When we left Townend, the sun was shining, it was only around noon, and we had a map—not as good as an Ordinance map, but a map nonetheless. It was time for Mr. M to finally get his big hike. So we continued up Bridge Lane, intending to scale Wansfell Pike, a climb of about 1500 feet, and head down the other side to Ambleside, Waterhead, and a boat back to Bowness. But I confess I was a little concerned: our map had an ominous message in an orange box and bold lettering: WARNING—Wansfell Pike is high and exposed. In bad weather return to Ambleside by Robin Lane.
We came upon Robin Lane almost immediately, but, as I say, the sun was shining and it seemed like this was our golden opportunity, so we kept going. When we actually found the signpost for “Ambleside via Wansfell” and the turnoff for Nanny Lane as promised on the map, our adventure was clearly ordained. I was very happy that the path looked like a path and not a wide open field. Actually, I think this is still Nanny Lane, which I suspect means vehicles may drive on it.
But then we came to a crossroads. Looking at the map, it’s pretty clear that we were supposed to turn off Nanny Lane. I think there might even have been a signpost. But given our track record of getting lost at every opportunity, I was not about to venture off the more established path without some guarantee. Fortunately another couple was coming down the path we were about to embark on at just that moment. Mr. M. isn’t one to ask directions, but I have no such reservations. I was extremely happy to have confirmation that we were headed in the right direction, and a preview of the hike to come—steep, but manageable. I’ll admit I was extremely envious of the other couple’s hiking poles.
They somehow also knew immediately that we were from the States. I wonder how?
The path was always easy to discern, though sometimes I was a little appalled at what I saw. The footing was extremely rocky—I had a very good idea where all the stones came from for the houses and the fences we'd seen.
And I was very happy I’d chosen the hiking boots with some ankle support.
But Mr. M and I agreed, after the hike was over, that the approach from Troutbeck was much less daunting than the one from Ambleside.
We kept stopping to take pictures (and I’ll admit I didn’t mind a moment to catch my breath and let my heart stop pounding), but then we’d tell each other that the pictures were sure to be better from the summit. Which they were. Here’s proof I made it to the top.
I think Mr. M might have had his camera settings off a bit—he’d sometimes accidently set the camera to nighttime as he was getting it out of his bag—because I don’t remember it being that dark up there.
Here’s Lake Windermere and I think—after consulting the Ordinance map in the comfort of my home in the States—Blelham Tarn (the little body of water toward the center of the picture).
Here’s Ambleside on the other side of the mountain.
As you can see, the footing going down was rather rocky.
I wasn’t entirely sure I could make it, but I certainly didn’t want to retrace my steps. And I think going down a mountain is always harder than going up—at least when you aren’t doing real mountain climbing. (I’ve never done that—and probably never will.) So the first 10 feet or so, I did pretty much sitting on my rump, stretching my feet out, searching for a solid foothold, and then doing it again.
This photo doesn’t give you a real sense of the challenge—I was too busy holding onto the mountain to take pictures when I was in the process of easing down to a place I could stand—but here I am pointing back the way we’d come.
And here I am looking down at the folks coming up from Ambleside. Can you see them? There are two folks sort of near the wall, one wearing green and the other blue, and farther down the path there are two more, one in red and one in white. The last two I had to really zoom into the picture to make out.
And here’s looking up from the Ambleside side—you can see two people up on the summit. That’s where we were!
As we made our way down to Ambleside, we came into a woods, Stock Ghyll Park where we found Stock Gyll Force. You can view the waterfall from the bridge as well as use it to cross over the stream.
It had rained recently, and the trail was a bit muddy, but we managed. Here’s Mr. M capturing the waterfall on film…well, I suppose that’s pixels now, isn’t it?
And I was there, too.
I took a bunch of pictures of rushing water and bridges, but perhaps the video here gives you a better idea of the waterfall and park. We didn’t see some of what he mentions, perhaps because we came down from Wansfell Pike, not up from Ambleside. And since it had been very rainy, I’m not sure that all the park was open—you can see behind Mr. M in the bridge picture that some temporary fencing was in place. Below may be the sluices he mentions.
We were very happy to get on the boat at Waterhead and sit down to sail back to Bowness. We think this might be Wansfell Pike—that grassy, rocky peak sticking up above the trees—as seen from Lake Windermere, but we aren’t really sure.