The Loweswater Fells

13th April 2013

Each spring over the past few years I have got together with a good friend & fellow fell walker, Fr Shaun Church.

Shaun is a keen fell walker from the nations capital of which he is based, each spring Shaun travels to Lakeland to be on his beloved fells, but it’s not just the fells why Fr Shaun is here in Cumbria as Shaun is residing in the Parish of Seascale at an un-occupied presbytery of which during his time spent there, Fr Shaun will give mass to around thirty or so parishioners.

But today is Saturday & Shaun finds himself in the parish of Loweswater & within the company of yours truly (Shaun I gather already has reserved silent Hail Mary’s for my p’s & q’s of which at times…I have no control off.

Over the last week or so Shaun & I have swapped numerous emails on which fells & which routes we should partake in. Shaun had made his mind up that it was the western fells that he wanted to walk the most, we had two choices to choose from; Great Borne from Ennerdale or The Loweswater Fells.

Shaun chose the latter for two reasons, he had never walked any of the Loweswater Fells, & two, his Wainwright count would be taken up by five brand new summits taking his tally to a hundred & seven.

It was kind of a no brainer really…so here’s how our day walking the Loweswater Fells went.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Western Fells

- The Loweswater Fells :

The five Loweswater fells south of the lake of that name fan out like the fingers of a hand, each with a knuckle of crag on a ridge rising distinctively from the valley, and the whole forming a compact independent group.


Ascent: 2,800 Feet 854 Metres
Wainwrights: 5, Mellbreak – Hen Comb – Gavel Fell – Blake Fell – Burnbank Fell
Weather: Overcast To Start Turning Brighter, Winds Gathering Towards The Latter Of The Day, Highs Of 12°C Lows Of 4°C Feels Like -1°C On Tops
Parking: Parking Spaces, Loweswater (limited spaces next to the red phone box)
Area: Western
Miles: 10.3
Walking With: Fr Shaun Church
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 7 Hrs
Route: Loweswater – Mellbreak – Hen Comb – Whiteoak Moss – Floutern Cop – Gavel Fell – Blake Fell – Burnbank Fell – Holme Wood – Loweswater Lake- Loweswater

Map and Photo Gallery


Negative Signpost – Loweswater


I arrived in Loweswater around 07.44am & was met by Shaun already parked up at thee iconic red phone box (The red phone box Loweswater is what St Paul’s Cathedral is to London) With a hearty handshake we were soon kited up in the mild morning air & made our way past the Kirkstile Inn as I promptly added that the Kirkstile Inn is the home of Loweswater Gold, possibly thee finest ale in the whole of Cumbria.

We soon arrive at the crossing which instinctively revere’s the walker to Alfred Wainwright’s pictorial guide book ‘The Western Fells’ where A.W was equally as puzzled by the negative sign post.

It still confuses the motorist to this day, & long may it continue.


Whiteside (Buttermere) & Grasmore under subdued morning light.

We continue along our track with sights on…


Mellbreak from Kirkhead Farm.

We held option as to whether to include Mellbreak into todays itinerary, as of leaving the car park just moments earlier we hadn’t quite decided, here, our decision was made.


Only low cloud would have put a stop to an ascent on Mellbreak this morning, despite the fact that I wanted to get back home to Wigan to catch the semi-final between Wigan & Millwall being played at Wembley; for those just wondering, yes I made it home only missing the kick off by five minutes.

I don’t think the day on the fells & the history that was made today is going to be easily forgotten.

Well done Wigan Athletic.


Taking in the pastures & lanes.

Shaun & I catch up on fell gossip & alike as we take Mellbreak before us. I try to convince Shaun that the steep climb up Mellbreak is nowhere near as daunting as it looks, it’s the little fella just above the tree line that gets the leg muscles working.


Now at the bottom of the path/scree run.


I know there are several other routes to claim Mellbreak, but I doubt I will ever get to try them as I much prefer an ascent from the Loweswater end.

Still in gossip as we take on the slopes, only resting to take in the views.


Here looking back on a rather hazy Lorton-Vale, Loweswater, Carling Knott (L) & Darling Fell/Low Fell (R)


Whiteside & Grasmore & Crummock water taken from the first promontory.


And the Buttermere fells taken from the much preferred second promontory, although the morning haze did obstruct the views a little, thankfully the haze & grey skies isn’t to last…

In conversation, we press on.


Looking towards Mellbreak south, & true summit from the north top cairn.


Here, looking back on the north top from the south top summit cairn.


Mosedale, with Hen Comb (R) & Great Borne at the head of the valley.


Hen Comb & the Mosedale Holly Tree.

Hen Comb was our next fixed target, our only problem was how to get there; there’s two ways as my good friend Tim Oxburgh would explain, you can follow a faint path south that will lead you in comfort all the way back to the valley bottom, or…as Tim would call it, there’s the Paul way…

Straight down as the crow would fly.

I could only offer Shaun my apologies for the pain passing through his knee joints right now, it was a mighty steep descent not helped by the negotiation of thick grassy tussocks, keeping Shaun in conversation was all I could do!

The views along the valley were simply outstanding & took some of that pain away.

Incidentally to gain Hen Comb we took our fix on the Holly Tree, then headed up a faint-yet steep grassy path until we reached the shoulder of Little Dodd, from here we took on the last few hundred metres up the steep grassy rise all the way to the summit…

But that is a little way off just yet, so here’s Mosedale.


