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You don't have to climb to the top of the highest peaks to experience the magical mixture of mountain and water that makes the Lake District so special. Right on the very door step of Ambleside there is a cluster of little hills that will let you savour this special landscape without having to make a major expedition. The hills in question lie on the western side of Ambleside and form a long shoulder that extends towards the village from the side of Loughrigg Fell. There are a number of summits on this shoulder all of which are worth visiting, pride of place though goes to Todd Crag, a prominent flat topped rocky prow which once scrambled onto gives stunning views right the way down to Windermere. Also up there are a collection of beautifully situated tarns. Some are hidden behind knolls and others such as Lily Tarn are right by the path. Great fun can be had searching them out and each one provides a different and interesting view of the surrounding fells and mountains.
Access to the shoulder that holds Todd Crag and Lily Tarn is very easy and simply involves a walk across Rothay Park straight from the centre of Ambleside, then a short but steep climb up the fell side of Miller Brow. The uphill bit is first along lanes and tracks, and then along a rocky path, a steady pace will soon get the work done, leaving plenty of time to explore the top and then make a return along a well established bridleway that crosses over the fell from Loughrigg Tarn.
Ambleside - Lily Tarn - Todd Crag - Ambleside
2 - 3 hours
1. From Compston Road in Ambleside take the footpath that leads past the parish church into Rothay Park. Cross the park and head for the footbridge (Miller Bridge) over the River Rothay. Across the bridge turn right along the lane on the other side, then turn immediately left onto a bridleway (steep drive way). Follow the bridleway steeply up hill towards Brow Head Farm. After 350m at a sharp bend there is a path on the left. This is the path up to Lily Tarn, join it, and follow it steeply South for about 600m until you pop out onto the crest of the shoulder. From here the path turns West and works its way round to Lily Tarn.
2. After taking in Lily Tarn continue West along the path (generally following the North side of a wall), after about 300m you will notice a rocky prominence on the far side of the wall, this is Todd Crag. The top of Todd Crag can be gained via a short scramble up its easiest side. Once you have explored Todd Crag, and the other rocky knolls here about, regain the path, and continue West along it to join the bridleway at the col (dip) on the eastern side of Loughrigg Fell below Black Mire.
3. The bridleway climbs a little East to the crest of a brow follow it over the brow and down hill across open fell. It heads North East for a bit then turns East and shadows a wall to the head of the access road to Brow Head Farm. Follow the access road down hill past the farm to join the road beside the River Rothay. Retrace you steps across Miller Bridge then head back to Ambleside via Rothay.