logo Walking Britain

Lake District Walk
High Sweden Bridge from Ambleside

Nat Park - Lake District - Lake District Eastern Fells

County/Area - Cumbria

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 3.0 miles / 4.9 km    Ascent - 700 feet / 212 metres

Time - 2 hours 10 minutes    Grade - easy/mod

Maps Ordnance Survey Logo Anquet Maps Logo

Ordnance Survey Explorer OL5Sheet Map1:25kBUY
Anquet OS Explorer OL5Digital Map1:25kBUY
Ordnance Survey Landranger 90Sheet Map1:50kBUY
Anquet OS Landranger 90Digital Map1:50kBUY

Walk Route Description

Photo from the walk - High Sweden Bridge from Ambleside
Click image to visit gallery of 6 images.

Although the name is not Scandinavian in origin, High Sweden Bridge is a packhorse bridge, a mile up the Scandale Valley from Ambleside. The bridge enables a lovely Lake District circular walk to be made, by crossing Scandale Beck and returning down the other side of the valley via Low Sweden Bridge. Or, for walkers with more time for a walk, it represents the first stretch in an anti-clockwise round of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

The route offers no difficulties from a route-finding perspective. Sturdy footwear is advisable since the trail is rocky in places and liable to be wet where side streams enter the main bridleway going up to High Sweden Bridge. The only notably steep stretch is when you leave High Sweden Bridge and head up a well constructed path on the other side to gain the path going back down to Ambleside.

One possible start point is the car park off Rydal Road in Ambleside, then crossing Rydal Road to walk up Smithy Brow which joins the Kirkstone Road coming downhill from the left. Take the first left turning for Sweden Bridge Lane. Follow the tarmac road all the way up the hill, passing Ellerigg Road on the right before the road ahead shortly becomes an unsurfaced bridleway leading through a gate away from houses and with fields either side beyond dry stone walls. The route winds its way up with views of Wansfell Pike to the right. To the left there is a view looking down on the village of Ambleside with Loughrigg immediately behind and Rydal Water to its right. Further away you can see, from left to right, the mountains of Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, the Langdale Pikes and Sergeant Man. It is also possible to see, further up the lane, part of the return route down the other side of the valley with the Fairfield Horseshoe as a backdrop.

After passing a barn on the right, the track goes downhill for a short distance to enter deciduous woodland and the rushing waters of Scandale Beck can be seen and heard some distance below to the left. Eventually the track and the beck become much closer as High Sweden Bridge appears round a corner, still another hundred yards or so distant. There are some fine cascades on the beck here if you look over the edge from near the path, though care should be taken.

The bridge is a fine example of a packhorse bridge and is believed to be centuries old. Looking up the Scandale valley, Red Screes is the mountain to the right while High Pike and Low Pike appear on the left, part of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Now cross the bridge and follow the constructed stone path up the other side of the fellside, crossing a wooden stile on the way. The path then follows down the shoulder of the fell on the other side of Scandale Beck with a fine view ahead overlooking the village of Ambleside with Windermere (lake) beyond, backed by Latterbarrow, the highest point on Claife Heights. The track descends to cross the river at Low Sweden Bridge where there are some cascades and then, passes through a gate, leading to Low Nook Farm. Following the tarmac secondary road, the Charlotte Mason Library is passed on the right along with some cottages. At the next fork, turn left on to Belle Vue Lane which in turn leads you back to Sweden Bridge Lane and the Kirkstone Road. Or alternatively continue straight on down Nook Lane to return to the village and the start point.

Other walks nearby

Walk 1002 The Fairfield Horseshoe from Amblesidemod/hard11.0 miles
Walk 1170 A shortened version of the Fairfield Horseshoemod/hard9.5 miles
Walk 1023 Wansfell Pike & Wansfell from Amblesideeasy/mod7.5 miles
Walk 3075 Ambleside and Rydal circular easy/mod6.5 miles
Walk 3423 Dove Crag & Red Screes - Scandale Horseshoemod/hard9.5 miles

Recommended Books & eBooks

Walking the Lake District Fells - Buttermere

Walking the Lake District Fells - ButtermerePart of the Walking the Lake District Fells series, this guidebook covers a wide range of routes to 32 Lakeland summits that can be climbed from the Buttermere, Lorton and Newlands valleys, with highlights including Haystacks, High Stile, Grasmoor and the fells of the Coledale Round. Suggestions for longer ridge routes are also included.
More information

Outdoor Adventures with Children - Lake District

Outdoor Adventures with Children - Lake DistrictGuidebook to 40 outdoor adventures in the Lake District with children under 12, including walking, cycling, orienteering, paddling, boating, hostelling and more. Graded activities for varying age ranges or for families with children of different ages.
More information

The End to End Trail

The End to End Trail
More information

Further Information

Walk Location Map

Walk location map

Lake District Walking

The Lake District National Park is seen by many as one of the scenic gems of the British Isles. The natural beauty has attracted many artists and writers through the centuries and today the same scenery provides the perfect backdrop to a wide variety of walks. The National Park is located wholly within Cumbria with Windermere, Ambleside and Keswick the main tourist towns. For many this is the finest area in England for walking with a wide variety of scenery. Even on the busiest weekends it is possible to get away from the crowds by carefully selecting one of the less-visited fells. More Information

Walk grading - Learn how each walk is assessed and select a walk to suit your ability and experience by going to Walk Grading Details.

Accommodation Nearby

Lattendales Guest House
0.1 miles / 0.1 km away
Parkhouse Guesthouse
0.1 miles / 0.1 km away
Riverside B&B
0.3 miles / 0.5 km away
Riverside Lodge
0.4 miles / 0.7 km away
* Featured Supplier
Rothay Manor Hotel & Restaurant
0.4 miles / 0.7 km away

Self Catering & Cottage Holidays - Properties throughout the UK & Europe

Follow Walking Britain for the latest news. Facebook Twitter

Mountain Weather

Stay safe on the mountains with detailed weather forecasts - for iOS devices or for Android devices.