Four Loweswater Fells

FOUR Wainwright circular walk: Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell, Gavel Fell, Hen Comb

Walk Rating:⭐⭐ 

Time: 5 - 6 hours

Parking: at Maggie's Bridge, Kirkstile Inn or by Loweswater 

The Loweswater Fells

The four Wainwright fells south of Loweswater make for a gentle day's circular walk on the fringes of the Western Fells.

Wainwright's Guides aren't really written for easily planning routes over a number of fells. However, Burnbank, Blake and Gavel Fells are clearly linked by the 'ridge routes' described in the 'Western Fells' guide. However, the maps don't show a path continuing south from Gavel Fell but, in reality, taking this route to then complete a circuit via Hen Comb isn't difficult. 

Strava estimates a walking distance of around 16km

1. Depending where you have managed to find a parking place, you need to make your way to the small National Trust car park marked on the OS Map as "Maggie's Bridge" (Grid Ref: NY 135 211). From there, head south-west along the track to High Nook Farm. The lane carries on past the farm's rusting machinery.

"Maggy's Lonning" - the road to "Maggie's Bridge"

Abandoned at High Nook Farm

2. The farm track continues south-west and you go through a gate. Black Crag, which forms the steep northern slopes of Gavel Fell, will be ahead of you. However, our route will first take us away from this fell to climb up above Loweswater. So, walk on to a small bridge over Highnook Beck ahead on the right, then take the track that climbs back in the other direction. It ascends up to the trees you could see on the right as you left the farm. This is the start of Holme Wood.

Black Crag, behind the gate

Take this path rising up to Holme Wood

3. A clear track takes you around the top of Holme Wood, along the side of Loweswater. This is the old 'Corpse Road' that once went all the way to the coast at St.Bees. Ahead, if the weather is clear, you will start to see the distant hills of Scotland, including Criffel. Just before you reach the point where the track winds left then right, over Holme Beck, a gate in the wall allows you to take a detour to visit the Holme Force waterfall, if you think you have time. 

The hills of Scotland from above Holme Wood

4. As the track continues beyond the woods, a bench on the right provides a fine viewpoint over Loweswater and out towards Grasmoor.

The view back over Loweswater

5. The track turns up to meet a gate in a stone wall. The 'corpse road' continues on towards 'Fangs Brow'. Our route now takes a path to the left, zig-zagging steeply up Burnbank Fell. A cairn marks the top of the steep section before a gentle walk continues on to the actual summit. On the June day that we were here, a paragliding competition was taking place and this was one of the spots being used to catch the breeze - although with some difficulty as the winds were light!

The cairn on the side of Burnbank Fell

This is also a site for paragliding

6. The "summit" of Burnbank Fell is just the highest point of the grassland, marked by a rusty old fencepost and a small cairn inside the fence. Take in the view over the West Cumbrian coast, then follow the fence, heading south towards Blake Fell. The cairn on the subsidiary summit of Carling Knott will be visible to your left.

The old iron post at the top of Burnbank Fell

7.  Crossing a stile on the way, you'll reach the top of Blake Fell in about twenty minutes. This is the highest point of the walk, if only at 1878', marked with a wind shelter. It's worth walking a short way south-west to a viewpoint where you can look down over the Cogra Moss reservoir. 

Looking down over Cogra Moss

The summit wind shelter on Blake Fell

8. Continuing along the fence line southwards, with the way sometimes a little boggy, you should reach the small cairn on the top of Gavel Fell in under 30 minutes.

Looking eastwards towards Grasmoor

The top of Gavel Fell with Great Borne behind

9. To make your way onwards, continue to follow the fence line southwards towards Great Borne, the high point ahead of you beyond the Floutern Pass. At the top of a small rise, named Banna Fell in Wainwright's Guide to the Western Fells, you'll find the second of two fence junctions. Follow this new fence left, then carry on across the grass to the small rise of "Floutern Cop". The rarely glimpsed Floutern Tarn lies below it. A little to the west, the path for hikers going on up to Great Borne ascends steeply up the side of 'Steel Brow'.

Floutern Tarn beneath Floutern Cop

10. Go down the other side of the Cop and you will pick up a path through the grass making its way up to Hen Comb. It passes a circle of stones hidden in the grass, marked as an 'ancient cairn' in the Wainwright guide, crosses a fence, then climbs up to the summit.

The path onwards to Hen Comb

11. At the top of Hen Comb, there are good views down into Buttermere and eastwards over Mellbreak towards Grasmoor. 

The views from the top of Hen Comb

12. Continue by descending northwards along the ridge of Hen Comb, then keeping to the right at a wall near the end of the ridge to reach a path going down to the Mosedale Beck. 

Looking back up to Hen Comb as you descend

The track up to Holme Wood in the distance

Head right along the wall towards the trees

13. Cross the beck and head left to follow the old lane back to the Kirkstile Inn. From there, you can find your car.

A look back at Hen Comb as you cross the beck

Worth knowing: The 'Maggie' or 'Maggy' that the Lonning and Bridge are named after, was a local woman who, according to the Cumberland Pacquet of 1833, was "a clever and worthy old lady".  She was born in Loweswater in 1714 and lived into her nineties.

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