Wansfell Pike: a walk with a view

by | Destinations, England | 31 comments

Wansfell Pike has the most wonderful views across Lake Windermere and over the Lakeland Fells and mountains. This is the latest post in my Lake District series and describes one of my favourite walks.

Wansfell is situated high above the village of Ambleside and is well worth the climb. Most people with a reasonable level of fitness would be able to manage this hike, but walking boots are essential. The track is quite rocky and steep towards the top and in winter can be quite icy. At other times, the lower path can be muddy. If there is snow, this can add another challenge, but also an extra level of beauty.

The Route up Wansfell Pike

There are several possible routes to walk Wansfell Pike. The shortest is to go directly from Ambleside. However, our favoured route, as described below, is a loop from a different direction starting near the village of Troutbeck. This particular trail to Wansfell offers a variety of terrain and wonderful views across the lake to the Langdales. In all seasons and all weathers, these views never fail to delight.

Views across Windermere on the way to Wansfell Pike

View over Windermere on trail to Wansfell Pike

Being a loop, this route is also a little longer, approximately six miles. On our last walk up Wansfell, we took about three hours to complete the loop, although this included time for a picnic and plenty of photo stops. No need to make hard work of it!


Outward walk up Wansfell Pike

Troutbeck is a small village up the hill from the A591 and our starting point is just outside the village near the National Trust property, Townend House, on Holbeck Lane. There is some parking close to the bottom of Fell Lane on Holbeck Lane. Fell Lane is a rocky uphill track which leads to Robin Lane and, in turn, to Hundreds Road. It is worth noting that these are not “roads” as such, but rough tracks. There are wonderful views across Windermere from Robin Lane and Hundreds Road.

View from Wansfell over Windermere

View over the fells from Hundreds Road

This fairly substantial track eventually comes to a small stone bridge and the trail up Wansfell starts just before this bridge off to the right.

Trail up Wansfell Pike

The narrower trail leading up to Wansfell Pike can be seen leading off from the main track near the bridge

This path is somewhat narrower and becomes progressively steeper and more challenging. In some places the trail has been constructed with stones which makes the climb easier – except when it is icy! The path is well marked and it would be difficult to take a wrong turn.

The trail up Wansfell Pike paved with stones in places

There are various view points along the way and at the top, the outlook is stunning. There are views over to the Langdales as below and also over Lake Windermere.

View over to Langdale Pikes from Wansfell Pike

View over Windermere from Wansfell Pike

We were up Wanfell Pike recently and witnessed this strange inversion over Windermere where the lake was full of cloud. It was a remarkable view.

View over lake from Wansfell Pike with lake full of cloud

On our last trip up Wansfell Pike, we had our picnic at the top.  Actually, it was a flask of mulled wine and a box of Christmas cake – it was Christmas after all! There were a number of people already at the summit. We were above the snowline at the top which added to the magnificent views – and the pup just loved it!

Jane at the summit of Wansfell Pike

Jasper in the snow on Wansfell

Dog at top of Wansfell Pike looking over Windermere

Wansfell Pike is one of Jasper’s favourite walks and we head up there with him at all times of the year.

Jane with Jasper on Wansfell Pike

Petre with Jasper with Lake covered in cloud from top of Wansfell Pike

The Return

It would be possible, of course, to simply make a return trip the way we came, but we prefer a loop. There is a gate at the top of Wansfell Pike which leads to a trail down the other side. It is quite a scramble at the top, but gets easier. There are more fabulous views from this side of the fell too.

View over the fells

Jasper on Wansfell

There are several options down this side of the fell. Most obvious is a conservation trail leading all the way down and a path off to the left near the bottom leading back towards Skelgill Lane. The conservation trail is very steep. I find going down this steep, stepped path really hard work.

Stone path leading up the hill on Wansfell Pike

We prefer to hang a left close to the top and take the rough trail. It can be boggy in places and is a longer route with more up and down, but it is quite well marked. The trail meanders around a little but eventually joins Skelgill Lane further along. Skelgill Lane is a track which traverses the hill above the lake. This in turn leads to Holbeck Lane and back to the starting point. Holbeck Lane is a quiet country road and there is the occasional car. In order to avoid this and if time permits, there is a trail leading up the hill from Skelgill Lane and back to Hundreds Road as an alternative.

Some final thoughts on Wansfell Pike

The hike up Wansfell is rather more challenging than those described in some of my other articles, for example Easy walks in the Lake District (Orrest Head, Rydal Water and Gummer’s How) or A Lake District Walk (from Skelwith Bridge to Elterwater and Little Langdale). It is a longer, steeper climb than these others, although there are shorter routes to the summit than the one I have described here. However, the climb is definitely worth it for the views from the top and I would highly recommend it.

