View from the summit of Wansfell Pike.

View from Wansfell Pike. Ambleside below: Coniston fells to left: Scafell/Langdale group in the centre. Clare and Joe are there behind the guy in red.

Date completed: 20th May 2012 (with Clare and Joe)

Weather conditions:  A beautiful morning: not just the best weather for a walk in a long time, but the best day in a long time, full stop.  Clouded over slightly later on but remained very pleasant.

Fells climbed: Wansfell (1597’, no. 176).

Distance:  4.29 miles. The third-shortest walk so far. Well, I’d gone up Scafell Pike the previous day, have mercy on me. (I have thighs of iron… and the knees of a middle-aged man.)

Woods below Wansfell

A glorious spring morning in the woods below Wansfell Pike.

Total ascent: 1585 feet

Start and end points: Started in Ambleside town centre. Finished at the bus stop near the Queen’s Head in Troutbeck, on the A591, served by the #508 bus linking Penrith and Windermere (on summer weekends only).

Pub at end:  Good news: there are two pubs in Troutbeck. On this route you pass the Mortal Man first, then the Queen’s Head is just near where the lane through Troutbeck village meets the main A591. I have to say, though, that at neither was the beer of top quality, and the Queen’s Head seems to consider itself more of a restaurant than a pub. They were both OK, however, and at least, were new territory at this late stage of the project.

New lambs at Troutbeck

New lambs chilling out at Troutbeck.

Route card: Click here to download a route card which includes an elevation profile (how hilly the walk is), waypoints with grid references, and a summary map. Route card for walk 57: Ambleside to Troutbeck

Route: Not a hard one to describe. Getting out of Ambleside the right way is the most awkward section. We took Old Lake Road up from the town centre, but don’t turn up the first road on the left (Gale Park): this ends in a cul-de-sac with no right of way through to the fell – as one of the elderly residents politely, but firmly, pointed out (anticipating, rather than responding to, any attempt of ours to assert such a right of way, I would add). The road you want is Blue Hill Road.

(Note, it is also possible to start this walk by way of Stock Ghyll Force, which will provide additional visual entertainment: it should not be too hard to work out a route by looking at the OS Map in this case.)

Blue Hill Road turns into a path going up through the woods, which just follow until it ends at a gate where another path heads off to the right, up the hill. Just keep going up this and it will deposit you on Wansfell Pike a thousand feet or so further up. It’s not too bad a climb, and the views behind you are ample compensation.

View of the quarry above Kirkstone Pass

View of the quarry above Kirkstone Pass, from Wansfell Pike.

Wansfell Pike is a worthy objective for a short walk, but it’s not the summit of the fell, which lies about a mile away along the ridge to the north.  (Here I definitely think there is a case for these two summits in fact being treated as separate fells: but Mr Wainwright says no, so there you are.) Although not a bad walk in itself, the path has some steeper ups and downs than might be expected, a couple of boggy bits, and there is also a sense that you are leaving the best view behind. (And you’d be right.)

From the true summit cairn, head to the east, where a path leads down the side of the wall, and makes a right angle turn with that wall to head for the top of Nanny Lane, with its very tall ladder stile. The first section of this lane is rather wet, but once it meets the path coming over from Wansfell Pike, the surface improves. Just follow this all the way down to the road through Troutbeck.

The end of Nanny Lane

The end of Nanny Lane – and its very tall ladder stile.

The Mortal Man pub is then to the left: note that if you leave the lane to go down to the pub you need to climb back up to it afterwards, then carry on down it to the bus stop a few hundred yards further on, where the lane meets the main A591. Be careful of traffic on this road, particularly if you walk down it the short way to the Queen’s Head.

Spring sunshine commentary stuff: The reason for coming to Ambleside this weekend in particular was that Clare was originally booked in to do the Windermere marathon, which was running today, but she dropped out of that some time ago. She’s disappointed, but walking today was some minor recompense. I knew I would not be up for doing anything major, not after yesterday, but I feel OK: the knee being the main barometer, and that is at the better end of the scale (as opposed to the ‘rusty hinge’ end).

View on the ascent.

Clare and Joe on the ascent. Blimey! It’s spring, finally!

Anyway, there was no way I was staying indoors this morning because it really was a glorious day, the finest in weeks: sun, blue skies, say about 18-19ºC.  Options are limited mainly by what I have left to bag, but also that there are limits to what all of us, in our different ways, are prepared to do physically; we’re also carrying a night’s luggage and a lunch between the two packs.

Wansfell is the best option; it could have been tacked onto another walk, and bagged at the start or finish of the ridge which links it to Caudale Moor; but this is a very long walk, at 4.5 miles the longest defined ridge walk in the whole Pictorial Guide, in fact. It just doesn’t look a particularly attractive trek, so I take the decision to do it on its own with this short hop over to Troutbeck.

Coming down to Troutbeck village.

Coming down to Troutbeck village. I can’t remember what tree it is that buds bright yellow at this time of year – but there are a lot of them around this point.

Despite various minor complaints of various kinds from the other family members and (towards the latter half of the walk) my feet, the climb up to Wansfell Pike is not so bad and the views, ample compensation. There are now only two fells in clear sight that I have not yet done (Crinkle Crags and Caudale Moor), and as we sit at the top of the Pike in the sun, looking out over this fair landscape, I feel simultaneously very glad that I know it, and then a very mild sense of regret, that I have so little now left to do, and will soon have to be finding some other way of maintaining my association with the Lakes.

Wansfell’s true summit is less interesting, but does not add substantially to the effort required; we bag it then head down to Troutbeck. The original plan, to walk all the way back to Windermere station (another 3 or so miles from the village – see walk 7), has not lasted the day, but this does mean we end up having to hang around in Troutbeck for two hours; having two pubs to choose from does pass the time, but it’s a long wait and even then there’s another 45 minutes to pass in Windermere. But despite all that we are home by 7.30, and it’s been a good weekend.

Clare at the top of Wansfell Pike

Clare rests after the exertions of ascent. Well, the bits we can see of her are resting.


One Response to “Walk 57: Ambleside to Troutbeck”

  1. […] on Sunday, walk 57 took all three of us over the two summits of Wansfell (see picture); a short walk, but it bagged […]

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