Lake District: Ambleside trekking

Wansfell Pike Ridge

Nestled up in the northwest corner of England is Cumbria, home of the Lake District National Park. With its spectacular rugged mountains and glacial lakes this scenic area is popular with both walkers and holidaymakers alike.

Making the most of the Easter break we were able to enjoy 4 nights away without taking any annual leave. Our friend Mark picked us up and the 3 of us headed up to the historic town of Ambleside which is at the top of Lake Windermere, England’s largest lake.

Lake Windermere from Loughrigg Fell

Day 1: Loughrigg Fell

Walking directly from our accommodation in Ambleside, Mark led us up to Loughrigg Fell which is a ‘Wainwright’ and one of the easier Wainwrights to summit. Alfred Wainwright was a fell walker who published a series of 7 books documenting 214 Lake District peaks; these are used as a reference and many people attempt to climb all of them (‘peak baggers’). At 978 m, Scafell Pike is the highest.

We had a leisurely day doing a circular walk which took us to the peak of Loughrigg Fell which, at just 335 m is number 211 of 214 Wainwrights. And incidentally, a ‘fell’ is another word for ‘mountain’.

Loughrigg Fell

Being Good Friday, with close proximity to Ambleside and with relatively low hills to climb, there was quite a few people exploring Loughrigg Fell. Tourist numbers increased dramatically when we reached the man-made Rydal Cave!

Rydal Water

Part of a former slate quarry, Rydal Cave is a 20-30 minute walk from Ambleside so was busy! I managed to frame the picture below by carefully missing all manner of kids, dogs and adults splashing around in the waters of the cave. We walked quickly past and back into Ambleside.

Rydal Cave

Day 2: Circular from Ambleside – Sweden Bridge – Scandale Fell – Red Screes – Ambleside

High Sweden Bridge

Following yesterday’s warm-up walk, today was a bit tougher! Again, setting off from our Ambleside accommodation, this time we walked to the northern edge of the town and set off on the footpath towards Scandale Valley.

Our first stop was at High Sweden Bridge. This is a packhorse bridge thought to date back to the late 1700s and was on the original main route between Patterdale and Ambleside before the Kirkstone Pass was built.

Scandale Valley

The footpath (above) started with a gentle ascent through Scandale Valley and became steeper as we climbed into the mountains straight ahead.

Chris having a rest!

We reached the top of the valley and turned towards the right to begin the next part of the ascent towards Red Screes. While boggy in places, there was no loose scree and few boulders to deal with and so this part of the walk wasn’t too difficult.

The summit of Red Screes! At 776 m, this was over twice as high as Loughrigg Fell yesterday and offered panoramic views.

View from Red Screes

Hiking back down to Ambleside!

Day 3: Troutbeck and Wansfell Pike

Lake Windermere

For the third day, following another hearty breakfast we set off from our accommodation and this time made our way down to the shores of Lake Windermere. As mentioned, Lake Windermere is the largest natural lake in England and is 10.5 miles long and one mile wide. There are several boat trips available if you wish to experience this glacial lake on the water.

Wild garlic

From Lake Windermere we crossed the A591 and ventured into the ancient Skelghyll Woods via a path lined with wild garlic.

Lake Windermere

As we climbed the woodland track we arrived at Jenkin Crag where scenic views of Lake Windermere opened up.

Walking towards Troutbeck

With Mark leading the way we identified the track which took us through fields and arrived at the pretty village of Troutbeck.

Picturesque Troutbeck

We were fortunate to have sunny weather and enjoyed a drink and a piece of cake while sitting outside on the benches of The Old Post Office tearoom.

From Troutbeck we turned towards Wansfell Pike and walked up a steep track as we climbed higher towards the ridge.

The Wainwright of Wansfell Pike is called ‘Baystones’ and has an elevation of 487 m.

Lake Windermere from Wansfell Pike
Starting our descent back to Ambleside

The first 200 meters was the steepest part.

While relatively steep, we made our way back down the stone steps to Ambleside.

Evenings in Ambleside

The Bridge House

Our accommodation was in an excellent location in the heart of Ambleside which meant we were spoilt for choice when it came to evening meals.

Ambleside

The building on the right is Zeffirellis where we had a fabulous meal on our final night.

Starter: Stilton souffle

Chris and I are mainly vegetarians and were spoilt for choice with the extensive vegetarian menu at Zeffirellis.

Main: Vegetable Wellington

We also had wonderful evening meals in: The Flying Fleece; Matthews Bistro and the Jintana Thai which are all highly recommended. We would advise booking a table in advance at each restaurant especially during holiday times like Easter.

Accommodation

We spent 4 nights in the Claremont House Bed & Breakfast which was fantastic! With excellent breakfasts each morning, super friendly and helpful hosts and a clean, comfortable room with hot powerful shower I would score a 10 on Booking.com. Although we didn’t book with them on this occasion – we booked directly with the B & B on their website – we would certainly not hesitate to book another stay there.

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