Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell and Gavel Fell

Walk date – 28th May 2022

Distance – 7.7 miles

Weather – warm and sunny, fair weather cloud, slight breeze at height


Today’s walk features another group of fells we have not set foot on since 2015 so, as the strong winds and overcast skies which have been prevalent during this last week were forecast to disappear, we made an early start and drove over to Mockerkin and the off road parking area just beyond the village at Fangs Brow. Only a handful of vehicles, all minus their occupants, were already parked when we arrived so we had no trouble parking. On getting out of the car we decided that there would be no need for jackets today so they were left in the car and with a couple of, just in case, lightweight layers added to our packs we were ready for the off.  Plenty of sunshine on offer today, often interspersed with fair weather cloud, and the very light occasional breeze made for perfect walking conditions. A good day all round.


Fangs Brow – Holme Wood bridleway – Burnbank Fell – Blake Fell – Fothergill Head – Gavel Fell – Whiteoak Beck bridleway – Highnook Beck – Terrace route above Holme Wood – Fangs Brow

The car was parked right behind me when I took this shot looking along the bridleway path from the off road parking area at Fangs Brow. Lots of cloud around but its well broken up and seems to be moving along quite quickly so the sunny spells don’t take long to arrive.

The track from the gate at the parking area leading us across the fields towards …..

….. our first fell of today’s walk. This is Burnbank Fell and beyond the gate, at the point where the wall takes a turn to the left, is where we will leave the path to follow the green path to the right. With a zoom in it will be possible to see the route in more detail. Almost at the top of the path there is a terrace path leading leftward over to a marker cairn which is clearly visible on the skyline and that’s the path we will be taking today. Anyone not wishing to head for the marker cairn could just leave the terrace path and follow the cut through path, also clearly visible in the shot, and pick up the path from the marker cairn and gain the fell summit by that route. The views are better from the marker cairn though. It is also possible to access this green path route up the fell side from further along the main path at the next gate along. Wherever you choose to leave the track a stiff climb up the steep fell side awaits you.

Before the heavy lifting begins though we enjoy our sunny stroll along the track where we can see just a slice of Loweswater below the surrounding fells.

We reached the turn off point so we left the main path and followed the green path across the lower slopes to this point where the route becomes much steeper. As I was able to stand with both feet still flat on the ground it seemed a suitable point at which to pause and take a look back across the coastal plain to Scotland, beyond the Solway Firth, where the hills of Dumfries and Galloway are on the distant skyline. In the shot Criffel is the most prominent of those.

We reached the marker cairn and with the chance to have both feet flat on the ground again we paused for a few minutes to enjoy the views and give our legs the opportunity to stop complaining. Below us is Loweswater and rising above the fields beyond it is the lovely little group of fells consisting of Fellbarrow, Low Fell and Darling Fell not to mention all the humps and bumps between, a truly delightful walk with some wonderful views from Low Fell.

Cloud drifted across while we were at the marker cairn so the fells around Crummock Water couldn’t be seen very clearly but we hoped for some sunnier views later on.

Blue skies overhead as we made our way from the marker cairn up to the summit of Burnbank so a longer sunnier spell came along. An enjoyable ramble across the dampish ground to the summit, over on the right, with our next summit, Blake Fell, over on the left. A few small pine saplings are dotted around up ahead of us, not to be confused with other walkers or way-markers.

Looking towards Blake Fell from the small summit cairn on Burnbank Fell. Although we arrived on the other side of the fence, reaching this side of it was easy enough, it was simply a case of ducking below the remaining top wire as the rest of it had almost disappeared. There are paths on both sides of the fence, both lead to Blake Fell so it really doesn’t matter which one is chosen, dampness abounds on both sides.

A look back from the summit and beyond the Fellbarrow group, directly above Low Fell in particular, on the right, we can see the outline of the Skiddaw group of fells. The swathes of white are …..

….. acres of cotton grass or, to give it its Sunday name, Eriophorum. Its a species of sedge, thrives in damp/boggy areas of heathland and moorland and flowers during April and May. It was abundant so it certainly likes the conditions up here.

