The Lake District National Park, renowned for its stunning landscapes, towering mountains, serene lakes, woodlands and wildlife is a treasure trove of natural beauty. But did you know that it is also incredibly accessible for mobility scooter users? Thanks to the "Miles Without Stiles" initiative, everyone can enjoy the majesty, beauty and natural environment of the Lake District National Park. In this blog, accessibility advocate Anthony Jennings talks us through some of his favourite accessible walking routes in the Lake District. Lake District Mobility Tramper (all terrain scooter) is available to hire from Outdoor Mobility for some of the routes - details in link:

**Miles Without Stiles: What Is It?**

"Miles Without Stiles" is an initiative designed to make the Lake District more inclusive and accessible to everyone, including those with mobility issues. These routes are carefully selected and maintained to ensure they are free from barriers like stiles and steep inclines, although some routes are more challenging. The routes have a grading system: for 'all', 'many', 'some' and ‘challenging’ which are based on gradients and surface conditions. This makes them perfect for mobility scooter users, pushchairs and wheelchair users.

**A Day in the Life of a Mobility Scooter Explorer**

Imagine starting your day with a gentle breeze on your face, the sound of birds chirping and herdwick sheep grazing under the morning sun as you set off on your mobility scooter on one of the many "Miles Without Stiles" routes, ready for a day of adventure and tranquility. Many of the routes can be accessed via bus, boats, or by train such as the Orrest Head route, which starts virtually opposite Windermere train station. National Trust blue badge parking is often available and accessible toilets are available on some routes.

**Breathtaking Routes**

The routes take you along lake shores and riversides, to tarns and through woods, historic remains, alongside steam railways and to fell summits, with breathtaking views. Below I have briefly shared some of my favourite routes.

Views from the Windermere Western Shore walk

1. The Windermere Western Shore. This trail offers spectacular views of England’s largest lake, Windermere, and the surrounding fells. The path is wide and flat, perfect for a relaxing mobility scooter ride, and offers numerous spots to stop, take in the scenery, and maybe even enjoy a picnic.

Tarn Hows

2. Another favourite is the Tarn Hows circular route. This 3km path is a gem, winding around the beautiful Tarn Hows lake. The route is not only accessible but also provides some of the most picturesque views in the Lake District, with reflections of the surrounding trees and peaks dancing on the water’s surface.

Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge walk

3. The Elterwater to Skelwith Bridge route is stunning linear walk (2km each way) taking in lakeside meadows, an iconic new bridge, roaring waterfall and amazing views of the Langdales. 

Views from the Friar's Crag walk

4. Friar's Crag is a beautiful and varied (1.25km distance) walk to a stunning viewpoint overlooking Derwentwater and Catbells. A longer, circular route back to the car park, through Cockshott Wood, is also possible.

A couple walking along the Keswick to Threlkeld Railway Trail

5. Keswick to Threlkeld railway trail is a stunning (5km each way) walk weaving through the River Greta gorge. The route follows the old Keswick to Penrith Railway on some of the original Victorian railway bridges and through railway tunnels. Route is suitable for all.

Views of the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam Railway along the West Windermere Way

6. West Windermere Way - This (3km round trip) is a section of West Windermere Way (1.5km of 8km) that starts at the Ferry and steam train terminal near the Lakes Aquarium, Lakeside and if you are a train geek like me, watching the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Steam railway locomotives and carriages pass by and waving at the train driver is a highlight of this route.

The view of Windermere from the top of Orrest Head

7. I have saved my favourite Miles Without Stiles route until last. Orrest Head (3.5km round trip, route for some) was Wainwright’s first fell. I cannot begin to explain how exciting and special it is as a mobility scooter user to wind your way up through Ellerway Wood, past the Gruffalo to reach the summit, to be rewarded by the most spectacular panoramic 360º views over Lake Windermere and surrounding Lakeland fells.

**Mental Health Benefits**

Exploring these routes on a mobility scooter isn't just about physical accessibility; it’s also about mental well-being. Immersing yourself in nature has profound benefits for mental health. The act of being outdoors, breathing fresh air, and absorbing natural light can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression. The Lake District’s landscapes, with their majestic mountains and lakes offer a perfect setting for this healing process.

**Sharing the Experience with Friends and Loved Ones**

One of the most significant joys of these accessible routes is the ability to share them with family and friends. Whether it’s a leisurely scooter ride with your partner, a fun day out with the whole family including the little and older ones. These paths make it easy to enjoy the outdoors together. The shared experience of exploring new places, laughing, and creating memories strengthens bonds and enhances the overall experience.

**A Sense of Achievement**

For many, using a mobility scooter is about reclaiming independence and adventure. Navigating these beautiful routes in the Lake District provides a sense of achievement and freedom that can be incredibly empowering.

**Final Thoughts**

The Lake District's "Miles Without Stiles" initiative exemplifies how thoughtful and inclusive design can open up the wonders of nature to everyone. For mobility scooter users, these routes offer a gateway to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the UK, enriching lives through the simple joys of exploration and connection with nature. So, gear up, invite your friends and loved ones, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the Lake District. The mountains and lakes are waiting, and every mile is an invitation to experience joy, peace, and togetherness. I hope you have enjoyed my blog and would like to experience a sense of adventure in the great outdoors.

Take a look at the Lake District National Park Authority “Miles Without Stiles” routes, there are 50 to chose from, with details in the link. Have fun!

Anthony Jennings

Cumbria Tourism - Accessibility Stakeholder

Outdoor Mobility - Trustee




Comments are disabled for this post.