A Trio of Lesser Heights.

Start. Aira Force car park.

Route. Aira Force car park - Aira Force - High Force - Gowbarrow Fell - Shooting Lodge - Swinburn's Park - Priest's Crag - Underwood - The Hause - Little Mell Fell - Lowthwaite - Greenrow - Brownrigg - Great Mell Fell - Jennyhill - Moorend - Ulcat Row - Norman Crag - High Force - Aira Force - Aira Force car park.

Notes. The Heights in question, Gowbarrow Fell, Little Mell Fell and the slightly higher Great Mell Fell, rising from Matterdale a forgotten corner of Lakeland, three lesser heights with breath-taking views. Don't underestimate this walk, the hills might be low in stature but the climbs are testing, with around 2,800 ft of ascent it's no walk in the park, by the time I got back to Aira Force my legs certainly knew they'd been on a fell walk.

I seem to have formed an affection for the car park at Aira Force, I find myself there again today, again I followed the waters of Aira Beck up stream, passed Aira Force and High Force before escaping the tree cover. Through rough pastures I walked, on reaching the edge of the second field I turned east to ascend Gowbarrow Fell, a steep climb lead to a good path which in turn guided me to the summit. With an equally good path under foot I continued east before swinging south to reach a ruined shooting lodge, here I turned left. A good path ushered me through the vast pine plantation of Swinburn's Park, a long easy descent followed before rounding the edge of Priest's Crag to join a tarmac lane. I ascended said lane to reach The Hause where a steep path ascends Little Mell Fell. The summit welcomed me with a trig point and stunning views to Blencathra and the hills to the west of Keswick, the vast expanse of the Eden Valley stretched out before me and to my back, the many ridges leading to High Street.

I descended to the west, crabbing from sheep track to sheep track, eventually stepping onto a path that would guide me to the tiny hamlet of Lowthwaite. With a grey ribbon of tarmac to guide me I wandered on, somewhere along this lane was a path signed Great Mell Fell via Brownrigg. Once located I crossed the valley, discreet arrows kept me on track, I rounded the farm buildings before starting my assault on Great Mell Fell. This was a slog, forcing tired legs on I slowly climbed the hill, when the gradient eased my legs refused to push any harder, I stumbled onto the summit, my only thought, the long walk back.

I sat ages swigging orange juice drinking in spectacular vistas before rising to re-trace my steps back down. The next section was unavoidable, a sizeable slice of tarmac walking. I made good time rambling along roads, passed Matterdale Rigg and Bald How and Moorend Farm. I escaped tarmac at Ulcat Row where a delightful path ushered me under the cliffs of Gowbarrow's northern facade before allowing me to re-join my outward route above Aira Beck.

view route map.


Rising above Ullswater, Place Fell.

Seen from a distance the cascade of Aira Force.

Views taken from the bridge above Aira Force.

The scene over Ullswater seen from the ascent of Gowbarrow Fell.

Viewing the white washed buildings of Parkgate Farm.

Gain a little more height and the dramatic rock scenery of Blencathra tilts into view.

The summit Gowbarrow Fell looking to Great Mell Fell.

Named on the map as Shooting Lodge, this ruin marks the point I left this path to enter Swinburn's Park, a vast pine plantation....

....not for much longer, it's easy to forget you're walking through a working landscape.

Arthur's Pike and Bonscale Pike seen from the slopes of Little Mell Fell.

The summit Little Mell Fell with views to Blencathra.

Next on the bill, Great Mell Fell.

The narrow ribbon of tarmac that guided me from Lowthwaite.

Across Matterdale, dwarfed by the sylvan slopes of Great Mell Fell, Brownrigg Farm, my aiming point.

As seen from Brownrigg, the gorse covered slopes of Little Mell Fell.

Ascending Great Mell Fell, looking to the heights of Clough Head.

In the distance, blue/grey across the horizon the long ridge of High Street leading to Caudale Moor and Red Screes, with Gowbarrow Fell in the middle distance.

A wonderful view of the Blencathra massif bursts on the senses as you crest the summit of Great Mell Fell.

To the north, across the Eden Valley, the Solway plane and the Border lands.

Viewing the many ridges of Blencathra from the grassy summit of Great Mell Fell.

Place Fell seen from under the cliffs of Norman Crag.

Aira Beck below High Force.

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