Red Screes and Scandale in the Clag

Last weekend I headed up to the Lakes – my first visit for 2023. Other than my walk on 2 January weather, work and personal commitments meant I’d been restricted to local walks around the Plantations, canal and nearby countryside and I was feeling the need to get away and stretch my legs and christen my new boots.

I’d decided to drive up to Ambleside and head up Red Screes going up the long haul from the village and then back down Scandale – the opposite way from when I’d been up here before – the last time 12 months previously. Rain wasn’t forecast but the high fells wee in the cloud. I was hoping that it would clear during my walk but I wasn’t so lucky. Nevertheless, it was good to get back up on the fells even though it soon became clear that I wasn’t “fell fit”.

The first stretch of the walk was on tarmac, the steep road known as “the Struggle” (for good reason!)

After about a mile, I reached the stile that took me on to the footpath that climbs the fell.

It’s a fairly easy route in that it’s a clear path all the way up to the summit (at least, for most of the way) but it’s not particularly exciting terrain and a bit of a trudge. But I was still enjoying the walk even if I was huffing and puffing.

Good views initially down to Ambleside and Windermere as I was under the cloud base

but as I climbed I started to get into, and above the cloud. This was the view looking down into tve valley

and ahead

There’d been snow up here the week before, but there wasn’t much trace of it now, but as I started to approach the summit, and the temperature dropped, there was some ice that still hadn’t thawed.

The tarn at the summit was frozen, and I was in the clag- no views over to the Far Eastern fells this time.

I thought about taking in Middle Dodd, but decided to save that for another, clearer, day, so after a drink of coffee from my flask to warm me up and a bite to eat I set off down the path beside the wall descending to the Scandale pass.

As I came out of the cloud there was a good view down to Brothers’ Water and Patterdale, lit up by the sun peeking through the cloud.

Approaching Scandale, the eastern leg of the Fairfield horseshoe was obscured by the cloud

I carried on down the valley, passing several other walkers making there way up in the opposite direction.

Looking back up the valley

I spotted a few locals

Getting closer to Ambleside, I stopped to take a snap of the picturesque High Sweden Bridge

The rough path turned into a track, and I suddenly found my way almost blocked by a gang of locals making their way up the valley

Those horns look dangerous, but the although the black one came close to take a look at me they were very docile

and carried on their way

I was getting closer to Ambleside now with a good view of Wansfell (where the cloud had cleared) and a glimpse of Windermere

As I neared the village, I passed this curious tower which I’d never noticed on previous walks in the opposite direction

I couldn’t find out anything about it after my walk. Can anyone elucidate me?

Back in Ambleside now

I had a little time left on my car parking ticket so had a little mooch in some of the walking shops, but managed to resist temptation. Fortunately Fred’s bookshop was closed for rewiring as my bank balance would probably have been affected 😂

I returned to my car and got out of my boots just as the weather changed and the rain started. The rain got worse the further south I drove down the M6, so driving wasn’t fun, especially as it started to get dark. I’d had a good day walking but was glad to get home for a brew.

Link to route here

Red Screes

A week last Sunday I fancied getting out to stretch my legs so headed up to the Lake District. At this time of the year the daylight hours are short so I wanted a route that would get me back to the car before darkness descended. I decided to drive up to Ambleside and walk up Scandale and then climb up Red Screes. It’s a route I’d done before and although not the most popular way up the mountain – most people seem to take the steep climb up from the Kirkstone Pass – I’d enjoyed the walk up the quiet valley. This time another solitary rambler was following the same route and we kept passing each other. We eventually walked together and chatted for a while, until I had to stop to top up my blood sugar.

I arrived around 8:30 and parked up in the main car park and booted up. There were quite a few other people also getting ready to head off onto the fells, either walking or cycling. I walked through the town centre and was soon setting off up the lane that led up Scandale Pass.

