An Afternoon on Low Fell & Fellbarrow

31st July 2011

This morning I woke up with a self induced banging head, no plans at all for Lakeland it was going to be a recovery day from the previous nights events, after all; this week I have a whole week off from work with nothing planned except little family excursions and countless bike rides & no-doubt wandering around hand bag shops in Southport with the misses.

That desire that burns within got me at this late hour, even with my thick head it held a firm glow (this & the fact today was the best of the weather for over the next four days) So without haste & absolute no planning (not like me at all) I got my gear together & within the hour I found myself at the local Co-Op buying nearly out of date BLT sandwiches &  a flap jack for the journey all for the pure fact that I just couldn’t be bothered making my own.

By this time it was getting on (around 09:50) & I estimated  arrival in Lakeland for around lunch time. I had two fells in mind to cure what ailed me, Low Fell & Fellbarrow, where the North Western fells become the Western fells in & around Loweswater & Lorton Vale, the North Western fells are probably my favourite group of fells next to the East & Far Eastern for me so I knew I wasn’t going to be disappointed, & that I wasn’t.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Western Fells

When the doctor forbids climbing above 1500 feet, the future of his patient need not be entirely bleak. There is always Low  Fell, and its ascent from Thackthwaite by way of Watching Crag is  a very lovely epitome of the best of the days gone by. It is also a worthwhile little exercise for those perfect specimens with strength enough to tackle Everest.


Ascent: 1,500 Feet, 458 Meters
Wainwrights: 2, Low Fell & Fellbarrow
Weather: Dry & Overcast, Muggy. Breezy On Tops, Highs Of 21° Lows Of 19°
Parking: Parking Space, Foulsyke Cottages, Thackthwaite
Area: Western
Miles: 5.3
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Foulsyke Cottages Loweswater.

My intended route to gain the slopes of Low Fell was about a mile an a half back along this road in the Hamlet of Thackthwaite, as I drove through Thackthwaite  I noticed all (enough for about four medium size cars) car spaces had been taken up, true to the saying ‘The early bird catches the worm’ so the route you are about to see is in reverse of the one I had in my head on the drive up.  It was no problem at all & I was lucky enough to grab this spot right next to the Public Footpath.


Within minutes of leaving the car the views really did open up, here with the dominance of Mellbreak on the right, Crummock Water & Rannerdale Knotts centre left.


My path took me through this meadow & in to the woods you see flanking the lower slopes of Low Fell.


This was the second sty I had come across & it was very tempting to leave the wooded path & head straight up the fell as there were faint paths from both sty’s I crossed, I persevered with the wooded path knowing I would pick up the main path in a little while.


Its not the best of paths I know but this is the main path that will lead you to the summit, the bracken here was manageable but as I  gained more height it got chest deep at some levels, this I could cope with, the midges & horse fly’s however were getting out of hand.


Through the trees, Grasmoor.


The chest high bracken meant I couldn’t see where I was putting my feet, every sweep of a step I used my legs as a wader to open up the path a little, It doesn’t look it but this part of the path was very steep & energy sapping, I couldn’t imagine ever coming through here after some rain fall.


But the views were more than worth it, here we have Mellbreak on the right with White Side on the left & Rannerdale Knotts taking centre rolling into the shores of Crummock Water, over to the right again in the distance is  the peak of Red Pike forming the High Stile Ridge.


Still deep with in the bracken & nearly been buzzed & bitten half to death this part of the ascent was more annoying than anything, I mustn’t taste very good but that didn’t stop the bugs from trying, at one point I got all sissy & covered my mouth with my hand, I think I would have bawked if I swallowed just one of these bugs!


With the bracken well & truly out of the way I reached this fence that would lead me all the way to the top of the ridge, in fact if you were in pursuit of Darling Fell way over on the other side just follow this fence & it will lead you all the way to its summit.


What I can promise you is lots of view towards Crummock Water & its surrounding fells, no matter what light you have, this is up there with the best views in Lakeland.


Low Fell south summit cairn.


White Side & Grasmoor from the summit of Low Fell.


And over to the West of the summit, Loweswater, Carling Knott & Burnbank Fell.


One last picture before I leave the south summit & head for the main summit about a hundred yards away north.


Low Fell north’s (main) summit cairn, I think if I’m right in saying that there is only about 25 feet in between both summits.


Now leaving Low Fell for Fellbarrow along this small grassy ridge walk, its just over a mile away & its peak can be seen at the far end of the ridge.


I had just passed this young farmer, staff in hand with his four sheep dogs on a section of the ridge called Sourfoot Fell, I paused to take more pictures of Crummock Water & watched in awe as one of the dogs (out of shot) hurtled up & down the steep fell side at command to just a few yep’s & hey’s to round up about a dozen sheep, it seriously ran those sheep ragged & loved every minute of it, another three sheep dogs loving every minute was his or hers brothers & sisters sat watching from above.

My dad has two collies, in fact they are both mother & daughter both loyal to him to within a heart beat, my dad calls them his girls & that I guess makes them my sisters, joking aside, if you have a pet dog & if it is anything like my westie who sleeps 24/7 & is pampered to beyond belief as is your dog I guess, seeing these dogs in action just makes my dog come from another planet, not even from the same mould.

I chuckled as I set of again at the thought of our westie asleep in her cosy Scrufts blue & tartan basket all curled up asleep & thought, Lucy you do not even come close!


From Sourfoot Fell, White Side, Grasmoor & the Grisedale Pike Fells in the distance.


Picking up this wall & up the grassy slopes of Smithy Fell seen ahead, with a gentle incline & Fellbarrow in its shadow this was a favourite part of the walk for me.


Approaching the Trig Point on Fellbarrow & I appear to be on the wrong side of the fence which got me wondering why  is the path I have been following suddenly switched sides? oh well I can see the damage this has caused to the fence wire ahead so like every one else I’ll hop over it.


Fellbarrow summit cairn & Trig Point, it was quite breezy up here but that didn’t stop me having a sit down at the cairn & tucking into my BLT sandwiches.


After my  sandwiches & a couple of Satsuma’s I retraced my steps back down the grassy path & made my way over to the crossing you see I have circled, this is the main path up from Thackthwaite & the one I had in my head on the drive up, it leads you right into the small village, my next choice was how to get there, I could retrace my steps to a point in between Sourfoot Fell & Smithy Brow & pick the path up there, or I could blaze my own little trail which is just what I did, I say my trail; there are at least two tracks I followed, one going straight through the green bracken you see centre, or the one I followed which out flanks the bracken to the right of it.


That’s more like it, here looking over Lorton Vale & towards Greystones & Whinlatter.


And in the same direction the Lord Seat Fells.


The views were getting hazier the more I lessened height & It felt like a possible hint of rain in the air, I followed this grassy path up towards were you see the bank of trees on the left, I had two choices here, I could follow the trees back into Thackthwaite or head straight ahead & the shorter route back to Foulsyke this route however meant more bracken & I think this mornings episodes left me no choice…


The tree lined path it was…


Thackthwaite House &  my exit point from the fell side to tarmac road, It seemed strange at first that this beautiful house had a public footpath running right through it, as strange as it seemed it was there before my eyes & I had just witnessed it with my own boots (the path just to the right of the house out of shot) So if ever you are looking for the Public Footpath & Fellbarrow bound, be sure to stop here.


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