Start: Ambleside, Cumbria
End: Ambleside, via Troutbeck and Waterhead
Distance: 8.5 miles
Ascent: 2,000 feet
Time: 8 hours, including a lovely pub lunch at The Mortal Man in Troutbeck
Getting there: Nearest train station is Windermere, which has frequent bus connections to Ambleside.
Food and loos: Mortal Man in Troutbeck, which is just beyond half way through the walk.
Terrain: Good paths to Wansfell Pike, then mildly boggy, undulating ground along the ridge to Baystones. Easy walking to Troutbeck; terrain only becoming mildly challenging at Skelgale Wood due to the wet rocky descent.
Difficulty: 2 – steep climb to Wansfell and an easy decent to Troutbeck; paths obvious throughout; trickier walking in Skelgale Woods can be avoided.
Wainwrights: 1 – Baystones.
Starting from Ambleside, this walk takes you up passed Stockghyll Force – a waterfall feeding Windermere. The way to the falls are clearly marked, and this first stretch is easy walking. After leaving the woods, and going through a small gate that points the way to Troutbeck, the climbing starts in earnest. The path is simple and obvious, mostly stone pitched steps. The 1,000 feet ascent in next to no time will probably leave you a little out of puff. I had to stop a couple of times for a breather. On the climb up, you get some fantastic views of Red Screes, and the Fairfield horseshoe just beyond.
Most people headed straight from the top to Wansfell Pike on the path to Troutbeck, but we headed on the less well trodden path to Baystones – the Wainwright peak. After a few undulations, a little bit of boggy ground and one dead sheep, we arrived at Baystones in the worst conditions of the day. Visibility was very poor – but having looking at photos online the view from Wansfell Pike is much better anyway!
After the selfies by the modest summit cairn, we headed down into Troutbeck. The path is obvious, and the descent is easy. The majority of the descent is on an old drove road called Nanny Lane. This type of road used to be all over the countryside, allowing drovers to move livestock from one place to the other. Fascinating history, and the original the modern work “driver”. The best views heading into Troutbeck are of Sour Howes, which did look particularly sour today.
After a nice lunch in Troutbeck, we started the walk back to Ambleside via Robin Lane. After a bit of a slog along tarmac, you eventually get some nice views of Windermere. The only tricky section came at the end of Skelghyll Woods, where the damp rocks have a shine and a tricky enough incline to make them something to take your time over. After this you are back at Waterhead, and only a few minutes along the busy road to Ambleside.