May is National Walking Month, so time to get the walking boots out and take to the hills to blow away any cobwebs clinging from a winter of hibernation.
Waterhead is the perfect location for reaching some great routes and spectacular scenery. We've chosen five our of favourites to help you plan your ascent. (All of these can be found on OS Map: O/S 1.25,000 OL7 The English Lakes South East)
1. Loughrigg Fell
- Distance: 6 miles
- Duration: 3 – 4 hours
- Height: 276 metres
- Terrain: Slightly rough on the initial ascent and then a mix of paths and quiet roads.
A circular walk with an easy approach to the climb through Ambleside’s Rothay Park. After an initial steep stretch to Lily Tarn – an excellent spot
for a picnic lunch – the going is much more relaxed. Loughrigg Tarn is another lovely feature of this walk as is the gentle lakeside return beside Rydal Water. All in all, a real Lakeland treat. In relative terms, it is not a particularly high fell, a fact that belies the spectacular views over Windermere, Coniston and Blencathra to the north.
2. Rydal Water
- Distance: 5 miles (2 miles from Waterhead to Rydal and 3 mile circular walk)
- Duration: 3 hours
- Height: 155 metres
- Terrain: Substantial footpaths and quiet roads, apart from short section of main A591.
A low level walk above Rydal Water and passing Rydal Caves which were created as a result of extensive slate mining in the area. The quieter approach to Rydal is once again through Rothay Park, turning right and walking the back road until you cross Pelter Bridge onto the A591. Rydal is just 100 yards to the left of the bridge. It’s well worth stopping off at Rydal Mount, the last home of William Wordsworth. The gardens are beautifully kept and you will find Dora’s Field, the inspiration for his poem Daffodils.
Just past Rydal Mount, you will find a substantial track on the left, known locally as the Coffin Trail, originally linking Grasmere and Ambleside and the local Churches where the dead were laid to rest. There are slabs of flat stone periodically along the track, which enabled the coffin bearers to enjoy a well-earned rest and enjoy the panoramic views over Rydal Water.
3. High Sweden Bridge
- Distance: 3 miles
- Duration: 1.5 hours
- Height: 226 metres
- Terrain: Basic footpath on the circular walk which can get boggy underfoot. Stiles and ladders are part of the walk.
Another circular walk starting in the village of Ambleside. Diverse landscape including small waterfalls, rushing rapids and two ancient packhorse bridges. Just beyond Ambleside you can spot ‘The Tower of Friendship and Beauty’ set in private grounds, a folly created and built by Henry Boyle a keen botanist and landscape gardener. It has the names of many famous visitors, including the Wordsworth's, carved into the brickwork. At the halfway point you will reach High Sweden Bridge, a lovely spot to stop for lunch and dip your toes in Scandale Beck.
4. Red Screes
- Distance: 8 miles
- Duration: 5 - 6 hours
- Height: 776 m
- Terrain: Village roads, lanes and fell tracks, steep fellside and high rounded ridge.
A more challenging route, starting in the Scandale Valley as in the previous Sweden Bridge walk. The summit of Red Screes sits lofty and distinct and can be reached easily by a fairly steep ascent to the South East. On a clear day the views from the summit are stunning panoramic - Ambleside and along the length of Windermere to the south; Hartsop and the waters of Brothers Water and Ullswater to the north; the great peaks of the Central and Eastern fells to the west and east.
5. The Lion and the Lamb (Helm Crag)
- Distance: 4 miles
- Duration: 2 hours
- Ascent: 341 m
- Terrain: Good clear paths to the summit. Summit area which has some steep rock faces.
We’ve snuck this one in as it is such an iconic route although, technically, the walk starts from Grasmere. However, the five miles from Waterhead to Grasmere will take just 20 minutes on the regular 555 bus route if you don’t fancy striding it out.
For many walkers this is their earliest childhood memory of the Lake District Fells. The rocks of the summit area have various names: the southeast pinnacles as seen from Grasmere are "The Lion and Lamb". At the other end of the ridge is "The Howitzer" or "The Old Lady Playing the Organ" and is regarded as the 20 foot slab requires some careful climbing and is in an exposed position over a 1,000 foot drop – even Wainwright himself did not get to the top!
Now You Deserve This!
Walking in the hills leaves you with a healthy glow and a hearty appetite that our Waterhead Bar & Grill kitchen team really understand. The varied dinner menu has a selection of dishes that would hit the spot as a post hike feast!