Red Screes and Scandale Head

THIS challenging walk from Ambleside includes three Wainwrights, the highest being Red Screes, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. Suitable clothing and equipment, including a map and compass, plus the skills to use them effectively, are essential. After a short road walk, there are spectacular views for practically the whole way. If the day seems too short for completing the full 10 miles, there is an option half way around to head back directly to Ambleside and shorten the walk to eight miles.

Start from the Market Cross, Ambleside, grid reference NY 376 045, postcode LA22 9BT.


Distance: 10 miles with 3,500 feet of ascent

Time: 6 hours

Terrain: fell paths and 1 mile of road.

Map: OS Explorer OL7


1 From the market cross walk up North Road and turn right onto Kirkstone Road. Walk uphill for three quarters of a mile and turn left onto a signed footpath. Go through a pair of metal gates (a cattle pen) and along a walled grassy track with views of Rydal Water and the fells of Coniston and Langdale. The path ascends steadily, levels out, goes through a gate and continues up to a ladder stile and alongside a wall on the right. Pause to visit Snarker Pike, which is over the other side of the wall. It may once have been called Snake How after its sinuous contours. From there you can look down at the Kirkstone Inn and the roads leading up to it. Continue on the path to the 2,546-feet summit of Red Screes where there is an Ordnance Survey column and a windbreak. The climb is rewarded by great views over Middle Dodd and to Brotherswater below.

2 Head in a westerly direction, by a path to the right of a small tarn. Descend gradually to the right of the fell to the corner of two tumbled walls. Turn right and descend alongside the wall on the left. At the valley bottom the path crosses Scandale Pass (from old Norse words skammr and dalr meaning the 'short valley'). Time wise, this is about half way so assess whether there is sufficient time to complete the full walk in daylight. To shorten the walk turn left returning to Ambleside down the valley of Scandale. To continue, cross or bypass a ladder stile on the right and walk up the other side of the valley alongside a wall. The path then bends left and ascends via a rocky grassy faint path to a seven feet stone pillar marking the summit of High Bakestones.

3 From the pillar continue along a contour path to a cairn beside a wall, turn left and walk alongside the wall descending to 2,152-feet High Pike. Features on the western skyline that are easily identified include the V-shaped notch of Mickledore, which separates Scafell from Scafell Pike, and big lump of Great Gable and Green Gable further north. Continue along the wall (either side depending on which is better sheltered) to Low Pike (1,663 feet). Further on, stay on the path that swings left. Stay on the path going through a wall gap and descend to cross Low Sweden Bridge. Continue along the road leading down Nook Lane past the university and into Ambleside. For refreshments at the end of the walk I suggest the Golden Rule, which is 30 yards up Smith Brow from the Nook Lane junction, or the Apple Pie café, on Rydal Road 30 yards beyond the famous Bridge House: their Lakeland Gingerbread is like Sarah Nelson’s Grasmere Gingerbread only thicker.

Next week: Lower Duddon and Frith Hall

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.