There was a time when visitors to the Lake District read Baddeley's guide book, bought a 1 inch map and set off into the hills wearing whatever clothes they had, a pair of wellies perhaps, an old mac, a tweed cap and jacket and an umbrella. Nearly all of them survived and enjoyed their adventures. They only came in summer.
Then came Wainwright, organised mountain rescue and dire warnings about safety, hi-tech outdoor clothing, ergonomic rucksacks, Gore-tex lined boots, leki poles, GPS and mobile phones. With these came crowds, outdoor gear shops, guided walks, fanatical peak baggers and footpath erosion. It is quite common now to see people on Loughrigg (20 minutes easy walk from the town centre) wearing and carrying hundreds of pounds worth of kit good enough to survive winter in the Himalayas, often in groups of 20 or more, treading away the thin soggy winter grass.
We mention this from the viewpoint of an older generation with the benefit of a well developed, if possibly subversive, sense of proportion and a preference for the way some things used to be.
From being something local shepherds did when they had no option, hill walking has become a passion for some, a reason for living for others, an exhilarating pleasure, or something to be carefully avoided in favour of a few pints by the pub fire.
The above comments aside, there are risks on the hills especially outside the summer season. Get aware of the sensible precautions to take. Read the 'STAY SAFE' page on the Langdale/Ambleside MRT's website
STRENUOUS FULL TO HALF DAY WALKS FROM AMBLESIDE
These walks are described in detail on John Dawson's Lake District Walks website
and we give the relevant link.
Loughrigg, Sergeant Man and Tarn Crag
White Moss - Loughrigg (via caves) - Silver How - Blea Rigg - Sergeant Man - Tarn Crag - Grasmere - White Moss (Grid ref. NY 348066).
This walk starts from the A591 White Moss car parks at Rydal, takes you high above Grasmere towards the Langdale Pikes and back via Easedale.
Total Distance 12.1 miles, Total Ascent 3300 feet, Equivalent Distance 18.8 miles. Details
The Langdale Pikes and Sergeant Man
New Dungeon Ghyll - Loft Crag - Pike o'Stickle - Harrison Stickle - Pavey Ark - Thunacar Knott - High Raise - Sergeant Man - Blea Rigg - New Dungeon Ghyll (Grid ref. NY 296064)
This walk starts in Great Langdale, takes you up to the Langdale Pikes and back, including a couple of other nearby summits.
Total Distance 6.5 miles, Total Ascent 3400 feet, Equivalent Distance 13.2 miles. Details
Red Screes & Dove Crag
Ambleside - Red Screes - Little Hart Crag - Dove Crag - High Pike - Ambleside (Grid ref. NY 377046)
Starting at the town centre, this walk takes you into the high fells north of Ambleside, eventually giving fine views of Ullswater and the Helvellyn range, and Windermere as you return.
Total Distance 9.5 miles, Total Ascent 3500 feet, Equivalent Distance 16.6 miles. Details
Ambleside - Nab Scar - Heron Pike - Great Rigg - Fairfield - Hart Crag - Dove Crag - High Pike - Ambleside (Grid ref. NY 377046).
This is perhaps the best known and most popular long walk from Ambleside, giving similar views northwards as the Red Screes walk. This route is clockwise, ascending steep Nab Scar first. A lot of people do it anti-clockwise, either way it's a great walk. There is in places no discernable footpath on the bare tops of Fairfield and Hart Crag and it is quite easy to lose your way in cloud, ending up anywhere from Grasmere to Patterdale. This is no reason not to do the walk - just take care and compass.
Total Distance 10.1 miles, Total Ascent 3100 feet, Equivalent Distance 16.4 miles. Details
Scafell Pike from Langdale
Old Dungeon Ghyll - Rossett Gill - Esk Hause - Scafell Pike - Great End - Esk Pike - Bowfell - Three Tarns - Old Dungeon Ghyll (Grid ref. NY 286060)
Bag England's highest peak and see some the Lake District's famous rock climbing crags.
Total Distance 11.2 miles, Total Ascent 4600 feet, Equivalent Distance 20.4 miles Details
EASY WALKS FROM AMBLESIDE
Leaflets illustrating these and similar walks are available from shops and the Tourist Information Centre
From Ambleside to Grasmere via Rydal Water
This gentle walk takes you from the A591 just north of the town, through Rydal Park and Rydal Hall to the old 'coffin road', which runs from the back of Rydal Mount giving good views over Rydal Water, ending at Dove Cottage, thence into Grasmere village. You can take in Dora's Field at Rydal too, so it's very Wordsworth. Short of Grasmere, you can drop down to White Moss at the north end of Rydal Water, crossing the footbridge over the Rothay, through the woods to the open fell and return to Ambleside round the far side of the lake, visiting 'Rydal Cave', a spectacular old quarry working, and then following the Underloughrigg road. There are no serious uphill pulls on this route.
