A hike up Wansfell Pike in the snow with my daughter Stephanie.

January 18, 2016  •  2 Comments

Hi folks,
On Saturday my daughter Steph joined Mandy and I on a nice little hike up Walla Crag in Keswick. It was great to be out in the snow but it was cloudy and snowing, thus the views were unremarkable so I didnt bother doing a trip report for it. If your interested in a route up Walla Crag, here is the same route, done on a nice day. (Click to open in new window)

The drive back from Keswick was horrendous, thick snow and down to 40mph on the motorway most of the way home to find even Blackpool covered in snow. Sunday was supposed to be Angle Tarn Pikes and Rest Dodd for me and Steph but after lots of deliberation and three plan changes due to the conditions we saw Saturday, along with heavy snow depth reports from various FaceBook groups we decided to play it safe and stick to something less steep and go and do one I have been meaning to do for a long time. Wansfell Pike.


The route after download from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak looks like this when viewed in Google earth.

I have avoided doing this fell for a while as I dont like crowds of people and being the nearest Wainwright summit to Ambleside, I figured it was always going to be a busy one. I hoped the snow might limit that a little, so off we went at 10am, Ambleside bound, via our local cafe in Cleveleys for a nice full English to keep us warm for the day. We arrived in Ambleside about 12pm to plenty of snow as expected. We parked up in Rydal Road car park.

And then did what every daughter wants to do... went shopping!

After we bought a couple of items and I got sick of trying on new rucksacks, we hit the trail which starts off on Stock Gyhll Lane.

Which as it happens is the route to a well known waterfall. Stock Ghyll Force, which we have also never visited, so we took a detour into the woods.

The woods were beautiful with all this snow.

And one of the lower falls was actually surprisingly nice too.

We both loved the snow in the forest.

Stock Ghyll Force. Personally, I think the lower one looks nicer.

After consulting the map, it seems to be quite easy to get back onto Stock Ghylll Lane from here, so we wandered back down the track a little enjoying the wood.

This turnstile exits us back on the right track.

There were lots of little snowmen around, it was lovely to see.

And lots of kids sledging. Steph and I had seriously considered buying a sledge while we were in Gaynors and later that day we really wished that we had.

Around now the summit of Wansfell Pike came into view. You can see folk on the summit.

Looking back towards Loughrigg.

This is the access stile to the land we need to cross to get to Wansfell.

The first thing you meet is a river. We figured this was a great time to stop for a brew.

Nothing beats a nice hot coffee on the fells in snow.

Onwards and upwards.

Even in the snow, the route up is pretty clear to follow.

As expected, it was going to be a busy one.

We stopped for a while and watched some young folk sledging down the hill. It was brilliant to see them all having fun.

Ambleside looks amazing covered in snow from above.

As we gain height, the light dropped as the cloud thickened and fresh snow made an appearance.

Steph was struggling a little today. We all know how that feels during an ascent, sometimes your body just doesnt want to do the same hike your mind wants to do. The fact we were out for 4hrs hiking up Walla Crag yesterday, followed by a misserable 3.5hr drive home will be a strong factor no doubt. So today we are taking it super easy and having lots of breaks. As I always say, "The fells should be enjoyed, not endured"

The upside to taking it easy is that the fells always get quieter late in the day. Thats suits us both fine, we like our own company on the fells.

Brew with a view.

From about 1000ft upwards the snow was very compacted and of course being a lot colder up here it was becoming very hard and icy. We decided that crampons were needed now so I donned my Grivel G10's and Steph her Pogu spikes.

Then we drank more coffee. Hard not too when you have brough so much with you eh? Steph actually brought some horrible rancid looking herbal tea with her. Im assured its nice, but I will stick with my Nescafe sachets thank you very much. Incidentally, the reason I use sachets is that the flasks stay hotter as they have no milk in and you dont have to mess about cleaning flasks at the end of the day as all they ever hold is clean water. It also means each person can have their own type of drink without needing lots of different flasks. Its ideal.

Moving on... we saw a few fell runners out late. This chap was up and down in the same time we spent drinking tea and coffee. No rucksack, no crampons, just careful well honed and practiced footwork I guess. Amazing!

The cloud has moved right in now and is spoiling the views. I fear the famous view over Windermere may no longer be on the cards for us today.

The summit still looks clear though... fingers crossed.

5 minutes later... Doh!

Steph making the final push up to the top.

With dark clouds close behind!

Its cold up here. I record a chilly -6.9 Deg C on my Kestrel 2000 Anenometer.

Steph on the Summit. Sadly, the view of Windermere has been cancelled.

A quick Google reveals what we could have won... (Image Courtesy of Stridingedge.net)


Now, a dillema. We had intended to carry on along this ridge onto Baystones at the other end, but it was getting late and the weather was closing in. Steph was very clear that she was happy to do it, but I wasnt so sure. Ultimately, we made the joint decision that given the potential conditions if this cloud base got any lower it would be a pretty hard slog back in a total whiteout. Also, the snow up here was pretty deep and may well be deeper as we head North along the ridge.

Steph's Pogu Spikes were past their limits up here. The soft snow was just clogging them up every few feet so to improve the safety margin on the descent, we opted for soft snow away from the path so that any falls would be into soft snow and not onto hard stone paths. It was great fun.

The descent continues...

All a daughter has to do, is follow in her fathers footsteps...

Oh well. Sometimes its probably best to just ignore the old fool!!

There were some great natural ice sculptures on the route too.

Ambleside coming back into view.

Sunset. Sadly, there was no light show for us tonight. Just less and less light.

And more hot brews and sandwiches in the dark.

Followed by a brief but very enjoyable 30min walk back in the dark.

And that was it, Wansfell done. We had a great day and will likely return with Mandy or Ella one day to enjoy the view that we didnt get to see today. From what ive seen of others images, it can be pretty special up there.


Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak.            

The Ups and Downs.    

And a short 60second video of the route.                               



Stewart Sanderson Photography
Thanks Val, it was a great day.
Val Kay-Dunn(non-registered)
Some lovely snowy vistas on this trip. Loved it.
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