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Dry stone walling walk at Ambleside.
At the bottom of a letter received from the charity Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Britain are the words ‘Keeping walling alive – throughout Great Britain.’ Below is the third walk produced by the Cumbria branch. All three leaflets, one for each walk, can be obtained from tourist information centres in and above the villages, at a cost of £2 for the set of 3. The interesting leaflets describe the route and give information on what to look for as you go. The Westmorland Gazette published the route and a few facts on the first and second walks on February 2 and March 1.
Park in the Rydal Road car park in Ambleside, grid ref 374046, where there are toilets (20p entry fee). The new ticket machines require your full car registration number.
1 Rejoin the road by the footbridge, to the right of the toilets, and walk right to pass pretty little Bridge House. Cross the busy road with care and continue ahead along the main road, until opposite to the Adventure Peaks Climbing Wall. Bear left here up Old Lake Road, passing a huge retaining wall. Ignore the first left and go on to take the second, up Blue Hill Road. Ignore Fisherbeck Lane and carry on along the road.
2 Where the road ‘bends’ left, go ahead on a track to pass through a gate. The track winds steadily left and uphill, beside Blue Hill Woods, where you might wish to explore a path through the mature trees. Return to the track and go on up until you can pass through a gate onto the open pastures below Wansfell. The way becomes walled and is a delight to walk. Little streams chuckle across the way and the views are spectacular. Look for the metal gates in the walls that mark the Thirlmere pipeline to Manchester. Stroll on until you reach the pitched path to Wansfell. Here go through the gate, descend steps and walk downhill.
3 Just before you reach the tarred lane, take a right turn to a gate providing easy access to the lane a little higher up. Walk right to pass a well maintained wall coming down the fell on the right, with interestingly laid stones, joining the roadside wall. Stroll on to pass Low Grove House and take, immediately, the path, left, down the field to a footbridge and on down, left, beside the river before zig-zagging back up to Roundhill farm. Then follow the access track left to The Struggle. Turn left and walk with care, passing two more Thirlmere pipeline gates on either side of the road. Next take the footpath on the right to Ellerigg. Cross a large pasture, go through a gated stile, and continue beside delectable larch woodland. As you near the house ahead, look for the fascinating water smoot from the garden on the right, with a wire trap door to stop animals entering. Exit to the road by a small iron gate at the top of three steps. Continue along a wide track, ignoring a left turn, between houses and stroll on until you reach a right turn, the lane for High Sweden Bridge or a left turn if you need to cut the walk short and return to Ambleside.
4 The right turn takes you along the ancient track once used by horses and carts. It climbs steadily and again the views are great. You pass another set of Thirlmere pipeline gates and further on a splendid pole gate, on the right. Continue into woodland where the land drops away steeply to the Scandal Beck. Go past an old quarry well colonized by nature. At the division of the track, wind left to the lovely old High Sweden Bridge, a true packhorse, with no walls to hinder the panniers on the animals carrying heavy loads. To the right before the bridge are polished rocks just right for a picnic, giving you time to take in the lovely scene. From here you can hear the splendid waterfall on the beck but to see it you need to be on the other side and a little downstream.
5 Cross the bridge and climb the pitched path up the slope and then go on up some more to climb a ladderstile over a drystone wall. Press on up to wind round a sheepfold and take the gate beyond, through the wall, on the left. Follow the distinct way, with more spectacular views to your right over the wall, bringing you downhill, quite steeply in places, to cross Low Sweden Bridge over the narrow gorge through which races the beck. Carry on along the road and then steadily down the road to Ambleside and the car park.
Distance: 5 miles. If you cut it short 3 miles
Time: 3-3.5 hours/ 2-2.5 hours
Terrain: Some fairly steep inclines and the surfaces can be rough or muddy in places – boots really needed. Take care on the short stretches of road.
Map: OS Explorer OL 7. There is a small map in the Ambleside Walling Walk leaflet but do take the OS map with you.
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.