Wansfell Pike from Waterhead.

Start. Waterhead.

Route. Waterhead (Lake Road) - Ambleside - Stockghyll Lane - Stockghyll Force - Wansfell Pike - Nanny Lane - Troutbeck - Robin Lane - Skelgill Lane - High Skelgill Farm - Skelgill Wood - Jenkin Crag - Old Lake Road - Waterhead.

Notes. Contradicting weather forecasts today, the fell forecast was pretty grim, low cloud supported by rain, hail, sleet and snow, with a little thunder thrown in for good measure, the biggest hazard strong winds, the local forecast told a very different story, clearing skies and sunshine, the only thing they agreed on was the fact that if you went up high you would most probably get blown off your feet. With this armoury of information I planned a valley walk, so why I here you ask did you end up on Wansfell Pike? Because I was too idle to get out of bed, that's not exactly true, I got up saw the weather was crap so went back, when I awoke the sun was shining and I was cursing my laziness.

As I drove into the Lake District I still intended to stick to my original plan, that was until I hit road works on Bannerrigg, time slipped away sat in traffic. Somewhere between Ings and Windermere I opted on a compromise, the valley walk was out, time and short daylight hours were now against me, but there was always Wansfell Pike, a saviour in a time of crisis.

I parked at Waterhead mainly because I was desperate to get my boots on, nothing to do with free parking on the road side, which is hard to find that late in the day. My parking fee rattled around deep in my pocket, a quite satisfying sound, I felt smug as I wandered into Ambleside. Next to the White Lion Hotel Stockghyll Lane ascends behind the buildings on the main street, this narrow ribbon of tarmac guided me to Stock Ghyll and the star of the show the 70ft Stockghyll Force. From the thunder and spray of the water filled gorge I made my way back to Stockghyll Lane exiting the woods via the Victorian revolving gate exit, I turned left then carried on ascending the lane.

Only a hundred yards of tarmac walking followed before a finger-post invited me to Troutbeck via Wansfell Pike, I obliged instantly attacking the steep slopes of the hill. Every step gifted me with better views than the previous, with every step the wind got stronger, I crested Wansfell's rocky crown in an absolute gale, you could barely stand up. I sat with a number of other walkers frozen to the spot drinking in icy views the length of Windermere Lake. One woman said through chattering teeth she didn't want to leave it was so beautiful, I did it was uncomfortable and bloody cold, tears streamed down my cheeks, I bid farewell before heading east dipping under the lea of the hill out of the wind.

A well trod bath guided me over sheltered ground, once in Nanny Lane (track) I continued down hill to Troutbeck. Through the village I strolled south to access Robin Lane, this track once the main route linking Troutbeck to Ambleside guided me across the shoulder of Wansfell, passed Skelghyll Farm then through Skelghyll Wood, I paused at Jenkin Crag to soak up the extensive vistas from the low cliff before continuing down into the streets of Ambleside.

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Stock Ghyll, this unassuming Lakeland stream was once responsible for powering twelve mills producing bobbins and processing fabric, paper and grinding corn.

The 70ft cascade of Stockgyll Force.

Free of the tree cover ascending the steep slopes of Wansfell Pike looking to a snow capped Coniston massif, the principle tops, Coniston Old Man, Wetherlam and to the right rising from Greenburn, Great Carrs.

Views over the valley of Stock Ghyll, Red Screes and Broad End stand guard over Kirkstone Pass.

The summit of Wansfell Pike with stunning views to Crinkle Crags and Bow Fell.

An icing sugar day on Wansfell Pike, looking to Kirkstone Pass.

Seen beyond Loughrigg Fell a wonderful stage set of Lakeland mountains.

Windermere Lake viewed under a low winters sun.

Winter conditions across Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

On a blistering cold day walkers hanker down to make what use they can of the little shelter available, me well I'm standing drinking in staggering views to the west.

The shear beauty of a winters day on Wansfell Pike, looking to the arms of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Breath-taking views from Nanny Lane to Froswick and Ill Bell.

Above Skelgill Wood the unmistakable Langdale Pikes.

Wetherlam seen from near High Skelgill.

Windermere Lake stretching to the south, as viewed from Jenkin Crag.

At Jenkin Crag viewpoint enjoying a wonderful view to the Coniston massif.

Looking to Todd Crag above Ambleside.

Viewing the head of Rydal from low in Skelgill Lane, Heron Pike, Great Rigg with mighty Fairfield closing the head of the valley.

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