This family friendly walk up to Wansfell Pike from Ambleside is steep, but satisfying! Definitely a great way to use up some energy, with brilliant Lake District views from the top. Here’s how we did it.
Where is Wansfell Pike?
Wansfell Pike stands to the east of the Lake District village of Ambleside. It stands between Ambleside and the Troutbeck Valley on the other side. The Wainwright summit of Wansfell is further along after reaching Wansfell Pike. I would only recommend this walk if you really want to tick off a Wainwright, as in terms of a family walk it doesn’t add much fun.
Wansfell Pike Overview
- Distance: 3 miles return to Wansfell Pike. Adding Wansfell Summit on adds almost another 2 miles.
- Height: 487metres
- Time taken: It took us 2 hours from the car park to the summit, moving very slowly!
- Pushchair friendly? No
- Wainwrights?: Wansfell Pike isn’t a Wainwright, if you want that you have to continue along from the Pike to Wansfell Summit – this is included here.
- Which shoes do I need? I’d recommend walking boots, but it’s do-able in sturdy trainers. It can get quite boggy at the top.
Wansfell Pike from Ambleside
- Parking – there is plenty of parking in Ambleside, but as always it is easier the earlier you go. We parked at the Rydal Road car park which is handy for this walk and also has toilets (win!).
2. From here, head towards to the Salutation Hotel. Just past here (to the right if you’re looking at the hotel) you’ll see a sign saying ‘Waterfalls’ just next to the old Market Hall. Follow this sign onto Stockghyll Lane.
3. Continue along Stockghyll Lane, following the road as it bears to the left. You will see a (slightly overgrown) sign saying ‘To the waterfalls’, follow this.
You will follow a road through the trees with the beck alongside it on your left.
4. You will see the entrance to Stockghyll waterfalls on your left. Take this path and follow it as it leads you alongside the beck and towards the waterfalls.
Continue to follow the signs with red arrows to lead you through the woods. There are a few viewing points along the way to enjoy Stockghyll waterfalls, with benches to stop for a snack and a drink.
5. As the path heads up hill, you will come to a picnic bench with the sign behind it saying ‘To Revolving Gate Exit’. Follow this path until it brings you to a revolving gate, which leads out onto the road. Turn left on to the road.
6. Walk up the road, and in less than 5 minutes you’ll see steps up to a stile on the wall on your right hand side. This is also clearly signposted ‘Wansfell Pike’. Go up the steps and over the stile – there is also a helpful dog gate – and take the clear path with the fence on your left. The terrain starts to become more uneven here, but at this point we were still skipping!
7. Continue to follow this path as it makes it’s way uphill. Soon you will come to a kissing gate (where your tweens may or may not run away from you as you suggest using a kissing gate in the traditional way) in the wall. Go through this gate, where you will see the start of the stepped stone path that will lead you all the way almost to the summit. Take this path.
8. Continue on this path, right up the fell. Cross the wooden bridge over the beck when you come to it. Once you’re over the bridge, you will soon be higher than any tree cover, and you’ll have a huge view of the Lake District fells, including Coniston Old Man and the Langdales.
9. Eventually, you will come to a wall with a gap in it. Go through the gap and continue up the obvious path. Before too long (depending on how tired your legs are at this point!) you will come to a sizeable stone cairn.
10. At the stone cairn, take the path that bears left. Continue on this path as it takes you around, and then leads you up the final short ascent to the top of the fell.
Hooray!! You’ve made it! Although the official summit of Wansfell Pike is through the gate, so make sure you go through there to claim you’ve done it properly – enjoy that view!
Continuing to Wansfell
Despite a LOT of people thinking they’ve ticked off a Wainwright when they finally reach the summit of Wansfell Pike, it is in fact, not a Wainwright.
For the actual Wainwright, you’ll need to continue on to the summit of Wansfell. Which is also referred to as Baystones on the OS maps. You can see why people get confused! The good news is, the walk is mainly level-ish, with no more huge climbs.
If Wansfell Pike is quite enough and you just want to know about the descent, feel free to skip to the next section.
We did continue on to Wansfell summit, both so that we could check it off on our list of family Wainwright walks, and to test out the walk for this site. Here’s how to do it.
11. From Wansfell Pike, having gone through the gate, take the path headed north-east, with the wall on your left hand side. The ground along here has really boggy patches, and for us in January it also had ice covering them. So walking boots are definitely required up here, or wellies that are sturdy enough to walk in.
Sidenote – my 7 year old was playing on an icy patch up here, when it cracked and one foot went straight through into a bog, right over the tops of her wellies. Not advised! So go with caution if there are icy patches.
The path along the wall has a couple of steep areas – we managed ok and we saw a family with younger children than ours also managing ok, but expect some short, steep ups and downs.
12. The path will lead you to a stile over a wall. Go over the stile and continue along the path. You will notice the path veers away from the wall as it heads towards Wansfell summit.
Continue along this path and you will eventually (it feels like forever but isn’t actually that far!) arrive at Wansfell summit, marked with a cairn. Congratulations!! What an achievement!
Wansfell and Wansfell Pike Descent
As the Ambleside to Wansfell Pike/Wansfell walk is an out and back route, the descent is really straightforward. Just go back down the way you came up! Back down is much quicker, even though my thighs were literally shaking on the descent. It took us less than half the time to get done than it did to get up.
Enjoy the views – it’s on the way down that you can really enjoy them!
Once safely back in Ambleside, refuel at one of the many cafes or restaurants with some well deserved refreshments. One of our favourites is The Apple Pie Cafe, which is dog friendly and has delicious food!