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More walks around Ambleside

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Stock Ghyll Waterfall Round Hill

2.5 miles [4 km]

This is a modest climb, but it makes a very pleasant walk. The best time to view any waterfall is after heavy rain. The walk goes by the well-known force (local-name for waterfall), climbs beyond it, and returns through farm fields. (If dogs are taken they should be kept firmly under control.)

Start at Ambleside and cross in the square, after having parked your car in one of the village car parks. On the eastern side of the square is the Salutation Hotel Ambleside. Next to this is a bank. Between this bank and the old market hall is a passageway. Go up this. Turn left up the hill, and along an access road. There is an old mill beyond the ghyll left, now converted into holiday flats. Bear left through gateway and along the track which follows the ghyll. This land is managed by the local council as a public access area. When track forks, continue right on higher level. After ascending rock steps, on another few yards, then, ascending two steps of oak roots, turn left over the rock to the iron fence. Go through the iron arches to the viewpoints. Return the same way through the arches, then turn left to another viewpoint. Return to path and continue to climb. Follow the iron fence. There are good views at the fence corners. Go up rough stone steps and onto footbridge, for the down views.

Follow the path back. When it divides after slate bridges take left fork, and follow this track to a turnstile. Turn left at the track beyond and go up the hill and through the gate. You are now out of the wood. The Kirkstone Road via the 'Struggle' can be seen on the left, and the heights of Red Screes, above Kirkstone, are at the head of the valley. Wansfell is the fell on the right. Go through the gate. The track is crossed by a beck and a second beck is crossed by a little footbridge with stiles. Turn left after the barn and go down to the plank bridge at the ghyll below, Turn left. Track turns with the wall, but instead of continuing right, up the hill, go through the stile in the wall, alongside the gate. Make towards the barn forward and right. Go over the stone step-stile beside the gate near this barn. Path follows the wall and an old hedge. Go through gateway. (Close gate if you find it closed on approach.) Continue following old hedge and then a wall. View ahead from Wetherlam left. Langdale Pikes are off to the right. Go through the stile by the cottage. There is another stile by the gate just beyond it. Continue down a good hard-surfaced track. The Langdale Pikes are ahead.

The track meets the public road. Join it and go left down the hill. A pavement is picked up lower down. It ends by a road into an estate. Beyond this is the entrance to the Kirkstone Foot Hotel. Bear left past this entrance and go down the hill with the church on the right. At the square turn left down Peggy Hill which brings you to the cross again.

Ambleside to Todd Crag and Clappersgate

3 miles [5 km]

This is a very minor fell walk onto the south-eastern crags of Loughrigg. Given time, it can be managed by grannnies and children. It is however, not a bad-weather walk.. The walk offers airy views; so little satisfaction is gained if rain or mist restricts visibility. Completely smooth-soled footwear is dangerous on the damp rock that is found on the walk, or on dry sloping grass.

Park the car in an Ambleside car park. Go to the spired parish church of St Mary to start the walk. Go through the churchyard main gate and at the far end turn left and go through the iron gate and into the park (Rothay Park). Go straight ahead down the path. This ends in a small footbridge which is followed by a large arched bridge called Miller Bridge, typical of the Lake District. Cross it to join road and turn right for a few yards, go through the gate alongside the cattle grid, then turn left it the drive and go through the gate alongside that cattle grid. Go right up the curving drive. Note the old slate fence on the left. These are commoner in the Hawkshead area. At the top of the drive, after going through the gate, bear left for the wall corner surmounted by the iron ladderstile. From the stile the path turns left by a fence under a handsome Scots Pine. Go through the slate stile, (cross the small stream and go directly upwards on the path. Looking back at first level of this path by the oak trees over our pine tree, there is a fine view over Rydal which runs up to the head of Fairfield (2,863 feet high). The valley to its right is Scandale, and b the right of that is the Stock Ghyll ascent to Kirkstone Pass, the Like District's highest road pass - the 'Struggle' being near the top of it.

Continue straight on across another beck, joining the path that comes up from the left. Continue up to a cairn. There is now a good view of Ambleside, looking like a toy village, and there is a view of the upper reaches of Windermere. Continue on past the cairn, down the dip and up the rise to the crags. Now here is a good view down the lake. The river Rothay flows in from the left by Ambleside. The tarn in the hills, right front, is Blelham Tan, a nature reserve. Beyond the point where the river flows into the lake, the square foundations of the Roman fort known as Qalava can be seen in the field.

Continue on along the path to a wooden ladder stile, and up the next crag. Leave this crag by descending it to its lake side, then bearing right. Below, the river Brathay can be seen coming from the right from the Langdales, to join the Rothay before entering Windermere. Go onto the next crag. And here is the place to relax and enjoy the scene. Looking at the high fells on view to the right, the first from the left is the large hump of Wetherlam, then Swirl How and Grey Friar, all these on the Coniston Old Man range. The nearer fell then is Lingmoor, with the pack just over its left shoulder - Pike o' Blisco. The distant peak then is the point of Bowfell, which looks like a mountain from any angle. To the right again, but nearer, are the unmistakable Langdale Pikes with the great crag of Pavey Ark attached to the right. (You may see climbers on this if you have binoculars.) To right again are the Wythbum Fells, the dip of Dunmail Raise, then Seat Sandal stands before the Helvellyn range. Then to right of that the Fairfield Horseshoe in its impressive folds.

Are we standing on Todd Crag? Some say that this is in fact Todd Crag, including Wainwright who wrote the famous Fell Guides. But the gentlemen of the Ordnance Survey put it further west. The point on which you stand offers the best view, in my opinion, but to settle the argument it is only a few minutes to the 'official' Todd Crag.

Turn your back on the Lake view and below you will see a pond. Descend to it, and continue on the path which leads beyond it on its left. This brings you to Lily Tarn. This indeed bears water lilies in their season. Take the path to its right and go round the tarn to its far side to a path going slightly left, and on slightly left of two small ponds.

When this joins a wall running on its left, go forward until there is a gap in the wall and go through it. Of the two crags before you the one on the right has been officially labelled as Todd Crag. It looks a feeble little crag in a grassy area, but the crag proper is before and below you, invisible from this point, and clothed with trees. The better view point is from the crag on the left. Looking back one can see that Loughrigg has many peaks, and though the highest point is only 1,100 feet it is a very large mass. It is the easiest thing in the world to get lost on Loughrigg. But not for us! Retrace steps down the way of arrival, to the wall gap, and right, then bearing slightly left to the little ponds and Lily Tarn. Remember that we have to go right round the Tarn and down to the first pond, but then, having reached it, bear right by the path towards a cairn at the foot of our earlier viewpoint crag, then continue right by the footpath which begins the descent. There is another cairn on the site of a ruined hut, and a path from the right joins. Descend. The zig-zag towards the wall is easier going; then keep on descending along an airy path by gorse and mountain ash, under an oak and birch-clad crag. Go through gate and bear down right. The path soon brings us on to the roadside (the Ambleside to Langdale and Coniston road, with the branch road ahead to Hawkshead).

To return to our starting point, turn left past the few buildings that make up this tiny hamlet of Clappersgate. At the end of the few cottages, cross over the road to the far sidewalk. Continue towards Ambleside, but just before the bridge (Rothay Bridge) cross the road again, and go up the narrow road opposite. Follow this for about a third of a mile and we are back to Miller Bridge, which we cross again to go through the park to the church.

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