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Secretly tucked away behind Ambleside is the high valley of Scandale. In times past it provided a direct link between Ambleside and Patterdale for foot and packhorse traffic but with the surfacing of the route over Kirkstone Pass it has fallen out of favour and become something of a backwater. For walkers however this change in fortune is a real bonus, as it provides an unexpectedly quiet and attractive route into the hills, direct from the hustle and bustle of Ambleside.
From the top of the dale at Scandale Pass one option is to break out North West and head towards peaks like Dove Crag, Fairfield or St Sunday Crags. This is a fairly full on choice and will suit experienced walkers. If you are new to the area or want a little less challenging area then the fine summit of Red Screes is the mountain to head for. It sits in a lofty and slightly detached position and can be reached easily from Scandale Pass by a brisk ascent to the South East. Its distinct summit is marked by a trig point and a cairn from where you get superb panoramic views. To the South you can look out over the roofs of Ambleside and along the length of Windermere then to the North you can peer through the depths of Hartsop to the shining waters of Brothers Water and Ullswater, and if that isn't enough to the West and East you have the great peaks of the Central and Eastern fells.
The terrain is village roads, lanes & fell tracks, valley bottom path, mountain pass, steep fellside, stony summit and high rounded ridge.
5 - 6 hours
1. From the mini-round about on the A591, at the North end of the village, take the Kirkstone Road up hill for about 100m to road on the Left. This is Sweden Bridge Lane, follow it to its end to join a footpath along the East bank of Scandale Beck. This path is then followed as it climbs North, right the way along Scandale to the col at Scandale Pass.
2. On top of Scandale Pass is a dry stone wall. This makes a handy navigational feature and acts as a handrail leading towards the summit of Red Screes. From the pass turn Right follow the wall South East. As the gradient eases and the summit of Red Screes is neared you reach another wall running at right-angles. Cross this wall then follow the path East across open fell to the summit rocks and trig point.
3. From the summit of Red Screes head South West past the edge of the crags to the cairn at Raven Crag. Continue descending South West past the cairn to cross a wall. Past the wall the path swings south and descends a broad ridge over Snarker Pike.
4. The path then starts to trend south southwest but still continues down the crest of the broad ridge. Pickup the wall side path and follow it down the ridge, into an old lane and out onto Kirkstone Road. This is then followed back down into Ambleside.