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  1. Beautiful views and great looking hiking! I zoomed out on the google map to get a better understanding of the location. looks like a great place to travel

    • My home ground!

  2. You had me a picnic lunch of a flask of Mulled Wine & Christmas Cake!!! Haha, this Wansfell Pike walk sounds amazing and those views of Lake Windermere are just breathtaking! I can imagine you might have some struggles if these thin paths ice over. Those old roman road-esque rock paths can get a bit slippery even with the best of boots! But overall, this sounds like the perfect way to spend a few hours with loved ones!

  3. I have to admit icy paths would give me pause, but you certainly make this look easy, Jane! I love that hiking is a family affair 🙂

    • I am super careful on ice, Lynn, but good boots a must. Thinking about experimenting with poles too.

  4. I agree- you had me at “mulled wine and a box of Christmas cake“! 😋 Great picnic for a lovely hike. Have not ventured to the Lakes District but certainly needs to be on our list as so love a good hike! Dogs look adorable!

    • Plenty of hikes in the Lake District, Cindi. Dogs are optional!

  5. What a gorgeous hike! 3 hours inclusive of a picnic is just the perfect amount of time! And I see jasper making a guest appearance too 🙂

    • Jasper is always there! Could not go on a hike without him.

  6. The one time I was in that part of England, we ran out of time in our itinerary to go up into the Lake District as we had originally intended. After seeing these pictures, I wish we had made time….

  7. Love a good Lakes walk recommendation! I live on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and it is such a privilege to have places like this near enough in your backyard!

    • Agree one hundred percent! And I love the Yorkshire Dales. I am originally from Yorkshire.

  8. What stunning views! Would love to hike Wansfell Pike!

  9. This sounds like a hike we would enjoy. The views from the top of Wansfell Pike are stunning. I love that you had mulled wine and Christmas cake at the summit 🙂
    Like you, I prefer loops rather than out and backs which drive Dave crazy as it takes him ages to find a route that I’m happy with haha

    • Mulled wine and Christmas cake are perfect on winter hikes. Unfortunately, we decided to do dry January so today we had to settle for Christmas cake and a flask of tea!

  10. That is an amazing looking hike!

  11. We enjoyed reading this and those views are outstanding!

  12. A wonderful scenic hike Jane. Three hours well spent and with a lovely picnic. Your photos are stunning. The views are amazing. It’s most definitely a hike we would like to go on.

  13. Oh you are right, such incredible scenic landscapes! Looks a little cold with the snow, and very interesting! Enjoyed you taking us along on this hike!

  14. What a wonderful way to celebrate the holidays – mulled wine and Christmas cake in such a beautiful surrounding. And, your pup gets to enjoy it too! Thankfully no tumbles occurred despite the slippery spots on the trail.

  15. I honestly didn’t know that England had snowy mountains like this! It reminds me a little bit of Canada, actually! Lake District National Park is not something I’ve ever read about on any blog, so it’s really cool that you put it on my radar with this post!

  16. Such a beautiful and serene part of the UK. I hadn’t seen it in winter before but those peaks are gorgeous.

  17. Lucky you Jane having this as your doorstep. The winter views are even better than the summer ones. Love those snow capped mountains. Great hike and what an idea to take mulled wine along.

  18. This looks like a lovely hike with great views. It’s always good to get fresh air and exercise. Gorgeous pics are a bonus. How long (distance) was the hike?

    • The route we took is about 6 miles, but there are shorter alternatives.

  19. Enjoyed reading your post, Jane. Xmas cake and mulled wine with those views is difficult to top. Jasper looks like he missed out on the cake haha…

    We’ve done plenty of hikes from or near Ambleside, but don’t think we’ve done that precise one. Just put it on the list.

  20. Wansfell Pike looks like an excellent hike, Jane! I love the views of those snow-covered mountains. How fun that Jasper goes with you and can play in the snow!

  21. I love your style- mulled wine & cake!
    This walk sounds spectacular. I would love to witness the cloud cover over the lake, sounds surreal.

    • That day with the cloud was very special!

  22. The walk up Wansfell Pike to see the view from different seasons would be amazing. The clouds over the lake and looking from it above must be a wonder to see.

  23. This post shows why we need to spend some time in the Lake District. Wansfell Pike looks like a great outdoor spot for a nice long circular walk. Love the views from the high spots.


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Hello!  I’m Jane. I live in the Lake District in the north of England with my husband, Peter. We love to travel, but this is a great place to call home.

We gave up work in order to travel and do all the things we were not able to do in our careers. We know we are incredibly lucky to be able to do this.

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