Walk Date – 14th August 2016
Distance – 9.9 miles
Weather – overcast and gloomy, no rain, no sun
Its early Sunday morning and it seems as though we’ve just seen the whole of Ambleside eating breakfast as we walked through the town, glancing through the windows of hotels and guest houses as we went along. We’re walking through Scandale today, largely because the weather is still dull and overcast with very little chance of good views anywhere today, but also because we’ve never walked through it even though we’ve peered down into it many times. Today is as good a day as any to put that right so here we are walking along North Road to join the Kirkstone Road which is just at the far end of the shot.
Its all uphill at the moment as we take this left turn off the Kirkstone Road onto Sweden Bridge Lane.
Much further along the lane and we have to take another left turn, but we’re still walking along Sweden Bridge Lane.
Eventually the tarmac lane comes to an end and turns into this roughish track which will lead us into Scandale. All the walking so far has been uphill so there hasn’t been much of chance to ease ourselves gently into this walk.
Things level out eventually and we enjoy a steady walk through the very pleasant Sweden Wood section. We can hear Scandale Beck rushing down on the left but there are too many leaves to be able to see it at the moment.
Our woodland walk leads us on to High Sweden Bridge, an old packhorse bridge dating from the late 1700’s apparently. You won’t see many packhorses here nowadays but you will see plenty of walkers. Having said that because we are here so early there isn’t anyone around at the moment so taking photos was much easier than it might have been. So far we have seen only one other person who was on the lane taking photos of some cows, and she completely ignored us when we both said good morning to her. I decided to attribute it to possible deafness rather than outright rudeness.
High Sweden Bridge from the opposite bank. Its a lovely little spot and its not surprising its a very popular walk from Ambleside.
Beyond the bridge the view ahead becomes more open and now we can see High Pike over to the left of us.
As you can see the path through the valley twists and turns, rises and falls, with nice dry sections and more than a few patches of squelch and outright wetness. The path winds along the lowermost slopes of Red Screes so we’re not right in the valley bottom. Perhaps that’s a good thing, if the path was closer to the beck it would probably be very wet indeed.
Ahead of us are the two rocky peaks of Little Hart Crag and we are nearing the point at which we will begin the climb out of the valley. It all looks steep enough to warrant a ‘pit stop’ here and there. If you look closely you might just be able to pick out a couple of walkers ahead of us, they’re just visible above the wall to the left of the path. They’ve left the path so that means they are skirting around what must be quite a wet section. I hope its not too bad but we’ll find out in a few minutes.
There were no mishaps when we reached the very wet part just beyond the gate down there and when we reached some higher ground I took a look back to take this close up of quite an intricate sheepfold. When we get up onto the High Pike ridge I’ll try to remember to have a look down and get an aerial view of it.
We’re almost at the top of the pass now so I took a look back along Scandale before we lost the view.
The ladder stile at the top of the pass with Little Hart Crag as its backdrop. We had a short break at this point to savour some hot coffee and watch the world go by. It was a busy five minutes with walkers arriving from both sides of the pass and then turning up the path alongside Little Hart Crag.
The ladder stile is behind us now and we are making our way up to High Bakestones which is in the centre of the skyline, you can just about make out the tall column which stands at the summit.
The path splits a little further along and taking the right hand one would lead you over there to Little Hart Crag. We keep to the left to take the route around Scandale Tarn.
Thanks to the dull conditions I don’t have a shot of a sparkling blue Scandale Tarn to show you, battleship grey was the best colour on offer today.
High Bakestones summit with Windermere in the background. A couple of walkers who had been following us up arrived just as I took this shot. Nothing unusual in that but I got the impression that this wasn’t their objective. Following someone thinking that they are going to the same place as you is never a good idea, and then looking miffed because you aren’t where you thought you’d be is just ridiculous. The map came out, she asked him which way they had to go, he looked ahead and muttered something about following those two up there, referring to a couple of walkers who had just left and were making their way over to the HIgh Pike ridge. Not wishing to be followed yet again we waited until they were well on their way before we set off. I suspected that Dove Crag may have been their initial objective.
Red Screes on the right skyline with Kidsty Pike just showing to the left of it.
