From: Aira Force
Parking: Aira Force Car Park (A5091)
Start Point: Aira Force
Region: Eastern Fells
Route length: 11.7 miles (18.8 km)
Time taken: 04:40
Average speed: 2.5 mph
Wainwrights on this walk: Great Mell Fell (537m), Little Mell Fell (505m), Gowbarrow Fell (481m)
Additional summits: Watermillock Fell (424m), Little Meldrum (404m), Great Meldrum (437m), Green Hill (442m)
Other points of interest: Aira Force
The glorious week of weather we experienced over the festive period seems like a distant memory and we've returned to business as usual across much of the UK. Storm force winds make an unappetising prospect for any walk, let alone one in the Lake District. Still, I was optimistic that I might catch a break in the weather and not waste a hard earned mid-week day off.
The weather was still forecast to be very windy - 50 to 70mph - with frequent snow showers, so I set my sights on some of the more modest hills on my 'to do list', a trio of fells near Ullswater and the edge of the National Park.
Despite their names, Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell are hills. Large hills, yes, but still hills. They have no real connecting ridges, no subsidiary summits to speak of and no crags to draw the eye. Gowbarrow on the other hand, marks the transition between hill and true fell with multiple peaks and a profile with discernible ridges and the presence of all important crags. Included in that list is the majestic waterfall, Aira Force.
The downside of these three Wainwrights is that there stand quite far apart, particularly if you are attempting a circular route as I was. They sit in an approximate inverted L-shape, with Gowbarrow's summit the most southerly point and Great Mell Fell the furthest away. That meant a long, roadside walk either at the beginning or the end of the walk.
Given what the weather was planning to do, I opted to do the long road section first, saving Gowbarrow and the highlight of any views for later in the afternoon when the best of the weather was forecast to arrive.
I parked the car in a small car park along the road between Dockray and Ullswater and promptly proceeded back to the aforementioned hamlet. Forgive me if I skip through this bit rather swiftly and there isn't a great deal of interest or much to write about.
|Ullswater over Aira Beck|
|Great Mell Fell|
|Cottages at Ulcat Row|
|Norman Crag and Ulcat Row|
|Little Mell Fell|
|A look back along the path from Brownrigg Farm|
|Climbing Great Mell Fell|
|The remnants of the woodland that used to cover the fell|
|A snow shower over Watermillock Common|
The top is bare with no real cairn or feature though a tumulus is marked on the the OS maps. This is possibly a Bronze Age burial mound. The views in all directions are pretty good, the highlight being Blencathra which, on a day like today, was looking its most mountainous.
|The summit and its view over the Vale of Keswick|
|Clough Head and Blencathra|
|Vale of Eden|
|Returning back to Brownrigg Farm, Little Mell Fell is next|
|A shot of the road leading to Nabend|
|Great Mell Fell from the climb up Little Mell Fell|
|One of the odd tracks I followed up the fellside|
|The mighty Helvellyn over Sheffield Pike|
|A path makes its way along the top of Little Mell Fell|
|The clouds break over the Vale of Keswick|
|Little Mell Fell's summit|
|Arthur's Pike and Bonscale Pike|
|Gowbarrow and the Eastern Fells|
|The ridge linking Little Mell Fell to Gowbarrow Fell|
|A steep descent to The Hause|
|The Far Eastern Fells|
|Sunlight over Watermillock Common|
|The epitome of a snow shower|
|The dastardly woods|
|Little Mell Fell|
|Great Mell Fell|
|The woods that hide Little Meldrum|
|The undulating Gowbarrow Fell|
|Monochrome stile with Gowbarrow's summit behind|
|The new path to the top of Gowbarrow Fell|
Gowbarrow Fell forms part of Gowbarrow Park, an ancient hunting park that was part of the Greystoke Manor Estate. A map from 1783 shows the boundaries of the park extended from Gowbarrow Hall to Glencoyne Bay - the high stone wall that surrounded this land is still in good repair. In 1906 the National Trust acquired 750 acres of the Park to safeguard it from proposed house building which is why their logo is proudly displayed on the trig pillar.
|The trig pillar on Gowbarrow Fell|
|Airy Crag with the pillar sat on top|
|The first view of Ullswater from Gowbarrow Fell|
|Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts|
|Ullswater once again|
|Aira Beck upstream of Aira Force|
|The upper bridge|
|The view upstream of the bridge|
|The water as it enters the ravine|
|The view straight down the falls from the bridge|
|The lower bridge|
|Aira Force from the viewing platform|
|Aira Force and the new viewing platform|