Wansfell Pike and Baystones.
Route. Waterhead - Ambleside - Old Lake Road - Skelghyll Lane - Skelghyll Wood - High Skelghyll - Hol Beck - Robin Lane - Troutbeck - Nanny Lane - Baystones - Wansfell Pike - Stockghyll Lane - Stockghyll Force - Stockghyll Lane - Ambleside - Waterhead.
Notes. Wansfell Pike forever looking down on the Lakeland community of Ambleside, the end of a vast wedge of boggy upland running south from Caudale Moor, with it's steep southern slopes crossed by old fell lanes and striped by wooded gills. When you stand on it's rocky crown it's easy to see why this relatively low hill is so popular, surrounded by deep cut valleys allowing unrestricted views, and I've yet to mention the one down Windermere Lake.
Most people climb the hill directly from Ambleside via Stockghyll Lane, I have many times, it's steep but saves the very best until the summit. Today a day of changeable weather I opted to attack the hill from Troutbeck, a stunning circular walk from Ambleside taking in everything Wansfell Pike has to offer.
I parked at Waterhead, laced my boots up slung my bag over my back and headed towards Ambleside. After a few hundred yards Old Lake Road emerges from the right, this I followed to a metal finger-post promising access to Troutbeck and Jenkin Crag, this was Skelghyll Lane once the main route to Troutbeck, the climbing started here. First over tarmac then a stoney track, through dripping woodland, over moss covered boulders by the side of tumbling streams, after a short detour to Jenkin Crag view point I continued on my quest to Troutbeck.
I escaped the woodland just before High Skelghyll, a typical Lakeland farmstead in a stunning location. The access lane then guided me to Hol Beck, here a gate allowed access to a path ascending the hill, I joined said path which soon deposited me in Robin Lane, another one of these old ways cutting across the fell side. Down hill between dry stone walls through stunning views I wandered, stepping from the lane into Troutbeck next to the Old Post Office Tea Room, time for lunch.
With a full stomach I strolled through the village drinking in fine views and enjoying the unique Lakeland architecture, all the while making sure I didn't wander passed the entrance to Nanny Lane, I almost did but a finger-post on my right pointing to the left caught my eye. Ascending Nanny Lane was hard work, it was a lot steeper than I remembered and seemed to go on forever, by the time I reached the junction with the Wansfell Pike path I'd formulated another plan. Baystones is actually the highest point on the Wansfell ridge, few walkers visit it, probably because it's surrounded by bog, well it was raining, I've got no waterproof trowsers, on my feet a pair of summer boots that would surely succumb to bog hopping, but I am wearing a new bright orange gortex jacket that looks well dapper, wet feet and Baystones it was then. I continued ascending Nanny Lane.
At the top of the lane a ladder stile aided my crossing of the dry stone wall, a green trod then guides me over as much high, dry ground as possible but inevitably I had to cross lots of wet stuff, the climb was soft under foot sapping my strength, I arrived at a small cairn just short of Baystones in the pouring rain, another wet hollow and a short climb would see me there but I'd had enough. Wansfell Pike looked an awfully long way off, lots more wet ground to cross and quite a few ups and downs, and to cap it all lots of bad weather heading in my direction, it was time to get off the hill.
Guided by a dry stone wall with a wet sometimes muddy path under foot I picked my way to the summit of Wansfell Pike, the views gave me a good excuse to hang around, I chatted to other walkers in the lea of the hill out of the worst of the weather, when I decided the rain was in for the day I left, descending the steep northern slopes to access Stockghyll Lane. I felt a bit of a coward escaping the worst of the weather when so many walkers were ascending the hill, by the time I reached Stockghyll Force the rain had stopped, the waterfall was at it's finest, best viewed this time of year.
I continued my descent through Stockghyll Wood, the woodland path ejected me back into Stockghyll Lane which in turn guided me into Ambleside, with the sun now breaking through I let the main road guide me back to Waterhead and the patiently waiting car.
view route map.
The mouth of Great Langdale seen over Waterhead from Skelghyll Lane.
Windermere Lake from Jenkin Crag.
Seen from Jenkin Crag, Black Fell across Windermere Lake.
Ascending over woodland paths.
A stunning view from near High Skelwith, looking to Claif Heights with Gummer's How rising behind the many islands on Windermere Lake.
Wray Castle and little Blelham Tarn seen across Windermere Lake.
A moody view over Windermere Lake seen from between the dry stone walls in Robin Lane.
Welcome to Troutbeck.
Sunshine on my back, ascending between the dry stone walls in Nanny Lane.
Seen over The Hundreds, Troutbecks eastern skyline, far left Thornthwaite Crag, to the right of the rainbow Froswick then Ill Bell and finally the bulk of Yoke.
Looking over the Troutbeck valley to Sour Howes.
A wonderful moody image over South Lakeland.
On the Wansfell ridge looking to Red Screes as another heavy shower sweeps down the valley.
On the ridge between Baystones and Wansfell Pike viewing wet weather washing the Vale of Grasmere and the slopes of Heron Pike.
Looking south across the rolling pastures of South Cumbria.
Near the summit of Wansfell Pike with this magnificent view over Windermere Lake to take my mind off the rain.
Ambleside backed by a rain washed Loughrigg Fell.
Stockghyll Force above Ambleside.
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