Outline of Route
Ambleside - Red Screes - Little Hart Crag - Dove Crag - High Pike - Ambleside (Grid ref. NY 377046)
Total Distance 9.5 miles, Total Ascent 3500 feet, Equivalent Distance 16.6 miles
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Details of Route
The main car park in Rydal Road costs £6.00 for 8 hours. Leave it via the footbridge and cross Rydal Road. Head up Smithy Brow, past the Golden Rule pub on your right, following the main road for Kirkstone Pass: unfortunately there is no footpath alternative to the three-quarters of a mile up this steep road. You will pass a footpath signposted to Ellerrigg on the left and, by a row of cottages on the right, two adjacent notices saying "Public Bridleway" and "No through bridleway", before reaching the footpath for Red Screes on the left. It would be easy to miss this path: the "Footpath" signpost blends in with the wall behind and the gate looks more like a garden gate than one giving access to the fells. Once through this there are two iron pedestrian gates with sliding bolts reminiscent of a prison.
For the next mile, when a ladder stile is reached, the footpath passes between two walls, which vary between about five and fifteen yards apart. (Photo of Ambleside and the lake) At one point, just before the first rocky outcrop of Snarker Pike, there is a tempting gap in the wall giving access to the top of this outcrop. Ignore this temptation: it's not worth the trouble. Continue between the walls, slightly downhill and around the base of this craggy eminence to the ladder stile after which turn right and walk up by the wall to the crest of the ridge. This can now be followed over Snarker Pike and on to Red Screes. Signposts warn you away from the quarry workings to the right. It is worth taking heed of these as you'll only waste time, and possibly yourselves, investigating this tiresome quarry.
From the summit plateau, above Raven Crag, there is a bird's-eye view of Kirkstone Pass and its summit Inn 1,000 feet below (photo) and a view of Windermere (photo). The best is left for the summit, by the trig. column, where the views of Middle Dodd, Brothers' Water and Patterdale open up, to the north (photo) and northwest (photo). From the summit, head northwest past the summit tarn (photo), where, once over the brow a wall can be seen to the left going down to the crest of Scandale Pass. (Photo of Scandale) Continue down the fellside, avoiding the boulder fields, gradually moving left to meet the wall on the way down. Keep going up the other side, by the wall, then follow the fence until you need to bear right to the summit of Little Hart Crag. It is worth visiting the subsidiary summit to the east for a less restricted view down into the valley below. Return to the fence that comes up from Scandale Pass and follow it over Bakestones Moss (photo) and on up the fellside. There is no need to follow it all the way to the top of the ridge: a short cut across to the right can lead you to the top of Dove Crag once the slope eases. From here there are fine views to the east (photo), the southeast (photo), the north (photo), and the southwest panorama (photo).
From Dove Crag there is a steady downhill walk, south, to Ambleside. The summits of High Pike and Low Pike can easily go unnoticed if you don't look out for them. Much of this descent is done alongside a wall (photo) but at some point after Low Pike a path diverges to the left to bypass an awkward drop in the path by the wall. Take the bypass. Return to Ambleside over Low Sweden bridge and by Nook End Farm. There are pictures taken from Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield during a temperature inversion (here).
Rev. 02 September 2014