This five and a half mile walk avoids the direct ascent from the Stock Ghyll valley, which has become very popular recently. It must be in a well read book of walks. This walk is both less steep and pleasanter, passing throught Skelghyll Wood twice. It is described from the Low Fold car park just north of Hayes, but could be from the free parking on the road before that, or elswhere. Follow the road from the top of the car park right, and take the first left branch, Skelghyll lane. Follow the signs to Skelghyll wood and ascend through it: there are various ways, but all must cross Stencher beck. When an obvious sign on the left just after a broken wall indicates Kelsick Scar, take the path up through the wood, keeping right higher up at a junction, to cross a wall by a stile into open country. A curious “Pillar” appears, and the path, boggy in places winds upwards to join a track, which is followed left. Through the second gate the path now turns left and back right to a final steepening before a stile, after which follow the wall to the top. The highest point (this is Wansfell Pike) is on the same side, but most people assume it’s to the west, and you could have got there by going left over a stile before the final mound and scrambling up easily.
If you want to bag the actual Wainwright, Wansfell, then carry on along the undulating ridge to the pile of stones on a hummock this side of a wall across the ridge, which most people take to be the summit, and from which a clear path descends to the south. The maps show the summit of 487m, 5m higher than the Pike, to be on the far side of this wall, so take your pick. Wainwright himself in his original edition seemed to indicate the top was south of the wall. The descent path takes two ways lower down, both to a stile onto Nanny Lane. follow this down to a path on the right at the second left track angulation, and ascend slightly to just before the next wall. The above adds 1.7miles to the total.
Here the obvious descent from Wansfell Pike joins the above: turn south across helpful stones (when boggy), and carry on to a delightful Waterfall, our usual lunch spot. Beyond that Hundreds Road track leads in a km to the path right to High Skelghyll Farm and the reverse of your ascent route. In May a detour to visit the flowering Rhododendrons, Camellias and Azaleas in Stagshaw Gardens is a must, before reascending to the path.