We’re just below the summit of Blake Fell here so I took this shot looking across to a sunny Carling Knott before going up …..

….. followed by a look across to an equally sunny Mellbreak, across the middle foreground. The fells beyond are still in the shade, as we were at this point. The northerly breeze was a little stronger up here too so things turned a little chilly when the cloud drifted across. What a difference a chunk of cloud makes.

However, having reached the summit we were in bright sunlight again and the temperature moved back up the scale once more. We walked over to the viewpoint just a few paces from the summit for this view down to  Knock Murton and Cogra Moss. We haven’t been there since 2008! I had to look through the photo albums to find that out as it was so long ago I couldn’t remember exactly. Photograph albums, remember them? Does anyone do that nowadays? We have two cupboards full of them and they have always proved to be an invaluable record of past events.

Back to the summit and its shelter although it doesn’t offer much of that as its walls are quite low. The fells alongside Ennerdale Water, over on the left, are Crag Fell and Grike tapering down to Blakeley Rise and Dent. An unwelcome reminder of our visit over there last month, on 15th April, when for some inexplicable reason the camera failed to record any of the photos I took. Better not to dwell on that disappointment methinks.

We dropped down from the summit area and with our backs to the breeze took a short break to chomp on a chocolate bar, and enjoy the view because, at last, the Crummock Water fells had a sunny spell land on them. The giants across Lorton Vale are Whiteside and Grasmoor with Hopegill Head and Sand Hill between them.

Mellbreak is also still in the sunlight.

The view towards Buttermere with Fleetwith Pike at the head, Dale Head on the left and the Red Pike/High Stile ridge over on the right.

Snack break over so we start the descent and begin making our way over to Gavel Fell. On the central skyline is the Pillar group, a zoom in will reveal Scafell just to the right of Pillar. As we neared the fence line, where the path disappears out of shot, we met two walkers who seemed, from a distance, to be carrying enormous packs, possibly camping equipment we thought. As we got closer we could see that what the two ladies were actually toting were baby carrier backpacks, complete with sleeping babies. Well, if you want to take a walk on the fells and you have a few months old baby I suppose its the only way to achieve it. Hope they remembered to pack enough spare nappies.

On we go, making our way down to Fothergill Head where we cross the dip and begin the climb out and on up to the summit of Gavel Fell. We have only seen a few walkers so far, not nearly as many as we expected given that its such a nice day. Great Borne is right behind Gavel Fell and the very top of Haycock is just visible beyond the top of Great Borne. Scafell is still visible between Pillar and Black Crag over on the left skyline.

A look back at Blake Fell as we climb up from Fothergill Head on a path flanked with more cotton grass. As we were going up we met a solo walker who had passed by us during our walk up to Blake Fell. We exchanged greetings again while wondering where he was heading for next, surely it wouldn’t be back over Blake Fell, would it? No, we saw him veer off to the right at Fothergill Head and take the route below Carling Knott leading back down to Highnook Tarn.

A look back to Blake Fell and Carling Knott, dappled with sunlight and cloud, as we gain the gentle ridge line of Gavel Fell. Conversation turns to 2014 when we walked up Gavel Fell  through shoulder high bracken from Highnook Tarn. We can date the age of the fence line from that walk too when just one man was up here replacing it. We didn’t envy him his work either because it was a very cold and windy day.

We arrive at the cairn marking the summit of Gavel Fell where a view of Great Borne, Starling Dodd and Red Pike stretches along the middle foreground and the Pillar group still on the skyline beyond them.

Beyond the fence line, and the cotton grass, a very sunny Mellbreak and Grasmoor. This is our final fell today so its time to begin making our way back. We walked back up the fence line to an easy crossing point, the fence being in much the same state of repair as the one on Burnbank Fell. Once through there is a fence immediately to the right which has a stile set into it. Decision time, do we ignore the stile and descend via the cairn marked at 488m and down the shoulder of Black Crag or do we cross the stile and descend until we meet the path above Whiteoak Beck? Either way is pathless and, as we’ve walked down via the cairn and Black Crag shoulder previously we decided on the Whiteoak Beck option.