Looking across the valley
Carrying on up the “lonning” (the Cumbrian term for “lane”
Looking across the valley – Rydal Water just about visible
The picturesque Sweden Bridge – the subject of many photographs!
Carrying on along the valley. The other solitary walker a short distance ahead.
The lonely valley!
Through the gate – not too far to the top of the pass now
Looking back down the valley as I approached the top of the pass. From there there was a steep climb up to the summit of Red Screes. There was a path that followed along the side of a dry stone wall but after a while we (I’d teamed up with the other walker by now) strayed off and found our own way up the hill side.
Looking down towards Patterdale and Brothers’ Water
Getting close to the summit. The temperature had dropped and there were several patches of snow.
The small un-named tarn at the summit had frozen over
The summit with its trig point and shelter dead ahead. Time to stop, grab a bite to eat and a hot coffee from my flask while I admired the views
Looking across to Dovedale and the Fairfield horseshoe
The view over Middle Dod down to Patterdale
Looking across the Kirkstone Pass to Hartsop Dod (I think!)
Across to Ill Bell and the west side of the Kentmere fells

It was time to start making my way back to Ambleside down the long whale-back ridge of Red Screes. There were great views all the way as I descended.

Zooming in on the Kirkstone Inn and the car park
Ill Bell again – I can’t resist taking snaps of this mountain!
A good view along Windermere opened up. The photo is rubbish, though as I shooting into the sun
Looking across to Rydal Water and Grasmere
Yet another shot across to the Kentmere fells – Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke
Looking across the “Struggle” to Wansfell
A herd of Belted Galloways and Highland Cattle
Windemere and Ambleside ahead – still shooting into the sun!
Descending down the last stretch of the fell


Through that gate is the steep road down from the Kirkstone Pass to Ambleside, known as “The Struggle”.
Looking across to Wansfell from The Struggle
Coming into Ambleside

I made my way down to the town centre and had a mooch around the shops picking up a few items in the sales before returning to my car.

Passing Bridge House on the way to the car park – it’s obligatory to take a photo!


A Walk up Red Screes

I managed to find a day to get out for a walk and decided to drive up to the Ambleside and walk up Red Screes. It’s a distinctive fell and its whale-back can be seen from across the south Lakes. I had intended to do this walk a few months ago but changed my mind when I parked up in Ambleside and did the Fairfield Horseshoe instead. This time I stuck with my plan on what was forecast to be a fine Autumn day.

Leaving Ambleside I took the path along Scandale and then climbed to the summit of Red Screes from the top of the pass, descending back down to Ambleside along the ridge. An easy ascent up the valley followed by a steep climb and then a gentle descent.

Leaving the car park I passed the bridge house


It was bright and sunny as I started to climb out of the town, with great views over to Rydal Water and the fells





Up through the woods


I reached High Sweden Bridge


It’s an old packhorse bridge dating from the 1700’s.

I carried on up the valley. This route over the top of Scandale Pass links Ambleside with Patterdale.


I passed a herd of highland cattle who barely gave me a glance


Carrying on along the valley;


Reaching the top of the pass the sky had clouded over


Now I had had a steep climb up to the summit of Red Screes

Looking down towards Patterdale and Brothers Water


and over towards the Fairfield Horseshoe and Helvellyn


I finally reached the summit



It was cold and windy and the wind shelter was occupied by someone wild camping. But I managed to find a sheltered spot to grab a bite to eat and take in the views.

Looking towards Yoke, Ill Bell and Frostwick and the Kentmere Horseshoe in the east


over to Fairfield, Saint Sunday Crag and Helvellyn


It was raining further west over the Coniston Fells, Langdale and the Scafells


Time to start descending along the long ridge back to Ambleside. There’s Windermere in the distance


Looking eastwards over the Kirkstone Pass and the Kirkstone Inn towards the Kentmere Fells


It was raining heavily now over the fells to the west and north


But it didn’t drift over as far east as Red Screes. Very typical of the Lakes where the weather can change from one valley to the next.


There’s Ambleside ahead


Looking north


Getting closer to Ambleside


Wansfell straight ahead


Nearing the end of the walk


the final half a mile or so was down the “Struggle”, the steep road from Ambleside up to the Kirkstone Pass


Coming back into Ambleside I passed the old houses at How Head


and crossed the river


Time for a brew!

Red Screes walk

Two Hills in a Day


There’s nowhere I’d rather be on a fine, sunny day than in Lake District. So, as that was the weather forecast last Saturday, having had my enthusiasm for hill walking rekindled recently, we set out early and headed up the M6 to Ambleside.


We’d decided that we’d climb up to Wasfell Pike, not by the direct route up from Ambleside, a short hard slog, but by heading towards Troutbeck and approaching the summit from the south.

We parked up at the Waterhead car park and made our up to and then through Skelghyll wood. Looking back we could see Windermere and the Coniston Fells with cloud hiding the summit of the Old Man.