Mosedale east.


And Mosedale west forming the head is Great Borne in all its entirety.

Seclusion is normally associated with Mosedale as I noted this to Shaun, as no sooner had the words left my mouth Shaun spotted two walkers walking the Floutern Pass route rising up behind Hen Comb, they weren’t the first & certainly weren’t the last we’d see of what just a little sunshine can do, in what would over wise be considered to be a remote part of Lakeland.


The Mosedale Holly Tree (See A.W’s drawing at the top of the page)

I always make a point of passing under the branches of the Holly Tree when I find myself here, today was no exception.


Low Fell & Mellbreak’s Flanks seen at the far end of Mosedale as we crossed Mosedale Beck.

I expected the terrain to be a lot wetter than it was as we crossed the valley floor, with the exception of just a few spongy bits the crossing went without getting our boots wet.


It’s a bloody steep affair, opp’s sorry…there’s one Hail Mary.

Here we sat & chatted a while before taking on the steep grassy ascent, another excuse rather than to basque in the sun me thinks!


Hazy Loweswater over Little Dodd.


The haze continues as I took this photo looking towards Fleetwith Pike & the Buttermere fells from the summit of Hen Comb.

With a quick rest & a sandwich we take upon the second part of the walk…Whiteoak Moss & three more summits, there’s still plenty to do so we crack on.


Descending Hen Comb in search of Floutern Pass.

Our route intends us to reach Floutern Cop; thats the small nobly bit you see centre right, we keep with gaining as much height as we can to reach Floutern Pass, to do this, we head down on the pass keeping Floutern Cop over our right shoulder.


Floutern Cop ahead.

Floutern Pass is a little over on our left, we will meet up with the pass after passing through this section of Whiteoak Moss, on any other day we may of had to give this section a wide berth as it is normally very boggy underfoot, today however, it was strangely dry given the amount of snow the district has seen.

That’s the second time we have got away without getting out feet wet.


Looking down the course of the Floutern Pass, all the way down towards Crummock Water & the Buttermere Fells.


Shaun checks out Steel Brow (Great Borne) as we flank Floutern Cop.


Not forgetting Floutern Tarn over on our left from Floutern Pass.


Hen Comb & Little Dodd over Whiteoak Moss.


On route to Gavel Fell.


Gavel Fell, as we keep in the tradition of following the fence-line all the way to & beyond the summit.


A different prospective of the High Stile Ridge with Floutern Cop in the foreground as we ascend Gavel Fell.


A south west skyline from the summit of Gavel Fell.

It was time to conclude with our next summit of Blake Fell (commonly know to locals as just ‘Blake’) Here I note to Shaun about the boggy bit in between both Gavel Fell & Blake Fell…it seems I am wrong as we keep our boots yet again, water & bog free.


Blake Fell (Our highest fell of the day) seen from the sandstone boundary/gate post.


Looking back over Black Crag (foreground) on ground covered. The dominance of Mellbreak can be seen centre with Hen Comb just off to the right.


Cogra Moss, Knock Murton & the Cumbrian costal plain seen from Blake Fell summit.

Sadly, Cogra Moss is looking more battle torn each time I visit this area, hopefully enough trees have been felled now, giving time for the newly planted trees to flourish – bringing Cogra Moss back to its original state of natural beauty.


Shaun arriving at Blake Fell summit Shelter.

Whilst enjoying the ascent both Shaun & I noticed just how much the ‘wind had got up’ bringing with it a rather cold chill effect, we take five in the summit shelter as the advancing wind whistles above our heads.


A distant hazy Pillar taken from Blake Fell summit.


Burnbank Fell as we descend Blake Fell.

Burnbank Fell appears as the fifth & final fell of the Loweswater group of fells, it was with great reflection did we make this partially bog-less crossing.

Heading right off Burnbank fell’s ridge is our descent route back down to Loweswater, the last time I was here I was with Tim & I talked Tim into a descent (the Paul way down) via Holme Beck (The depression you see in the foreground over on the right) Its not the worst descent but after a hard day spent ascending & descending, today I opted for the more gentler route & I’m sure Shaun was pleased with the joint decision.

But that’s a little way away just yet.


Burnbank Fell summit cairn with a Grasmore backdrop.

Well, Burnbank Fell takes Shaun’s tally to exactly halfway through his Wainwrights & I’m sure before he returns to London come Wednesday, his tally would have gone up again.

Well done Shaun.


Taking in Burnbank Fell’s north east ridge as we prepare our descent off Burnbank Fell, & not too soon, as in parts, the wind which was hardly anything earlier was building itself up to some real strong bitterly gust.


Loweswater, Whiteside, Grasmore & Mellbreak as we head for Holme Wood ahead.


Fine views as we prepare for the final descent through Holme Wood & make for the lake-path that navigates Loweswater.


Descending through Holme Wood.


Cloud gathers over our mornings achievements.

I note to Shaun that although this walk is entering its seventh hour it certainly doesn’t seem that way & that can only mean one thing; great company on great fells.

We arrive back at Loweswater & our carefully parked cars situated at the infamous red phone box, by now two more cars are parked deeming the car park ‘full’

We de-kit as I prepare for my long journey home sipping hot coffee from my flask as thoughts of a semi-final await me.

Shaun holds out his hand & thanks me for the day spent on the fells, we have arranged another walk in June the next time Shaun is back in Lakeland.


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