Troutbeck from Nanny Lane
Troutbeck over Wansfell
This walk is not long but is strenuous for the first half hour or so, involving the steep walk up the side of Wansfell, the fell overlooking Ambleside to the east. You start up the lane behind the Salutation Hotel. A mile or so up the lane, out on to the open meadow, a stile straddles the wall on your right to commence the climb. On reaching the top, it is downhill all the way to Troutbeck village, via Nanny Lane. Turn right on to the road and right again at the Post Office to return to Ambleside through farm land and woods round the southern flank of Wansfell via Jenkyn's Crag, a fine viewpoint over Windermere. The walk can be done in reverse of course, avoiding the steep uphill to Wansfell top. You get the steep downhill instead.
Windermere from Todd Crag
Loughrigg is a low but delightful fell, stretching all the way from above Ambleside to above Grasmere. From its heights you can choose a variety of routes down - to Loughrigg Tarn, thence to Elterwater, or Skelwith Bridge and waterfall, or to Rydal Water, or Grasmere lake. The southern end of Loughrigg is a fine rocky summit known as Todd Crag with a brilliant view of the town, Waterhead and the whole of Windermere lake. It takes less than half an hour on average from Ambleside to the top, via Vicarage Road, Rothay Park, over the bridge, turn right, over the cattle grid, turn left over another cattle grid, steepish up to the houses, then up the wall steps, through the stile, and take either the path ahead or up to the right. Either will bring you to the top at Todd Crag, the one to the right passing Lily Tarn. Once there, Loughrigg is a good place to just wander.
Mist over Grove Farm
Roundhills and Grove Farms
This is a short afternoon walk into the hills approaching Kirkstone Pass, to which you could continue. Leave Ambleside by North Road, into Kirkstone Road and turn left up Sweden Bridge Lane. Take the second right (Ellerigg Road) and at the top turn right on to the footpath taking you through Thistley Wood. This emerges on to the Kirkstone Road. Turn left, past the cottages on the right, then first right down the track to Roundhills Farm. At the farm go through the stile on the right and follow the zigzag path down into the valley, cross by the bridge and walk towards Grove Farm. When you reach tarmac, turn right to go back to town along the flank of Wansfell. On the way back go through the old turnstile gate on the right into Stock Ghyll Park for a look at the beautiful waterfalls.
High Sweden Bridge
This is a short uphill stroll from Ambleside, less than 2 miles, to a lovely little packhorse type bridge over Scandale Beck. (The path beyond the bridge leads up to Scandale and eventually out on to Red Screes or Dove Crag but these are strenuous walks.) Take the same route out of town as the previous walk, but instead of turning right into Ellerigg Road, go straight on. The road becomes a track. Just keep going till you reach the bridge, which is a restful and picturesque picnic spot. You can come back the same way, but if you cross the bridge and cut up to the left along a wall you will soon find the track which goes up to High Pike and Fairfield (another long high walk). Turn left on this track to return to town via Low Sweden Bridge and Nook Lane.
Underloughrigg and Rydal Park
This is a really soft walk with virtually no ascent. It is ideally suited to those recuperating from heart attacks, violent hangovers or loss of a leg. Start down Vicarage Road, go straight through Rothay Park, over the arched Miller Bridge, turn right and carry on walking for a mile and a half. You will pass Fox How, once the home of Matthew Arnold, and the picturesque stepping stones across the River Rothay. Cross Pelter Bridge, where the artist Fred Yates met Woodrow Wilson, and turn left on to the main road. After 200 yards turn right up the road towards Rydal Mount. In springtime it's worth going through the churchyard to Dora's Field to see the daffodils Wordsworth planted in memory of his dead daughter. Continue up the road to Rydal Mount where you can stop and visit the house, Wordsworth's home for many years. Opposite side of the lane is Rydal Hall, now a religious conference centre. Go through the Hall gateway and continue round the building to the bridge which crosses Rydal Beck. Look left and right at the lovely falls, then if you're there at the right time you can get tea and buns from the Hall café. Keep walking and you will emerge on to the main A591 at Rydal Lodge where you turn left back into town.