View from Blawith Knott

View south from the summit of Blawith Knott

Date completed: 17th January 2014.

Weather conditions: Not great. Frequent rain showers and all a bit grey and soggy, though not cold. For photography it wasn’t great either, but it had its moments.

Summits bagged: The summits bagged in this walk are all close to one another but are distributed into three different chapters in The Outlying Fells. In order, I visited the tops of:

View from Beacon Fell

View over Torver Low Common, from the climb up Beacon Fell.

  • Beacon Fell (836’), which has its own chapter (pages 98-101 of volume 8);
  • Yew Bank (678’) and Wool Knott (730’), both in the Woodland Fell chapter (pp. 102-107);
  • Blawith Knott (814’) and Tottlebank Height (775’) in the Blawith Knott chapter. (pp. 108-111).

These become numbers 235-239 of the full list of 330 Wainwrights.

Start and end points: Started at the Brown Howe car park on the shore of Coniston Water (grid reference SD290911 (what’s this?)). The X12 Ulverston – Coniston bus passes here and the driver will drop you at the car park if asked. Finished at Lowick Bridge, where the bus stop is again served by the X12.

The walk fitted into the gap between the 1045 arrival at Brown Howe (departed Ulverston 1020) and the 1505 pick-up at Lowick Bridge (arrives Ulverston 1525) — but only just. I had under 10 minutes to spare in the end. There is one later bus back to Ulverston which would allow a more leisurely walk.

Coniston Water

Coniston Water, from the Brown Howe car park

The village of Blawith might have made a more logical place to end the walk but it doesn’t have a pub which is why I decided against it. However, see below.

Ulverston is on the Cumbrian Coast rail line with reasonably frequent connections to Barrow and Lancaster. A train that used to run all the way round the coast, starting at Preston at about 8.35 in the morning, has now been retimed and starts at Lancaster at 8.48, so another train was required to fill the gap between Preston and Lancaster. But it didn’t make a great deal of difference to my journey to be honest.

Distance walked: 8.85 miles

Total ascent: 1996 feet.

Pub at end: The bus stop I used in Lowick Bridge was right outside a pub, the Red Lion, but unfortunately that had a sign on the door saying ‘open 5pm’ and I was there at 3.

Morecambe Bay

Morecambe Bay seen from the Cumbrian coast rail line at Grange-over-Sands, at about 9.15am on this January morning.

I asked the bus driver of the X12 if there was a pub in Ulverston between the bus stops and the railway station, as I had about 15 minutes to grab a pint, and was directed into definitely the most surreal place I have slaked my thirst at the end of a walk. By the bus stops is an army cadet club, you walk through the drill hall to the back and the bar will serve all comers. There is no real ale but you can get a Guinness. Weird spot though.

Route card: Route card for Walk 78: Blawith Common

Route: This is not the most exciting walk I’ve done, though it has its moments: Beacon Fell is a cute climb and Blawith Knott has a good view. However, Yew Bank adds nothing to the walk except a lot of tramping through pathless heather and bracken, and unless you are on a Wainwright-bagging run, my advice is to omit it and go straight from Beacon Fell to Wool Knott; then at the end, add on Burney, which you can see to the south. I just ran out of time and energy (and had soggy feet), so Burney remains unbagged by me for now. As the parenthesis suggests, it is a wet walk, I imagine most of the time.

View from Yew Bank

View from Yew Bank. Bell Knott (connected to Wool Knott) and Blawith Knott are the rises on the ridge. And yes, it’s raining.

Before leaving the Brown Howe car park, check out the view from the shore of Coniston Water (see picture above). There are toilets here, but they are closed in the winter.

When ready, cross the road and head up the tarmac lane into Blawith Common, an area of common land in which you will remain for almost the remainder of the walk (note how there are no stiles, fences or walls to cross from this point until very near the end).

Stay on the tarmac past the first signboard (with ‘Public Footpath’ notice) until the road takes a sharp hairpin bend to the right at which leave it on the left for the path up Beacon Fell. Keep tending uphill, leaving the main track at one point, near the power cables. This is a fairly entertaining climb thanks to a gentle rock gully up which the final stages of the ascent take place. Little kids would like it. Beacon Fell has a good view, too, with the whole length of Coniston Water visible and — presumably (clouds concealed them when I visited) the Coniston fells.

Beacon Fell summit and Coniston Water

Beacon Fell summit. Coniston Water behind.

As I said above, Yew Bank is not worth the visit unless you have to bag it. It looks like what it is, a pathless and uninteresting expanse of heather and bracken. However, if you must — it helps to get your bearings on top of Beacon Fell, identifying all the remaining tops you have to bag; this will help later. Then, descend south, as if you were heading for Beacon Tarn (which is not actually visible from the summit of Beacon Fell by the way), but then start to swing round to the right so you end up at the north end of the tarn. Cross the little ‘pass’ there and climb the slope ahead. Then just negotiate the previously-mentioned pathless and uninteresting expanse of heather and bracken until you reach the top — the most distant (sorry) of the various little summits up there, and identifiable by its tall cairn, which looks like a bit of an old chimney, almost.

