The Roaches

Memories from a trip to Ambleside - 2015

March  2015 - A change of scene would see us spending a week in Ambleside as opposed to our usual haunt, Keswick. Gordon and Jane had booked a nice five bedroomed farm house just outside of the town centre but due to a family issue were unable to attend. This resulted in a spare room but no one was able to take up the 'offer' at such short notice.

This year's attendees were Alison, Dave, Jon, Sarah, Ann and myself.

SUNDAY - Wansfell from Ambleside (via Troutbeck) (7 miles\2000 ft ascent)

As is now usual for our late winter\early spring breaks in the Lakes the weather forecast for the week was lousy. Numerous bands of rain were approaching from the west throughout the week so adopted a plan of taking each day as it came. Fortunately, today's weather was OK if a little overcast so we decided that the Wainwright of Wansfell would the the day's aim. Jon had already climbed Wansfell Pike on a number of occasions and had ticked this off as a completed Wainwright but he'd failed to notice that the actual summit of Wansfell is a mile to the north east of the Pike and known as Baystones - a full five metres higher!

Wetherlam, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and the Langdales in a moody view from Jenkin Crag.

The walk to Troutbeck didn't take too long so we felt the urge to enjoy tea and scones at the Mortal Man Inn. This went down very well. Jon, Dave and I bravely resisted the lure of real ale as we knew the next stage of the walk was all uphill to Baystones. The skies were clearing, the temperature rising and the urge to climb diminishing.

Dave on Nanny Lane. Windermere is the lake in the distance.

I'd not walked this way for over twenty five years and couldn't remember any need to check the map on the ascent but the route to Baystones became unclear so a quick GPS check was made to confirm that we were on the right track. The path wasn't overly clear and the going underfoot rather soggy but we were on track so continued on our ascent.

Dave, Al and Jon on the ascent to Baystones. Wet but pleasant. The walking wasn't too bad either.

The top turned out to be a tad breezy but the weight we'd all put on over Christmas helped us stay on our feet. Ann however, isn't getting any younger, so we kept a close eye on her progress as cold winds can cause havoc with women approaching their winter years. A fellow walker took a team photo and captured the magical moment of Jon finally claiming Wansfell as a valid Wainwright.

Baystones summit on Wansfell. Red Screes is the hill to our right.

The sun shone on the enjoyable up and downs to Wansfell Pike and the views were improving in all directions so Jon and I discussed possible routes for the days in the rest of the week where heavy rain wasn't expected. We came up with approximately seventy two different options.

Dave (far distance), Jon (in his new coat), Sarah and Ann on the ups and downs between Baystones and Wansfell Pike.

Lunch was taken just before the summit where a large raven kept us occupied and Alison shared her Gregg's Chicken Phall bap with Jon and I. Lunch was done so off we went.

The view off Wansfell Pike is always excellent, apart from when it's foggy and pissing it down, and the weather managed to reach a high point to greet our arrival at the summit.

The view from Wansfell Pike. Ambleside is the town seen centre right alongside Rydal Water and Grasmere.

All that was left was the pleasant but steep descent to Ambleside where a pint would be waiting. The descent was pretty uneventful apart from a fall by myself whilst turning around on the path. This resulted in a double roll over, numerous squeaks from Alison and a fellow walker asking if I was alright. Many people reckon that the descent off Wansfell Pike is up there with the Inn-Pin in terms of difficulty and I have to agree.

Anyway, quickly on. Or not in Dave's case.

The now common Lake District 'paths of death' team had been working hard on Wansfell so the brilliantly sized blocks resulted in a steady careful descent. The women decided that waiting for Dave just wasn't the done thing so marched off into the distance leaving Jon and I to check Dave's progress.

'Where the fuck have you been?'

After the pleasant walk into town we magically came across a pub that sold real ale. This resulted in the purchase and drinking of real ale and lager.

Jon celebrates completing Wansfell for the third time.

Jon had enjoyed summiting on Wansfell for the first time, I'd enjoyed falling over, Alison had enjoyed laughing at my fall, Dave had enjoyed descending, Sarah had enjoyed her pee on the descent and Ann was just happy to be alive. It had been an enjoyable first day.

TUESDAY - Red Screes and Little Hart Crag (9 miles\2880ft ascent)

Monday, as forecast, had been a complete washout and we were amazed to see that the dreadful weather had cleared in time for us to take on Red Screes. Dave decided that Red Screes and a possible additional hill or two would be too much so decided to have an easy day.

