Walking the Birketts, Hen Comb

6th May 2019

It's been sometime since Ive been unlucky with the weather during my birthday week which I always book off. Well it looks like my luck has ran out this week with rain forecast for much of the week with the exception of today where I had a dry but cloudy forecast ahead.

Today I chose to walk two Birkett walks divided by the lonely valley of Mosedale in the west of the district, Hen Comb and Mellbreak. Both walks start from the red phone box just outside Loweswater although it will only be this walk where I'll be starting from the official starting point owing that it would be silly to return to the starting point only to retrace my steps for Mellbreak which I'll start below the north ridge from the Mosedale side later.

After leaving the parking spaces I'll head into Mosedale before crossing Mosedale Beck, from where I head along the eastern flank of Hen Comb before the final steep ascent onto the ridge and thereafter, Hen Comb summit. Retracing my steps I descend the summit and continue north along the ridge to Little Dodd which offers fine views over Loweswater, Darling Fell and Low Fell. I continue north then descend the ridge back to cross Mosedale Beck bringing this short, but glorious walk to an end.

The Complete Lakeland Fells
By Bill Birkett

-Hen Comb

Hen Comb is a one off. Overshadowed by her more glamorous neighbour, Mellbreak, therein also lies her strength.


Ascent: 1,310 Feet - 400 Metres
Birketts: 2, Hen Comb - Little Dodd
Weather: A Bright Start, Turning Cloudy With Brightness Returning Late Morning. Highs of 8°C Lows of 3°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Loweswater
Area - Group: Western - W/LOW
Miles: 3.5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 3 Hours 10 Minutes
Route: Loweswater - Church Bridge - Mosedale - Mosedale Beck - Mine Workings - Hen Comb - Little Dodd - Mosedale Beck

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA13 0RU
Grid Reference: NY 143 021
Notes: Despite the popularity of the Loweswater Fells parking can be difficult due to limited spaces. The Red Phone Box in the centre of the village is what the Wasdale Inn is to Wasdale Head and here you will find parking spaces for around five well parked cars. The Phone Box now had a defibrillator inside as are most rural phone boxes. My advise as with many other premium parking spaces is to arrive early and you shouldn't have any trouble parking. The parking spaces provide access to of course the whole of the Loweswater fells or just walks around Loweswater with the Kirkstile Inn close by for food and drink. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Parking spaces, the red phone box, Loweswater 08:50am 3°C

Due to the weather forecast it was touch and go if these walks ever went ahead at all but I took the plunge and gambled with the forecast to which I was extremely thankful for. There's a nip to the air but other than that it's bright and clear with only the highest summits below cloud and by the looks of things that won't be for long.

I allowed myself an extra half hour in bed and I knew I'd be gambling with the limited parking spaces if I arrived late but upon arrival I was lucky finding just one car had already parked up. The sun isn't supposed to be shining right now, I've had my lie in and I've parked up without any difficulties in Loweswater on a Bank Holiday Monday, I couldn't ask for more but during the course of the day, Lakeland will keep giving.

Mellbreak and Hen Comb from the red phone box, Loweswater.

Here's todays objectives in one photo, first off is Hen Comb seen over on the right followed by a visit to Little Dodd seen far right. After Hen Comb walk I'll start the ascent on Mellbreak via the northridge which from here, looks inaccessible but there's a steep but excellent path which leads all the way to the north summit, but that's in a little while just yet.

Okay, I've had my weetabix for breakfast, it's time to head out towards Hen Comb.

Passing the Kirkstile Inn with Church Bridge seen in the foreground.
One of the things the Kirkstile Inn is famous for is Loweswater Gold and although it's too early to be drinking ale right now I might just call in after completing todays walks.

...eh up who goes there.

These two comics stood there and watched me pass leaving me feeling like I'd just walked into their local and placed a pound down on't pool table!

Hen Comb seen shortly after crossing Mosedale Beck.
Under the watchful eye of Mellbreak I continued into the Mosedale valley revealing in the morning sunshine which caused me to de-shoulder and pack my soft-shell away in favour of rolled up sleeves. This is the first time I've summated Hen Comb via a traverse of its eastern flanks and I'm quite looking forward to the steady slog that awaits me.

The Mosedale Valley.
As far as remoteness goes Mosedale is up there with some of the remotest valleys in Lakeland, taking advantage of this is a wild camper who's tent I spotted pitched up next to Mosedale Beck.

Father and young daughter descending Hen Comb.

I followed Birketts suggestion of walking as far as the old mine before taking on the steep ascent onto the ridge, this I did by taking regular camera breaks even though I didn't take a single photo (otherwise known as getting my breath back breaks!) Phew-wee it's a steep ascent which shouldn't be under estimated!

After crossing a wire fence the final ascent onto the summit awaited me where I was passed by the cutest little girl who with her father had wild camped close to Floutern Tarn below Great Borne "we've been camping" the little girl smiled. I have a grand daughter who isn't quite one year old yet but when she is old enough this is how I want to be seen walking the Lakeland fells.

It was such a heart warming moment for me.

Mellbreak, Whiteside, Hopegill Head, Grasmoor, Eel Crag (Crag Hill) Wandope and Whiteless Pike from Hen Comb summit.
I left the father and his young daughter and continued with my ascent reaching the summit cairn as it momentarily started to cloud over. It wasn't so much nippy but if I'd have been continuing onto higher summits I would have most certainly added my soft-shell. Braving the cool breeze I spent a good five minutes taking in the views and watching the cloud as it passed high overhead, by the time I decided to leave the sun came back out but I was already on my way down.

Brooding views over Mosedale towards Gale Fell, Red Pike (Buttermere) High Stile (in shadow) Fleetwith Pike and the Gables.

Descending Hen Comb with sights on Little Dodd.
Seen here at the far end of the ridge which is where I'm heading next.

Pleasant ridge walking at its best.

Low Fell, Darling Fell and Fellbarrow from Little Dodd summit.
I arrived pretty swiftly at Little Dodd summit whilst lost in thought and planning a non-Birkett walk on these fells. I must say that the view from Little Dodd is nothing short of outstanding, I could have stood here all day just admiring the views but I suppose Mellbreak won't wait.

Looking back on Little Dodd and Hen Comb.
As I descend towards Mosedale Beck.

Whiteside, Grasmoor and the north nose of Mellbreak seen over the Mosedale Valley.

By now I had the sun on my back for a few minutes and I was only hoping that this was just the start of brighter things to come knowing I'd saved the grandeur of the walks until last. From here you get a good view of my unofficial starting point which starts where the tree line ends towards the right. From there I ascend steeply towards the craggy outcrop and pass below the tree before ascending directly towards the main approach path, I'm just pleased that the steep flanks of Hen Comb gave me a taster of what's to come.

Having crossed Mosedale Beck, not before passing two families I make my way towards the edge of the treeline and check the time, it's exactly 10:59am.


Back to top