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5 Amazing Hidden Gems in the Lake District

by Sam
The Langdale Pikes near Blea Tarn

Although it’s one of England’s most popular destinations, there are still some amazing hidden gems in the Lake District if you venture slightly off the beaten path. There are some truly stunning places to discover, far from the crowds found at popular spots like Scafell Pike and Windermere. You can even find some hidden gems in Windermere itself, whether it’s the amazing viewpoint from Gummer’s How or the tranquil High Dam Tarn. If you want to discover some amazing, yet relatively undiscovered places, then don’t miss this list of 5 hidden gems in the Lake District National Park, England.

Lake District Hidden Gems

Rannerdale Knotts

Situated in the scenic Buttermere Valley, Rannerdale Knotts offers amazing views of Lake Buttermere, Crummock Water and beyond. The walk is the toughest on this list of hidden gems in the Lake District, but it’s unquestionably worth it for the breathtaking views.

Many opt to hike Scafell Pike, England’s highest mountain, but it’s substantially more well-known, and therefore busier. Rannerdale Knotts, by comparison, is a hidden gem as it delivers similar spectacular views, but is a lot quieter.

A local couple who we spoke to at the summit told us this was one of their favourite spots in the Lake District because even when other places are busy, this spot remains tranquil and is only visited by a handful of tourists.

Although it’s the toughest hike on this list, getting to the peak is manageable for anyone with relatively good mobility and a moderate level of fitness. It’s certainly a bit of a workout, but it’s possible to reach the summit after about 30 minutes hiking.

From the summit of Rannerdale Knotts you get 360 degree views of mountains, and on a clear day you can even see Scotland! The views are definitely some of the best we saw in the Lake District, which is why this spot is top of our hidden gems in the area!

There is a National Trust car park along the B5289 just north of Buttermere village, where members can park free. Non-members can pay to use this car park, or alternatively park for free in one of the lay-bys on the B5289 near Crummock South Beach.

The circular walk at Rannerdale Knotts takes you up to the summit, and along a ridge before making your way back down and around back to where you started. This means you can follow the path in either direction, with our personal preference being to start your walk in the opposite direction to Buttermere which means you have a steeper ascent as opposed to a steeper descent.

In total the walk can be done in 1½-2 hours depending on the exact route you take, and how long you stop to enjoy the views and take photos!

Mountain and lake view from Rannerdale Knotts - one of the hidden gems of the Lake District

Gummer’s How

Gummer’s How hill offers some of the best views over Lake Windermere, yet remains one of the hidden gems in the southern Lake District. Windermere itself is one of the busiest and most popular areas of the Lake District, but from the top of the hill you can enjoy a somewhat secret view of the stunning scenery, without the crowds found elsewhere.

It’s a relatively easy walk to the top of Gummer’s How, taking around 20-30 minutes to reach the peak. The hilltop covers a relatively large area, and there are beautiful views to enjoy of Lake Windermere, as well as the mountains and hills of the Lake District in the distance.

Located near the southern tip of Lake Windermere, Gummer’s How is easily accessible via a free car park just off Fell Foot Brow. From the car park there is a short trail through a wooded area, and after a short while you will need to cross the road to begin your walk on the footpath up the hill.

Gummer’s How is around a 15-minute drive from the popular tourist spot of Bowness-on-Windermere, or a 30-minute drive from Kendal.

Make sure to read our guide to the Gummer’s How walk if you want to enjoy one of the hidden walks in the Lake District.

View of Lake Windermere from Gummers How - one of the hidden gems in the Lake District

Cathedral Quarry

Cathedral Quarry, a network of quarries above Little Langdale, is one of the Lake District’s hidden gems. The quarry’s formidable main chamber, known as Cathedral Cave, is the highlight due to the large ‘window’ which allows sunlight in.

Sometimes referred to as Cathedral Cavern, the cave is 40 feet in height and can be accessed by walking through the quarry’s tunnels. If you follow the tunnel out of the other side of the cave, you can climb up some rocks and make your way round to the ‘window’ to get a view from above.

