The Lake District Hike, Cumbria, England

image 4 The Lake District Hike, Cumbria, England

A steep, brooding climb up toward Kirkstone Pass, the highest point in the Lake District from the quaint town of Ambleside. It’s not the most populated walk in the District which is much of the appeal.

Need To Know

Description: Half-day Loop Track
Time: 4-6 hours
Grade: 4 out of 5 – Steep and some parts are not marked

There are countless ways to hike the Lakes District. I chose to do it via a poetry and hiking tour with my favourite bard David Whyte in the footsteps of William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy.

The Wordsworths introduced the British tradition of rambling dells and fells, through heath and heather, to find, as William put it, ‘a not unpleasing sadness’. The two of them were mad walkers and are said to have clocked close to 290,000 kilometres in their lifetimes, about 10 kilometres a day from the age of five. On David’s tour, we chatted poetry in the morning, then hiked the hills nearby

It was on a rest day the rest of the group went shopping for Beatrix Potter paraphernalia in the twee villages dotted around the Lakes. I got a lift into Ambleside and set out for a climb up the Kirkstone Pass, via Scandale Pass and Red Scree, solo – I detail this hike below.

Hike Details

Distance: Approximately 15km

Difficulty: There are a few tricky bits. Parking in Ambleside, passing through Scandale (I got chased by bulls) and then climbing up the passes – there is often no sign of a track. There are also very steep parts with slippery scree.

Map Downloads: David has shared a great interactive map of the area which can be found here.

Bookings: You can book directly with David and his team here.

Sarah’s Top Three Tips

1. Pop into the Tourism office located in the Post Office at the north (high) side of town and grab a map. You can ask for their recommendation for a hike up behind Ambleside.

2. Try to get a lift from public transport into Ambleside – the place gets packed.

3. Read some Wordsworth or David Whyte poetry (particularly his poem Just Beyond Yourself) before heading off.

Getting There

To do the hike I featured, start from the Ambleside Post Office.

To join David’s tour, you are collected from Manchester airport or train station.

From Wild and Precious

“The Romantic era began in this part of northern England. It led on from the social upheaval of the French Revolution going on across the way and wrestled the human soul from scientific doctrine back to nature. Naturalism, and the environmental movement spawned from it. Turner and Constable painted the Lake District and ‘the nature as teacher’ conversation then crossed the Atlantic and eventually inspired American naturalists John Muir and Henry David Thoreau.”

Buy This One Wild and Precious Life

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Detailed Itinerary

Start from the Post Office and Tourist Information Centre

Take the lane along the right hand side of the Post Office and Tourist Information Centre at the top of the town centre. This is North Road. At the top reaching the junction with Kirkstone Road, turn right. In 20m turn left into Sweden Bridge Lane.

Follow the lane, bearing left in 250m at the junction to remain on Sweden Bridge Lane to the gate and go through onto the rough track.

Now you can choose your own adventure

I recommend getting a map from the Tourist Information Centre and taking one of the options upwards from the gate at Sweden Bridge Lane along the old drovers road. You pass the picturesque High Sweeden Bridge and then climb a ladder into Scandale Head.

This route is close to the one I did.

I went via Middle Dodd which requires a short section of off-piste ‘make it up as you go along’ exploration. I got a bit lost, which was part of the fun.

Turn It Into An Adventure!

Do a hiking and poetry tour with David Whyte

This is how I experienced the area.

The hike above is one I did on my own on a rest day. David’s tour explores the highlights of the Lake District for a week. You hike over tarns and crags and peat bogs around Grasmere, following somewhat in the footsteps of Wordsworth.

Each day there is a poetry immersion session in the morning followed by a long hike in the afternoon.

Stay at Bank Ground Farm

On David’s tour, we stayed at this gorgeous working farm on Coniston Lake.

It is the most wonderful experience. The food is awesome, the accommodation is super simple and quiet and there are heaps of hikes right out the front door.

Jonathon who runs the joint is one of life’s sunny people. Say hello from me!

For a great pub and dining experience

A recommendation from David himself is to experience The Drunken Duck in Barngates or The Queens Head in Troutbeck.

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