The Lake District Guide

Lake District Valley and Low-level Walks

Holme Fell

Holme Fell 3 miles [5 km] [900 ft. climb]

This is really a rough fell walk. But in good weather and with plenty of time, anyone can manage it. It's a bit rough, so leave word with someone of the route you are taking if you go alone. The walk is a splendid little adventure, and highly recommended.

You will need to park at Shepherd's Bridge. This is a little short of two miles north-east of Coniston. From Coniston take the Ambleside road. The first turning left, after about a mile and three quarters, is the Tilberthwaite road. Very shortly afterwards, after the right-hand bend, is the turning for Hodge Close. Turn left down it and after a few yards there are parking places on the grass left and right. From Ambleside take the Coniston road. After about five miles there is a little tarn on the right of the road (Yewtree Tarn.) Just after this the road turns right, and shortly again the Hodge Close turning is seen on the right. Turn right down it and park.

Having parked walk on up the road and cross the little bridge, Shepherd's Bridge. Then immediately afterwards turn right and go through the gate. Follow the track alongside the wall and go through another gate. Follow the wall round, through another gate and bear right, then the track rises slightly left between broken walls. It then follows a wall on the right and goes through another gate. When the wall finishes, and there is a fence leading to another gate, with some pine trees on the knoll to the right, this is where the track is left for a footpath. Do not go through the gate. Turn left and follow the wall upwards. Path bears left away from wall soon by a mountain ash tree. The path goes between a knoll on the left and a swampy area on the right. It continues to the left of the bog, and goes through a little gully among silver birches. It then bends left through junipers, and goes through a gate. The path goes through open woodland among boulders, and begins to climb after a small beck. After the first steep step the path takes a gentler incline and as it approaches a large boulder there is a good view of Yewtree Tarn below on the right.

At the big boulder, bear left up the path which continues to climb. Walk right past it to make the easy ascent from the far side. From the cairn can be seen almost the entire length of Coniston Water. The cairn on the top of Coniston Old Man can be seen right front. Wetherlam is on the right of this and nearer. This leg of the mountain dominates a great deal of the southern Lake District scene. From here it looks gigantic. Right of Wetherlam are Crinkle Crags, Pike o'Blisco, Bowfell, Glaramara in the distance, then Langdale Pikes and Pavey Ark. Then there are the heights of Ullscarf, Steel Fell is nearer, then there is a gap before the hump of Helvellyn. To right is the gap of Grisedale, then the Fairfield range. The grand view is enhanced by the roughness of the near view around. This is an eagle's-eye view of the district. The exploration of the other summits of Holme Fell is not recommended. Retrace your steps, and descend by the same route as the ascent, to the path going towards the little tarn.

Continue down towards the tarn, skirt a little crag, then cross through a wet area, through bog myrtle. (Crush some of its leaves, and smell. The herb was once valued by countrywomen to give a fresh pleasant smell to bed sheets.) On nearing the tarn bear left and cross the boggy section approaching its banks. The pretty little tarn is a place to sit for a while.

Turn left from the point at which you reach the tarn, and continue on this line through a little gap, which brings you to a broken dam with another little tarn on the right. Cross the dam, and turn left under the trees; this picks up a faint path which rises slightly and then joins another, better, path at a T junction. Turn right. This path breasts a small rise, then descends and curves left. Here there is a grove of rowans, or mountain ash trees. Rowans are usually solitary and it is unusual to find them in groves. Their wood was once much valued to keep away witches. One beam of mountain ash had to be put among the oak beams of the houses of old, between the door and the hearth, to prevent free passage of witches. A cross of rowan was also often erected by the door to keep away evil.

The path becomes quite distinct. At wall turn left and go through the gate. Follow a track alongside the wall. It leaves the wall and continues to descend. Ignore sharp turn right to the cottages, but go onwards with wall. Skirt the wet ground and go through gate. Beyond the gate take to the higher ground left to avoid more wetness. The track eventually joins the road; continue left. Follow this road, which follows the ghyll right back to Shepherd's Bridge, and your car.

More walks: Part 2 page 14 Part 2 page 13 Page 2 page 2 Page 2 part 3

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