Brockhole to Ambleside via Jenkyn Crag

Misty morning at Waterhead, Ambleside

Submitted: 3Jun10

Date Updated: 

Recommended Map:  Explorer OL7

Difficulty Rating: 

20% Complete (warning)


An easy family outing

Danger Rating: 

20% Complete (warning)

See below

Time to complete: 
About 2 hours plus returnDistance: About 5.5 (3.5 miles)

Car Parking/Walk Start:There is a large car park at the Brockhole Visitor Centre, which is operated by the Lake District National Park Authority (  The grounds remain open until dusk but the Centre closes at 5pm.  Park in the upper car park as a sign states that the gate to the lower car park is locked at 6pm.

Overview of Walk:

Boat at Brockhole, WindermereThis walk is a very easy as a family walk, on the lower slopes of Wansfell, with wonderful views of Lake Windermere.  The walk starts from the Brockhole Visitor Centre Car Park and ends in Waterhead, Ambleside – the return to Brockhole is achieved through a frequent bus service on the main road through the Lake District or, for the more adventurous, through a 40 minute lake cruise from Waterhead, Ambleside.

DANGER NOTE: There are some very brief sections of road walking on quiet minor roads.  There is an opportunity to go onto Jenkyn Crag but care should be taken if there are children in your group.Boat at Waterhead, Windermere


None en route, but any visitor to Ambleside is spoilt for choice, with facilities for all tastes and budgets.

Wheelchair and Push Chair Suitability: 

Not suitable.

Public Transport: 

Bus Service 555 or 559

Waterhead, Windermere

Brockhole to Ambleside Walk Description:

From the car park head toward the main road then turn right and within yards cross over the busy A591 using the traffic island.  Head up the public bridleway, Mirk Lane, which is a surfaced road, which becomes gravelled before becoming a narrow path immediately after some houses.  Continue on the path until you cross over a beck and enter a surfaced road.  Turn left here and very shortly the footpath becomes a loose stone path as it rises steeply uphill, with your first decent glimpse of Lake Windermere on your right.

Continue upwards and immediately after passing through the buildings at Castle Syke Farm you enter a surfaced road, known as Holbeck Lane.  Turn left and, after 100 metres or so, leave Holbeck Lane by turning right onto a private tarmac road, Skelghyll Lane, which is also a public footpath/right of way.  You pass several houses and head down towards a gate.  Go through it and head uphill steeply, which is thankfully short lived.  After a further uphill section the way to Ambleside is eventually signposted.  For those wishing to do a circular walk back to Brockhole, there is the option here to head back via Low Wood and along the pavement next to the A591.  However, if you do this you will miss the best views which are enjoyed after you pass through the gates at High Skelghyll Farm.  Assuming you have stuck with the planned walk, a little further on from High Skelghyll there are two benches where you can sit, relax and enjoy the fine views over Lake Windermere and Blelham Tarn.  Beyond the benches there is the option of a short diversion onto Jenkyn Crag, a Victorian viewpoint now partly obscured by trees – for obvious safety reasons, children need to be kept under control here.

Map of Brockhole to Ambleside, Lake District

Returning to the main path head on towards Ambleside through Skelghyll Wood.  The path eventually splits in two for a short distance and a gentler descent can be made on the path on the right.  Both paths rejoin each other after a short distance and you will soon have another option of two paths.  Again, take the one on the right crossing over Stencher Beck.  Bear right again when you are presented with further alternative routes further down the path.

The footpath becomes a tarmac path, eventually with dry stone walls on both sides.  Soon Hayes Garden World comes into view.  For those wishing to take a 40 minute lake cruise back to Brockhole take the path on the left signposted, “Beware this public footpath exits into a blind bend”, just before Hayes Garden Centre is seen (best avoided if you are wearing shorts as it can be overgrown with nettles in summer).  For those returning on the bus continue on past the mountain rescue station and the bus stop is next to the Fisherbeck Guest House.  However, why return straight away when you can enjoy a walk around Ambleside, which has a superb family park.

The 555 and 559 bus service from Ambleside to Brockhole is frequent and stops outside the gates at the Brockhole Visitor Centre.  If there is more than one adult in the group, a money saving tip is for the car driver to take the 5 minute bus journey back to Brockhole, returning to Ambleside in the car to pick up the other passengers in your group.  Bus times can be found at

Similarly, the lake cruises from Waterhead to Brockhole, via Wray Castle, run frequently in the high season.  Times and prices can be found on

Boats at Waterhead, Windermere

Points of Interest: The house and gardens at Brockhole were built in the 1890s and since 1965 it has been the main visitor centre in the Lake District.  There is a pay car park but the entry to the gardens is free.  For those with children, the adventure playground at Brockhole is one of the best around, so plenty of time should be allowed to enjoy the attractions of this place.

Jenkyn Crag was recently voted the UK’s most romantic picnic spot.

Brockhole, Lake DistrictWaterhead, Windermere

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Signs used in maps

Whilst we try our very best to ensure the accuracy of this information, we accept no liability for anyone getting lost or injured.  You should always consult your ordnance survey map for exact details and wear appropriate clothing for the weather conditions.