The pull up the Kirkstone Pass road certainly got the juices flowing after the previous night's festivities and the gate which led onto the fell was welcomed with relief.

Alison takes a break under a darkening sky.

The climb from Ambleside to the summit of Red Screes is uphill all the way for nearly four miles but the improving views were adequate compensation for the effort. The conditions were surprisingly good considering that the fells had been subjected to a full day of rain so on we went.

One of the steeper sections on the climb to Red Screes.

One of the wetter sections on the climb to Red Screes.

Like Wansfell, Red Screes was another hill that I'd not walked on for many years but I remembered that it provided an excellent view in all directions. On reaching the top I was reminded as to how good the view is.

Alison togs up near the summit whilst Jon points something out to Sarah.

It was too cold to take lunch on the summit and the initial descent into a north westerly saw the wind whip up and the temperature drop.

Summit shot on Red Screes. Ann, Sarah, Jon and Alison add a new Wainwright to their growing lists. Helvellyn is the large hill centre right.

Red Screes is a useful point for hitting the Wainwright of Middle Dodd which otherwise requires a steep ascent from Patterdale. Jon and I looked down at Middle Dodd to see if we could drop onto its summt and traverse the hillside to the Scandale Pass rather than reascend Red Screes but decided that the terrain would be a tad crappy.

We decided to descend the 800ft to the Scandale Pass and ascend on the far side of the pass to Little Hart Crag.

The descent to the Scandale Pass. Little Hart Crag is the small double topped hill to the right.

On reaching the pass Ann made the decision to wait and let us take in the second Wainwright of the day. Little Hart Crag looked more of a pull than we'd expected but we were soon on the lovely rocky summit where we enjoyed more excellent views. High Hartsop Dodd isn't too far from the summit of Little Hart Crag but we made the same decision as on Red Screes and leave this extra Wainwright for another day.

Alison poses on the summit of Little Hart Crag. Place Fell is directly behind her.

We rejoined Ann at the top of the pass, where she'd managed to stay alive, and enjoyed lunch with a pleasant view down the valley.

The descent back to Ambleside was rather damp underfoot and Alison was beginning to notice that her feet were getting wet in her recently resoled Meindl boots. This was bad news as it looked like £70 was about to go down the drain. Further checks proved that the boots were leaking and a new pair would have to be purchased. Bollocks!

Our descent was so quick that we fell into the Golden Rule where real ale and other refreshing alcoholic beverages are sold. We couldn't say no so enjoyed a few sneakies along with Dave who had climbed Helvellyn via Striding Edge enjoyed a day on the ferry to Bowness.

Another excellent day but when could we expect to see another day of good weather? The forecast was changing all the time and it didn't look good.

THURSDAY - Loughrigg (6 miles\1400ft ascent)

The weather on Wednesday had been atrocious but it'd cleared up enough on the Thursday to attack Loughrigg before the afternoon where rain was forecast - again.

Ann and Sarah were suffering from lurgy and decided to spend a day in the house. Alison had bought new boots and Dave returned to the fold.

Alison's new boots saw her reach a milestone in that she's now got fourteen pairs of walking shoes\boots to choose from when planning a route, Will her new Lowa boots give her blisters like her other pairs?

Different routes for different boots.

The walk over Loughrigg is always enjoyable and it was nice to get out despite the gloomy views. There wasn't much of a view to be had but at least it wasn't lashing it down.

Dave squares up to the day's target. 'You're fucking mine'.

Jon celebrates summiting on Loughrigg (without supplementary oxygen) by pulling a silly face.

The steep descent towards Loughrigg Terrace was next and a decision was made to go back to Ambleside rather than walk into Grasmere. The remainder of the walk saw the enjoyable saunter around the caves and meeting up with Ann and Sarah in a cafe.

The real winner though was Alison's new boots. She couldn't get over just how comfortable they felt which can only mean that her feet will be blistered to death on Kinder Scout later in the year.

A Blair Witch moment in the giant cave of Loughrigg Fell.

And that, was it! Ambleside had made a welcome change to Keswick and we'd managed to cram in three walks despite the threat of non-stop rain.

Will we return to Ambleside next year or is Keswick back in the plan? Or, do we go somewhere new? Decisions, decisions.


Email me at
Copyright © 2004-2018 Sean Bond. All rights reserved.