Ambleside - Ascent of Wansfell
Wansfell Pike is probably the first Lakeland Fell most visitors to the District have a close up view of as they motor between Windermere and Ambleside. After passing Troutbeck Bridge it looms up to the right of the road. Through it does not possess the height and bulk of giants such as Skiddaw, Helvellyn and Scafell Pike ascending it from Ambleside entails a sustained and strenuous climb – not for the faint hearted or aging grandparents. In his “Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells” Wainwright lists 214 fells in seven volumes and for many walkers especially in the North West it is considered a challenge to climb them all. Add it to your bucket list starting with this route over Wansfell. When you return to Ambleside rewarding yourself with a cup of tea or something stronger reflect you’ll only have another 213 to complete the lot. 

Fact file



Start. Ambleside Centre Close to the Salutation Hotel LA22 9BX

Distance 7 miles (11k) with option of dropping to 6 miles (10k)

Time: 3 - 4 hours

Grade: Strenuous

Map: OS OL7 The English Lakes South Eastern section


 Map by kind permission of Johnston Press


1. From the main street (A591) locate Stockghyll Lane to the right of the Salutation on a sharp bend of the road.


Follow this uphill into woodland. It is well worth viewing Stockghyll Force to the left of the lane especially this time of year when it is full flood with winter rains.


Exit by the old turnstile turning left on the lane which soon passes through a gate to reach pastureland. In a little under 200yds turn right onto a footpath signposted for Wansfell and Troutbeck.


Now the serious climbing begins aided by a well maintained path - a stairway to heaven - well at least the top. How long it will take you from here will depend on your fitness level but it is safe to say that for most people this is a strenuous climb.


If there is any compensation then it will be there is little need to concern yourself with navigation the way is clear. More compensation can be gained from looking back at the view during pauses for breath - they are stunning.


As you reach the ridge the path climbs to the left


and then brings you to Wansfell Pike (1581ft 482m). This is a superb platform for viewing England's longest lake - Windermere.

2. There is now a choice - to follow the ridge wall to the highest part of it - Wansfell itself - or to continue on the footpath to Troutbeck. This second option is navigationally easy. Continuing on the path by which you came up descend to Nanny Lane - a wall enclosed track and follow it into Troutbeck. Returning to the first option which is not much more complicated follow the path with the ridge wall on the left

for just under a mile. A grassy hummock a little higher than the rest of the ridge denotes the highest point on it to the north of a corner formed by the second wall encountered on the traverse.


From here a right of way heads south


to join Nanny Lane


which leads down to Troutbeck.


3. Troutbeck is one of Lakeland's most attractive villages and is especially famed for the National Trust property of Town End a 17th century farmhouse. When you reach the end of Nanny Lane turn right onto the main street and keep on this as it brings you to the post office on your right in half a mile. (Though Troutbeck is a small village it is a long one!) Just beyond it bear right onto a track which is Robin Lane.


This quickly leaves the village as it gains height.


In ½ mile it crosses a junction - stay right and in ¾ reaches a divide in the track stay left on a track signposted to Ambleside and Jenkin Crag.


This descends to a meeting of tracks at a stream.


Cross the stream and note the signpost indicating you are at the midway point between Ambleside and Troutbeck. Keep on track to the farmstead of High Skelghyll. After passing through its yard


follow a path taking you into Skelghyll Wood.


Part way along on the left look out for the sign for Jenkin Crag.


This is one of the Lake District's most popular viewpoints. Taking in the northern end of Windermere looking west towards the Langdale Valley and the Coniston Range it is a place that trippers to Ambleside can manage if they are not up for Wansfell Pike.


On re-joining the path continue downhill until you pick up the lane leading into the southern end of Ambleside.