A Christmas Wansfell Wander

23rd December 2017

It's the last get together of 2017 for the trio and with a dreary damp forecast what way to end the year than a walk over Wansfell, a walk in which all three of us felt it was just the right thing to do given the conditions. 2017 has been another fantastic year on the fells, a more relaxed year than my previous two which I aim to change early next year by completing the Birkett Fells from start to finish, these alongside the Outlying Fells should see me keep out of trouble for the foreseeable. Besides actually walking the Birketts the website will see some slight changes which will coincide with a complete Birkett Fells list page and individual Fell Pages for each fell too which will mean an awful lot of website preparation before I set foot on an offical Birkett walk.

Well, that's what I have in store for 2018 but lets get back to the present. It was David who initially suggested Wansfell for a pre Christmas walk and it didn't take much convincing for Rod and I to follow despite Rod walking an almost identical route just three weeks earlier. For me I will always remember Wansfell as the last summit of a gruelling 15 mile 9 summit walk during the Summer of 2016 when during my Wainwrights in 30 project I arrived at the summit clearly exhausted, sweaty and dehydrated to groups of families and dog walkers who were enjoying the view over Windermere, today whilst stood back at the summit not being able to see 30 yards out I remembered that day and we shared a laugh but besides that Wansfell for me, is just this, it's that last walk before Christmas where three friends could share a laugh, poke fun at one another whilst sharing the last walk of 2017 together.

It was always going to be Wansfell.

Wainwright Guide Book Two
The Far Eastern Fells


Caudale Moor sends of three distinctive ridges to the south, and the most westerly and longest of the three descends to a wide depression (crossed by the Kirkstone road) before rising and narrowing along the undulating spur that finally falls to the shores or Windermere. This spur is Wansfell.


Ascent: 2,100 Feet - 640 Metres
Wainwrights: Wansfell Pike
Weather: Overcast, Low Cloud and Drizzle for the Duration. Highs of 9°C Lows of 8°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Miller Bridge, Ambleside
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 7.1
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL7
Time Taken: 4 Hours 15 Minutes
Route: Miller Bridge - Ambleside – Stockghyll Lane - Stockghyll Force - Wansfell Pike – Nanny Lane – Troutbeck – Robin Lane – High Skelgyll – Skelghyll Wood – Ambleside - Miller Bridge

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA22 9LJ
Grid Reference: NY 371 104
Notes: A popular place to park is the narrow road leading up towards Miller Bridge, Ambleside. Here you will find immediate access to Rothay Park, Ambleside, Loughrigg Fell, The Fairfield Group and Wansfell. Despite there being ample parking spaces for twenty cars plus the popularity of Miller Bridge means the spaces can fill up quickly especially during peak season such as Summer. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Miller Bridge, Ambleside 08:25am 8°C

We had arranged to meet at 08:30am at Miller Bridge just outside Ambleside, I arrived first to find the lane full of parked cars and motorhomes leaving only two spaces left, oh crap. Rod arrived next grabbing the last available space meaning David would have to park a good half mile back which I guess was no real hardship but it would have been nice to have parked the cars together, we saw David's car approach when exactly at the same time a van that had been parked up manoeuvered out and David quickly grabbed the space, it was quite comical to see and it reminded me of something from a 'Mr Bean' movie!

It's incredibly mild for the time of year and we all half expected to be kitting up in the rain as the forecasters had predicted, which I wasn't too bothered about as I'd treated myself to a new pair of Beghaus Deluge over trousers after my current pair which are not only too big but are also showing the test of time. With the waterproofs packed into our packs we lock the cars, cross the Rathay and enter a deserted Rathay Park followed by an equally deserted Ambleside.

We head right at the top of the street and then left at the sign posted Stockghyll Force soon leaving the sound of any traffic behind. The forecast was for low cloud to linger between 300 - 600 metres and it was doing just that, it was quite hypnotic, however to watch the cloud slowly peel away from the wooded lower slopes of Wansfell only moments later for the mist to return again. It was here David mentioned that while driving over the top of Dunmail Raise it was clear blue skies overhead and he couldn't believe how low the cloud was once he arrived in Ambleside but I guess that's the unpredictable Lakeland climate in Winter for you.

Stockghyll Force.
Lots of water about here today.

The original Victorian revolving gate in Stockghyll Park.
Victorians would have visited the waterfalls after leaving Ambleside most probably on Horseback, here they would dismount and pay their penny before entering via this revolving gate, the gate mechanism feels as smooth today as it did when it was new.

Fresh carnations close to the summit left for a loved one.

Wansfell summit.
Since leaving Stockghyll Park we could see that the cloud was going nowhere lingering as low as 800ft in places and it was pretty much the same in every direction we looked in a 360 degree panorama. Oddly and just for a few moments David spotted a glimpse of sunshine over Easedale and we could see the white falls of Sourmilk Gill, other than the best part of the ascent was done in cloud.

Looking back on Wansfell from Nanny Lane.
At the summit we were joined by a fell runner and her dog who appeared out of nowhere through the mist, then two more fell runners who pass with a hello each. Our visibility was still around 30 yards but once Nanny Lane was reached the cloud cleared momentarily allowing a brief glimpse back at the summit with even a hint of blue sky beyond, it did not last and soon our visibility deteriorated leaving our descent into Troutbeck under the cover of thick cloud once again, this we all agreed, only added to the drama.


Descending Nanny Lane into Troutbeck.
The gravel chippings underfoot was the topic of conversation for much of the descent mainly because of how inadequate they are during Winter (and Summer for that matter) when the gravel had been washed away leaving deep ruts carved into the path, it simply wasn't fit for purpose more so when we reached High Fold Farm at the junction with Nanny Lane which was asking for donations to help repair the path, obviously it was a known ongoing issue and we were surprised that the owner of the farm had to resort to asking for donations without the help of local authorities.


Troutbeck roof tops.
The summit of Sour Howes on the opposite side of the valley is still well below the cloud line as we approach midday, maybe it's time for a spot of dinner.

Looking down on Robin Lane, Troutbeck.

A rare glimpse of sunlight as we prepare to stop for lunch.


Lunch with a view.
We came to a stop at a viewing bench just off Robin Lane, it was exactly midday and by luck the sun had made an appearance too, the forecasters had predicted strong winds in the valleys and ardous conditions over the summits, neither of which we had experienced so far, as you can see things were pretty peaceful with this grand view over looking the valley but the peace doesn't last as the blue skies make way for dark rain clouds.

'To remember the sheepdogs of Troutbeck 2006'

Sunshine on Robin Lane.

Looking over Low Skelghyll towards High Skelghyll.

Skelghyll beauties.

Between the brightness of a mid afternoon warm sun the showers arrived first bright and squally before persistent drizzle ensued and we all took a soaking, this nor the low cloud forecast didn't put anyone else of either passing dozens of walkers and families enjoying their own pre-Christmas walk most of whom were probably here to stay over the Christmas break.

After passing through Skelghyll Wood we descended back into Ambleside and with that, reality along with the hustle of Christmas shoppers and blokes canvasing wearing Elf costumes all in the spirit of Christmas. We retraced our steps through the town and into Rothay Park and finally back to the cars where we stood like three blokes would and said "be in touch, see you next year"

I would like to take this opportunity to thank each and everyone of you for being part of this website and would like to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year !!


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