Mickleden valley trail, Lake District

Walking trail

After leaving the Old Dungeon Ghyll, the only sign of habitation you'll encounter is Stool End Farm which you'll see off to the left at the junction of Oxendale and Mickleden valleys.

Discover the uninhabited valley of Mickleden

The vast majority of the walk passes through an area that has a real sense of wilderness about it. The trail runs west along Mickleden on a well-defined, level path below Pike O’ Stickle on the right and The Band on the left. Glacial moraines come into view as you approach the head of the valley where the path splits at the bottom of two ancient mountain passes, Rossett Gill and Stake Pass. This is the turnaround point for the walk.

Mickleden, Lake District


Map route for Mickleden trail


Old Dungeon Ghyll National Trust car park, grid ref: NY286061


Leave the car park and walk behind the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel, through a gate and on to the stony track. You'll follow this path all the way along the valley.

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Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel


The crags up on your right-hand side are very popular with climbers. It's not always easy to spot climbers at this distance, but keep your eyes open for glimpses of their coloured outfits against the grey rockface.


A little further along the path, the slopes below White Crag have been planted with juniper trees. Juniper is historically important to Cumbria - the wood was used for charcoal burning and the berries in the making of gin. The surrounding crags provide nesting for the peregrine falcon and the lower rock streamed valley is home to the migrating Wheatear.

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Juniper trees


As the valley opens up, you get a sense that this place has always been an uninhabited wilderness, but you would be mistaken. Neolithic stone axe making existed here as long as ago as 3000 BC. The earliest permanent settlers were probably Norse (by way of Ireland) after the tenth century. Norse influence in the valley can be seen in place names such as Thrang, Rossett and Oxendale. The word ‘Mickleden’ comes from the old Norse for great (mickle), added to the old English for valley (den).

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Pike O' Stickle


As you near the head of the valley look out for the strange lumps and bumps on the valley floor. These are glacial moraines.

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Glacial moraines


Continue on the path past the glacial moraines until you reach the wooden bridge across the stream near to the walled sheep pen. This is the turnaround point for the walk. Take time to rest and enjoy the views before heading back along the same route to your start point at the Old Dungeon Ghyll.

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Sheep pen


Old Dungeon Ghyll National Trust car park, grid ref: NY286061

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Mickleden valley trail, Lake District


An easy to follow, flat route along the valley bottom. The track is stony in places, particularly the first section, so sturdy footwear is required.

Mickleden valley trail, Lake District

Contact us

Mickleden valley trail, Lake District

How to get here

Old Dungeon Ghyll National Trust car park, Ambleside, LA22 9JY
By road

Take the A593 from Ambleside to Skelwith Bridge, then turn right along the B5343 heading for Great Langdale. After around 4 miles (6.5km) on the B5343 you'll pass the New Dungeon Ghyll Hotel and the Sticklebarn tavern on your right.

Drive on for approximately 1 more mile (1.6km) where you'll see the Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel again on your right-hand side. The National Trust car park is adjacent to the hotel car park.

Mickleden valley trail, Lake District

Facilities and access

  • Refreshments at Old Dungeon Ghyll Hotel
  • Public toilets at Stickle Ghyll car park