The Wansfell Ridge.

Start. Waterhead (Lake Road).

Route. Waterhead (Lake Road) - Ambleside - Cheapside - Stockghyll Lane - Wansfell Pike - Baystones - Idle Hill - Woundale Rise - A592 - Kirkstone Pass - The Struggle - Pets Bridge - High Grove - Middle Grove - Low Grove - Stockghyll Lane - Stockghyll Force - Ambleside - Waterhead.

Notes. “Severe upland gales, north-westerly 50-70 mph, severe wind chill, difficult walking conditions, what next, oh, showers of snow and hale, appalling conditions”. That was the fell forecast for today, it doesn't get much worse. I hatched a plan, the weather would work in my favour, it was simple, the Wansfell Ridge runs north/south, a dry stone wall cuts just under the ridge line, I'd walk in the lea of the wall, shelter from the wind and, if I climbed from Ambleside my ascent would be wind assisted, how good is that, the wind can blow, the stronger the better.

I parked on the road side at Waterhead, a few free spaces on the road side. There wasn't a breath of wind as I strolled into Ambleside, up Cheapside I wandered to join Stockghyll Lane, this narrow ribbon of the grey stuff deposited me at a finger-post promising passage to Wansfell Pike. My wind assisted ascent started here, planned to perfection, things only went wrong when I reached the summit crown, blown off my feet twice I opted to wander to the south side and ascend a gully free of the wind.

Once on the summit I attempted to do the impossible, stand up, I ended up on my backside yet again. The dry stone wall provided sanctuary, a chance to get my thoughts together, weigh up my options. The obvious option was to descend to Troutbeck, when do you ever do the obvious, no I decided to stick to my plan.

The thing about wind is most defiantly the noise, it's violent a real thug, breathing's difficult, you can't talk, can't think straight, sometimes can't see properly, your senses are numbed, and a lot of the time your route is dictated by wind direction. My route was dictated by the direction the dry stone wall ran, north my sights set on the sanctuary and shelter of the Kirkstone Pass Inn.

Now lets not gild the lily, from Wansfell Pike to Kirkstone Pass was wet, not boot hugging wet just squelchy wet, not wet enough to permeate my boots but knackering to walk through. My friend the wall guided me north free of the wind, stiles allowed easy crossing of dry stone walls, I popped onto the summit of Baystones the highest point on the ridge before descending through vast tracts of wet land to access Kirkstone Pass.

Disaster, the one thing driving me on, the thought of a pint in the Kirkstone Pass Inn, the bloody place was closed, the lights were on but there was nobody home, disappointed I sat outside in the wind, had another brew then headed down The Struggle. At the foot of the hill a finger-post promised passage to Ambleside, a narrow lane cut across the lower slopes of Wansfell Pike, this I followed. Passed a ruined farm, High Grove, then passed the farm and holiday homes at Middle Grove where I stepped onto the tarmac of Stockghyll Lane, I paid homage to Stockghyll Force before descending back into the streets of Ambleside.

view route map.


Sunlight on the Todd Crag face of Loughrigg Fell, dominating the horizon Wetherlam.

A blanket of cloud kisses the summits of the Langdale Pikes and High Raise.

On the steep slopes of Wansfell Pike viewing the arms of the Fairfield Horseshoe, across the horizon Heron Pike leading to a cloud kissed Great Rigg, in the middle distance Low Pike and High Pike with bright sunshine on the western ridge of Red Screes.

Stunning views over Ambleside.

Under the rocky crown of Wansfell Pike (out of the wind) viewing the long crooked finger of Windermere Lake.

Looking along Wansfell's summit ridge, across the horizon Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke.

From Wansfell Pike a wonderful view across the low rolling lands of South Lakeland to the massive up thrust of the Coniston Old Man massif.

Viewing Kirkstone Pass from the Wansfell summit ridge.

There are some wonderful views to be had from this undulating ridge, over Baystones, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick and Ill Bell.

Adventures through an extraordinary landscape, the rolling ridge line with views to Coudale Moor and Thornthwaite Crag.

Views over Rydal Water to the breath-taking topography of the Langdale Pikes.

The summit Baystones.

An exquisite panorama from Idle Hill.

Surveying the scene towards Broad End and Kirkstone Pass, wet ground I've yet to cross.

The Kirkstone Pass Inn, at 1500ft above sea level, the highest inhabited building in Cumbria, it's a pity it was closed on my arrival.

Red Screes as seen from near High Grove.

At a guess I'd say is the original road over Kirkstone Pass, it bears all the hallmarks of a packhorse route, plus stunning vistas, for us modern day ramblers.

Looking back to Red Screes, Kirkstone Pass and Broad End.

Typical Lakeland slate barn passed on the lane between Middle and Low Groves.

A popular visitors attraction since Victorian times, Stockghyll Force.

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