Classic Wansfell Pike.

Start. Waterhead.

Route. Waterhead - Ambleside - Stockghyll Wood - Stockghyll Force - Wansfell Pike - Nanny Lane - Troutbeck - Robin Lane - Hol Beck - Lowwood Hotel - A591 - Jenkins Field - Holme Crag - Waterhead.

Notes. Despite it's modest elevation, 1,588ft Wansfell Pike to the east of Ambleside is without doubt a proper mountain. Climb via Stockghyll Force and your legs and lungs will surely be tested, once atop it's rock eerie the views will blow you away. I've talked to many a seasoned fell walker on numerous mountain tops whom all cut their teeth on Wansfell Pike, the experience tattooed in their minds eye, changing their lives forever. I've titled this walk Classic Wansfell Pike, maybe it should be called Classic Wansfell Pike with a Twist, come take a wander, if a life changing experience is what you wish.

My day started at Waterhead wandering north into Ambleside, the tarmac of the main road ushered me to Stockghyll Lane, my guide to Stockghyll Wood and Force. After visiting the many cataracts of Stock Ghyll I exited the woods via the revolving gate exit then continued ascending Stockghyll Lane. Around half a mile of tarmac walking saw me reach a finger-post, an invitation to Troutbeck via Wansfell Pike, the leg burning ascent started immediately. After many stops to take photos (fell walking speak for pausing for breath) I crested the summit stepping into breath-tacking views in all directions, particularly the length of Windermere Lake as far as Morecambe Bay and the Irish Sea.

A number of routes descend Wansfell's rocky bluff, today as this is Classic Wanfell Pike I followed the main trod leading to Nanny Lane, then let the dry stone walls of this green track shepherd me to Troutbeck village. Around half a mile of tarmac walking followed between typical Lakeland cottages and farmsteads. This route is part of an old drove road it follows a line of ancient wells christened after various saints, originally built to water horses before and after the steep climb over Kirkstone Pass, a fascinating incite into a past way of life. I continued over tarmac until reaching the Post Office (refreshments available if you're peckish), next to which Robin Lane traverses the shoulder of Wansfell, this stoney track will guide you to Ambleside but here's the twist, I left it after fording Hol Beck, a finger-post invited me to Lowwood Hotel, and I just fancied ending the day wandering along the Windermere Lake shore.

On a well marked path I descended through sheep pastures straight into a building site, a diversion was in operation but boy was it muddy, I stumbled onto the main road absolutely filthy, boots and trousers caked in mud. Towards Ambleside I wandered the song of traffic for company backed by stunning views over Lake Windermere. On reached Jenkins Field I left the road, a green trod ushered me along the lake shore depositing me on Holme Crag, a tree covered rocky outcrop with excellent vistas over mountain and lake, and there was a seat on the summit, and it was vacant, not for long. I sat a while before following the lake shore trod back to Waterhead and the patiently waiting car.

view route map.


Stock Ghyll, today a tumbling stream through mature woodland, but not always so. Locally christened Rattle Gill owing to the number of mills this small stream powered, the constant rattle of waterwheels driving machinery to produce bobbins, clean and spin silk and cotton thread, process wood and grind corn, all in this quiet corner of Cumbria.

Before leaving the woods you must visit the 70ft waterfall of Stockghyll Force.

Wreathed in cloud, Wetherlam seen from the lower slopes of Wansfell Pike.

Nab Scar with cloud kissing the summit of Heron Pike.

Heading up Wansfell Pike with views over Ambleside for company.

Looking to Caudale Moor above Kirkstone Pass.

Taking a breather looking to Loughrigg Fell above Ambleside with Bow Fell and Crinkle Crags buried under a thick blanket of cloud.

Beyond Todd Crag and Gilbert Scar lies Wrynose Pass, the notch on the skyline, a portal to the Cumbria coast..

Near the summit soaking up views to the Snarker Pike ascent of Red Screes.

One of many stunning views from the summit of Wansfell Pike.

The rocky eerie of Wansfell Pike provides a fine view point, the Kirkstone quarries below the summit of Snarker Pike with the arms of the Fairfield Horseshoe, High Pike and Great Rigg under cloud.

Kirkstone Pass forever in the shadow of Red Screes, to the right Coudale Moor.

Breathtaking isn't it, the length of Windermere Lake as far as Morecambe Bay on the Irish Sea coast.

Looking towards Baystones with Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick across the skyline.

Broad End in sunlight and shade, a chip on the shoulder of Coudale Moor.

Descending Nanny Lane with wonderful views to the south.

St John's Well one of three passed en route through Troutbeck village.

The ragged heights of the Langdale Pikes as seen from the path to Lowwood Hotel.

Descending to Lowwood with a good track to guide me and this wonderful view for company.

Kissed by cloud, Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam.

Magical views from Holme Crag....

....and north to Nab Scar, Heron Pike and a cloud capped Great Rigg.

Small, low but perfectly formed, Todd Crag and Gilbert Scar rise above the head of Windermere.

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