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Ambleside Champion Tree Trail


The Champion Tree Trail is a 45-minute circular route through Skelghyll Woods. Just follow the tree symbols along the way and discover some of the tallest trees in England. This trail links nicely with the 'Explore from Waterhead' downloadable trail which takes you to Stagshaw Gardens and around Skelghyll Woods.

Have a picnic with you?

Bring it along, we've got picnic benches in all the best spots.

The starter post of the tree trail walk
Dicsover Cumbria's tallest tree National Trust / Ben Knipe


Route map for Ambleside champion tree trail
Crown copyright and database rights 2013 Ordnance Survey


Stagshaw Garden Car Park, off the A591, grid ref: NY38100290


When standing in the car park for Stagshaw Gardens look up hill and you will see a metal sign saying ‘Skelghyll Woods’. At this sign take the right hand footpath into the woods.

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Follow the route as it passes the first of three picnic benches, and joins a historic track which is wide and gentle as it passes through conifers that were planted by Victorian plant hunters.

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Shortly after passing through a gap cut into a fallen tree you should turn left to begin a steep climb through the ‘gallery of giants'.

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If you don’t have the energy to walk up this steep hill there is a picnic bench here where you can admire champion trees with ease. Otherwise continue up hill, looking at the trees as you go.

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After a short trek you will be in amongst the tallest Wellingtonia and Douglas Fir trees in Cumbria and the tallest Grand Fir in England. Their heights are written on plaques attached to the trees.


Half way up the hill turn right to follow a narrow path onto a wide rocky outcrop. If you turn around and look, you can see the tallest tree in its entirety, a rare and awe-inspiring sight!


From here stay on the outcrop but meander up hill to re-join the path as it gently curves up and left passing another picnic bench, sited on a flat piece of ground called a ‘charcoal hearth’ that coppice craftsmen will have used when making charcoal.


Pass through another gap in a fallen tree and follow the gentle curve up and right weaving between trees in a conifer grove, each with unique colours and patterns on their bark.


On joining a level path, turn left and follow this until you reach a junction with a larger path weaving down through the wood. Follow this wide track down hill, keeping left as you go, past a beautiful bubbling beck.


After what should feel like no time at all you will find yourself back in the car park where you started, and hopefully with enough time to explore Stagshaw Gardens.


Stagshaw Garden Car Park, off the A591, grid ref: NY38100290

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Ambleside Champion Tree Trail


The trail follows some original paths and tracks that were first used by coppice craftsmen to move cut timber around the wood and then by the Victorians as they planted exotic conifer trees. These are generally wide and undulating but have narrow and bumpy parts leading up and down hill. The trail has one short and steep climb which is lined with very tall trees, worthy of a stop to admire them whilst catching a breath.

Ambleside Champion Tree Trail

Contact us

Telephone: 01539 446027
Ambleside Champion Tree Trail

How to get here

Ambleside, Cumbria
By road

From the A591 at Waterhead, turn down a narrow driveway signposted for Stagshaw Gardens.

By foot

From the ferry or car park at Waterhead, follow the pavement back towards Windermere past the traffic lights for about 300yards. Opposite a converted petrol station there is a footpath which takes you to the driveway which leads up to Stagshaw Garden car park.

Ambleside Champion Tree Trail

Facilities and access

  • Toilets available at various points across the grounds
  • Dogs are welcome; due to animals grazing please keep your dog on a lead and take any mess home with you
  • Grounds - terrain is varied across the property