Date - 20th January 2013 Distance - 7.75 miles
Ascent - GPS recorded 3180ft, but more likely about 2000ft
Map - OL7
Start point - Fisherbeck car park, Ambleside (NY 3772 0383)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Wansfell 1597 487 NY 4031 0514
Wansfell Pike 1581 482 NY 5370 0851



Allen had the iPad in paw and was tapping away, while Tetley and Little Eric had books and maps to paw.

Tetley said, "right, first off Allen, what does the weather look like for Sunday."

A few taps later he replied "it looks to be a dry day, but cold in any wind. The roads will be clear, but the fells will be covered in snow."

"Well it won't be the first or last time we have been walking in snow and ice on the paths will present an added difficulty, but Dad is experienced enough to cope", said Tetley.

"Now let me get this right" piped up Little Eric. "We need to do two summits on this next walk as part of the plan for you to achieve your 1000."

"Yes pal", replied Allen. "Doing that will leave me just two more. One will be Dunmallard Hill which will be another Outlyer bagged for you, and then the 1000th will be a repeat climb of Sellet Hill, near Kirkby Lonsdale. That was my very first summit and I wanted it to be my 1000th too."

Unnoticed Shaun and Grizzly had come in and stood patiently listening to the latter part of the conversation.

"I bring tea", said Shaun.

"And cake" added Grizzly. "For a complete change, I have made an orange flavoured sponge cake."

"Sounds just scrumptious", called out Tetley fetching the mugs and plates.

Allen assisted pouring the tea saying, " I was gasping, as I missed out on my morning cuppa."

Grizzly cut the cake and we all picked up a piece, and after sinking his teeth into it Little Eric said, "you've excelled yourself Grizzly, it is absolutely delicious. Please make it again."

"So", said Shaun, "we are looking to do two summits. Well, what would be best is to find two that will advance Little Eric's Birkett and Wainwright totals."

"Thanks", replied Little Eric, "that is most considerate."

We gathered round Allen, as he brought up the listing on our website and we then scanned down. "With the days being short, we want something fairly close to home", said Grizzly.

As we got down to the bottom, Tetley exclaimed, "got it. How about Wansfell whose highest point is a Wainwright and Birkett, with at the south end of its ridge Wansfell Pike, which is a Birkett top, neither of which Little Eric has climbed.

"Great idea", said Shaun, grabbing the map. "It is best climbed from Ambleside." Then looking at the Birkett almanac, he went on, to make it a round, he suggests climbing the Pike first then along to the highest point, and down into Troutbeck, returning via Skelghyll and Jenkin Crag."

"OK", said Allen,"if we are all agreed, I will go and see what Dad thinks."

"I'll make sure your mug is refilled, for when you come back", said Little Eric, as Allen trotted off.

Within a few minutes he was back, and accepting the steaming mug of tea gratefully, said, "Dad is happy to do those summits, but has suggested we do the walk in reverse, so that after we have bagged them both there will only be the matter of descending into Ambleside, rather than Troutbeck and having to walk all the way back via Skelghyll."

"Fine", replied Grizzly, "roll on Sunday."


The Walk

On Friday heavy snow fell over most of the country, but the north west and the Lakes had escaped, although the fells were snowbound from earlier falls. Setting off quite early, we drove to Ambleside, the last part being close to Windermere that like all the lakes was brim full. Hayes is a huge garden centre on the road into the town, and just opposite is Fisherbeck car park our start point.

While Dad was getting ready, Shaun said, "we need to walk back the way we have come, to take the first road on the left. This was in fact once the main road in and out of Ambleside and is called Old Lake Road."

A minute or so later Dad said, "I'm ready, so get yourselves settled in the rucksack."

So doing as Shaun instructed, we went left on Old Lake Road and then very soon took a narrow road right, clearly signed for our route.

This served a few houses and immediately climbed steadily. To the left the views of the fells above Ambleside opened out.

"I recognise the large mountain to the right, as Red Screes", said Little Eric. "I have climbed it twice too, the first time in very snowy conditions", he went on.

"Yes that was quite an exciting day", said Grizzly.

"However I am not sure of the fells away to the left", Little Eric then said.

