Ambleside – Loughrigg Circular Walk


View of Grasmere from Loughrigg Fell

People have various reasons for hiking in the Lake District. Some want to climb as many of Wainwright’s 214 peaks as possible. Others want to enjoy a few days of exercise and scenery. Loughrigg Fell lets you enjoy magnificent views of several surrounding lakes, while allowing you to claim that you’ve “bagged a Wainwright”. And if you’re staying in Grasmere or Ambleside, the circular walk provides plenty of fine photographic opportunities.


I started my walk in Ambleside, a popular Lake District destination, bustling with tourists and boats. Just a few hundred yards from the pier are the remains of a Roman fort. It is worth a browse, and entry is free.


Grazing by the Rothay

There are several alternative routes to Loughrigg depending whether you wish to walk via Rydal or if you choose to bypass the village and skirt the lakes. My route took me along the waters of the River Rothay. Rather than walk along the banks of Rydal Water, I took the path that led up, past Rydal Cave and onto Loughrigg Terrace. The man-made Rydal Cave is a good place to pause for breath and a drink. I must admit to having missed one fork and ending up all the way along at the shores of Grasmere – not that I am complaining. It was a beautiful spot to watch the dogs splash.


Moreover, if I hadn’t missed my turn, I would never have met two charming elderly gentlemen who accompanied me back to the Terrace path. Never miss an opportunity to make new friends when walking. One of the gentlemen had grown up in the area and regaled me with tales of his childhood on the fells.


Loughrigg Terrace revealed splendid scenery of Rydal and Grasmere, but there were more landscapes to come. Although, as with so many walks, you reach a point where you start to wonder where the peak is. It always looked like just one more zig away, only to find even more path zagging ahead. Eventually, though, I reached the telltale marker. If that hadn’t told me I’d reached the top of the fell, the wind would have. The previous days had been quite wet but today was blessed with clear blue skies. Nevertheless, the calm breeze at the shore was a stark contrast to the gusts further up. My baseball cap provided little protection; the wind quickly blew it from my head.¬†Fortunately, the lack of clouds meant I could see for miles, with Windermere and Conniston stretching into the distance.


Admiring the view

On a less blustery day, I could have easily been persuaded to remain at the top a little longer. But, return I must. It was difficult to leave and begin my descent.

To make your way back to Ambleside, once again you have several options. Rather than retrace my steps, I continued a circular path, across the fell and keeping Loughrigg Tarn to my right. Be prepared to meet lots of sheep, to tramp through some rather boggy areas, and to watch your step. The path across the fell is poorly marked in many areas; common sense and a map proved useful.


All too soon, I was once more walking along the gurgling streams leading back into Ambleside.

Even though it was October, the weather was pleasant enough to reward myself with some wonderfully-named thunder and lightning ice cream (chocolate and toffee ribbons). I then watched the sun go down over Lake Windermere as I reflected on a very pleasant afternoon’s walk.


Sunset over Windermere


The recently renovated Ambleside Youth Hostel stands on the banks of Windermere. It has an onsite restaurant and bar, laundry facilities, common rooms, and friendly staff. Dorms or private rooms are available.

If you prefer the comfort of a holiday cottage, the links in our sidebar (to your right) offer several options.


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