Gowbarrow Fell

Walk date – 11th November 2021

Distance – 4.3 miles

Weather – dull and overcast

The last two week of October were a total washout, the first two week of November have been a little drier but extremely windy, hence our absence from the fells during the last few weeks. We had a couple of attempts at lower levels but ended up abandoning them. Here’s what the conditions were like when we arrived at Cow Bridge on Monday this week –

– rain, very low cloud and no views whatsoever. We gave up on the idea of a ramble around Dovedale, went back home and watched it tipping down for the rest of the day.  Today’s forecast was for a dry but cloudy day with lighter winds so we opted for a walk up Gowbarrow. Its close to home, is low enough to rarely have its head in the clouds, and a short enough walk to fit into a morning or an afternoon if that’s all the time you have available. As you will see from the photos it was very overcast and the light was poor so not the best conditions for photography but on the plus side it didn’t rain and, with the exception of the summit area, the wind strength was much less than it has been lately.


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

Only about half a dozen cars were parked up in the old quarry parking area so we had no problems finding a space today. Everywhere is much less busy of course now that the summer holidaymakers have left, and the poor weather doesn’t encourage anyone to venture out on the fells. Its not very enjoyable walking in rain and enveloped in clammy cloud.  There was a hint of blue sky towards the east as we set off down the path but it was nothing more than a break in the cloud.

Heading down the path towards Aira Beck, which we could hear long before we could see it. The slopes of Gowbarrow are well and truly clad in their autumn colours now, it’s a pity there wasn’t a hint of sun just to show them off a bit more.

Aira Beck in full roaring flow, the plus side to all the rain we’ve been having. Ullswater’s water level is very high at the moment and the places where we paddled and swam from during the hot weather are completely submerged now. We crossed the bridge, out of shot to the left, and followed the path up the slope, bearing left at the junction, and carried on along a recently restored path through the woodland alongside the beck.

Out of the wooded section and onto the path across the open fellside where, just a few paces ahead, we follow the muddy route over on the right to begin the climb up Gowbarrow.

We were last up here in March this year and we noticed then that bags of stones had been delivered in readiness for some path restoration. When we started out from the car park we had wondered whether we would see if any work on the path had been carried out since March. Here’s our answer. The men doing the work were sitting just below this point, having their lunch break I suppose. Sections of the grassy path, especially the steeper bits, have become very eroded over time, down to bare soil and rock in many places, and it looked as though those sections were being dealt with first. The mounds of excavated, and now very muddy, soil and bags of stones meant lots of diversions from what we knew as the established path but when completed the steeper sections of path will be much more stable and further erosion halted.

A look back across to Watermillock Common as we diverted from the path yet again. The cloud is becoming heavier, darker and more ominous. Will it hold on to its contents?

A chance look towards Ullswater gave us our only glimpse of sunlight. Shafts of light finding a break in the cloud landed on a section of Ullswater and gave it a sparkling silver sheen. A wonderful sight on a very dark and gloomy afternoon.

A pause for breath and a look back along the skyline at Stybarrow Dodd, Hart Side, Great Dodd and Clough Head. The light is becoming poorer by the minute and the fells are beginning to merge into one amorphous mass. We had passed the pair of walkers below us further back down the path but they never appeared at the summit, perhaps they called it off.

The shafts of light have gone and the general murkiness intensifies. You’d think it was almost evening but it was only ten minutes short of 2 o’clock.

Ten minutes later here we are being thrashed about by the strong wind at the trig column on Gowbarrow.

Things looks slightly brighter to the north east as I take another shot of the trig column to include Little Mell Fell.

Looking south west from Gowbarrow top where we can just identify Watermillock Common, directly behind the heather clad foreground, while to the left of it is the indistinct, but recognisable, mass of Sheffield Pike. Beyond them the fells are cloaked in foggy grey cloud.

Looking towards the northern fells where Carrock Fell stands out against the lighter sky on the right of the skyline. Blencathra should be visible across the middle skyline but not today. The couple on the path below are not the ones I mentioned earlier, these two were a good deal younger.