"They are part of the Fairfield Horseshoe, being High Pike and Dove Crag", replied Tetley, helpfully.

Walking on, the route eventually became an unsurfaced track and we entered Skelghyll Wood. This is owned by the National Trust, a sign informing us that a series of works are being undertaken to improve the visitor experience of the woods.

"It says too, that tallest conifer in Cumbria, is in these woods", read out Allen.

We looked about and indeed there were quite a few very tall trees, although we could not decide from the contenders which one was actually the tallest!

"Maybe when the works are done, the National Trust will indicate which one it is", added Tetley.

The path climbed and meandered on, to then exit from the trees and suddenly was all covered in snow, so requiring more effort at times from Dad to make progress. To the right the view opened out over Windermere, looking rather dark and forbidding.

Shaun said, "that is the marina at Low Wood Hotel down to the left, while across the lake the snow covered hill is Latterbarrow, with the tall obelisk at its summit."

We all peered across and with our sharp eyesight could just make it out against the cloudy sky, Tetley saying, "it is almost two years since we last climbed Latterbarrow. My how time flies."

It does not show in the picture due to the distance, so we include the shot Dad took on that day in February 2011.

Soon now we approached High Skelghyll Farm overshadowed by the tall tree bare of all foliage and making for a really wintry scene.

"We go through the farmyard, then on dropping down to a gate", advised Shaun.

Beyond the gate all sign of any path was obliterated by the snow, but other walkers were coming and going, so showing the route. The way climbed a bank, then swung left dropping a little before rising again along by the wall.

Cresting the rise, Grizzly called out, "there is a pretty terrific view of the mountains beyond Windermere. It would be nice to stop and have a proper look."

"OK", replied Dad, getting the camera out at the same time."

"Instruction time for me", said Little Eric. "Come on Tetley, tell me what I can see?"

"From the left the Crinkle Crags, then Bowfell and Esk Pike. In front the lower bulk is Lingmoor, then to the right of course are the Langdale Pikes - Loft Crag & Pike o'Stickle, Harrison Stickle and the dark faced Pavey Ark", said Tetley patiently.

"Thanks pal, I think I am getting the hang of these now", replied Little Eric.

Off we went again, but it was not many minutes before another fine view stopped us in our tracks and had Dad getting the camera out yet again. This time we could see almost the whole length of Windermere, the islands near Bowness showing clearly, and the distant fell on the left shore being Gummer's How, which we had climbed again last year.

The track was now descending steadily towards Troutbeck and became snow free. We normally prefer it when Dad sees sheep that they turn tail and run, thereby denying him the opportunity of getting a picture. However we love the Herdwick sheep that roam the fells of the Lake District, so when Dad saw one standing by the fence, we were happy for him to take the picture.

Soon now we arrived in the village of Troutbeck, walking along past the many nice houses, like this one below.

"I did some research about the village last night", said Allen. "It is situated in the valley of the Trout Beck, a fast flowing river that starts around Threshthwaite Mouth between Stony Cove Pike & Thornthwaite Crag, and eventually empties itself into Windermere. It's course is about seven miles in all and it is one of the main sources of replenishment of the lake. The village itself is actually a collection of hamlets, such as Town Head, High Green & Town End, that grew up around wells that are dedicated to saints. It is cradled below the slopes of Wansfell, to the west, and on the east side the valley is dominated by the Kentmere Fells, namely Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick & Thornthwaite Crag."

These can be seen in the photograph below from right to left.

"Thanks Allen", replied Tetley. "You have certainly been busy and what you have told us us very interesting."

As we strolled on, Little Eric called out, "what's that set into the wall?"

Allen replied, "it is one of the wells". Then peering more closely, he went on "according to the inscription this one is dedicated to St James."

"In truth though, it is more like a drinking trough fed by a spring, than a well", added Tetley.

Then further along the road, Little Eric called out again, "there's another one.

It's St Margaret Well", responded Allen, reading the inscription."

Passing a junction, Dad said, "that building down by the lower road is the Mortal Man Inn. It is well known for its sign on which is the verse" -

'Thou mortal man that lives by bread
How comes thy nose to be so red?
Thou silly ass that looks so pale
it is by drinking Sally Birkett's ale'

"Oh I like that", laughed Grizzly.