The view down to Scandale Tarn, with Little Hart Crag to the left of it, from High Bakestones.
I thought I’d add some scale by standing next to the column which I would think is about 8′ tall. AW gave it a particular mention – ‘one of the finest specimens on these hills. It is more than a cairn. It is a work of art and a lasting memorial to its builder.’
What a pity that there was absolutely no light illuminating these far eastern fells today. Its the middle of summer and they should look a whole lot better than this, very disappointing.
Its only a short distance from High Bakestones to the ridge and here we are, looking down it towards High Pike. We are now on the eastern arm of the Fairfield Horseshoe, behind me the path continues on to Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield and from there it turns across to the western arm over Great Rigg, Heron Pike and Nab Scar. We met lots of walkers coming up on this part of our walk so the horseshoe was a popular choice today. AW described this section between Dove Crag and High Pike as ‘one of the easiest miles in Lakeland’ and so it is. A good downhill tramp over grass but that all changes when you reach High Pike.
Windermere under sombre skies.
Heading towards High Pike and on our right, in the middle foreground, is part of the western side of the horseshoe. Beyond it on the skyline is Bowfell over to the right with Crinkle Crags to the left of it.
Great Rigg on the western side of the horseshoe.
From HIgh Pike summit I take a look back to Scandale Head …..
….. and a look down into Scandale where down in the bottom you can see the sheepfold I took a shot of earlier on.
It was a bit too far away to see it clearly so here’s a close up of it. Sheepfolds are usually rectangular in shape but now and again you come across one which has a completely different design.
The view back to Scandale Head from the cairn on High Pike …..
….. the view a little further to the right …..
….. and the view straight down into Scandale where, to the left of the beck, you can see the path we walked along earlier.
After walking one of the easiest miles in Lakeland we now look down at what must surely be one of the roughest. This is the route between High Pike and Low Pike and you can see it is far from a straightforward stroll. You can walk on either side of the wall but whichever side you opt for you will come across boggy parts and rocky scrambles so it isn’t easy to get any sort of momentum going. There are plenty of obstacles along the route keep one’s mind wonderfully concentrated on getting the body down in one piece, that’s for sure.
Over on our right we can see the Coniston fells on the skyline, when we first reached the ridge they were covered in cloud. Below them, in the middle foreground, and to the right of the shot is Nab Scar on the western arm of the horseshoe.
Still making our way down to Low Pike across one of the less problematic sections, the only thing to watch out for here was wet grass. There can’t be many fell walkers who haven’t ended up on their backsides because of it, especially when the gradient is this steep.
A look back at the descent route now that we are safely over that bit.
Almost at the summit of Low Pike where you can just about make out the cairn on the left of the wall.
Once on the summit I took a look back at the route from High Pike and I think its clear why you couldn’t call it a walk in the park.
From Low Pike a look over the the western arm of the horseshoe which shows Heron Pike on the left, followed by Great Rigg and Fairfield.
We didn’t bother climbing the wall just to get a shot of the cairn, and I think the gps is out for a height check. Beyond the wall the huge mass of Red Screes is sloping down to the Scandale Pass.
The conditions are still gloomy over Ambleside and Windermere.
A look over to Nab Scar and Heron Pike.
Rydal Water with Loughrigg Fell behind it, and Bowfell just peeping out behind the Coniston fells.
This was just about the last serious obstacle as we made the descent off Low Pike. It looks easy enough but that vertical slab of rock was too tall for my little legs so I had to take another route over on the right which offered shorter drops down, and even then it was a bit of a stretch with my fifth point of contact being required on a couple of drops.
Not far to go before we’re back in Ambleside and I suppose that this section of our walk really could be called a walk in the park. We met lots of people coming up here but judging on appearances none of them would be going very much further, it looked as though most of them were just walking their dogs.
Back in Ambleside and I take a look back at the beginning and end of today’s walk. We’ve just arrived from the road on the left and a little further up the hill is Sweden Bridge Lane where we began. We’ve had a good walk but the photographs are a bit disappointing thanks to the low light levels today. Ambleside was as busy as it usually is on a Sunday and the cafes and shops were bursting at the seams so we threaded our way through the crowded streets back to the car park and made our way home.