Good weather on a Bank Holiday could easily lead to a busy day on the hills, or on some of them anyway. I drove across to Loweswater village and just past the northern end of the lake is a place called Waterend with a phone box and a place to leave the car. Across the road opposite the phone box is a track signposted as leading to the Mosser Fell road.
Walk up the track, between the fields full of new lambs, past the entrance to Askhill Farm and continue upwards until at the third gate it meets the Mosser Fell road. Go through the gate and turn right almost doubling back on yourself and even descending a bit until you reach the start of a path with a signpost to Foulsyke.
Cross over the stile to be faced with a steep grassy bank and not much sign of a footpath. I climbed up the bank and the fell ahead looked very steep and full of scree, fortunately I found the path going off to the left that followed a fence uphill. The path alongside the fence looks quite a reasonable way up to the ridge but it feels a lot steeper than it looks.
There are tantalising views of Crummock Water, Buttermere and the surrounding hills but Grasmoor dominates the area. I had set off optimistically wearing only a tee shirt but as I got higher the weather improved and it was a lovely sunny day by the time I reached the summit of Darling Fell. In order to avoid retracing my steps later I decided to make a beeline for Fellbarrow. The walking wasn't too bad as long as I avoided the boggy areas and was careful climbing over the fences with barbed wire across the top, strangely this is not a busy route.
Eventually I reached the normal path and there was another fence for me to follow and this time there was a stile in the fence and it didn't contain any barbed wire anyway. You have a final climb up grass to the summit of Fellbarrow, this is a real outpost with an uninterrupted view of Criffel in Scotland and a rare clear view of the Isle of Man.
I retraced my steps back down to the stile in the fence and carried on along the faint but distinct path following the fence along an undulating grassy ridge. Grasmoor still dominates the view but the closer I got to Low Fell the better the views became across Crummock Water and Buttermere. What a variety of colours and textures on the ground and the colours in the sky matching the contrast between the bright lakes and dark hills.
When I got to the summit of Low Fell the view of Crummock Water surrounded by hills is as good a view as you could wish for in a sunny day. I dropped down from the summit to a small col, crossed over a stile and carried on to the subsidiary summit where the appearance of Butttermere only improved the view. I descended back to the col to follow the path to Foulsyke, cross back over the stile and turn right downhill.
This is probably as steep and long a green path as I have seen, it is a good job that this is only a small hill, I wouldn't fancy climbing this way after a full English breakfast. The steepness really is comparable to the grassy section of the direct climb up Kirk Fell from Wasdale Head, I was glad at times to have a fence to hold on to. It was shortly after midday as I was making the steep descent with the sun beating down on me, I would have been burned to a cinder if it had been June and not April.
There was no relief from the steepness and then the ground seemed to fall away even more steeply directly ahead but here was a path slanting down to the left. I reached a stream and a big tree near to a wall, there was a stile to cross over the wall where I found a faint path and more steep grass but thankfully not as steep as before. Eventually I reached the woods and a pleasant path through the trees took me to the road at the wonderfully located Foulsyke, with its splendid views of Grasmoor, the Buttermere fells and Mellbreak.
Turn right on to the road for a short walk towards Loweswater village, at the road junction turn right and shortly afterwards a signposted footpath takes you on a car sized track to the little car park at Maggie's Bridge. Just before you reach the car park is a track leading to High Nook Farm, follow the track through the farm buildings.
Beyond the farm is a wide valley, it really isn't very clear on the map what the way ahead is nor is it clear where Gavel Fell is. At a gate in a stone wall I spent some time trying to work out just where to go next and in the end I carried on more in hope than expectation of finding a track going off to the left. Surprisingly after only 50 yards or so there was the green track going off to the left and as I gained height I could see the tarn that I was hoping to see further up the valley.
So now I knew where I was, heading uphill I could see a path rising up the ridge above Black Crag, it became obvious too how Hen Comb got its name. The good weather wasn't quite as good and I had to put my jacket on as it became cooler but stayed dry. At the top of the track a faint path through the moss lead me to a steeper climb up the front of Black Crag, through heather and rocks on to a wide ridge.
Once I got to the ridge everything became much less steep and much wider, a faint path took me across the broad heathery ridge to a cairn at 488 metres, the subsidiary summit of Gavel Fell. There is a very wet and muddy depression to cross to get to the summit and I lost some height to avoid the worst of the quagmire. I was traversing the contours of the fell but I decided I had to go upwards, climbing up over rough vegetation I disturbed a couple of grouse and I eventually got to the fence that lead me to the summit of Gavel Fell.
From the summit I followed the fence back down over grass, grass and more grass, the only variation being where there were swampy areas to get around. At the bottom of the col there was a stile where you could cross the fence although all of the stiles hereabouts were in a precarious state. It is good job there is no barbed wire on the fences, if the stiles finally break you could get across the top of the fence intact.
There was quite an easy climb upwards over more grass until I reached the highest point of the walk, the summit shelter of Blake Fell. Still following the fence the walking now was even easier, the only worthwhile view was down to the curiously named reservoir of Cogra Moss and its companion hill of Knock Murton.
At a right angle corner in the fence is an unexpected cairn, it looked like the summit was some way ahead and as though the path carried on for a good way and I was more confused because Carling Knott would seem to be a more natural summit. However I crossed over the fence and carried on along a faint path and the illusion became apparent, ahead was the valley containing Loweswater and what I thought was Burnbank Fell was actually Low Fell across the valley. The cairn at the fence corner really was the summit of Burnbank Fell.
I reached a point where the ground fell away sharply at a significant cairn overlooking the valley, it was a very steep drop. I tried to find a way down, I started following the fence but it was too steep to descend comfortably. There is a rock outcrop that looks almost man made with its regular structure, I walked past it away from the fence and saw a natural way down, walking at an angle to the gradient and I did actually find a faint path going down that way.
At the bottom of the slope I crossed a wall by a stile onto a terrace path and turned right to try and get downhill. The track seemed to be rising and going above Holme Wood so I decided to follow a path, probably an animal track, on the left. The faint path at first seemed quite reasonable but then crossed some extremely wet areas and then came to an impassable stream.
Nothing for it but to head downhill, steeply over grass, through reedy wet areas and eventually reaching a stone wall that had to be climbed over in order to reach the lakeside path. Straightforward walking then on a track through Hudson Place farm back to the car parking area at Waterend.
Andy Wallace 12th April 2004
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