distance : 6.4km/4½ miles time : 3 hours ascent : 170m/550ft grade : a stride above a stroll
MAPS (Harvey Superwalker) Central Lakeland(Ordnance Survey) OL7 South-eastern area
BUS STOP Kelsick Road in the middle of Ambleside.
PARK Car-borne walkers park in the Rydal Road park & display car park.
Piering over Windermere
This third Ride & Stride expedition from The Lakeland Pathfinder/555 bus service puts a focus on Ambleside’s glorious situation between the fells and two lovely lakes, one large, one petite. The view from Todd Crag will put a smile on your face, well displayed is the Fairfield Horseshoe to the north above Rydal Hall and from the very top-knott the view shown below. This pin-points the site of the Roman fort of Galava on the slightly raised meadow left of the outflow of the combined waters of the Rothay and Brathay into the great lake, and the Waterhead pier and bay.
Let's get walking
From the Kelsick Road bus-stop shelter turn directly towards the spire of St Mary’s church, watchfully crossing the busy through-road passing the garden pavilion to church approach lane with the cinema to the right. Swing in and out right of the churchyard and immediately turn acutely left down the road between the primary school and the impressive modern bastion-built Parish Centre to enter Rothay Park. Follow the path directly forward to cross Miller Bridge. Turn right via the grid upon Under-Loughrigg Road., taking the first left turn at a cattle-grid winding uphill on the tarmac roadway leading via High Barn. At the next right bend above take the footpath to Clappersgate signed at the wall-stile. This leads left in woodland to cross a gated wooden footbridge. A flight of steps start the easy climb up the bluebell-decked slope to a kissing-gate in a wall, continue onto the open fell. Revel in the extensive views back to Rydal Hall and the circle of fells above the Rydale Beck Valley, of the Fairfield Hoseshoe. Anyone who had purchased a copy of Frances Lincoln’s second edition â€¨of AW’s very first guide ‘The Eastern Fells’, will cringe at the cover, certainly AW would not have allowed it to happen... the image is reversed, â€¨as the picture right confirms, check it out for yourself.
Aim for the rocky top furthest left for a peach of a bird’s eye view on Waterhead, saunter to the next top to survey the wooded low hills to the south and the bristling array of summits from Coniston Old Man round by Crinkle Crags to the Langdale Pikes. Now walk away from the edge down through the hollow with a pool, then rise and pass to the right of a lovely tarn, with a solitary birch tree colonising a tiny islet. The undulating ridge leads to a comparative constriction of the walled enclosures with a fence linking the gap. Go through the hand-gate and keep to the left of the next bluff, rounding to decline to meet the bridleway causeway. The causeway effect the product of recent â€¨sub-strate inversion, the age old way of creating a dur-able path - probably used by the Romans when crossing high ground such as their High Street route. One may simply go right with this gated path through the old golf course on Brownhead to loop back down to the Under-Loughrigg road. This road may also be reached by rounding the marshy walled-end off to the left of the first gate on this route, following the enclosure wall down by Fox Ghyll.
The more delightful option is to head straight over the bridlepath on a path that keeps to the right of the great hollow of Black Mire, the secret side of Loughrigg. Heading north down to meet the old quarryman’s road central to Rydal Water. A quick rise left by a dark cavern leads up to the pool entrance to Loughrigg Cavern. Recent rock-falls have brought the National Trust’s cautionary notice, but one may use the stepping stones to reach the mouth of the echoing cavern. Back-track and follow the lane by the Pelter Bridge car park and cross the cattle grid bearing left over the bridge following the main road footway left. Cross cautiously at the bus stop ascend Ry-dal Lane taking second lane right leading behind Rydal Hall with its wonderful cafe and loos. Pass on through the camping field via gates following the parkland drive to the Lodge. Cross the main road following the footway into Ambleside. Recommended: the Armitt Museum for its gallery and local heritage collection and library.
Back in Ambleside you are literally spoilt for choice, it appears there is a tea-room round every corner!