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Loweswater Fells / 2 days / 17 miles (28km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 12 Jun 2008
Start / Finish: Lanthwaite Green car park.
Maps: Explorer OL4: English Lakes North West.

Day 1Mellbreak & Starling Dodd7.0 miles / 3260 feet (11.3km / 993m)
Day 2Great Borne & Blake Fell10.3 miles / 1860 feet (16.6km / 566m)

A short circuit of fells to the south of Loweswater. The forecast had predicted the best weather in the NW and it stayed dry, though very dull most of the time and surprisingly chilly in the wind. We encountered only a handful of people in this quiet corner of Lakeland away from the popular peaks.

Day 1 - Mellbreak & Starling Dodd

Taking the footpath SW into Lanthwaite Wood, a side path leaves the main track and descends to the boat house on the shore of Crummock Water. The walk around the northern end of the lake is a very pleasant start to the day with Mellbreak opposite and a good view of the other fells beyond.

View across Crummock water
View across Crummock water (12 Jun 2008__09:24:42)

From the bridleway track above Flass Wood there is a good path of cropped grass to the foot of the very steep N ridge of Mellbreak. The first part of the ascent is horribly eroded and arduous, but higher up a number of different paths have formed: at least one of these contours around the steep face and goes nowhere but gives a good view of the precipitous crags around a rock gulley, but by zigzagging upwards close to the eroded reddish-orange lines we reached more secure ground as the paths converged and gained a great aerial view down Crummock Water.

The path arrives at the N top and it was a lovely walk across to the main top with splendid views, including down to Crummock Water and Buttermere.

Crummock water and Buttermere from Mellbreak
Crummock water and Buttermere from Mellbreak (12 Jun 2008__12:26:52)

A long descent southwards leads to Black Beck and the footbridge at Scale Force, which seems a grandiose name for a small waterfall largely obscured by trees although we have never seen it in spate. A path leads up the R side of Scale Beck and crosses to the L side of the steep walled ravine where the angle eases.

Mellbreak from Scale Beck
Mellbreak from Scale Beck (12 Jun 2008__14:05:16)

There are at least three paths onwards from this point, including one that slants back steeply L and another that hugs the beck until further up the valley: we chose the middle one that climbs gradually away from the beck and around to Lingcomb Edge where the views open out once more.

View from Lingcomb Edge
View from Lingcomb Edge (12 Jun 2008__14:53:32)
Grasmoor from Lingcomb Edge
Grasmoor from Lingcomb Edge (12 Jun 2008__15:02:30)

We followed the excellent path along the edge until clear of the rough ground, then contoured across to join the grassy ridge path near the minor hump of Little Dodd. There were people milling around on Red Pike above us as expected, but this ridge was deserted as we climbed Starling Dodd which still has its fine cairn sculptured from metal posts and rocks. We made a good pitch near the next col.

Western Fells from the pitch
Western Fells from the pitch (12 Jun 2008__17:12:13)

Day 2 - Great Borne & Blake Fell

There was clear blue sky early the next morning and the skylark was singing at full throttle, but the clarity didn't last long: by the time we set off the high tops were wreathed in mist and all was grey, but at least this ridge was clear. Shafts of sunlight pierced through the gloom as we climbed to Great Borne and the mist showed signs of lifting from Grasmoor. We descended northwards towards the top of Floutern Crag where the tarn came into view below.

Floutern Tarn & the Blake Fell group
Floutern Tarn & the Blake Fell group (13 Jun 2008__07:43:02)

Heading eastwards initially to avoid the precipitous face, we descended steeply on a curving line to the outflow of Floutern Tarn, looking grey today below the sombre crags, and crossed a stile beyond to climb to Floutern Cop. This is one of those tiny humps of Lakeland whose visual prominence is out of all proportion to its size and is instantly recognisable from afar.

The easiest line from here is to descend westwards and follow the fence line around Whiteoak Moss, which was looking fine today with its dense covering of cotton grass, and pick up the path that traverses Gavel Fell, Blake Fell and Burnbank Fell. The sun had triumphed over the mist and the clarity returned.

View west from Gavel Fell
View west from Gavel Fell (13 Jun 2008__09:35:18)
Cogra Moss & Knock Murton from Blake Fell
Cogra Moss & Knock Murton from Blake Fell (13 Jun 2008__10:34:50)

A path descends from Burnbank Fell to join the bridleway track leading around to Hudson Place and Holme Wood on the shore of Loweswater. From here we continued on the track to Maggie's Bridge and took the narrow lanes to Scalehill Bridge and Lanthwaite Wood to join the outward route.