A short walk that includes a bit of everything. Fishgarths Wood is carpeted with bluebells in mid May, so we couldn’t think of a better time to explore this south-east promontory of Loughrigg Fell. After following the winding path through the wood, a short climb to Todd Crag rewards with a superb view of Windermere and beyond. A visit to Lily Tarn then follows, before descending to Clappersgate and the River Brathay, and then to the Holy Trinity Church.
A small area at the foot of Fishgarths Wood, on the A593 Coniston Road just 1.5 miles from the centre of Ambleside, provides enough parking for 4 or 5 cars.
Route 13 - Fishgarths Wood and Todd Crag - Map 1
Parking area at Fishgarths Wood, on the A593 Coniston Road
The small walled area on the right is Fishgarth Orchard which was sold to the National Trust in 1993. It was very overgrown and unloved until recently, and in spring 2017 a small group of Rangers and volunteers cut back the shrubs and planted 10 fruit trees. Traditional orchards used to be quite common in Cumbria, but they’re increasingly rare now.
Entrance to Fishgarths Wood
Now owned by the National Trust, Fishgarths Wood is very well maintained, and much work has gone towards protecting this beautiful natural gem. Please take care and stick to the paths, and only take what you bring with you; it has been reported that many bulbs have been stolen in recent years.
Fishgarth means ‘fish trap’ or ‘fish enclosure’, which must relate to the River Brathay across the road. Maybe the orchard should be named ‘Applegarth’?
Jaclyn amongst the bluebells on the lower level
Jaclyn follows a direct path through the centre of the main carpet on the lower lever, however, I follow a terrace path on the right.
Felled tree in Fishgarths Wood
Property on Nanny Brow from the terrace path
Wow, what a place to live!
Rhododendron Luteum, Yellow Azalea or Honeysuckle Azalea
Approaching the upper level of Fishgarths Wood
After skirting around the craggy area of Nanny Brow, we then follow the main path to the upper level of Fishgarths Wood.
Old wall in Fishgarths Wood
Moss-covered old stone walls are like rivers flowing through the carpets of bluebells. This is a joy for the camera.
The upper level of Fishgarths Wood
Bluebells on the upper level
Exit gate from the upper level
This gate marks the point where Fishgarths Wood is illustrated as being “private” on page: Loughrigg Fell 9, in both the first and second editions of ‘A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells’. However, a path through the wood is now included in the third ‘Walkers Edition’ of the Central Fells.
Jaclyn admiring the view from the exit gate
A lovely place to sit for lunch 🙂
This walk is basically a ‘figure of eight’ on the map, and this gate and bench mark the centre; we will return here later.
View of Windermere from the bench
Ascent to Todd Crag and descent to Clappersgate, from the bench
The path rising towards us, which will be our descent path later, is Alfred Wainwright’s “Ascent from Clappersgate” on page: Loughrigg Fell 9.
Ascent path to Todd Crag
Approaching Todd Crag
Please note that this “platform of naked rock” is not the official Todd Crag, however, locals and many fell walkers agree this to be the true Todd Crag, which is certainly worth the effort for the rewarding views. According to Ordnance Survey, the official top lies 500 metres to the west, which personally, is not worth the effort.
Even though it was a Saturday, we didn’t see anyone till we reached Todd Crag. Here, and along the ridge to Loughrigg Fell summit (if that’s your plan), you will see humans!
Scramble on Todd Crag
Although the short scramble is easy, there are even easier options of ascent on the western side.
Windermere from Todd Crag
Probably the best view of Windermere?
The Coniston Fells (right) and Black Fell (centre) from Todd Crag
Looking south-west we see our ascent from Fishgarths Wood. The Holy Trinity Church at Brathay, which we will visit at the end of our walk, can be seen down on the left.
The continuing ridge of Loughrigg Fell from Todd Crag
“….although of insignificant altitude, the fell has an extensive and confusing top, the ultimate objective remains hidden on the approach, and the maze of paths needs careful unravelling – besides, failure would be too humiliating! On a first visit it is not only not easy to locate the highest point amongst the score of likely-looking protuberances several of which carry likely-looking cairns, it is actually difficult not to go astray, and, in mist, positively easy to do so.” Loughrigg Fell 5
The Fairfield Horseshoe and Red Screes from Todd Crag
Wansfell over Ambleside, from Todd Crag
Unnamed tarn near Todd Crag
“A well made cairn in the middle of this tarn comes and goes, most probably affected by winter freezing. Someone keeps repairing it, however.” Loughrigg Fell 9
Looking back towards Todd Crag and Windermere
Lily Tarn from the ridge wall
“Lily Tarn is a highlight of this walk, identified by a tree on a tiny island, and is a popular destination for summer picnickers. With the sun beating down it would be all-too-easy to give up and fall asleep on its grassy shoreline.” Loughrigg Fell 9
Sadly the tree has taken a lie-down on the island!
Looking back to Wansfell over Lily Tarn
After following the ridge wall for a short distance, we turn left (avoiding a detour to the ‘official’ Todd Crag) and return back towards Fishgarths Wood.
Windermere from the approach to Fishgarths Wood
The gate on the right, which is our route back into Fishgarths Wood, is brand new, and the connecting wall on each side has had a lot of repair recently; just shows how much respect the National Trust deserves with the amount of work that goes into maintaining these little gems of Lakeland.
Bluebells in Fishgarths Wood
Exit from Fishgarths Wood
We now arrive back at the gateway we walked through earlier.
Windermere from the descent to Clappersgate
Sid Cross memorial bench
“A true Westmerian who loved his Langdale”
Born in Kendal in 1913, Sidney Harold Cross was a legend in the rock climbing community. At the age of 14, his first big climb was Napes Needle on Great Gable. In 1945, Sidney, together with his wife Jammy, bought a dilapidated building in Eskdale and named it Burnmoor Inn, and then later took over the Old Dungeon Ghyll hotel in Langdale. In 1949, there was no official mountain rescue service in and around Langdale, however, Sid Cross, who was a natural leader, organised the formation of volunteers into a team. After the Langdale team amalgamated with Ambleside in 1969, Cross remained president of the Langdale/Ambleside team almost until his death in 1998.
The view from the memorial bench
Approaching the grounds of the Croft
Walled lane leading to Clappersgate
Wild garlic beside the walled lane
Old door at Clappersgate
Crossing Brathay Bridge
Where the walled lane ends and meets the A593, Brathay Bridge is straight opposite. From here we follow Bog Lane for a short distance until we arrive at Holy Trinity Church.
Walking down Bog Lane
The River Brathay, especially the four mile stretch between Skelwith Force and Windermere, is very popular for kayaking and canoeing.
Swans on the River Brathay
The River Brathay, meaning ‘broad river’, starts its journey from Three Shire Stone at the highest point of Wrynose Pass, at 1289 feet (393 m).
Holy Trinity Church at Brathay
Holy Trinity Church graveyard
Holy Trinity Church graveyard
Looking back towards Todd Crag from Holy Trinity Church
From the church grounds you can see the property on Nanny Brow we saw earlier. What a lovely location!
Clappersgate Bridge over the River Brathay
Clappersgate Bridge is an old packhorse bridge and is very popular with photographers in autumn.
Walking along the A593 Coniston Road
The parking area is just a short walk from Clappersgate Bridge.