The Outlying Fells, Black Combe from Whicham

2nd April 2017

Walk two of the day would see us collect Black Combe from St Mary's Church Whicham which is one of three routes suggested by Wainwright the alternative routes being from Holegill Bridge, Bootle and ascent from Corney Fell Road Summit, the same Fell Road which we had just left, yet despite their appeal, ascent from Whicham won purely based on the view over the Whicham Valley and the Cumbrian coast. It's been sometime since I last summited Black Combe, the very same fell that I chose to summit after completing my Wainwrights back in 2011 so yeah, I guess this route also holds sentiment too.

Since leaving the top of Corney Fell road the pass had become considerably busier as we descended towards Ravenglass passing over Buckbarrow Bridge where the road twist abruptly over Buckbarrow Bridge all the while stopping at almost every passing place if only to let other road users pass, I am told that the Corney Fell Road is "bumper to bumper" during the week as workers travel from the south towards Sellafield, even throughout the Winter months; something that I struggled to visualise but Google Maps will confirm this.

We soon found ourselves motoring along the A595 passing through Bootle flanked by Black Combe on one side, and the Cumbrian coast on the other before arriving just after midday at St Mary's Church Whicham.

Wainwright Guide Book
The Outlying Fells

-Black Combe

Half of the panorama is the glittering sea, with the Isle of Man seen in stark outline and Wales, Ireland and Scotland as shadowy silhouettes on a high horizon of water.


Ascent: 1,900 Feet - 579 Metres
Outlying Fells: Black Combe
Weather: Warm, Dry And Bright, Cool Breeze Across The Summit. Highs of 17°C Lows of 13°C
Parking: St Mary's Church, Whicham
Area: Western
Miles: 5.25
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 2 Hours 45 Minutes
Route: St Mary's Church, Whicham - Kirkbank Farm - Moorgill Beck - Black Combe - Blackcombe Screes - Black Combe - Moorgill Beck - Kirkbank Farm - St Mary's Church, Whicham

Map and Photo Gallery


St Mary's Church, Whicham 12:15pm 13°C

We secured two parking spaces on the Church car park and with no need to kit up we shouldered packs and made our way towards the Church yard where we spent a few moments reading the carvings on the gravestones and two particular graves caught our eye which read; Sergeant T.Huddleston, Wireless Operator/Air Gunner Royal Air Force who died 2nd October 1944 age 19 with the second grave belonging to Private Tom Caddy Machine Gun Corps (Inf) who died 11th March 1920 age 23 from the effects of gas received in action 1914 - 1918 Both men where from the Whicham valley.

It certainly left a sombre feel to the start of the walk.

Seaness seen over Kirkbank Farm.
With no ascent on Seaness today which will see us head through Kirkbank Farm before following the stone wall towards Moorgill Beck which is a shame really because the views along the coast from Seaness are outstanding, especially on a day as clear as today.

The Whicham Valley seen over Kirkbank Farm from the start of the climb.

Townend Knotts as we acsend via Moorgill Beck.
Since leaving the top of Corney Fell Road then from our travels along the A595 the summit of Black Combe was still below cloud although with those blue skies up ahead it's looking very promising that the cloud might had of lifted by now. We perservere steeply towards Townend Knotts with Moorgill Beck on our right flank, it sure feels much steeper than this photo suggests.

Coastal views over Seaness.

The ascent alongside Moorgill Beck felt much more difficult than it should have which was put down to a hot midday sun where we were sheltered from any breeze, although once onto open fell side the breeze came and so to did a little respite as the path slowly eased revealing that the summit was still quite a distance away but with a comfortable path underfoot and a warming sun overhead all we needed now was the sight a cloud free summit.

Anyone for a paddle?

It's a steady plod all the way towards the summit.
Once we had flanked Townend Knotts we got the news we had been waiting for, it appears the cloud has lifted but notably the higher we climbed the cooler it started to feel.

Views back over the Duddon Estuary towards Walney Island.

More fantastic coastal views.

Blackcombe Tarn.

We continued with our ascent passing two large families on their way down, one of which had group of young children with them who took great joy running down the fell side shouting at the tops of their voices, despite this it was noted how nice it was to see young children enjoying themselves out in the open instead of being stuck inside watching the telly.

We round the fellside and was presented with the final march towards the summit via a grassy hurdle from where we detoured to pay a visit to Blackcombe Tarn which had a real tranquil feel to it despite the crowds we had just passed.

The summit is just over our shoulder now, onwards and upwards as they say.

Buck Barrow and a distant Whitfell from Black Combe summit.

Black Combe summit shelter and Trig Point.
Having passed two ladies who we found out later are sisters we left the summit and made the short detour as Wainwright suggested towards the top of Blackcombe Screes where we might even break out lunch.

Views over Blackcombe Screes towards White Combe.

Having passed a fellow already eating lunch at the top of the screes we soon found a sheltered spot out of a now cooling breeze and broke out lunch while looking back on Buck Barrow and trodden ground. Our view over the Screes was fantastic as we watched the cloud shift silently from fell side to ridge then beyond.

"Where's your dinner David" I already ate it back in the car!

Views back along Hentoe Hill, Whitecombe Head and White Combe.
Time to head back over the summit now which we found completely deserted.

Descending Black Combe.
Now out of the summit breeze we could roll sleeves back up again and enjoy our descent under a warm afternoon sun.

Distant wind farm.

The Whicham Valley.
It was great to see more people young and old heading up towards the summit which can only mean one thing, there's still plenty of daylight left even if you feel like a dawdle or if like some, just want to spend time with a loved one taking in the views from the path. Hi's are shared before passing Townend Knotts from where our steep descent via Moorgill Beck brings two fantastic walks to a close, but if the day couldn't have got any better before we pass through Kirkbank Farm were David meets two fans of Walkthefells who we had first seen back at Black Combe summit which brought a fantastic end to an already fantastic day.

Stained glass window, St Mary's Church.

Back to top