Whitbarrow

Route Introduction

Whitbarrow is a fell that features in Alfred Wainwright’s guide book – The Outlying Fells of Lakeland. It is situated on the southeastern edge of the Lake District National Park. This route card suggests a fantastic route for someone peak bagging the Outlying Fells of Lakeland.

Adventurer Nic walked this route on Sunday 7th June 2020. This was Outlier number 19 of 116 for Nic. Here, she explains how you can bag this outlying fell too.

Whitbarrow Route Stats

Fells: Whitbarrow (215m)

Total Distance: 10.2km / 6.34miles

Total Ascent: 200m / 656ft

Approx Walk Time: 3 hours

Grid Reference Start: SD 452840

Whitbarrow Route Report

The Lead Up

Our previous peak bagging walk was Watch Hill in the north-west Lake District, it was now time to head to the south-east.

This walk was very special for me as it was my first time meeting friends for a socially distanced walk in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Katie, Laura, Aggie and Graham joined James and I at the meeting point – a large layby south of Mill Side. Three dogs also joined us for the walk – Willow, Molly and Eve.

The Ascent

We walked away from the cars in the direction of Mill Side before turning off to the right at a finger post. This path led up through a farm and into the woodland.

The path zig-zagged uphill before leading us out onto the open hillside.

Cocker Spaniel on the main path up Whitbarrow
Cocker Spaniel on the main path up Whitbarrow

Willow, the young cocker spaniel, enthusiastically led the way, up to the north.

The route was easy to follow and led us over solid terrain at a gentle gradient. We were chatting away, with lots to catch up on after months apart.

Views from the first of many cairned tops on Whitbarrow in the Lake District
Views from the first of many cairned tops on Whitbarrow in the Lake District

There were multiple cairned tops on Whitbarrow but we aimed for the furthest one, which is marked Lord’s Seat on the map.

Limestone along the Whitbarrow ridge
Limestone along the Whitbarrow ridge

Whitbarrow was actually made a nature reserve in 1969 by The Lake District Naturalists’ Trust (now the Cumbria Wildlife Trust). It’s a joy to walk along the ridge surrounded by sections of beautiful limestone pavement.

The ridge runs parallel to the ridge of Scout Scar – another of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells of Lakeland, which we hoped to walk the following weekend.

The Summit – Whitbarrow

Upon reaching the huge cairn on Lord’s Seat, we noticed the memorial plaque to Canon G.A.K. Hervey, founder of The Lake District Naturalists’ Trust.

Memorial plaque on the summit cairn of Whitbarrow
Memorial plaque on the summit cairn of Whitbarrow

This is not the highest point on the fell though, that accolade goes to the rib of rock 15 metres to the southwest of the cairn. So that’s where we paused to eat our lunch.

Eve poses next to the highest point of Whitbarrow
Eve poses next to the highest point of Whitbarrow

We admired the views towards the Langdale Fells before starting our descent.

Whitbarrow summit views towards the Langdale mountains
Whitbarrow summit views towards the Langdale mountains

As we set off on our descent we looked back one last time at the immaculate cairn.

The large cairn on Whitbarrow
The large cairn on Whitbarrow

The Descent

We descended a short distance north before peeling off to the northwest.

We reached Bell Rake and commenced a section of the path that was a bit steeper, with loose scree underfoot. There was also the opening to an eerie cave on this part of the trail.

The steep section on the descent of Whitbarrow
The steep section on the descent of Whitbarrow

At the bottom of the descent we turned left to head south along the woodland trails that run parallel to the ridge of Whitbarrow. These would lead us back to the cars at Mill Side.

Woodland trails on the way back to the car
Woodland trails on the way back to the car

As we entered Mill Side we passed some stunning cottages with immaculately kept gardens and vegetable patches.

Wrapping Up

Before the walk had ended we’d already made arrangements to walk together again next weekend.

Four of us went for a takeaway coffee in Staveley before James and I walked Reston Scar and Hugill Fell later that evening.

About the Author

Photo of Adventurer Nic on a Loch in the Scottish Highlands

Adventurer Nic is a Munroist, Wainwright ‘Compleator’ and is hiking her local Outlying Fells of Lakeland in the wake of the corona virus pandemic. Let her know what you thought of this post by dropping her a comment.

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