake District staying at Ennerdale YHA

About the area


On the western edge of the Lake District lies Ennerdale, owned mostly by the National Trust and the Forestry Commission, and home to a different way of treating the mountains. Over a decade ago, the Wild Ennerdale partnership decided to restore natural processes in the valley, allowing nature to take its course and encouraging a sense of wildness for visitors. The valley now is home to unfenced forest, streams that are allowed to take their natural courses, and a plethora of wildlife. Some of the Lake District’s iconic peaks, such as Pillar, Great Gable and Red Pike stand over the valley, and alongside the miles of valley paths, provide excellent hillwalking days.

Crag Fell

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After arriving at the hostel from 5pm onwards, you’ll quickly meet your walking companions for the weekend and relax in the beautiful surroundings as your Large Outdoors host prepares dinner. We’ll eat at 8pm and then have a briefing about the coming weekend over the cheese board.
There will be two walk options for the next day, a longer and a shorter walk, both of which will aim for nearby peaks. You have until the next morning to decide, so there’s no rush.

Guided Walking Weekend in the Lake District staying at Ennerdale YHA



We’ll have a sit down breakfast at 8am, give you some time to make packed lunches with our great fresh ingredients, and then separate into groups for the day’s walks. Each group will have a guide, and we’ll be walking straight from the hostel. Possible walk options include:

  • Pillar:

    Named as one of the top 10 Lake District peaks by Wainwright, Pillar towers above Ennerdale, standing almost Himalayan above the conifer forests of the valley. We’ll be heading up its north-western ridge, a wide and grassy flank that’s visible from the hostel. After reaching the top we’ll walk along the ridge to the peaks of Scoat Fell and Steeple, before descending back into Ennerdale. This is a tough walk over mountain terrain. The ridge is rocky and the slopes are steep, so it’s an absolute classic!

  • Haycock:

    A slightly easier walk than Pillar but no less dramatic, as it goes to the same ridge, albeit to the lower summit of Haycock. We’ll head straight out of Ennerdale up one of Haycock’s northern spurs, with great views back over the valley and Ennerdale Water. Although we are heading on a ridge walk, it is wide and grassy and not too steep. After reaching the summit we’ll head down the other northern spur of Haycock on a circular walk that takes us back down to Ennerdale.

  • Haystacks:

    For an objective on the other side of the valley, we could head through Ennerdale up towards its head, and climb the celebrated fell of Haystacks, Wainwright’s favourite hill. We’ll walk through the valley forest and then ascend to Scarth Gap before climbing Haystacks itself, which does require some very moderate scrambling. From the top we continue along the ridge and down to the famous Black Sail hut, where forest tracks lead us again down Ennerdale to our hostel.

Our walks completed we’ll assemble in the hostel and the Large Outdoors team will begin the process of making dinner, while you relax in the lounge with a drink and admire the fading light in the fields beyond the hostel garden.

Dinner will be at 8pm and we’ll have a brief chat afterwards about the options for the next day, where there will yet again be a choice of two walks. After this point people usually relax with a glass of beer or wine and re-live the day’s adventures.

Guided Walking Weekend in the Lake District staying at Ennerdale YHA


We’ll have another sit-down breakfast at 8am and then it’s time to pack up the hostel and head out. Walk options for today include:

  • Ennerdale forest:

    We’ll walk up the valley towards its head, and hopefully reach the famous secluded hostel of Black Sail. From here we’ll cross the River Liza and head down the other side on forest paths. This will be a great chance to see wildlife, and the naturally regenerating woodland diversity that Ennerdale is famous for. Once back near the hostel there may be a brief chance for a stroll down to the lake.

  • Bowness Knott:

    A slightly shorter walk heads towards the end of the valley and climbs to the top of Bowness Knott, a rocky outcrop at 333m that feels like part of the Alps in England, and which gives outstanding views over the lake. After descending back through the forest, we’ll head back towards the hostel along tracks that run along the lakeshore, sculpted by the ice age and home to the protected Arctic char.

Midday onwards

We aim for both Sunday walks to finish at around 1pm, when we’ll head to a local pub for Sunday lunch. We are normally done by 3pm when we have no doubt you’ll be sad to leave this magical place.

Our Base:

Ennerdale YHA is a secluded hostel at the end of a forest track, deep in the valley. There is a small garden, ample parking, and comfy sofas, alongside a wood-burning stove. The views extend from the River Liza all the way up to the peak of Pillar.

Useful Links:

Kit lists – You can view our kit lists here…

For important information on what’s included with our standard trips, such as what food we supply, arrival times and answer to our most commonly asked questions please visit out our FAQ’s page 

  • By Car:

    On the A66 from Keswick, turn off at Cockermouth onto the A5086. Turn left at Lamplugh, passing Lamplugh church, then left passing Inglenook Caravan Park. Continue to the T junction in the hamlet of Croasdale. Turn left here into Croasdale, and follow the road to Bowness Knott car park. Drive along the forest track for 2 miles to reach the hostel.

    Access to YHA Ennerdale includes a final three mile section along a gravel forest road which can have potholes. Please keep to the forest speed limit of 15mph and take care when driving over or around potholes.

    Vehicles are restricted beyond Bowness Knott car park and vehicle access is for authorised users only, including YHA staff and visiting customers. The hostel has a small car park. Parking is not permitted on the forest road outside the hostel.

  • By Train:

    Nearest Station: Penrith

    Collection time: 3pm

    For this weekend we can collect and return train travellers to the train station that is nearest to our base.

    Places for this shuttle service are limited and must be booked at least five days before the trip takes place by contacting the Large Outdoors office to reserve space.

    At the end of the trip we will endeavour to get you back to the same station by a certain time. However as the finishing time might vary, we would strongly advise booking an open return ticket that will provide you with greater flexibility.

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Enerdale YHA
Cat Crag
Ennerdale Bridge
CA23 3AX
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What our members have to say...

  • My first Large Outdoors and (Ulster & the Giant's Causeway Walking Weekend) Irish experience was absolutely fantastic. Everything was organised perfectly and Gareth is a joy to be around. I loved every minute and will definitely book myself onto another trip. #toldallmyfriendstheyhavetocome
    Member Since 2018
  • “I didn’t really know what to expect on my first ever walking holiday and wasn’t very prepared if truth be known – lesson to all read the essential kit list especially waterproofs! It was great fun and what a lovely group of supportive and encouraging people, especially Gareth who did a great job looking after us all. I must admit at times I found it a bit challenging but what a great sense of achievement when we reached the top of the mountains (hills) I will definitely do this again.
    Member Since 2016
  • Well, for a non-walker it was certainly challenging but my word was it exhilarating! The feeling of achievement after every day, was just fabulous. The group we went with were all strangers on day one, but firm friends by the end of the week. The comradery on some of the tougher walks, helped me to the top…..and wow what views. Anyone thinking of doing it - don’t worry….just go for it!
    Member Since 2016
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