Checking the map Shaun said ,"our route out of the village is left along Nanny Lane."

We kept our eyes peeled and not long afterwards, Allen called out, "here it is."

This is a rough track that climbed immediately and soon we were amongst the snow once again, and this was to be the case now until we had descended from Wansfell Pike, almost to Ambleside again.

"We go all the way to its end, ignoring the path left to Wansfell Pike", went on Shaun.

This brought us to a gate, and on the left a tall ladderstile over the wall, which we climbed.

Skirting left of the rise immediately behind, we then walked the rough terrain. The path was lost in the snow, but we did manage to find it intermittently. Higher up it became clearer and led unerringly to the cairn that is considered the summit of Wansfell. The OS map however appears to indicate that the highest point is a little way north beyond the wall. In his book Birkett refers to a stile over this, but we could not find this and the barbed wire strand over the hurdle seems to discourage walkers to venture beyond the wall. Nevertheless Dad did climb over and walked to the highest point as far as could be determined.

So far he had walked without needing to wear his gloves, but the strength of the wind up here made the consequent chill so vicious, such that he had to don his gloves to warm his hands before having sufficient feeling to record the grid reference and take our picture. We had our own problems needing the rucksack as a wind break to prevent us being blown away in the process.

It was not the most pleasant of times up here today and to Dad's annoyance his had kept blowing off, causing him to have to tramp over the snow to retrieve it.

"Damn it!!", he exclaimed after one such occurrence.

Not wanting to linger any longer than necessary we piled into the rucksack and returned to the cairn, Dad climbing the wall this time, as the hurdle with the barbed wire had been rather tricky.

"I know it's windy and cold, but will you take our picture at the cairn?", implored Little Eric.

"Of course Lad", Dad replied, as his hat promptly blew off again. "Oh sod it, I'll go and get it just before we set off", he went on in exasperation.

Looking back beyond the wall Grizzly, said, "there does not seem to be much difference if any in the height."

A few taps on the GPS later Dad replied, "you're right. The details recorded show that the spot height is just 4ft higher, which is barely over 1 metre. The intention will be to use the grid reference here at the cairn as the Wainwright because he considered, and rightly so, that this is the summit. However I will use the one at the spot height for the Birkett, as that is what he alludes to."

"In these conditions it hardly seem to be worth the effort", said Shaun.

"You maybe right about that", replied Allen, "but it was worth coming up here for the views."

Such as this towards St Raven's Edge, Caudale Moor and Stoney Cove Pike.

"Well, now all we have to do is walk the ridge along to Wansfell Pike, to complete the two summits for today", instructed Shaun.

"I know it is not, but it does seem that the Pike is higher", said Little Eric.

So, retrieving his damned hat!, Dad set off dropping down then skirting to the right close to the wall of the first rise, to then follow the path over the undulating ridge to Wansfell Pike. For whatever reason and thankfully too the traverse of the ridge was a less windy affair. We were quick to jump out of the rucksack and settle by a rocky outcrop, where Dad took our picture once again.

There had been no one on the main summit, but here there were quite a few other walkers, having climbed the main path from Ambleside, down which was our route. A family noticed us in the rucksack, and Dad told them our names and explained briefly about our adventures.

Just before starting the descent there was time to admire the magnificent view of the Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike & the Langdale Pikes, once again.

Because of the popularity of this path, it has been repaired and sections have been graded into steps, to ease the ascent and descent. Today though many of the steps were dangerous being covered in sheet ice, but there was plenty of space either side to avoid this and get safely down, if slipping and sliding a bit at times.

Part way Shaun called out, "there's Ambleside our destination."

The last of the steep snowy descent, brought us to a track by a wall. Here we turned left following this down eventually to a road by some new houses and so to the car.

"Thanks for a great day", cried Allen, echoing us all.

"I enjoyed it too", replied Dad, "despite the wind and cold at Wansfell".

By now it was starting to snow gently. It was late afternoon and too late for Dad to go to Hayes Garden Centre just across the road for tea, so he just drove us home.


shopify analytics