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Wansfell and the Garburn Fells

Wansfell and the Garburn Fells
The View from Backstone Barrow on Sour Howes
Shortest/Longest route - miles
1.25 / 4.25
Difficulty level: Moderate
Avg. Rating:

The four fells in this section are really part of the High Street group being the southern extremities of the Ill Bell and Caudale Moor ridges. They are situated on either side of the Troutbeck valley, but are not usually in walkers minds when they are considering a day on High Street.
Sour Howes1584ft483m
Wansfell Pike1581ft482m


 The four fells in this section are really part of the High Street group being the southern extremities of the Ill Bell and Caudale Moor ridges. They are situated on either side of the Troutbeck valley, but are not usually in walkers minds when they are considering a day on High Street. Wansfell Pike is the most popular summit, and on a fine day a constant stream of people can be seen climbing the relaid path from Ambleside. It is an unremitting ascent, and even seasoned fellwalkers are pleased to reach the top. From the highest point there is a wonderful view over Lake Windermere and across to the Coniston and Langdale fells. Also well displayed are the Rothay valley and Rydal Water. While the Pike rarely has no visitors the parent top of Wansfell less than a mile away fares less well it's situation not as favourable. However Red Screes looks a fine sight from here, and there is a tantalising glimpse over the Kirkstone Pass. I have treated the two tops as separate fells as there are significant undulations on the ridge. The Stock Ghyll running down into Ambleside is a favourite port of call. The falls there are most attractive and this is a good way to start the ascent. From Wansfell Pike people may descend to Troutbeck, and then return to Ambleside through High Skelghyll and passing Jenkin Crag a notable viewpoint. If you do this circuit be prepared to meet the same people twice who are doing it the other way round with many "Hello agains" or havn't I seen you before looks on their faces. Sallows and Sour Howes lie east of Troutbeck and south of the Garburn Pass. They have little to excite the emotions having few attractions. The rock rib of Backstone Barrow though makes a good way to ascend Sour Howes, and like Wansfell Pike it has a grand view and during the ascent a fine one of the head of the Troutbeck valley. Both summits are quickly gained from the top of the Garburn Road over a stile by the gate. Other than the Garburn Pass no routes are shown from Kentmere as paths in Kentmere Park are not entirely open to access. This may of course change with the general opening up of land to walkers. If time or weather are restrictive factors, or just a lack of energy, these hills offer an alternative to the grander mountains, and fine views of some of them.



3.5 miles 1500ft of ascent to Wansfell. 4.25 miles 1650ft of ascent to Wansfell Pike.

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   This has been designed as a circular walk to include both summits. From the rear of the Low Fold car park opposite the garden centre a few yards to the right on the lane a sign directs the way to Troutbeck and Jenkin Crag. There are a few branch driveways to private houses, but the route to Skelghyll Wood is well indicated. At the point where the track finally levels off by a National Trust sign for Kelsick Scar, a gap in the wall on the right with another sign confirms the position of Jenkin Crag. Walkers wanting a shorter route can go up to Kelsick Scar, and above the woods follow the indicator posts up to the top of Wansfell Pike. To continue otherwise keep along the track to High Skelghyll Farm, and descend the lane to a stile on the left by a cattle grid. Ascend the path to a gate with a signpost and turn left onto Hundreds Lane. Follow this to it's head continuing along the field path beyond to Nanny Lane. Again the walk can be cut by going through the stile and up the path to Wansfell Pike, but for Wansfell go straight ahead to a step stile at the end of Nanny Lane, and follow the path up the fellside to the summit cairn. A good if wet path connects the two tops on an undulating ridge. The descent from the Pike to Ambleside is steep, but at least the path has been renovated. Instead of climbing the stile on the summit a loop round to the left to the base of the top leads to another stile which avoids some initial roughness. It would be a sin not to visit the fine waterfall in Stock Ghyll before entering the town.




2 miles 1000ft of ascent to Wansfell. 2.75 miles 1150ft of ascent to Wansfell Pike.

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 The walk can either be started by the Post Office where one or two cars can be parked, or as described here from the beckside car park near the church. A track behind the church with a childrens play area alongside leads to a choice of three paths. Cross the small stream and immediately turn right to follow a path by a wall to a gate at the foot of a narrow overgrown lane. This comes to a wide track below the buildings where diagonally right a short bridleway comes out on the roadside. Follow the road right by St Margarets Well and look for a signpost about a hundred yards ahead pointing to a gated lane. Nanny Lane twists and turns a few times before coming to the stile for the path up to Wansfell Pike. Here bear right to the head of the lane, and follow the path beyond up to the summit cairn on Wansfell. A bumpy and often spongy ridge connects with the Pike with it's superb view of Windermere and the surrounding fells. Either turn down the path right from the Pike to regain Nanny Lane; or for a longer and varied return follow the wall down south west. Stiles and posts show the route down over Kelsick Scar to the track in Skelghyll Wood. Turn left now for High Skelghyll and Troutbeck via Robin Lane.




1.25 miles 1250ft of ascent to Sour Howes. 2 miles 1500ft of ascent to Sallows.

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   From Church Bridge the Garbum Road begins a short distance south on the left. It bends right then left before straightening out on it's way to the pass. After it crosses Longmire Road it bends again near a small plantation. A stile on the right is quickly followed at the top of the field by two more as the Dubbs Road is met. Above now is the rocky spine of Backstone Barrow where a splendid little path will be found leading to yet another stile in the top wall. The path continues to the small knoll marking the summit of Sour Howes. The ridge path heads north from here passing another cairned top before crossing a depression and coming to a stile in the wall. The top of Sallows is now a simple climb away on a clear path. Descend from Sallows to the Garburn Road preferably by returning along the path to the wall; where another can be taken down to the stile on the Garburn track. There is now a recently formed more direct path from the summit to the pass if time is a factor.Tum down the track left for Troutbeck and consider a variation finish by doubling back along the Longmire Road soon turning down left into Limefitt Park.


Copyright (C) 2007 B S Baker