Wetherlam from Latterbarrow

View towards Wetherlam, from Latterbarrow

Date completed: 29th October 2013 (with Joe).

Weather conditions: Generally good, despite a grim rain shower that soaked us on the walk to the ferry in Bowness, but which stopped two minutes after we got off on the other side of the lake. The rest of the day was a mixture of sunshine and cloud, mostly mild.

Fungus and moss

Autumn in the woods

Summits bagged: Claife Heights (886’), Latterbarrow (803’).

Start and end points: Started at the ferry dock on the western shore of Windermere, opposite Bowness. Finished in Hawkshead. These two points are connected by the #525 ‘Mountain Goat’ bus which runs throughout the summer season (ending after this school half-term, that is, the first Sunday in November). From Hawkshead you can also get a bus to Ambleside and Coniston.

The ferry terminal in Bowness is about three miles from Windermere station, probably too far to walk (though it is downhill). Bus #599 connects Bowness with the railway station.

Windermere ferry terminal,

Windermere ferry terminal, in the rain that started the walk

Distance walked: 5.5 miles approx (exact distance to follow)

Total ascent: 1000 feet? (exact amount to follow)

Pub at end: The Sun Inn, Hawkshead. We arrived there at 2.30pm and snuck in the last lunch order of the day. The food was only OK, but I did have an extremely good beer, brewed in Ambleside. The pub is only a few yards from the bus stops.

Route card: TO FOLLOW

Lingmoor Fell and the Langdales

Lingmoor Fell, with the Langdale Pikes behind

Route: This bears some similarity to the walk I completed the day before (walk 75), on Finsthwaite Heights. It starts with a steep climb that takes you up to a plateau, of only moderate alititude, on which you spend most of the rest of the day. A lot of it is in woodland, so is very beautiful at this time of year.

However, I would say that it is a better walk than the previous one, with more purpose to it, and it has much better views, particularly from Latterbarrow, which is an excellent climax to the walk and makes it well worth doing. The first mile or so is also very beautiful, although the middle section is a bit dull. Paths are usually clear, but can sometimes be muddy, stony, or festooned with slippery tree roots — sometimes all three at the same time. You do need to keep a close eye on the map, as there are lots of path junctions, some with signposts but many without. The directions below will not be sufficient to get you round without also checking a map.

Claife Station

Claife Station

From the ferry dock, walk up the road to the first junction, take the left hand road but then immediately leave it up the path. Follow this round to the left, up a terrace and then round to Claife Station (pictured). This is the ruin of an old observation tower, built here to allow Victorian aesthetes to peruse in comfort the view of Windermere from this point. Keep going up through the woods; the path is steep, but very beautiful.

Once the path levels out, it drops down slightly off the rise of Mitchell Knotts, through some more open country then comes out on a lane, at which turn left, then at the next junction, right — signposted to Hawkshead via the ‘White Post Route’.

Loughrigg Fell and rainbow

View north from Latterbarrow. Loughrigg Fell is the one lit up, with Silver How behind and to the left. The rainbow goes through Heron Pike.

This promises a clearly signposted walk from this point but that does not emerge: within a few hundred yards you will come across a junction without signage, both paths of which seem to head to promising-looking gates. Hindsight revealed this to be at SD383965 (what’s this?), and though the map suggested the path lay to the right I turned left here. However, this still swung us round and back up to a forest road that allowed access to the summit of Claife Heights at High Blind How, and another pair of walkers who were just behind us but did successfully follow the map were still at the summit no faster than we were (and this was at Joe pace). So perhaps it does not matter.

Felled area

Felled area on the top of Claife Heights

Look carefully for the path up to the summit by the way — it is not signposted. It is on the right just as you come out of the thickest part of the pine plantation. After visiting the summit you need to retrace your steps back to the main path, and carry on, dropping off the top to another path, at which turn left. This path is awkward, but stays like this for a while: you just have to follow it (with the map) through to the area marked on the map as “Hollin Band Plantation”; only there does the path improve, into a good forest road.

Follow this down, round and back up to a crossroads, turn left (s.p. Hawkshead), then look for a path on the right; there is a sign but it is a bit ambiguous. The path goes through a felled area. Latterbarrow (identifiable by its prominent obelisk) is ahead to give some encouragement but the path seems to lead you away from it — stick with it though, you will get there in the end. The view is definitely worth the trouble, this is a superb panorama, from the Coniston fells to the west round to the Langdale district, the Fairfield horseshoe, Red Screes and Wansfell, as well as the lower country to the south.

Photographing the view

I was not the only one trying to photograph the view from Latterbarrow

Make sure you get the right path off the summit: head not to the north, the direction of the lake, but more to the west, toward Wetherlam. This drops you down very quickly to a road, at which turn left, and then just follow this into Hawkshead, following the road signs if unsure. According to the map, there is a path you can use to save road walking, but the road wasn’t busy and to be honest I doubt that would be worth the bother at this point.

Autumn wonderland commentary: Joe and I stayed over at a B&B in Bowness (which to tell the truth isn’t great — the B&B or the town), and he seemed to be tolerant of the idea that he might, shock horror, actually do two days’ walk in a row.  This walk would knock off two of the Outlying Fells chapters, and like yesterday’s walk over Finsthwaite Heights, promised a relatively easy ramble over a wooded plateau, a good route for an autumn day.

Joe on Claife Heights

Joe on Claife Heights

Not a promising start however, as on the walk to the ferry terminal south of Bowness, which was further than anticipated, the heavens had opened and we both got very wet. Clearly this did not bode well for the walk ahead. But very shortly after we reached the far side of the lake the rain stopped. Apart from a couple of moments of very mild drizzle later in the day, the rest of the walk was dry, and with some brilliant light for photography. October 2013 has been an exceptional month throughout in that regard, in fact.

Woodland light

Woodland light

The first climb up through the woods above Claife Station promised a lot, because these woods were beautiful, and with tantalising glimpses of Windermere below as well. But I must admit that I found a lot of the middle section rather dull; no views and awkward paths through the trees for a lot of the time. However, the summit of Latterbarrow compensated for all this in full. For a fell only just over 800 feet above sea level it really does have an astonishingly good panorama, particularly today, dappled with light and shadow. Wetherlam always photographs well and did so again today (see picture at top), but previously unremarkable hills like Lingmoor Fell and Wansfell also caught the eye. The rainbow over Loughrigg was just a bonus.

Wansfell and Ambleside

Wansfell and Ambleside, from Latterbarrow

Hawkshead, like Lakeside and Bowness yesterday, was also new territory for me, and is a terribly pretty place with its not-quite grid of streets, that always seem to be concealing another little square round the next corner. Yes, all in all today was proof that you don’t have to haul yourself up a big fell or four to get a good walk, some great views and discover new corners of this remarkable part of the world. It’s not just hype is it? I mean, look at the photos.

More autumn colours

More autumn colours, in Hollin Band Plantation

I hope to get one more walk in before Christmas, probably early December, but we’ll see — after this one the Hebden Bridge – Burnley trains are all replaced by buses until late March to allow a tunnel to be repaired. I’ll have to brave them at some point I guess. Doubtless you’ll hear about it on here.


One Response to “Walk 76: Claife Heights and Latterbarrow”

  1. […] having stayed over in Bowness last night, today saw the second walk in two days, both with Joe. Walk 76 took us both up the west side of Windermere, using the ferry from Bowness then a walk up Claife […]

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