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Wansfell from Garburn Track.jpg
Wansfell above Troutbeck village.
Range: Lake District Far Eastern Fells
Summit: 1,601 feet NY403051
54°26’16"N, 2°55’19"W

Wansfell is a fell in the Lake District, within Westmorland, a mile and half east of Ambleside. The fell is part of the long southern ridge of Caudale Moor and occupies the swathe of territory between Ambleside and the Troutbeck valley.


Looking south from Wansfell Pike to Windermere

Wansfell has an extensive summit ridge with two tops, the highest point of the fell is called Baystones with a height of 1,601 feet while Wansfell Pike, which is to the south-west reaches an elevation of 1,581 feet. Of the two summits Wansfell Pike is regarded as the “true” summit of the fell by many fell walkers because of its superior view, even though it is the lower of the pair.

Despite its modest elevation, Wansfell has significant topographic prominence being linked to the higher fell of Caudale Moor by a col near the Kirstone Pass road (A 592) with the height of around 1,113 feet, giving the fell prominence just ten feet short of the necessary prominence to be listed as a 'Marilyn'. (The summit was deleted from the original list of Marilyns in 1999 but was re-instated due to a change in the recorded summit position, and removed again on remeasurement in 2010.

Wansfell has strong connections to Ambleside and is seen as very much belonging to the town, with Bill Birkett saying “Wansfell is to Ambleside what St. Pauls is to London”. The popularity of the ascent from Ambleside led to severe erosion which became so bad that the path underwent restoration work in the late 1990s using stone blocks and sections of the path now resemble a stone staircase.


The fell's name is thought to originate from the Old Norse language and can draw a parallel with Wansdyke in Somerset in that it is named after the main Norse god and means “Woden's Fell”.

Fell race

Wansfell hosts a popular short fell race which takes place annually between Christmas and the New Year, the winning runner usually takes around 20 minutes to complete the two-and-a-half mile course.


The fell is predominately ascended from Ambleside using the road which leaves the town centre and goes past Stockghyll Force waterfall before bearing right onto the restored footpath which is followed to the summit. An ascent is also possible from Troutbeck, on the eastern side of the fell, following a farm track called Nanny Lane until the open fell is reached from where it is an easy climb to the summit. A path through Skelghyll Wood ascends by way of Kelsick Scar and visits a disused aqueduct observatory on the way.

Wansfell is on the route of the Windermere Way, a long distance path that circumambulates Windermere.


The fell's two summits are linked by a dry stone wall, Wansfell Pike is the lower of the two but has a more attractive rocky top and a better view, with Windermere looking particularly attractive to the south. The highest point (Baystones) is a grassy hummock marked by a few stones.


  • Wainwright, Alfred: A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, Book Two — The Far Eastern Fells (1957)
  • Complete Lakeland Fells, Bill Birkett, ISBN 0-00-713629-3