One of the most popular tourist towns in The Lake District, Ambleside is know for the myriad of hiking opportunities. You can reach some famous hikes such as Scafell and Helvelynn with a short drive. However, there are plenty of walks from Ambleside itself that require no transport! One great hike with magnificent views is Wansfell Pike. Easily reached from the centre of Ambleside, Wansfell Peak is a popular walking route.
How difficult is the walk from Ambleside to Wansfell Pike?
The summit of Wansfell pike is 488m above sea level. The actual highest point is called Baystones, and is a Wainwright. The walk itself starts relatively easy, however the last half becomes quite steep. The route to the summit and back will take around 2 hours for a relatively fit person. The path is uneven and rocky. I would say a moderate degree of fitness is needed. Going up such a steep incline and then descending back down takes its toll on the knees too.
The route from Ambleside to Wansfell Pike summit
The easiest place to start and get your bearings is Ambleside market cross. This is central, and where the tourist information centre is situated. The first part of the walk takes you between two buildings. From the tourist information centre, look towards the Salutation hotel. There is a gap between an old bank (now unmarked) and the Doi Inthanon Thai Restaurant. You need to head down this side street. Ahead, you will then see signs for Stock Ghyll waterfall, another great walk from Ambleside. You follow this road all the way up, as if you were in fact going to the waterfall. After about 10 minutes on the road, a sign will point off to the left for the waterfall. If you fancy the detour you can check it out, otherwise continue up the road.
After around 15- 20 minutes of leaving Ambleside town centre, you will cross a cattle grid. Just a little further on your right, a style takes you over the wall. You should now be able to see a steep ascent towards the summit of Wansfell Pike. This is where the path gets more rugged and the walking a little harder. Take a moment to enjoy the views, but know that when you reach the top, they are more spectacular!
From here, the only way is up! It does get steeper and steeper towards the top. All in all it should take about and hour from Ambleside centre to the summit. As you ascend the view will become more and more incredible. At the top, it can be very windy. Keep that in mind, particularly if the day is hot. Once on the top, you can become chilly quickly. There are sheep wandering freely around the fell so be wary if you have a dog.
Wansfell Pike – the view from the summit!
Afterall, this is what you came for! Once at the top, you canlook down over Ambleside. If facing Ambleside, you should be able to make out Rydal water too. Framing Amblside from the back, Langdale Pikes loom. To your right, you will see the windy road that is Kirkstone Pass. Turn to your left and you can see Windermere. Take the time to walk all around the summit. Look to the South and on a clear day, you can see the sea!
After reaching the summit, you can either head back down, or continue over to Troutbeck. Coming back down will take about 45 minutes to reach Ambleside centre. If you want to make this a much longer walk, continue through the black gate at the summit. You can then walk over Wansfell to Troutbeck. You can either drop down of Troutbeck to the A591, or continue further to Windermere. There are lots of routes that you could take up here, depending how far you want to walk!
Can I drive up Wansfell Pike?
In short – no! You cannot drive to the top of the fell. The nearest you can get is to drive towards Stock Ghyll woods, behind The Salutation Hotel. There are a few parking spaces opposite the entrance to the woods. There spot will most likely fill up very quickly on a summer day though! Also, be aware of Ambleside’s parking disc system. Parking discs are available free from most shops. You need to put it in your windscreen with the time you arrive. Parking wardens operate in Ambleside regularly, so don’t park without a disc!
Please do get in touch in the comment section below if you have any questions! I grew up in Ambleside, and have walked up Wansfell Pike often! There is also plenty of things to do in Ambleside, so if you have questions about the town in general, feel free to ask!