One of the most popular Ambleside Walks is to climb to the summit of Wansfell where the views over lake Windermere are outstanding.
The walk can just be to the summit of Wansfell but a popular alternative is to descend the far side of the hill to Troutbeck and return via the old roman road that runs between Troutbeck and Waterhead.
The shorter route up Wansfell
This starts from the car park opposite Hayes Garden Centre. Leave by the rear of the car park and turn right into Old Lake Road. A few yards along a small lane leads off to the left. Follow this uphill and it eventually gives way to a rough track that climbs through the woods.
Your first real view comes at Jenkin Crag. Leave the main path here and walk over to the top of the crag and you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking vista of Windermere below. Return to the track and continue along to High Skelghyll Farm. Once through the farm, descend down to the cattle grid, then go through the small gate on the left and climb again on a footpath this time until the path joins another wide track. This is Hundreds lane and this part of the walk now follows the Windermere Way over Wansfell and back to Ambleside. Take a sharp left here and easy walking along the lane brings you out by a little waterfall. Depending on the weather this can be quite attractive but dries to a trickle if there hasn’t been any rain.
The track does a ‘U’ turn here but look out for the ‘Permissive Path’ sign before crossing the little bridge. Follow the path across this field and the next and you’ll join the main descent route to Troutbeck. Go through the kissing gate and it a straightforward if steep at times, climb to the top.
The descent route goes down the obvious path on the far side and although steep is quite straightforward. Once back at the road, look out for the turning into Stockghyll on the right. Walking down through the woods is preferable to the road and the waterfalls are spectacular after rain.
Wansfell and Troutbeck
A slightly longer version of the Wansfell walk, this route takes in the pretty village of Troutbeck. Start at the Market Cross in Ambleside, walk south, turn left at the bank and head up Stockghyll lane. A short way up a path on the left leads in to Stockghyll woods. This path rejoins the road a short way up but the diversion to see the waterfalls is worthwhile. Once back on the road, keep climbing till the road crosses a cattle grid. Shortly after take the path on the right, which climbs steeply at times, to the summit of Wansfell.
The views from Wansfell are extensive with all of the southern fells laid out before you and Windermere far below stretching out to the horizon. Linger on the top awhile then start the descent on the opposite side. The path is steep but not difficult. Go through a couple of kissing gates and turn right on to the walled track. Follow this down till it emerges on the road in Troutbeck.
The route at this point turns right and takes you through Troutbeck village, however if refreshments are called for then the Mortal Man or the Queens Head may beckon. In this case turn left. The Mortal Man is about a quarter of a mile along the road, the Queens Head a little bit further. Suitably refreshed, return to the route and continue through Troutbeck till you get to the Post Office. It’s interesting to note the number of wells along the side of the road in Troutbeck, a reminder of days when transport was on legs rather than wheels.
Most people will leave the road here and head up the track by the side of the post office. If you do, you’ll miss one of the Troutbeck’s best preserved buildings the National Trust owned, Town End. This is open to the public in season and is in itself worth the visit. I particularly like the barn across the road which forms a part of the property. To include Town End on your walk, continue down the road for a couple of hundred yards and you’ll pass right by it.
There’s no need to return to the post office, just continue down the road for another couple of hundred yards till another track opens up on the right and take this, rather steeply, I’m afraid back up hill to where it joins the track coming in from the Post Office. We’re now following the roughly the route of the old Roman Road which linked Galava at Ambleside with the roman fort at Penrith. Of note along here is a sturdy cairn on the hillside overlooking the Lake. this is in fact not a cairn but a ‘Station’ created by Thomas West one of the earliest guide book writers to visit the Lakes.
A hundred yards or so past here, the path forks, take the left hand route, signposted Skelghyll and Ambleside. Drop down this path to join the farm road, turn right and walk up the road to Skelghyll Farm. Go through the farmyard and follow the track opposite. This returns you gently down to Ambleside. Look out for the turning to Jenkin Crag on the way down for a last view of the lake.