There is no parking at Cathedral Quarry itself, so you have to park elsewhere and make your way there on foot. The lack of parking means it remains relatively free from crowds, thus earning its place on this list of Lake District hidden gems.

We personally recommend combining your trip to Cathedral Quarry with a visit to Blea Tarn – which we cover next on this list! That way you can make use of the Blea Tarn car park, and visit two off the beaten path spots in the Lake District in one go. It’s a relatively easy walk from Blea Tarn to Cathedral Quarry, taking around an hour one-way.

Alternatively, you can park for free in the Tilberthwaite car park to the north of Coniston village and walk from there. The car park is along the single track road leading to Tilberthwaite Farm, and can be found using these directions.

Although it is a bit of hassle to get there, it’s definitely worth visiting this secret cave in the Lake District! Find out more for your visit with our guide to Cathedral Quarry!

Cathedral Quarry - a secret cave in the Lake District

Blea Tarn

Despite having to navigate some extremely narrow country lanes to get there, Blea Tarn is one of our favourite hidden gems in the Lake District. The beautiful scenery is well worth the awkward drive, with rugged mountain peaks towering above the freshwater lake known as Blea Tarn.

Situated between the Great Langdale and Little Langdale valleys, the views are what make this such a special place. The mountain views of the Langdale Pikes, as well as the pine tree forest at one side of the lake, help to make this one of the Lake District’s hidden gems.

Even though Blea Tarn is one of the best tarns in the Lake District, it’s not particularly busy and is somewhat off the beaten path. This is perhaps because of the long stretch of single-track road that you need to drive down to get there, but we can assure you it’s well worth the effort!

A stone wall prevents you from doing a direct circular loop of Blea Tarn, but there is another route which you can take. Walk to the woodland area and then take the path to the right, which will lead you up to the road and provide you with some brilliant views of the Langdale Valley on the way.

Alternatively, you can walk from Blea Tarn to Cathedral Quarry, which takes you through some beautiful countryside. If you want longer walks in the area then you can also climb Side Pike or the Pike of Blisco during your visit.

Blea Tarn is one of the many spots in the Lake District where you can go wild swimming, and we did see some people enjoying a swim on our visit. We’d advise wearing a wetsuit if you’re going to have a swim, as the water can be quite cold.

Parking at the Blea Tarn car park is free for National Trust members, but non-members need to pay either £5 for 2 hours, £6.50 for 4 hours or £7.50 for the day. The car park is conveniently located just across the road from the lake, so you get amazing views almost as soon as you get out of your car!

Mountains towering over Blea Tarn - one of the Lake District hidden gems

High Dam Tarn

Another hidden gem near Windermere in the Lake District is High Dam Tarn. It’s a great spot for a peaceful walk through some lovely nature, away from the crowds found elsewhere near Winderemere.

Located near the small village of Finsthwaite, High Dam is a picturesque tarn surrounded by pleasant woodland. Just below High Dam there is a smaller tarn known as Low Dam, which is another tranquil spot.

The walk at High Dam does involve some uphill walking before you reach the tarns, but it’s nothing too strenuous. After around 10 minutes of walking you will reach Low Dam, before the path leads you up to the circular route around High Dam.

There are a few different trails to follow, but you can easily do a circular walk around High Dam and back to the car park within an hour. It’s easy to spend longer amongst the beautiful nature though, especially as it’s another spot to enjoy some wild swimming in the Lake District.

High Dam is a popular spot for locals and dog walkers, but is still relatively unknown to tourists visiting the Windermere area. It has increased in popularity recently, but hopefully it stays relatively quiet to retain its charm.

There is a pay and display car park at High Dam just to the north of Finsthwaite village. Parking starts from £1.30 for an hour, or you can pay £5.50 for the day.

Find out more about this beautiful spot by reading our guide to the High Dam Tarn circular walk in the Lake District!

High Dam Tarn - a hidden gem in the Lake District

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