You then have to yomp back through much of the same stuff, and negotiate some rather boggy areas to the north of Bell Knott, to get all the way back to Wool Knott, which is probably a 10-minute walk from Beacon Fell.  So, you get the picture. Far easier would be to omit Yew Bank unless it must be bagged.

Wool Knott and Beacon Tarn

Wool Knott and Beacon Tarn

At Wool Knott things get a bit more interesting again — it has a cute summit and a view of Beacon Tarn with its fell behind (we are in Swallows and Amazons territory here, by the way — apparently Beacon Tarn is ‘Trout Tarn’ in the book).

The twin summits of Tottlebank Heights and Blawith Knott are then visible ahead, with an obvious path ascending the slopes ahead, which I just headed for. That attains the ridge between the two summits, Tottlebank Height on the left, Blawith Knott more distant on the right. I did Blawith Knott first, and it has the day’s best view, looking south to the Cumbrian estuaries and Black Combe. I then just backtracked to do Tottlebank Height.

Coming off this fell was easy enough. Just head down the slope for the isolated farm of Tottlebank, there are no hazards. But Tottlebank really is isolated, and you’re still at least 45-50 minutes’ walk away from Lowick Bridge, so keep an eye on the time.  Blawith is nearer, and on the bus route too, but there are no refreshments to be had there. If you want to go to Blawith, stay on the lane all the way back to the main road.

View from Blawith Knott

Layers of vegetation, terrain and cloud — a view from the Blawith Knott ridge

Otherwise, for Lowick Bridge, veer right off the Tottlebank lane at a ‘Public Bridleway’ sign and stick on this as it crosses a stile (the first and last wall crossed all day), then fields, before turning into a very muddy lane and coming out at the farm of Kiln Bank.

Here, head down the lane, go straight on at the junction then keep bearing left (and checking the map) and you will arrive in Lowick Bridge just by sticking on the road. There is a pub, the Red Lion, by the bus stop, but when I went there a sign on the door said it would not open until 5pm. (The footpath marked on the map, going through Everard Lodge, which looks as if it might be a short cut, is palpably unusable when you see it in reality.)

Soggy bottom commentary:  Another walking year begins. In July this year it will be 5 years since I began this project. I have also now set myself a target date for its completion, which is July 2015. If I keep up the same schedule — and allowing for the break when I was in Australia last year, my pace has been constant throughout — that is a reasonable end date, and it gives me some motivation to get the rest done.

View of Black Combe

View towards Black Combe (in cloud), from the heathery wastes of Yew Bank

There will be around 23 more walks needed to bag the remaining Outlying Fells, and it would be nice if I could fix on that number in fact because having done 77 so far, that would make it a nice round 100 for the lot. But we’ll see. The OFs don’t all fall into obvious combinations and there might be various ways to bag them.

The fells I visited today were an example. For a start, to the south of them is another ‘red pin on the map’, Burney, which I hoped to add to the walk. But the time ran out and it became clear that I wouldn’t make it, so now I have to head back this way to bag it at a later date. What the hell, I already have a walk planned out that links the stations at Foxfield and Ulverston and bags it. See, there’s plenty more to discover round here yet.

Beacon Fell and Wool Knott

Beacon Fell, with Wool Knott in front of it, though hard to see

The division of these fells into three separate chapters in The Outlying Fells also seemed pretty arbitrary once I was up there. OK, Blawith Knott and Tottlebank Height are clearly a pair, but Wool Knott would seem far better linked to Beacon Fell. They look very similar in a lot of ways. Look at this picture, for a start — the summit is Beacon Fell, but Wool Knott is here in front of it, blending in so perfectly it is almost invisible.

Whereas Yew Bank, which with Wool Knott makes up the ‘Woodland Fell’ chapter, was a tedious waste of heather that I would definitely not have missed. Wainwright gives it a better write-up however, so maybe I just missed something. It was, in the end, a fairly soggy day in January. On a warm day in August it might well be a delectable spot.

Yew Bank summit

The tall cairn on the summit of Yew Bank

Anyway, long may the X12 bus continue to run. I suspect it is only one Tory election win from being axed (remember, the Tory party haven’t actually won an election since 1992) but it is the only bus route that serves the whole length of Coniston Water and the Crake valley. Coniston itself is always busy with visitors but I saw no one else walking today at all, and to be honest didn’t expect to.  Yet there are good things to see — Beacon Fell and Blawith Knott are both worth a visit — and it would be criminal if for the sake of a few grand a year’s subsidy, we were forced to use our cars to do so.

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2 Responses to “Walk 78: Blawith Common”

  1. […] Fell, Blawith Knott and Woodland Fell. Combined, my perambulations over this territory makes up walk 78 which is described in all its usual detail on that page. It was something of a wet walk, dull […]

  2. […] with only 13 completed. 47 new Wainwrights have been bagged, starting with Beacon Fell in January (walk 78) and ending today with Burney. As of today, then, I have done 281 of the 330 Wainwrights, and have […]

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