This is a popular and beautiful walk. It includes a good climb up to Wansfell Pike overlooking the town of Ambleside, with stunning views of the Coniston Fells, round to the Fairfield Horseshoe and Red Screes. The village of Troutbeck, and a walk back through Skelghyll woods, adds a finishing flourish.
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.
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.
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.
Cross over the summit area and follow the path the other side bearing slightly left. This rough path is easily followed through the maze of hummocks, an occasional boggy patch has stepping stones, there's even a footbridge over a small beck.
Reaching the wall go through the gate and continue straight ahead.
At the next gate, go through into the lane and turn right. This is Nanny Lane, follow it all the way down to the road at Troutbeck.
Reaching the road turn right, walk through the village, past three wells: Margaret's, St James', and St John's.
At the Post Office, which also does refreshments, bear right into Robin Lane. The signpost here does say "Public Bridleway Robin Lane" but it's rather old and covered in moss.
Climb up past the cottages on the tarmac lane, and continue on when the tarmac finishes leaving a rough stone track.
Passing a pillar on the sky line continue on another 150m (165 yards) and at the signpost to "Ambleside", bear left through the gate.
Descend on the track along the edge of the field, across a couple of small fords.
Passing the tumbledown ruins of a building on your left, follow the path as it swings left, descends above a narrow ravine and drops to the gate on the High Skelghyll Farm driveway.
Turn right, cross the cattle grid and up to the farm. Go into the farmyard and bear right to the gate. There is a small bridleway marker on the gate. Go through the gate, to the next gate and go through, bear left to keep on the path.
Continue to the gate into Skelghyll woods.
Keep on the track through the woods. In the spring you can't miss the pungent aroma of wild garlic. The viewpoint of Jenkin Crag is worth a quick visit. Continue on the track, and drop down to cross Stenkin Beck by the stone arch bridge. Bear left to drop alongside the beck a short way, past the massive Douglas Fir, and then swing right to stay on the track.
Keep on the track, past the private entrance to Skelghyll Woods, after a while the lane becomes tarmacked. Continue on down to Ambleside. At the road junction, bear right and climb slightly up keeping parallel to the the main road. Dropping down back down to the main road opposite the shops bear right and return to the town centre and Tourist Information Centre.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Wansfell, and Wansfell Pike||28m (31 yards) away|
|Red Screes and Middle Dodd from Ambleside||30m (33 yards) away|
|Lily Tarn above Ambleside||30m (33 yards) away|
|Stockghyll Force - Ambleside||31m (34 yards) away|
|High Sweden Bridge Circular||31m (34 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Tarn||36m (40 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Ambleside||36m (40 yards) away|
|An Ambleside Waterfalls Wander - Stockghyll Force and Blue Hill Wood||86m (95 yards) away|
|The Fairfield Horseshoe||211m (232 yards) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from Rydal||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|Nab Scar and Alcock Tarn||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Red Bank from White Moss near Ambleside||3.3km (2.1 miles) away|
|Loughrigg Fell from White Moss||3.5km (2.1 miles) away|
|Troutbeck Tongue||3.9km (2.4 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 (3.0 miles) away|
|Helm Crag||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|A circuit of Grasmere||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Stone Arthur, Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Alcock Tarn||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|An Elterwater Stroll||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Waterfalls and the Cathedral Cavern, from Elterwater||4.9km (3.1 miles) away|
|Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Gibson Knott and Helm Crag||5.0km (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