Wainwright Walks 12: Wansfell wanderings with a Mortal Man

Hills: Wansfell
Wainwrights: ditto (Far Eastern Fells this time)
Who: self, Stuart, Sacha
When: Friday 13 March 2015
Bog factor
: zero up to Wansfell Pike – after that pretty high
Weather: overcast with higher tops in clag
Mid walk drink: The Mortal Man pub, Troutbeck

Finally I’ve managed to get up to date enough with my Wainwright walks posts that I’m writing about a walk actually done recently – namely a few weeks ago as part of a walking club meet.

As always with my Wainwright walks, the full Julia Bradbury effect was not in evidence – definitely no embroidered trousers, and rather more in the way of alcohol… However, Stuart had decided to up the Wainwright factor somewhat with a flat cap which replaced the usual choice of headgear (being either a beanie hat or a buff emblazoned with saltires) for the occasion. Thankfully no tweed walking trousers or other antique gear was in evidence with us as usual wearing similar bloody Craghoppers trousers and the usual assortment of Berghaus and Rab gear. (Somehow I doubt however any sponsorship from Craghoppers is forthcoming)

For once there were no transport issues to speak of – the usual ghastly start to get to Stanmore was even ghastlier than usual though as I had a meeting at 8.30 am. The alarm went off at 5 and I resisted the temptation to thump it and go back to sleep. Sufficient caffeine was applied to get me through the day and I met the blokes at Stanmore at about 6.15. We made it to the Travelodge at Burton M6 service station at about 11.30 and had a glass of wine (Rioja) before hitting the pit, a couple of walk options planned for the morning depending on whether the weather decided to play ball.

On getting up, the day was dry but a bit gloomy and a quick look at the Ambleside webcam revealed clag on the higher tops and also fresh snow. We had not brought the winter kit except for microspikes as Sacha doesn’t have ice axes and crampons (and doesn’t need them given the amount of winter walking he does or rather doesn’t do). Funnily enough it was 5 years since he had done his first ever hill, Haystacks. Because of the clag and snow level we decided to bin our original plan of a circuit from Ambleside involving Red Screes and revert to plan B which was Wansfell from Ambleside, dropping down to Troutbeck and back round on the flat.

Well that was the theory! Eventually it was about 11am by the time we got going, after some truly awful service station coffee (we avoided the cooked breakfast as we knew it to be foul from previous experience. Not that one expects haute cuisine from a motorway service station but even so). The start of the walk goes past Stock Ghyll and a pleasant enough weir and waterfalls. We then turned up a minor road before picking up the constructed path up Wansfell Pike, though the stile at the start seemed to have turned into a bit of a stream.

The path is brilliant as far as Wansfell Pike. It’s a steep grunt at times but never difficult and the views open out as you gain height. I was struggling a bit but we took plenty of breaks as we knew we were in no rush – one of the great things about a short walk is you can afford to take your time and enjoy it rather than worrying about timing. The views from Wansfell Pike are pretty good particularly back to Windermere. It was clear Red Screes was still clagged in which confirmed our choice of the day’s route.

Once on Wansfell Pike, it is obvious that most people head back down again either to Ambleside or to Troutbeck. The nice path goes off in that direction and a rather scrappier path heads along a stone wall in the direction of Wansfell summit, otherwise known as Baystones. It was unfortunately clear there was rather a lot of up and down and also that there was very little difference in height between where we were and where we were going. I may or may not have imagined some under the breath muttering from the boys about ‘bloody Wainwright baggers’ as I stooged off along the ridge.

The path is okay for most of the way but gets seriously boggy towards the real summit – by the time we reached it my feet were soaked and I was very thankful I knew Keswick YHA (where we were staying) had a decent drying room. The summit is marked with a cairn and the views all around were really rather good – often the case with smaller hills – although everywhere was a bit gloomy.

It was pretty windy on the top too so we didn’t hang about too long but dropped off the hill in the direction of Troutbeck. The path remained pretty boggy until we hit Nanny Lane at which point it improved considerably – until we got near the bottom where it is in the process of being ‘improved’ i.e. dug up to smithereens. By this point Sacha and I were walking on our own as Stuart had zoomed off at mach 1 presumably deciding his Wainwright impression needed to be topped off by a pint in the Mortal Man which is after all a famous old country pub. His explanation later was that on seeing a sign saying ‘Mortal Man this way’ he had decided that as a mortal man he ought to obey the instruction..

Anyway, Sacha and I carried on and located both the pub and Stuart, being amused by the weather forecasting sign outside.

This is of course where things stopped going to plan. If you recall the idea was to walk back round on the flat to Ambleside where the car was. 2 pints of cider for each of the boys later (with me on bloody diet coke as designated driver) and a revolt was in the offing with the suggestion being made that I should walk back myself and pick up the car then come and fetch them! I was pretty blunt as to what I felt about that and we ended up having a rather excellent pub lunch and calling a (pretty reasonably priced) local cab to get us back to Ambleside. From there it was a reasonably quick drive to Keswick where the inevitable post walk drinks, and other members of the walking group, were waiting.

Overall not a classic walk but a very pleasant day out and ideal for the conditions. Though next time I go to the Mortal Man I will make sure I am not bloody driving!


8 thoughts on “Wainwright Walks 12: Wansfell wanderings with a Mortal Man

  1. You’d probably have been fine on Red Screes with microspikes from Ambleside as there’s no steep bits really – just a long, gentle plod.

    I’m toying with the idea of not going to the Wainwright summit anymore when I do Wansfell and just stick to the pike – like you say, it’s horribly wet and doesn’t really seem any higher to me. It does have a good view up towards Kirkstone Pass summit though and the back of Caudale Moor so I might keep continuing on. Haven’t done Wansfell for years though now unfortunately.


  2. It is most definitely a sign of the times that the words “steep grunt” make me shudder in horror at the mere thought of such exertion 🙂 . Ridiculous inclines apart – you seem to be enjoying yourself which is the main thing. I genuinely feel sorry that I am no longer trialing your “intended routes” to ensure they meet your stringent do-able criteria but since there was an absence of alcoholic recompense for all my previous efforts I may get over that fairly quickly 🙂 . Given that I don’t do much of the uphill stuff anymore I am afraid I am limited to “Kinley” style responses but I’m sure I’ll be forgiven for that. Keep up the good work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m trying to work my way through the Outlying Fells this year and my dad, who often likes to join me on walks, said “I’m not working my way through a list… I will not be one of those people who only does a Wainwright walk because it’s on a list!” So your ‘Wainwright baggers’ comment made me smile, because unlike my dad, I’d like to work my way through the list – how will I know which ones I like the best if I don’t do them ALL. I may leave Newton Fell though, because it’s been “ruined” by the bypass apparently. Glad you had fun sweetie!


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