This was the view from the Jenkins Cragg viewpoint


Out of the woods we passed the High Skelghyll farm house


Loking back over the fields towards the Coniston fells


Eventually Wansfell came into view


Much of the route was on tracks which were dry and solid underfoot, but once on the fells we had to navigate some peat bogs which much be pretty awful after heavy rain.

Eventually we made the summit of Wasfell Pike to be greeted with a fantastic 360 degree view.

Looking down the full length of Windermere


Looking east toward the Kirkwood Pass


Red Screes looming over the Kirkstone Pass


Ambleside in front of Loughrigg fell with Langdale and some of the highest mounains in the Lake District in the background


The Coniston Fells


We made our way back down to Ambleside by the Direct route, passing a large number of walkers on their way up.


It took less than an hour to reach the centre of Ambleside. Taking a well deserved coffee in one of the many cafes, it was still only early afternoon and as it was one of those warm, sunny days that ae quite rare in this part of the world we decided to make the most of it and continue our walk. Our target this time was Loughrigg which we’d climbed just a few weeks before during our holiday in Coniston. But this time we were going to follow a different route climbing up from Ambleside, rather from the Grasmere side.



It was a longer route than up from White Moss but it was probably an easier ascent. The height being gained relatively gradually up the road and track from Ambleside, then across some peaty territory, skirting bogs, with just a few steep stretches.



We made he summit to be once again greeted with some outstanding views of the surrounding mountains



Looking towards Grasmere, Holme fell and part of the “Fairfield Horsedhoe”



Towards Ambleside and Windermere


After a short rest, enjoying the view, we retraced our route back to Ambleside and the car park at Waterhead.

It was about 6:30 and we decided to find somewhere to have a cup of tea before heading home. As it was after 5 mst of the cafes were closed, but fortunately we found a chippy where we were able to but a mug of tea which we drank on the terrace overlooking the lake. Oh, and it would have been rude not to buy a few chips as well! A good end to a great day.


Schwitters in Ambleside


A blog post by Barbara of Milady’s Boudoir alerted me to the Armitt Library in Ambleside. So it was on my list of places to visit during our recent holiday in the Lake District. It’s an interesting little place. A library on the top floor and museum on the ground floor.

The Armitt Library was founded by Mary Louisa Armitt in 1909 and formally opened following her death in 1912. It was intended as a resource for the local scholarly community and incorporated the Ambleside Book Society founded in 1828 and the Ambleside Ruskin Library, which dates from the 1890s. The reference library on the first floor is free to use and houses a wealth of books on the local area and its history.

The main exhibition was about the life of Beatrix Potter and her drawings of fungi. It was well curated and reading about Beatrix we were also able to learn a few things about life in the Lake District at the beginning of the 20th Century. But my main motivation for visiting the museum was to see the permanent exhibitions of works by Kurt Schwitters, the German abstract artist who lived in and around Ambleside for the last few years of his life.


Originally on the fringes of the German Dadaist movement, Scwitters invented the concept of Merz

‘the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials’.

He used any materials he could find – paper, cardboard, scraps of print, bits of wood, string, cotton wool, bus tickets and anything else that came to hand – incorporating them into abstract collage, installation, poetry and performance.

Learning that he was wanted by the Gestapo for an “interview” in 1937 he fled to Norway but when the Nazis invaded in 1940 he had to flee again, this time to Britain. Initially he was interred as an “enemy alien” in Scotland and then the Isle of Man. He was released in November 1941, moving first to London and then, in 1945, settling in the Lake district. He died in 1948.

Although his real interest was in creating his three dimensional collages, he was an accomplished figurative artist and used to paint portraits of local people and landscapes of the area to try and earn a few bob. The Armitt have managed to collect several of these and have others on loan and they constitute the main part of the exhibition, although they also have a few example of Merz.

This is his painting of Bridge House in Ambleside, a tourist attraction now owned by the National Trust and which stands almost directly opposite the Armitt.

bridge-house by Scwitters

This is my photograph of the building


I enjoyed looking at the paintings as they gave an insight into the artist who had to reel them off to make some money. However,it’s his Merz works that single him out as a significant artist. His collages didn’t impress the locals. But he did manage to win prizes in the local art show for some of his conventional paintings of flowers. 

Flight”(1945). From the Abbot Hall collection.

Kurt Schwitters - Flight