Outline of Route
Maggie's Bridge - Burnbank Fell - Carling Knott - Blake Fell - Gavel Fell - Hen Comb - Mellbreak - Maggie's Bridge (Grid ref. NY 134210)
Total Distance 11.5 miles, Total Ascent 4050 feet, Equivalent Distance 19.6 miles
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Details of Route
The National Trust car park at Maggie's Bridge holds about half a dozen cars and is free. There is a box for voluntary donations. Go through the gate and head west along the farm road towards Watergate Farm. From the road there is a good view of Carling Knott and Burnbank Fell photo as you walk along the shore of Loweswater photo. Pass by the farm and go through the gate into Holme Wood. Almost immediately after the gate follow the path climbing at an angle up the fellside through the wood. After emerging from the wood you get a good view of Loweswater photo. Cross the wall at the stile and follow the path west crossing Holme Beck then north for an even better viewpoint for Loweswater and whence you have come photo, and across the lake to Darling Fell photo.
From here it is a simple, if strenuous, matter to climb west-south-west straight up the fellside to the summit of Burnbank Fell. There is a fence to climb over part-way up but nothing by way of complication - just keep going uphill. The start of a path you may have noticed up Holme Beck towards the summit peters out all too soon and leaves one (this one anyway) confused as to one's exact whereabouts. Burnbank Fell is crossed by a fence which changes direction at the summit. Head south from the summit along by the fence down to a col. After climbing a short distance out of most of the boggy area there is a clear path heading northeast to the top of Carling Knott. It is worth the short trip to Carling Knott for the view, if on the day there is one to be had, or maybe just to bag the peak (not a Wainwright but more interesting than some) and return to the fence. Now head up the fell, firstly by the fence and and then leaving it, for the summit of Blake Fell. There is a beautiful view of Cogra Moss, Knock Murton and the Cumbria coast from here photo and a view to the south-east and the next port of call, Gavel Pike photo. Head down the clear track going south-south-east and at the depression use the gates as necessary and head up to the summit of Gavel Fell. A retrospective view of Blake Fell shows the clear path photo. A view to the north shows Mellbreak and the northern spur of Hen Comb photo and some of the higher fells are seen to the east photo.
From the summit of Gavel Pike head roughly south by the fence to grid ref. NY 117175 where a path towards Floutern Cop can be seen alongside a fence heading off to the east. Follow this path, ascend Floutern Cop and descend the other side continuing parallel to a major west-to-east path just to your south. (If there has been heavy rain and the becks are in spate you may wish to avoid Hen Comb and the crossing of Mosedale Beck at its northern end. If this is the case take the option to pass south of Hen Comb, cross Mosedale Beck at its southern end and either head up Mosedale, or ascend Mellbreak from its southern side.) As you approach Hen Comb start turning towards it and start climbing. There is a path but it is quite indistinct and it's easy enough to climb the fell without the path, avoiding any rocky outcrops where necessary - like Burnbank Fell earlier, just keep going up. From the summit head north along a prominent path the the subsidiary summit of Little Dodd and continue north to the intake wall then follow the path eastwards down to Mosedale Beck. After a few days without rain it is easy enough to cross the beck without removing one's boots. After some recent rain it would be worth taking some trekking sandals for the crossing, unless you care to cross in bare feet. After a lot of rain prepare to bathe, or don't come this way.
At this point it is worth checking you have enough time to tackle Mellbreak as it is going to take a couple of hours to do the circuit. As you emerge from the beck onto the Mosedale path you should be able to see a path from your left heading up towards the rocky northern face of Mellbreak. You can go straight up to join that path. It will take you up and across through the scree and rocky outcrops until you find a large precipitous gully on your left, the Crummock Water side. Head up the ridge from here, there can be sheer drops on either side, to the northern summit of Mellbreak. It is an exhilarating climb. There are fine views from the summit towards Loweswater photo and across Crummock Water photo. Head south along the well-defined path to the depression between the two summits and take note of the path going off to your right. That is your way down. Continue south to the southern summit, the higher of the two and complete with its own little tarn, where there is a wonderful view along the valley of Crummock Water and Buttermere photo. Now return to the central depression and join the path you noted for your descent into Mosedale. It is steep but well-trodden and provides the easiest way off the fell. (Anyone who avoided Hen Comb and climbed the south top of Mellbreak before going on to the north top would be advised to descend this way and not attempt the descent of the north ridge which is difficult and potentially dangerous to follow on the way down.) Once down into Mosedale bear right and go north towards Kirkgate Farm and Church Bridge. There are good views on the way of Low Fell photo and a good retrospective view of Mellbreak from Church Bridge photo. At the crossroads bear left along the road between the Kirkstile Inn and the church: turn left again when you reach the next junction and take the next road on the left back to Maggie's Bridge.
Rev. 19 July 2012