Ambleside - Sweden Bridge - Ambleside
2 - 3 hours
Cutting deeply into the hills on the northern side of Ambleside, the wild and lonely valley of Scandale is a real surprise. Being so close to the hustle and bustle you would expect it to be the same with houses dotted along it's length and people coming and going about their business, but nothing could be further from the truth. Once you get past the village boundary at the valley mouth it's like entering a different world. Neat rows of houses and shops are instantly replaced by wild woodland, dashing becks and deserted open fellside. The only signs of human activity you will find in Scandale are the odd lines of moss covered dry-stone walls and a very old pack horse bridge. At one time it used to be a popular link route between Ambleside and Patterdale but with the construction of the road over Kirkstone Pass it lost favour with travellers and returned to its natural state of peace and quiet.
Some walkers climb its length and use it as a route onto the higher fells but one of the best ways of exploring it is to do a loop up and down its lower half. This short loop is an ideal entry level walk and along its course you get chance to sample the wonderful character of Scandale then on the return part of the walk you will be treated to some superb high-level views of Rydal and Grasmere. The main target of the walk is the picturesque and much photographed packhorse bridge, High Sweden Bridge. This is approached along a nice steady path that gains height in a gentle manner. Once High Sweden Bridge has been reached there is then a steeper climb onto the ridge that runs south from Low Pike, fortunately the climb is short lived and once you are established on the ridge you are rewarded by far reaching and expansive views all the way back down to Ambleside.
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 east bank of Scandale Beck. This path is then followed as it climbs North, through the woods at Rough Side to High Sweden Bridge.
2. Cross the bridge and follow the path on the other side that climbs South West up hill alongside a dry stone wall. After 250m the gradient eases and the path joins the main ridge path at a T junction. Turn left and follow the main ridge path as it descends steadily south. As height is lost the path works its way onto the crest of the ridge and the views down towards Rydal and Grasmere open out.
3. As the path nears the foot of the ridge it does a sharp turn left into a zig-zag which leads down to Low Sweden Bridge. Cross the bridge and join the track on the other side which leads to the houses at Nook End Farm. Past the farm head south along the lane and follow it back into Ambleside.
|Time/Effort:||1 out of 5|
|Navigation:||1 out of 5|
|Technicality:||1 out of 5|
|Height gain/loss (metres):||260metres (853feet)|
|OS map:||OS Landranger 90, OS Explorer OL7|
- Start point: (near Ambleside)