Starting the pathless descent with a view of a green and sunlit Hen Comb. No path but soft grass all the way down and not excessively steep either.

The flat area towards the bottom left of the shot is the very wet area of Whiteoak Moss so its not surprising that the cotton grass was thriving down there. We lose height quickly and Scafell is no longer visible between Pillar and Black Crag.

For part of the way down we were accompanied by three local fell dwellers.

We eventually meet up with the path above, and running parallel to, Whiteoak Beck. Its difficult to see from above but keep following the fence line and you will find it eventually. It disappears around Whiteoak Moss, up there below Great Borne. Hen Comb is on the left.

Looking ahead from the path now as we walk along the level, and mostly grassy, path above Whiteoak Beck …..

….. which is gently meandering through the valley quite some distance below us,

More local fell dwellers join us on the path as we make our way along. We get a sunny view of Darling Fell and Low Fell with Fellbarrow between the two of them.

 An open stretch along the route offers a view along Lorton Vale and the fells around it. We eventually struck lucky and had a view of Whiteside and Grasmoor both in sunlight at the same time. So far its been one or the other but never both.

A few shots back I mentioned that our conversation had turned to our walk from Highnook Tarn through the bracken up to Gavel Fell. That’s Highnook Tarn and above it is Gavel Fell, all that’s missing at the moment is the bracken but the paths through it can be seen quite clearly at the moment. We felt as if we’d gone a few rounds with a heavyweight boxer by the time we emerged onto the grass above it all.

We’re still on the same path but as it loops around and joins the one just below us we left it at this point, joined the one below us, turned left when we reached it and made our way down to the Highnook Beck crossing. Rising up the slopes of Carling Knott on the other side of the beck is the path we are aiming for.

Down at the bridge over Highnook Beck after which we’ll start to climb again. Tummies are wondering how much further they will be expected to go on the chocolate bars they received some time ago. We’re planning on making it to the seat along the terrace before we break out the food so stomachs will have to wait just a little longer.

A look back at Black Crag and the path from the Highnook Beck crossing from about halfway along. We haven’t been along here for a while and had forgotten how much of a pull up it is. Its either that or we’re running on empty tanks now.

A brighter spell so a chance for a shot of our journey from the Whiteoak Beck route. We went off path from the curving track to join the one below it to avoid having to double back. From the junction the path goes down the hill, passes though High Nook farm and continues on to Maggie’s Bridge and the parking area.

Our lunch break view from the seat which, as we arrived, was just being vacated by a group of three young ladies. They were unsure about how to get back to their start point, they were a little bit vague about that too, so J got the map out, showed them where they were and how to get to where they needed to be. Given that they wanted ‘to get back to the farm’ and that there are several farms nearby, without knowing the name of the farm (they didn’t either) we could only hope that the instructions got them close enough and that they would eventually recognise it when they reached it.

The seat with a view where we stopped for our lunch break. A lovely spot to take a break.

With tanks re-fuelled we set off on the last leg of our walk with a little more vigour than we had approached it, and thus enjoyed the lovely view of Darling Fell flanked by Fellbarrow, on the left, and Low Fell to the right all the more.

A solitary belted Galloway cow gazing at something. Its not as solitary as it seems because the rest of the herd are spread out in the field below the slight rise. They were all gathered by the gate when we set out so perhaps they were waiting for the farmer who came along on his quad bike shortly after us. Perhaps they were anticipating a morning treat.

A look back along the track we started out on as we return to the gate by the roadside. The cattle are spread out across the fields munching contentedly, the clouds drift lazily by, the afternoon is warm and peaceful and our walk comes to an end. Many more cars are parked along the road now and we exchanged greetings with quite a few of their occupants as we walked back to the car. A most enjoyable day with lovely weather but, at the time of writing this, the skies are grey and overcast again. Let’s hope we’re not returning to more of the same and that we can take another walk before too long.