LEAVE the car at home to enjoy this linear fell walk together with three grand bus rides, writes JOHN EDMONDSON.

Catch the 516 bus at 9.30am or 10.40am from Ambleside to Old Dungeon Ghyll. Walk to Stonethwaite (or Rosthwaite) over Stake Pass then get the 78 bus to Keswick and return to Ambleside on the 555. The walk itself takes about four hours but allow a full day for the whole expedition. The combination of the walk, bus rides and a visit to Keswick makes this a great day out.

The walk begins at Old Dungeon Ghyll (grid reference NY 285 060, postcode LA22 9JY)


Distance: 8 miles and 2,000 feet of ascent

Time: 4 hours walking

Terrain: Stony fell paths.

Map: OS Explorer OL4 and OL6


1 From the bus stop walk towards Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and join the permitted bridleway on the left signed Mickleden and Stake Pass. After a gate turn left and follow the Cumbria Way beside Mickleden Beck. The scree slope below Pike of Stickle on the right is the site of a 5,000-year-old axe ‘factory.’ It must have been a major industry because 27 per cent of stone axe heads from England and Wales were made from this rock (epidotized intermediate tuff) and they have been found as far away as Northern Ireland and Poland.

2 After about two miles cross a wooden footbridge and turn right at a cairn signed Stake Pass. Follow the stone pitched path uphill beside Stake Gill. Near the top of the climb the path becomes rougher and boggy in parts. At the top of the pass, paths meet from the right and left. This important crossing of routes is at the watershed between Langdale and Borrowdale. Go straight ahead towards the Langstrath valley, and descend Stake Pass by the side of Stake Beck. The steep part of the path descends 250 feet in less than 200 yards but with all the zig-zags the actual distance walked on this well-made path is a fairly easy quarter mile and provides good views of the waterfalls. In 1778 Thomas West wrote, “The scenes on the Borrowdale side are in part sylvan and pastoral.” Today, Langstrathdale is a wide peaceful valley grazed by sheep but has very few trees.

3 Continue following the path to the right of Langstrath Beck to a footbridge near Johnny House. Cross the footbridge and turn right. Keep on the path beside Stonethwaite Beck to view the lovely Galleny Force (also known as Fairy Glen) with its pools often used for wild swimming. Join the track past a campsite then walk through Stonethwaite and along the road to meet the B5289 opposite a bus stop. Buses for Keswick are due at 23 minutes past the hour (also at 53 past in summer). An alternative, slightly longer route from the footbridge is to stay on the Cumbria Way on the right of the Beck to Rosthwaite. Turn left over the bridge to meet the B5289 opposite the bus stop, where buses are due two minutes later than the above. Although the Borrowdale bus is due in Keswick 12 minutes before the 555 departs for Ambleside and Kendal, it’s best to expect delays, especially on busy days, and spend some time in Keswick before returning.

Next week: Gowbarrow from Glenridding

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