One more shot of the summit area before we scamper out of the wind and descend down to the path leading to the terrace route above Ullswater.

Little Mell Fell and Great Meldrum in view as we begin the return leg of the walk …..

….. and a look back at the summit area as we make our way down the path. No wind at all down here so we can put the tissues back in our pockets.

If you look very hard above the stand of trees on the left you can just about make out the Loadpot Hill ridge line, after that the fellsides and cloud merge into one. A poor day for views I’m afraid. We’re gradually dropping down towards the remains of the old Lowther Estate shooting lodge.

A very murky Hallin Fell comes into view as we drop down further.

The white stone in the dead bracken is one of the remaining stones marking the spot where the old shooting lodge once stood. Some of the walls remain but they can only be seen once the bracken has completely withered away.

The Arthur’s Pike/Bonscale Pike ridge line escapes the attention of an extremely dark cloud directly above us. The light is very poor right now.

A hint of brightness on the ridge line, the brighter light emphasising the rocky outline of Winter Crag on Beda Fell over on the right and casting a pewter coloured sheen over Ullswater.

The view along Ullswater as we continue along the terrace path. The ridge line becomes a little clearer.

Well, at least there’s something to see on the distant eastern shore …..

….. even if things do remain very murky closer to hand. Beyond Yew Crag below us the views of Beda Fell and Place Fell remain somewhat hazy. A pair of walkers on Yew Crag were taking a break and taking in what views there were.

Heading for the Aira Beck path now as we pass beyond Yew Crag and notice the even murkier conditions to the south.

We saw no ‘steamers’ on Ullswater today. They do operate all year round, except Christmas Day, but with only three sailings per day from Glenridding during the winter months not catching sight of one isn’t at all unusual.

View down to Aira Point and Lyulph’s Tower from the terrace path.

Moody hues around Ullswater.

Looking a little brighter at the southern end of Ullswater before we turn off the path and …..

….. follow the path through the woodland above Aira Beck.

Aira Beck dropping through series of cascades in a deep gorge far below us. It was a very close and muggy walk through the woodland …..

….. so we were glad to reach the bridge above High Force and be out in the open once again. Here’s a shot looking upstream of Aira Beck before we made our way up the hill and back to the car. As we walked up, accompanied by light rain, I took a look back at Gowbarrow and saw that even this low height fell was now smothered in cloud. What was that I was saying earlier about it rarely having its head in the clouds? In a more serious vein and referring back to the topics mentioned in recent posts you might be interested in the following statement, concerning the introduction of a digital currency, made on 9th November 2021, by John Glen MP and Economic Secretary to the Treasury:


As you read through the statement you will notice that the appointed ‘Taskforce’ jointly chaired by HM Treasury and the Bank of England ‘will be informed by extensive stakeholder engagement and consultation.’ Nowhere does it mention that the general population is likely to be consulted, instead we are told that it will ‘engage a broad range of stakeholders from across our economy and society, including consumer groups, think tanks, businesses, academics, financial institutions and technology experts.’ No doubt at all that the above-mentioned will have a vested interest in agreeing to what is proposed. Other problems/questions will probably spring to mind as you read through the statement, just keep in mind what we stated recently – if it suits the government and big business then it probably isn’t a good thing for the rest of us. When Mr Glen posted about this on his Twitter account he probably wasn’t expecting the “No Thanks’ reactions that ensued:


The headline “Oh No, Not Another One!’ should be applied to this next link:


The government seems to be going all out on apps just lately. This one is all to do with a pilot study designed to ‘help’ people. There they go with that ‘its all for your benefit’ tag yet again. Nah, its nowt of the sort, its another way of data gathering, innit? No doubt you will come up with criticisms and objections of your own but here’s a link to one of several published articles against its introduction:


No we certainly don’t and, we suspect, neither do you. If anyone wants to lose weight, not to mention all the ailments which accompany it, cut out or reduce carbohydrate and sugar intake and take regular exercise. A brisk thirty minute walk every day will get the heart rate up and the muscles working and do a world of good. Its absolutely free too!