Gowbarrow Fell

Walk date – 15th March 2021

Distance – 4.5 miles

Weather – sunny start then clouding over, light northwesterly breeze


After a spell of poor weather lately we took advantage of a more settled day today and took a circular walk over Gowbarrow Fell. The recent rainy spell has swollen all the becks and the ground is waterlogged once again so conditions underfoot were squelchy at times. However, Gowbarrow has many paths to choose from so we decided to avoid using the ones which we know would lead over persistently boggy ground and kept to the well used ones.  We had a good sunny spell to begin with but as we began the return leg along the terrace route the skies clouded over and dull, gloomy skies took over once again. Very few people were out and about despite the improvement in the weather and we only saw about half a dozen other walkers during our walk and most of them were walking the paths around Aira Beck. While empty paths and fells can make for a peaceful ramble for those of us who live here it is also a stark reminder that, at present, an aura of desolation permeates the Lake District, without its visitors it is empty and dead.


Old quarry car park – High Cascades Bridge – Gowbarrow Fell – Aira Beck – old quarry car park

Plenty of blue sky around as we walk down from the car park and follow the path down to High Cascades bridge.

Gowbarrow Fell from the path down to Aira Beck. We’ll cross the beck, turn left and follow the path along the open fellside until we reach the turn off point just below the stand of trees over there on the lower slopes. Its then a straightforward climb up to Airy Crag, the summit of Gowbarrow Fell.

A group of three young folk down at the bridge. Having just emerged from the path on this side of the beck they crossed the bridge and made their way back down the path on the other side.

High Cascades Bridge.

The view upstream from the bridge. No water shortage in Aira Beck and the noise was thunderous.

From the path across the open fellside a look over towards Parkgate Farm and Watermillock Common.

A close up of Hart Side and Great Dodd, and the heavy cloud boiling up behind them, from the climb up alongside the stand of trees. There was a fresh fall of snow on all the higher fells in the wee small hours between last Friday night and Saturday. It fell as rain at ground level though.

A longer view of the previous shot which now includes Watermillock Common on the left and Randerside on the right.

We’re well above the trees now so Blencathra comes into view. There was a good covering of snow on it on Saturday but it has thawed out quite a bit in the last couple of days. There were plenty of large gaps between the clouds and it was very warm in the sun so jackets came off before we started the climb.

A look back along from higher up the path, water had taken charge of it it many places but on the whole it was firm underfoot. Path repair is going on in several places along the way and there were many, many new bags of stones placed alongside the path in readiness. That might explain the constant comings and goings of a helicopter, with similar bags slung beneath it, taking off from the area around the bottom of Shoulthwaite Gill during our walk over High Rigg a couple of weeks ago.

Very bright skies made photography difficult in any southerly direction, the silvery sheen on Ullswater being just about the only thing that was clear to see.

Airy Crag, the summit of Gowbarrow Fell. A zoom in will reveal the snow capped tops of the northern Pennines over on the right. Much more snow on them than the Lakeland fells which gives a hint as to which direction the snow came from.

Sunshine on Little Mell Fell but none for us at the moment. The northwesterly breeze and the cloud cover turned the temperature down a degree or three so our jackets went back on.

Great Mell Fell was also getting its share of sunlight.

Blencathra and the northern fells from Airy Crag.

Ullswater and a scattering of snow on the tops of all its surrounding fells.

Looking along Ullswater towards Glenridding with Place Fell on the left.

No snow on Place Fell.

View to the south east looking towards Rampsgill Head, The Knott and HIgh Street.

Looking east over Hallin Fell to Loadpot Hill.

Descending from the summit with a view of Great Meldrum and its tree plantation with Little Mell Fell behind it.

Down at the old shooting lodge, now barely discernible, where we join the terrace route path. The cloud had pretty much taken over by the time we got to this point so the lights were dimmed and there were no more sunny spells.

A view of Place Fell from the terrace route.

Arthur’s Pike, Bonscale Pike, Loadpot Hill and Wether Hill on the skyline behind Ullswater and  Hallin Fell.

Loadpot Hill got a glimmer of light so I took a closer look.

Place Fell across the water as we passed Yew Crag. We didn’t go over as two people seemed to be having a picnic on it and we didn’t want to intrude.

Quite gloomy and dim now over Ullswater.

Aira Point and Lyulph’s Tower from the terrace path.The end of the terrace route isn’t too far away now and at that point we’ll turn right and follow the path going up above Aira Beck.

The afore-mentioned Aira Beck, very full and about to become Aira Force as it plunges …..

….. 65 feet or so beneath this bridge as it makes its way down to Ullswater. Nobody around at this much visited tourist attraction.

High Force falls, for some obscure reason now called High Cascades. Its very difficult to get a good shot of the falls as the sides of the gorge are very steep and narrow and don’t have any natural viewing points. When the trees are in full leaf you can forget it altogether. From here the High Cascades bridge is just a a very short distance away to the right and then its back up the hill to the deserted car park and the drive home. If you only have a couple of hours to spare this is a very pleasant walk of moderate distance, with a steep enough initial climb to maintain a level of ‘fell fitness’, and some excellent views. Gowbarrow Fell never fails to please.