Sometimes a simple linear mountain walk is what's required, and this may fit that requirement admirably. The climb to Wansfell Pike over looking the town of Ambleside is steep but stone pitched for much of the way. Missed turns or navigationally challenging moments are quite unlikely. Even in the winter there is a steady stream of people ascending to the craggy top although a good deal fewer make the trek to the summit of Wansfell itself at the other end of the ridge. No matter - if you have no interesting in completing a tick list the views from the Pike are simply breathtaking and well worth the effort.
Stockghyll Force which you can visit on the way is on a tributary of the River Rothay, draining eventually into Windermere, it has a heavily industrialised past and used to be nicknamed Rattle Ghyll. Many of the old mill buildings whose wheels it used to turn can still be seen in Ambleside. Some are used as shops. They used to produce bobbins for silk and cotton thread, or to process wool so it was warm and tough, as well as grinding corn.
Note with care that the Wainwright of Wansfell is called Baystones and is clearly shown in Far Eastern Fells on page "Wansfell 4" as being on the south side of the wall crossing the ridge, where the Birkett of Wansfell is on the north side. Interestingly the OS 25K map displays a spot height of 487m (536 yards) north of the wall. Which one(s) you visit is up to you, enjoy though!
Parking in Ambleside is reasonably plentiful although it does get busy at holiday times. There is the main car park above the town centre on the A591 towards Rydal. And for longer stays the Miller Field car park at the bottom end of town is large and often has space when the other has filled up. There are a couple of smaller car parks dotted around too.
If you need accommodation we have details of 86 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
The walk starts outside the Tourist Information centre at the top of the town centre outside which you will find a stone pillar on a three stepped octagonal base with 1651 carved into the top of it. Head south east following the one way system and as the road swings around to the right continue forward down a narrow lane signposted "toilets".
As you reach the toilets a sign on the wall in front of you declares "To the Waterfalls", pointing left, and a sign on the wall to your left says "Stockghyll" and "Wansfell Pike". Bear left to follow the lane up the hill and then round to the right. Stockghyll is now on your left.
In 500m (550 yards) bear left for the entrance to Stockghyll Woods.
Follow the rough path through the woods. Bear right, keeping the beck on your left, and follow the red arrow marker posts. There are a few precarious viewing places protected by fencing. Nearing the top, before the bridge, bear right at the picnic bench and sign to the revolving gate.
Go through the gate and out onto the road. Turn left and carry on up the hill. Cross the cattle grid.
In 250m (275 yards) climb up the stone steps on your right to the stile, with dog gate, it is signposted "Footpath to Troutbeck via Wansfell Pike". Follow the path beyond up beside the beck to the gate at the top of the field. Go through and bear left to the bottom of the stone pitch path climbing the fellside.
Go through the gate and bear left onto the stone pitched path. It zigzags steeply at times up the bracken covered hillside.
Cross the beck by the wooden footbridge.
Once the few trees are left behind the views are unimpeded across Ambleside to the Coniston fells, the Langdale Pikes, and closer in is much of the Fairfield Horseshoe.
Continue following the stone pitched path, go through the gap in the wall, to the large cairn at the junction below the Pike.
Bear left to continue on the path.
Reaching what appears to the rocky top go through the gate in the fence to the actual top of Wansfell Pike. There is no cairn here.
To continue to Wansfell, marked as Baystones on the OS maps, bear left from the gate and follow a narrow path with the wall to your left.
Continue along the the undulating ridge heading north-east.
Reaching the cross wall climb the stone step stile.
In a further 250m (275 yards) the ridge veers slightly more northerly, and shortly after the path gradually bears away, right, from the wall to approach the small cairn of Baystones, or Wainwright's Wansfell.
(If you're a bagger then Birkett's Wansfell, which we didn't visit, is to the north east of you on the other side of the wall.)
Return to the Pike by retracing your steps back to the wall and following it along the ridge, keeping it now on your right.
Reaching the gate go back through and bear right to locate the top of the path descending all the way back down to the stile and Stockghyll Lane.
Turn left and continue back into Ambleside.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Loughrigg Fell from Ambleside||10m (11 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Tarn||10m (11 yards) away|
|Stockghyll Force - Ambleside||14m (15 yards) away|
|High Sweden Bridge Circular||14m (15 yards) away|
|Red Screes and Middle Dodd from Ambleside||22m (24 yards) away|
|Wansfell Pike, Troutbeck, and Skelghyll Wood||28m (31 yards) away|
|Lily Tarn above Ambleside||53m (58 yards) away|
|An Ambleside Waterfalls Wander - Stockghyll Force and Blue Hill Wood||58m (64 yards) away|
|The Fairfield Horseshoe||186m (205 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Rydal||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Nab Scar and Alcock Tarn||2.0km (1.3 miles) away|
|Red Bank from White Moss near Ambleside||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from White Moss||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|Troutbeck Tongue||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Sour Howes and Sallows||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|Grasmere and Rydal Water||4.8km (2.9 miles) away|
|Helm Crag||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|A circuit of Grasmere||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Alcock Tarn||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|An Elterwater Stroll||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Waterfalls and the Cathedral Cavern, from Elterwater||4.9km (3.0 miles) away|
|Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011