Black Fell and Holme Fell

TWO separate ONE Wainwright walks: Black Fell and Holme Fell

Walk Rating:⭐⭐

Time: 2 hours for each walk, around 4 hours altogether. Both starting points can be reached from the A593 Road between Skelwith Bridge and Coniston.

Parking: for both walks, free roadside parking available nearby.

The southern crags of Holme Fell from the A593

Both Black Fell and Holme Fell stand only just a little over 1000 feet in height, in the lower-lying countryside near to the beauty spot of Tarn Hows. Neither can provide the dramatic views found from the peaks of their higher neighbours but both provide good walks amongst attractive scenery, especially when the heather is in flower.

The Wainwright Guide to the Southern Fells suggests a number of routes to their tops. The recommended walks below provide circular routes from places with free (if limited) roadside parking. Both walks could easily be done together in one day, perhaps combined with a visit to Tarn Hows.

Strava estimates a walking distance for each walk of just under 5km

Black Fell

Black Fell is the low fell rising between Tarn Hows and Skelwith Bridge. It can be seen in the foreground of the well known view from Low Wood Bay on Windermere, looking westwards towards the Langdale Pikes.

Black Fell from Low Wood Bay

1. There is room to park for free on the A593 Coniston Road, in the small lay-by near the turning to Elterwater Park, just north of the junction for the road to Little Langdale. From here, walk east up the road towards Skelwith Bridge. Pass some houses on your right then look for a gate in a wooden fence with a sign saying 'Park Fell' on your right. Go through the gate and follow the farm track winding up the rise behind.

Looking towards Elter Water from the initial climb from the main road

2.Continue along the track and cross a stream using stepping stones.

Cross the stream using the stepping stones

 3. The track continues southwards, passing above Low Arnside farm. 

Wetherlam from the track near Low Arnside Farm

4. Unless you are sure of the the way, it's best not to try and cut upwards to your left, although this is the most direct route. Instead follow the track towards the area known  as 'Iron Keld', above the woods leading  down to the lake at Tarn Hows. Now take the clear path heading left, up to the top of Black Fell (1056'). 

The summit of Black Fell

5. The top of the fell is marked by a triangulation column with a National Trust plaque naming the summit as 'Black Crag', although there's nothing seriously craggy in evidence! Wetherlam stands on the near horizon to the west. To the east, you can see Ambleside and the northern end of Windermere.

A panoramic view towards the Coniston Fells and Scafell Pike

Looking towards Ambleside and Windermere

6. A wall runs over the fell just to the north of the column, which can be crossed on a ladder stile. This is a good place to take in the view towards the Langdale Pikes and Bowfell. 

The Langdale Pikes from the Black Fell

7. A little way below the column to the south-east, stands a large cairn, a good place to sit and look out over Windermere.

The south-east cairn

8. To return to the Coniston Road, you could take a shorter descent along the south side of the fell-top wall, making  your way down across the open ground towards Low Arnside farm. From here, pick up the farm track and walk back to the gate on the main road.

Heading down towards Low Arnside Farm

Holme Fell 

Holme Fell is the lowest of Wainwright's Southern Fells, at only 1040' in height, standing below Wetherlam, its taller neighbour.

Holme Fell from the southern ridge of Wetherlam

1. The chosen start point is the minor road that crosses Shepherd's Bridge, then heads up the eastern side of the Yewdale Beck towards Hodge Close. Find a place to park, then walk up the road before leaving it on a clear track heading up through the trees to the right. The track crosses the hillside above the road and the buildings of 'Holme Ground'. The craggy Yewdale Fells, rising up to Wetherlam, can be seen across the valley  to the west.

On the track above the road to Holme Ground

2. As the path starts to head eastwards, around the northern slopes, take a thinner path leaving to your right, heading up to the top of the fell. 

Looking back at the way up across the bracken

3. The path leaves the trees and heads upwards across the bracken and heather. It leads firstly to the peak cairn on the subsidiary outcrop of Ivy Crag, standing to the east of the main top of Holme Fell.

The large cairn on Ivy Crag

4. From Ivy Crag,  walk westwards, across a little valley,  then up to the little heathery ridge that marks the top of Holme Fell. A small cairn marks its highest point (1040').

Looking back into the little valley from the summit ridge

The summit cairn on Holme Fell

5. There are good views down along Coniston Water, particularly from the south end of the summit ridge.

Windermere from the south end of the summit ridge

6. To return around the eastern side of the fell, walk down the slope to the north of Ivy Crag. You will have  a good view of the Langdale Pikes to your left and, just beneath you, the small reservoirs in the trees once used by the slate quarries at Hodge Close.

Descending to the 'Uskdale Gap'

7. The path descends to the small col of 'Uskdale Gap'. From here, choose the path heading south-east, down through the woods towards the small Yew Tree Tarn. To return to your starting point, continue south above the tarn, then follow a track west, beneath the southern crags of the fell, back to Shepherd's Bridge. 

Descend through the trees towards Yew Tree Tarn

Worth knowing: Tarn Hows lies directly to the south of Black Fell and to the east of Holme Fell. It is one of the most well-known beauty spots in the whole of the Lake District and a visit to the tarn could easily be combined with a day walking on the two nearby fells.

Belted Galloways in Tarn Hows

The tarn nestles between wooded hills providing picturesque views down over the lake. 

You can cycle there too!

As part of her efforts to protect prime areas like this from damaging development, Tarn Hows was purchased by Beatrix Potter in the 1930s. It is now owned by the National Trust who ensure that there are well maintained paths allowing visitors to stroll around the tarn and its surrounding woods.

Walking around Tarn Hows 

For those interested in Beatrix Potter's life in the Lake District, there is plenty more to visit, not least her former house at Hill Top, in Near Sawrey, above Esthwaite Water.

Beatrix Potter's house at Hill Top

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