A Red Screes Round

FOUR Wainwright circular walk: Low Pike, High Pike (Scandale), Middle Dodd and Red Screes

Walk Rating:⭐⭐

Time: 5 - 6 hours 

Parking: in Ambleside. Alternatively, take public transport.

Red Screes and the Kirkstone Pass from Wansfell

The complete round of the 'Fairfield Horseshoe' is a classic Lake District walk, and one well worth doing. However, to add some more varied scenery to this long ridge walk, I have suggested some routes that break up the horseshoe into separate circular walks, beginning from different starting points below the ridge.

The route described here starts out along the main Fairfield Horseshoe route from Ambleside. However, after High Pike, it then heads down across the Scandale Pass before climbing up to Middle Dodd and Red Screes, then returning to Ambleside. 

Strava estimates a walking distance of around 15km

1. There's a choice of routes to take from Ambleside. One starts from near the 'Golden Rule' pub, along Nook Lane towards the Low Sweden Bridge. My preference is to go further up the Kirkstone Road and take Sweden Bridge Lane towards the High Sweden Bridge.

A deer in the garden of a house on Sweden Bridge Lane

2. The tarmac road becomes a track that then heads through woods above the Scandale Beck.

The track heads up towards the fells

3. After about a mile, the track comes out above the picturesque High Sweden Bridge.

High Sweden Bridge

4. Take the path down and across the bridge. Go up the hillside on the other side of the beck until you meet the route coming up from Ambleside via Low Sweden Bridge. Turn right and follow the path up between some grassy outcrops. It's worth going up to the left to see the views back over Ambleside.

Looking back towards Ambleside

5. To your right, you can see Little Hart Crag above the pass at the top of Scandale that you will cross later in the walk.

Looking across to the Scandale Pass

6. The path starts to run alongside the impressive stone wall that runs all the way along the ridge, over Low Pike and High Pike, then upwards to Dove Crag. It's easiest to take the opportunity presented by a stile to walk on the left (west) side of the wall, only crossing to the right again when you are near to the top of High Pike.

Follow the wall all the way across Low and High Pikes

7. The ridge wall, and the path, runs over the rise of Low Pike, then continues upwards to High Pike. 

The ridge wall to High Pike - in summer and winter

8. High Pike has an obvious summit cairn, now on the right (east) side of the wall.

At the summit of High Pike - in summer and winter.

9. Continue along the wall, climbing gently up the ridge towards the rounded top of Dove Crag ahead (which doesn't look at all craggy from this approach!)

Following the wall !

10. Walkers aiming to complete the whole 'horseshoe' will continue to the top of Dove Crag but, for this route, keep an eye out to the right for a large column on the hillside, the High Bakestones cairn. This is your next destination.

Look out for the High Bakestones cairn away to the right

11. Either make your way across the grass towards High Bakestones or, when you reach a broken fence, head right (east) along the path and look out for the tall column to the south. It can't be confused with anything else, as it is a finely constructed cairn, around eight feet high.

High Bakestones with Little Hart Crag beyond it

12. Continue east after the column, finding a sometimes sketchy path going down the hillside towards Little Hart Crag. You will see the main path from the Scandale Pass, heading off to Dove Crag to the left, beneath you. Join the path and go right, down to the Scandale Pass.  Go straight across the col and up the other side.

Go up the slope on the other side of the pass

13. To reach the next 'Wainwright' on this route, you could follow the path uphill from the pass, alongside a stone wall, until you reach another broken wall heading left towards the end of the ridge that marks the summit of Middle Dodd. However, to save time, after you have gained some height, traverse left across the hillside, making your own way over to the ridge.

Make your way over to Middle Dodd

14. Take in the view down over Brothers Water and then turn back along the ridge, now heading up to the summit of Red Screes to the south.

Head up the ridge to the top of Red Screes

Looking back to Middle Dodd

15. The summit of Red Screes (2546') is certainly worth spending a little time to explore.  You will find an Ordnance Survey column, tarns and cairns.

On the summit of Red Screes

16. The best views down over the Kirkstone Pass are from rocks just below the summit, to the east. 

17. The steep, but easily climbed, direct way up to the top of Red Screes from the Kirkstone Inn, arrives at the summit to its south.

The view on the climb up from the Kirkstone Inn

18. To return to Ambleside, you can take a much gentler descent, walking beyond the summit tarns and along the clear path heading down the slope to the south-west. Below, if the sun is shining, the pinkish-red colour of the screes should make clear how the fell got its name.

The 'red screes' above the Kirkstone Inn

19. In about an hour's stroll, crossing a few stiles but with an obvious path ahead, you will reach the minor road heading up 'the Struggle' from Ambleside. The last part of the route requires a short walk down this road but you will soon be back in Ambleside again.

Loughrigg behind Ambleside as you walk down the road

Worth knowing: Below Low Pike, the Rydal Beck forms a deep pool at 'Buckstones Jum', long used by families and wild swimmers for an invigorating dip.

It's reached by taking a path upstream, on the eastern bank of the beck, from behind Rydal Hall, situated at the other, western, end of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Buckstones Jum

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