Accidentally ambling in Ambleside

Wednesday, August 21, 2019
Ambleside, England, United Kingdom
After saying our farewells to Lesley, we wandered up the road to check out the rundown old vicarage which is currently on the market for £500,000. It certainly has a lot of potential, but would need at least the same amount poured into it to make it habitable. With a number of outside buildings, it would make a great guesthouse. However, given that the western side of the Lake District doesn’t attract as many tourists as the eastern side, we suspected that the house was over-priced and will eventually sell for much less. 
Right next door to the vicarage stands a large old church and cemetery. Apart from Lesley’s Old School House, there are no other buildings in the area. Given the size of the church, the congregation must come from far afield; or perhaps the local population has declined over the years.
Our exploration over, we set off on the one-hour journey to Ambleside — whilst not far, the narrow winding roads limit how fast one can go. We followed James & Lynette’s car, rather than following TomTom’s guidance — it would have again taken us over Corney Fell Pass. We were pleased that we had had the experience of driving over the pass, but were not willing to again risk coming face-to-face with a vehicle along the single lane road bordered by high stone walls on each side!
Whilst the morning had begun with sunshine, it didn’t last, and by the time we reached our destination (Water Head, just through the town of Ambleside), the weather had really deteriorated. Fortunately, it didn’t start raining until in the evening, allowing us time, after checking in to our guest house, to wander through the town and up to the Stock Ghyll Force (waterfall) that Michael and I remembered from our visit here 12 years ago. After meandering through the park and taking countless photos, I encouraged Michael to walk with me a little further up the road to check out a track I recalled having walked up before breakfast last time we were here. It was from this path that I had taken some photos of the glorious morning sunshine on the fells. Lynette & James decided they had had enough walking and so headed back into town.
I had only ever intended for us to climb a short way up the hill — I recollected having come eye to eye with a bull in the paddock through which the footpath passed, and so I had cut short my morning walk. All I was wanting to do was to replicate this ‘morning walk’ from 12 years ago! However, Michael, who was of course leading the way, just kept on climbing up the hill. The higher we climbed, the colder and windier it became. We passed a number of hikers coming down the hill. One of them explained how the track would take us over the pass and down into a town called Troutbeck. However, there was a right hand turn we could make somewhere on the other side that would take us back into Ambleside. I kept shouting out to Michael that he was crazy. We had no idea how long this walk would take us, and it was already late in the afternoon. (We had parted company with Lynette and James at about 3:15pm.) In his usual fashion, Michael simply replied that I was welcome to go back if I wanted to, but he was planning to push on! And so I pushed on too, clambering at one point on all fours, as I was feeling a little light-headed.
Just when I thought we were about to reach the top, of course, another peak appeared before us! At the top of this peak, we had a 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside. It was just a pity that the cloud cover was so heavy, and so the scenery was not as stunning as it would have been had the sun been shining.
It was quite cold at the top, and very windy. It was quite a relief to see that the way down was much more gentle than the steep track on the way up, and furthermore it was sheltered from the wind. However, the path appeared to meander further away from Ambleside, and we weren’t particularly confident with the vague directions the hiker had given us. We had expected to see a turn off to Ambleside early on the descent, but such a turn off didn’t appear. Fortunately, we noticed a female hiker using two hiking poles and proceeding relatively slowly along the track ahead of us. We quickened our pace, finally catching up with her before too long. She reassured us that we were on the right track (we had followed her as she took a turn off to the right), and went on to provide some more instructions to help us find our way back to Ambleside. The signposts on the public footpaths, when they exist, are very old and hard to read, or are non-existent. Had we not obtained directions from the earlier hiker and from this woman, we might well have ended up at Troutbeck and then would have been lucky to get back to our guesthouse before 10pm!
At one stage, we began to doubt the decision we had made to continue along the road that was marked by a National Trust symbol. We wondered whether the track heading right was the next right hand turn we knew we had to make at some point. We retraced our footsteps, coming across our loan woman hiker just as she was coming through the gate along the road we were already on. She confirmed that we were still going the right way, and so we continued on our journey. We were still heading further away from Ambleside (which is why we had needed some reassurance that we were still on the right track), but eventually we came to a turnoff on the right — reassuringly, a sign indicated that it would lead us to our destination! (Some more signage along the way would be helpful, particularly for those who go wandering with no idea where they are going!)
We passed through a farm house, straight past the front door — something that happens quite frequently with the public footpaths in England — and then continued on into a wood. Here, some signs would have been very useful. We ended up backtracking a little when we realised that the bike path we were on was going to overshoot our guesthouse. 
Finally, at about 6:20pm, 3 hours after heading off from the waterfall, we arrived back at the guesthouse. I messaged Lynette to assure her that we were still alive (she assumed we were in our room, but had perhaps fallen asleep, and so wasn’t at all worried), and then we showered and dressed and headed out for dinner. By now, the rain, which had started to fall lightly towards the end of our hike, was getting heavier. Luckily, the restaurant we had chosen was not too far away. 
Back at our hotel, we collapsed into the double bed, the smallest bed we have slept in for years. We were so tired, we managed to fall asleep relatively quickly, despite not having as much room as we are accustomed to having!
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Comments

Barb
2019-08-24

It dies look gorgeous and those accidental trips can end being quite interesting

Ian
2019-08-24

Again many beautiful places have been captured on your film. Again another very active day, gaining a view of a large old church and vicarage, and traveling by car to your next B&B in Ambleside, arriving about an hour later. You were fortunate in coming across other hikers after you reached the waterfalls at Stock Ghyll Force during the afternoon climb, who were able to confirm that you were on the right track back to Ambleside. The track must have been difficult in places if it necessitated clambering on all fours at one point.

Tracy
2019-08-24

Yet again such gorgeous walking country and beautifully named.

2022-10-03