Shoreline below Humphrey Head

The shoreline of Morecambe Bay, below Humphrey Head

Summits: There is only one summit in the chapter, that of Humphrey Head itself.
At just 172 feet above sea level, this is (comfortably) the lowest Wainwright of all 330. To put it in perspective, I live at 412 feet above sea level. The entire city of Birmingham is higher than me, let alone Humphrey Head. Climb it twice, and you still haven’t attained the altitude of the 329th highest Wainwright, Cartmel Fell. A “mountain” it is not.

Volume: Book 8 (The Outlying Fells).

Looking back to Humphrey Head

Looking south from Hampsfell. Humphrey Head is the low eminence to the right.

Date bagged: First visit:  8th July 2013 (walk 72).

Second visit: 17th December 2016 (walk 122).

Bagged as number: First round: 222 of 330. [ << Potter Fell (218-221)  (223) Hampsfell >> ]

Second round: 84 of 330 [ << Hampsfell (83)  (85) Glaramara >> ]

Route of ascent and descent: First visit: To and from the Outdoor Centre.

Second visit: Came up direct from the car park at the end of the lane, on the west side of the headland. This is a practical ascent, but a definite scramble, which despite the low altitude of the fell is not without its dangers. Take care if using this route, particularly if the rocks are slippery: you don’t want your obituary to read “Went Out on the Lowest Wainwright Of All”. Descended, once again, to the Outdoor Centre.

Humphrey Head summit

The trig point on the summit of Humphrey Head.

What Mr Wainwright says (from p. 66 of book 8): “Not by any exercise of the imagination can Humphrey Head be classed as an outlying fell of Lakeland. Outlying it certainly is: a limestone promontory thrusting from the Kent Estuary coast… A fell it certainly is not, being a meagre 172 feet above the sea and, away from its dangerous cliffs, so gentle in gradient and surface texture that the ascent is a barefoot stroll.

“Yet its isolation, far-ranging views and seascapes, bird life (of national repute), rocky reefs and interesting approach combine to make the place unique in the district, giving better reason for its inclusion in this book than its omission.”

What I say: Humphrey Head is definitely, definitely, not a mountain, but it is worth a visit. There are plenty of reasons to enjoy it. It has great views and the approaches are certainly different, whether or not you come in across the salt marsh from Kents Bank station, or via the lanes from Flookburgh or Allithwaite. (One can also compare this terrain to that drawn on Wainwright’s map on page 68 of the first edition, and marvel at how things have changed in the intervening 40 years.)

Humphrey Head Point

Humphrey Head Point, high tide (cf. the picture on p. 67 of volume 8)

The first time I came was on a memorably hot, and allergenic, day in summer — the second, a grey, misty, melancholy winter day. Neither made me feel that it was in any way a waste of energy. It is not exciting but it does meet all the criteria that Wainwright set out to meet in book 8: easier walking that anyone of any age could enjoy. It might not take long to conquer it but it’ll be time quite well spent.

Humphrey Head has several distinctions amongst all Wainwrights (all 330, not just the ones in book 8). It’s the lowest in altitude, and it’s also the southernmost. Along with Dent, it is one of only two that lie outside the National Park boundary. It is also one of the most isolated Wainwrights, lying a good three miles’ walk from the summit of its nearest neighbour, Hampsfell.

[ << Hugill Fell     Ill Bell >> ]


2 Responses to “Humphrey Head”

  1. […] at all; a countryside ramble round coastal, limestone scenery, with three summits bagged: Humphrey Head (the lowest Wainwright of all), Hampsfell, and the southern summit of Newton Fell. But worth doing; […]

  2. […] Having finished work for my Christmas break I was hoping to get a walk in somehow, but really wasn’t feeling up to a major mountain hike. Hence yesterday’s walk 122, which took me over the low eminences of Hampsfell and Humphrey Head. […]

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