The 3 Most Northern Fells

THREE Wainwright walk: Longlands Fell, Brae Fell, Binsey.

Walk Rating:

Time: 4 hours (including a short drive from one walk to the other)

Parking: limited free roadside parking at the foot of Binsey (Grid Ref: NY 237351) and at the foot of Longlands Fell (Grid Ref: NY 266358).

Binsey and Longlands Fell on the horizon, as seen from Barf

I confess that, while there are some obvious outstanding highlights, overall, I find the Northern Fells the least interesting of the seven Lake District areas set out by Alfred Wainwright. The three most northern of those fells, the low heights of Binsey, Longlands Fell and Brae Fell, are not without interest but, nevertheless, don't really rate amongst those highlights!

These are grassy hills for a gentle stroll with dogs and/or children rather than full-blown Lakeland fells but, as all three must be counted amongst the 214 'Wainwrights', I have described a route that allows you to walk all three, with a 4km car drive required to travel between what is really two separate walks.

Strava suggests it's 2 km there-and-back to the top of Binsey, plus a separate 7km circular walk 

Longlands Fell

1) The minor road running along the foot of the Northern Fells goes into a steep dip just to the west of the hamlet of Longlands. Here there is room to park a few cars by the roadside. For a gentler ascent, head north-east along the old track at the bottom of the fellside and then walk up the north ridge of Longlands Fell. For a quicker climb, just head straight up the steep fellside to its summit cairn (1585').

Walk up the fellside to the summit of Longlands Fell

2) To the south-west, the Skiddaw range can be seen, as well as the northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake. 

The view from the top of Longlands Fell

Brae Fell

3) To continue to Brae Fell, first head south, crossing a slight col and then walking up a further grassy rise. This brings you to the top of Lowthwaite Fell, another grassy hill, this time a little higher than Longlands Fell. From there, walk down its south-east ridge in the general direction of Little Sca Fell. The view to your right now includes the cliffs of Dead Crags, underneath Bakestall.

The view towards Bakestall and Skiddaw

4) When the ground starts to rise again towards the top of Little Sca Fell, bear left towards the top of Brae Fell instead. You will cross a more distinct bridleway, and the top of Charleton Gill, before reaching the summit of Brae Fell (1920').

The summit cairn on Brae Fell

5) The summit cairn is an impressively large pile of stones. There's also a separate stone wind shelter too. There are good views northwards towards the Solway Firth and the distant Scottish hills as well as a similar view towards Skiddaw as you will have seen from Longlands Fell.

Skiddaw from Brae Fell

6) To return to your starting point, walk down the fell to the north-west (or, alternatively, on a more westerly path which crosses the valley of the Charleton Gill) until you reach the track running along the foot of the fell. Turn left along the track and return to your starting-point.


7) A short drive on the minor road that passes the northern side of Over Water will take you to the foot of Binsey where, again, there is room to park on the roadside. 

Looking south towards Skiddaw, across Over Water

8) The path heads up the hillside to the side of a sheep pen. Apart from that, this short and obvious walk needs no further description!

The grassy path to the top of Binsey

9) This low-lying summit (1466') can nevertheless boast a triangulation column, wind shelter and cairns. The many stones on the top of the fell are, in fact, the remains of an ancient  tumulus. Although low in height, its isolated position means there are views across a wide range of Lakeland peaks from its top. 

On the top of Binsey

10) Return to your starting-point by the path that you took to walk up the fell.

Worth knowing: The area to the north of these fells lies on the northern fringes of the Lake District National Park. If you have time, and a car (or bike!), it's worth following the minor roads that go round the Caldbeck and Uldale Fells to explore the old villages and countryside that they pass through. 

One of the pages on Longlands Fell in Wainwright's Guide to the Northern Fells gives directions for exploring the earthworks that are the remaining traces of the Romano-British settlements on Aughertree Fell, to the north of Longlands.

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