Day 0. Arrive Ambleside. Your first night's accommodation is in Ambleside at the head of Windermere, England’s longest lake. After checking in you can explore this interesting town, the capital of the South Lakes. There is a wide variety of restaurants, cafes, bars and pubs to choose from for your evening meal
Day 1. In Ambleside. To start your Wainwright odyssey, choose from a traverse of Wansfell (6 miles with a total ascent of 1885ft.), an ascent of Red Screes (7½ miles, 2450ft.), or the classic round of the Fairfield 'Horseshoe' (11 miles, 3530ft.)
Day 2. To Langdale. Todays walk starts with a gentle climb out of Ambleside to the shoulder of Loughrigg Fell offering extensive views over Windermere’s sparkling waters and of the Central Fells. Depending on your choice of options you can visit Elterwater and follow the Cumbria Way along the meandering Great Langdale Beck, or climb to Loughrigg’s summit and stride out over the ridge forming the watershed between Grasmere and Langdale, ticking off the Wainwright summits of Silver How and Blea Rigg, before descending into Langdale past the sensational Stickle Tarn.
Options: (A) Moderate. 7½ miles. 1200ft.; (B) Challenging (includes 3 Wainwright summits). 8½ miles. 2800ft.
Day 3. In Langdale. Langdale is the quintessential Lakeland Valley. No less than 7 of the summits featured as chapters in Wainwright's third book, The Central Fells, are in easy walking distance of your accommodation. Choose from all of the 'Langdale Pikes' (4 miles, 2470ft.), or the traverse of Crinkle Crags (6½ miles, 2925ft.)
Day 4. To Wasdale. Lake District fell walking doesn’t come much better than today’s offering. One of your options follows an ancient trading route over Esk Hause to reach Wasdale, Cumbria’s most remote valley containing England’s deepest lake and, it is said, it’s smallest church. Other options allow you to ‘bag’ Wainwright summits along the way, including Bowfell, Esk Pike, Broad Crag and the highest point in England, Scafell Pike. Three options today of varying degrees of difficulty. Choose the route that’s best for you.
(A) Moderate. 7½ miles. 2400ft.; (B) Challenging (includes Scafell Pike). 8½ miles. 3300ft.; (C) Very Challenging (with 5 Wainwright summits including Scafell Pike). 9 miles. 4300ft
Day 5. In Wasdale. As well as being the most remote, Wasdale is arguably the most rugged of all Lakeland valleys. Today's choices include an ascent of Yewbarrow (4½ miles, 2045ft.), or Scafell Crag (7½ miles, 3270ft).Today is also a second opportunity to climb Scafell Pike if not included in your chosen option of the previous day.
Day 6. To Buttermere. From Wasdale you cross two passes to reach Buttermere, the valley of many lakes. Starting with an easy stroll along Mosedale, you then climb to the Black Sail Pass. From here you have the option to make an ascent of Pillar before descending to the Black Sail hut, possibly England's most isolated youth hostel. Another ascent brings you to Scarth Gap from where there is an option to visit Wainwright's last resting place on Haystacks. From the Scarth Gap, you make your descent into beautiful Buttermere your overnight accommodation for the next 2 nights.
(6½ miles, 2255ft. or 9½ miles, 3600ft. with optional ascents).
Day 7. In Buttermere. Your options today include a circuit of the lake (4½ miles, 445ft.), an ascent of the mighty Grasmoor to the north-east (7 miles, 3444ft.), or a sensational traverse of the skyline overlooking the south-western shore (9 miles, 3175ft).
Day 8. To Keswick. The next valley in our Grand Tour of the Lake District is Newlands and you can choose to walk there on a relatively low level route via the tributary valleys of Sail Beck and Rigg Beck (9 miles, 1800ft), or a high level route which takes in the summits of Robinson and Hindscarth (10 miles, 3200ft). Both options continue to Keswick on the shores of Derwentwater.
Day 9. In Keswick. If you are in need of a rest from 'Wainwright bagging', there is the option to visit the ancient stone circle at Castle Rigg. You can also make a circuit of the lake either on foot or by boat, or even a mix of both. For summiteers, the dominant peak above the town is Skiddaw, England's 4th highest mountain. We offer a couple of different route options to climb it from 7½ miles to 9½ miles. Approximately 3200ft - 3500ft of ascent.
Day 10. To Ullswater. You begin the day with a transfer by private vehicle (20 minutes) to Glenridding or Patterdale on Ullswater, the 'Queen' of the lakes. Today's walk traverses Place Fell with sensational views over the lake and across to the Helvellyn range, and then returns on a trail running along the quiet eastern shoreline (8¾ miles, 2275ft). For an easier day, catch a 'steamer' to Howtown, halfway along the lake and walk the shore path back to Glenridding.
Day 11. In Ullswater. One of the most evocative names in Lakeland is Helvellyn which stands above the western shore of Ullswater, and its most famous route of ascent is Striding Edge. Today you have the option to make this airy ascent along the short but narrow ridge connecting the mountain to Birkhouse Moor (7¾ miles, 2875ft). Alternatively, Helvellyn can be reached by the less dramatic but no less scenic route around the head of Keppel Cove (9¾ miles, 2900ft).
Day 12. To Ambleside. The circuit is completed today as you walk from the 'Queen' to the 'King' of the lakes. Walking from Patterdale to the hamlet of Hartsop, you then have the option to cross the Kirkstone Pass via Caudale Moor and St Raven's Edge, or the more challenging route, following the ancient Roman road over High Street. Both routes converge at the Kirkstone Pass Inn before descending Stock Ghyll into Ambleside. (10 miles, 2,500ft or 13 miles, 3500ft).
Day 13. In Ambleside. A chance to relax, cruise on the lake, or to enjoy one of the route options from day 1.
Day 14. Depart Ambleside. Let us know if you would like us to book a taxi to Windermere or Oxenholme raiway stations.