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Free from the Fells Tubular Walks North Western Fell Walk

North Western Fells - Lord's Seat

A Clerk, A Bishop and a Lord

tubular-walks-logothe-bishop-of-barf-with-bassenthwaite-lake-belowThere's a carpark opposite the old Swan Inn, now private flats, on the A66 just a mile or so north-north-west of Braithwaite but there are plenty of other spots where you can leave your car within a short distance.  Of course, you would do no better than to use the X4/5 bus service which runs between Workington, Keswick and Penrith and start your journey with a real Wainwright twist.  Of course, the other link with Transport for Lakeland is that the A66 follows the route of the now defunct Cockermouth, Keswick, and Penrith Railway which was closed by the Beeching Act.  On April 18th, 1966 all services west of Keswick ended whilst the last passenger train left Penrith for Keswick on on a wintry Saturday, March 4th, 1972.

AW Says:On Barf..."This rugged pyramid contrives to arrest and retain the attention of travellers."

This ascent of Barf is certainly a dramatic one and would be best left after a couple of warm up ascents.  Leaving the car, the first feature to find is the 'clerk'.  Wainwright describes the stone as, "a poor drooping individual who attracts little attention to himself."  The direct assault on Barf can be regarded as more of a scramble as sections are undoubtedly very far from the amble!  The first objective, The Bishop is an ideal focus for the initial route.  Ascend loose scree but take care as you pick your way through the talus.  The Bishop is an interesting edifice, historically maintained in its white vestments by the landlord of the Swan.  Sadly, with the passing of that establishment this historical connection has been severed, but the whitewashing is now carried out by members of Keswick Mountain Rescue.  If in London, there is no doubt the Bishop would be 'tagged' and graffiti would cover him, but people respect his high perch or perhaps urban hoodies won't climb so high!

Did you know?Barf was formerly known as Barrugh Fell and indicates a derivation of Berg, meaning mountain. Barrugh, also a local surname, is locally pronounced 'Barf'.

Beyond The Bishop, the slope continues scree style.  Before long, the crux of Slape Crag is reached, but for the sure of foot it shouldn't present a problem.  Breathers may be many on this ascent, but in clear weather the views behind give ample reason to stop and take photographs.  With the impressive aspect of Skiddaw across Bassenthwaite, it really is a spectacular vista and keep an eye out in summer, you might catch a glimpse of the Thornthwaite Ospreys on a sorti for fish in the lake below.  Beyond a series of false summits, Barf summit is achieved and after a break to take in the view, the easy ascent of Lord's Seat is achieved.  This is the high point of the day but a fine little ridge presents itself north-westwards.  Traversing Todd Fell, Broom Fell with its fine cairn is easily reached whence the route turns nearer to south-west descending past Darling How Plantation at Widow Hause.

The summit of Broom FellEighty metres of ascent brings you onto Graystones.  This however, is somewhat of a misnomer, as the true fell is Kirk Fell belonging to High Lorton and that gorgeous vale of the same name.  The name of Graystones, therefore belongs to the upthrust of rocky ground and which is marked by a few forlorn pieces of rock now making a cairn since AW wrote in 1963.  I guess the mountain's north-eastern eyes look with envy to the fine edifice on Broom!

Route finding from now on comes into conjecture especially where the forest plantations come into play.  I have previously vaulted the forest fence here to gain access down to Aiken Beck, but by following the forest line down to Scawfell Bridge the forest can be entered via a stile half way down the fell.   I heartily recommend you plot your own course especially with the ever changing regiments of coniferous plantation.  Accessing a forest drive, the walker can thread his way down to the beck before heading up valley towards Aiken Beck.  If the beck is low you can ford it at a few points, but easier crossing is achieved by following the forest drive to the main drive near the house at Darling How. 

The access into the forest from Tarbarell MossWhinlatter or Brown How is the next objective and yet another member of the 214 family.  I've walked to the summit using many different routes down the years, especially at times when deforested sections led me elsewhere, or on a hot summer's day the cover of trees gave me welcome relief in the shade.  Promenading along the summit crest to the eastern top, the next piece of navigation is to aim for the fence corner on Tarbarrel Moss.  Once here a gap leads through a dark section of pathway which emerges on a forest road suitably labelled with a fine wooden sign at the time of writing.  At the threeway junction here, take the northern arm (or should that be Manx leg) towards Ullister Hill.  You flick left at a junction and then aim up through trees aiming for open territory once more. 

Did you know?Although rarely eaten in the UK, the red berries of cowberry are edible and have a sharp taste.

Cowberry and BilberryIn the true spirit of adventure, say "Ullister Hill" and few will have any inkling of where it is.  However, I am sure that without a carpet of trees and the nearby Lord's Seat it would feature more readily on people's lists of hills to climb.  As it is, I doubt whether anybody will be with you on this section of the journey and if in summer you'll be accompanied by a carpet of treats in the form of wild bilberry and cowberry.

If you were really keen you could complete today's outing with another ascent of Lord's Seat - now that would be something to tell.  Alternatively your descent line follows Beckstones Gill with a series of waterfalls.  On one descent of Beckstones Gill I was surprised to see an arch of stones complete with accompanying pillar.  It really was amazing to see the beck bridged by this simple piece of artwork and without a single piece of mortar to be seen.  Whether the structure still graces the beck I do not know, it would be good of you to find out, and a quick exploration might make a nice finale to your walk!

The Route Map and Path Profile:


Nota Bene

Walking in the Lake District, Scotland or elsewhere can be dangerous especially for the inexperienced or in bad weather. It is the walker's responsibility to be properly prepared and kitted out. Walkers should always carry a map and compass when on the mountains and know how to use them.
Please remember that no hand drawn map, or well prepared guidebook is ever a substitute for the correct Ordnance Survey or similar Harveys Map (Lakeland Central Map or Lake District 1:40000) for an area. Especially in mountainous terrain, any errors of navigation can prove inconvenient at the least and in the most extreme circumstance may lead to serious injury or loss of life.   If you are in any doubt about your situation do not set out. For further information on fellwalking and to find advice and related articles visit the Online Fellwalking Club.

carry-a-route-cardAt the express request of the LDSAMRA always leave a route card to outline your day's intended route on the mountains.  Route cards for these walks are attached as part of the free walk downloads and a blank version is available in the 'Free from the Fells' section for your other felltop escapades.

Start point: NY 219 263
End Point: NY 219 263
Distance: 14.7km/ 9.13miles
Max. Height: 552m/ 1812ft
Min. Height: 115m/ 378ft
Height Ascended: 1081m/ 3547ft
c.237m / 778ft
Estimated Time:
4hrs, 43mins
Wainwright Book:
6 The North Western Fells
AW 148/214

Other information:
147th Wainwright
OS Explorer (Orange Covers) sheet:
OS Landranger (Pink Covers) sheet:
and 090

Download a PDF page of the 'Clerk, a Bishop and a Lord' walk to take with you, but don't forget to take the relevant map and compass on the day.  The PDF contains all the information from this web page and can be printed out in full colour.


Remember, in an emergency dial 999 or 112 and ask for 'Police' (not Mountain Rescue), give your name, telephone number and location, your notes, map make and number. STAY BY THE PHONE and await further instruction.


Western Fells - Seat Allan
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