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Walk 3519 - printer friendly version

High Sweden Bridge Walk

Author - Peter Smyly

Length - 3.0 miles / 4.9 km

Ascent - 700 feet / 212 metres

Grade - easy/mod

Start - OS grid reference NY375045
Lat 54.432061 + Long -2.9649759
Postcode LA22 9AD (approx. location only)

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.

Walk 3519 Route Map

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