Lake District walk - Wansfell and Troutbeck Circuit
PUBLISHED: 00:00 12 October 2016
Escape the hurly-burly of Ambleside and take a hike to some of the region’s most stunning viewpoints. John Lenehan reports
The village of Ambleside can be described in many ways. Quaint, well yes that could be one way. A Mecca for outdoor gear shoppers could be another, or maybe a Lakeland jewel at the north end of Windermere surrounded by magnificent high fells.
I find all of them to be true and have enjoyed many happy visits. I could have decided to do a walk from there to the lake or maybe a saunter to Grasmere and back on nice low level paths, but this is fell country and the best place to view the Lake District is from the top of one.
Ambleside has two cracking, very achievable fells that can be climbed from virtually the village centre. One is Loughrigg and the other is Wansfell. I decided on the latter and made it a nice circular walk that includes reaching the summit.
From the start the climb up to Wansfell summit is all uphill with steep roads at first then a really steep, tough climb on a path to the top. It is not a race though, and there are plenty of stops to admire the views and ease the pain. Most people get to the top and reverse the route back to Ambleside and that in itself makes a fine adventure for first time fell climbers. Pick a good clear day and take a camera to capture the panorama you will see from the top.
1. Take the road Stockghyll Lane to the right of the Salutation Hotel car park entrance then follow this as it turns left behind the hotel. The road climbs steeply but keep following it until a stile appears on the right.
Note: If you feel that the climb up to Wansfell isn’t for you then a really nice walk can be had by visiting the waterfalls of Stockghyll Force in the woods on the left as you walk up the road.
2. The stile has a sign on it saying Troutbeck via Wansfell. Cross the stile and then begin the steep climb. There is another stile to go through and after this stone anti-erosion steps have been made and these ease the climbing a little. It is worth stopping every so often to admire the views. As the summit is approached, the path bears left under the craggy top then up and right to bring you onto the summit proper.
3. Wansfell Summit is 482m/1582ft. The views are stunning but I will refrain from writing about them and leave the beauty to the beholder. It is far better to see them first hand than read anything I might say. Behind the summit there is a steel gate stile. Cross this and keep straight on and follow the very good path on open fell as it begins the long descent towards Troutbeck. The good news is that the path isn’t as steep as the climb.
4. The path reaches a stile in a wall, cross this and turn right into Nanny Lane a wide wall sided track. Follow this and eventually it drops steeply down to join the main road.
5. Join the road and turn right then follow the road as it passes the houses of the village. Eventually the village hall appears on the right with a clock on its wall. It says Annie’s Clock.
Note: When you join the road from Nanny Lane instead of turning right you could turn left and not far up the road is the Mortal Man Pub. A pint and a snack here could make for a pleasant diversion. Thirst slaked, continue the walk by simply retracing back to the foot of Nanny Lane and then carry straight on.
Note: The original sign on the pub was painted by the fantastically named artist Julius Caesar Ibbotson.
6. Once past the village hall, a tarmac lane on right goes uphill away from the main road. There is a sign post saying ‘Skelghyll and Jenkin Crag to Ambleside’. Follow the lane and eventually the tarmac gives way to a stony track that reaches two gates. Take the left hand gate following the sign that says Ambleside via Skelghyll Wood and Jenkin Crag and follow the track downhill going through two more gates on the way. Eventually two stile gates with a stream on the right lead into a semi tarmac road.
7. Turn right over a cattle grid and head slightly uphill towards a farm. There is a three way sign post, follow the sign that says ‘Public Bridle Path Ambleside’ and up to the farm of High Skelghyll.
8. Keep on the track as it passes the farm and a white cottage and on the immediate left of the cottage there is a gate with a footpath sign. Go through the gate and follow the track and then go through another gate and enter into a wood. This is Skelghyll Wood. Keep following the path through the woods.
9. On the left as you walk along the track there is a sign saying ‘Jenkin Crag View Point’. It is worth taking the short diversion but beware the sign that says ‘Steep Cliffs’. Yet another glorious view. Leave the viewpoint and retrace back to the track and keep following this down through the woods to where the path forks. The forks rejoin lower down but the straight-on route is steep so take the right fork down to the rejoining point. A little further on the path comes to a bridge. Cross over then turn left. Do not be tempted to take the path left before the bridge. Again the path splits but keep right. The path is a little indistinct for a few metres then opens out and eventually joins a tarmac road. Follow this and at the next junction keep right. The road parallels the main Windermere-Ambleside road then bends diagonally left to join the main road. Once on this turn right up to the Salutation Hotel at the top of the hill.
Note: Ambleside has been popular for a long time and was even visited by the Romans who had a fort here called Galava. Perhaps Julius Caesar Ibbotson was one of them!
Wansfell and Troutbeck Circuit
Start and Finish: Salutation Hotel Ambleside
Terrain: It’s good walking mostly on good paths and tracks and roads. Wear good boots and poles will help on the descent if you decide to come straight back
Distance: 6 miles / 9.65 Km
Map: OS Explorer 7 The English Lakes South Eastern Area.
Facilities: There are public toilets in Ambleside and an abundance of pubs and cafes.
Parking: There is all day parking on the major car parks.
There are so many cafes and pubs in Ambleside with so much choice it would be hard to pick one over the other. My favourite place to dine in Ambleside is Dodds Restaurant.
The Golden Rule pub is favourite refreshment point of many. The beer is superb.