Gowbarrow, Little Mell and Great Mell Fells

Three short walks.


Gowbarrow, Little Mell and Great Mell Fells

Thursday, 16 February 2017
5.03 miles/8.1 km
2,001 ft/610 m ascent
2 hours 34 minutes

… more photos on Flickr

Arrived late, so decided to do three short walks and drive between them.  We set off up Gowbarrow Fell (1,579ft/481m) crossing the pretty Aira Beck by the footbridge and then straight up the fell towards the top following the wall.  Very windy on the top by the trig point.  Great views of the other two hills.  Returning by the same route.



Little Mell Fell (1,657ft/505m) takes about 20 minutes.  Straight up and down from the hause.  Wet and slippery.  Bare grass hill with no rocks and no trees.


Great Mell Fell (1,762ft/537m) is wooded – very unusual for a Lakeland fell.  Though some of the trees are rather windswept.  The summit is marked with a large stick in a small cairn.  Back down the same route.


Mell and Gowbarrow Fells

Saturday, 24 May 2014
2329ft/710m ascent
Wainwright #147, #148 & #149

Yesterday we walked in cloud and the only hills where we could see the summits were the low fells to the north of Ullswater. So today, with a similar forecast, we set off to climb all three of these smaller hills in separate walks.

The first hill is Little Mell Fell (1,657ft/505m). This is a very short ascent from the road and took us twenty minutes of walking – an uphill slog all the way. Wainwright dismisses this hill, questioning why he included it in his guide books, but its location as the last significant bump at the North Eastern edge of the Lake District provides it with a good view of all the hills in this part of England.

Little Mell Fell Next, is the nearby Great Mell Fell (1,762ft/537m) a hill with a similar shape; but a completely different ‘feel’. Little Mell Fell, like most Lakeland fells, is grazed and the sheep keep the surface a smooth, treeless green grass slope.  Great Mell Fell in contrast is fenced and has no sheep, the result is a tree covered hill.

Climbing Great Mell FellTrees on Great Mell Fell

More Trees

Now owned by the National Trust, Great Mell Fell was previously the site of a firing range and Wainwright’s guide, written many years ago, advises not attempting to climb it – for fear of getting shot!  The result is a climb through a fabulous wood with trees bent and blown over by the prevailing South-Westerly winds.

Hare Tail Cotton GrassGreat Mell Fell

The summit is grassy and the cotton grass was just flowering – leaving a field of small white fluff balls blowing in the wind as we descended back to the car.

The final climb for the day was Gowbarrow Fell (1,579ft/481m). This is the knobbly brown hill that lies behind the popular waterfall of Aira Force.

Aira ForceBy the Waterfall

We walked up the paved pathways from the busy National Trust car park to the waterfall. Stopped to take some photographs and then set off following our noses (rather than the map) towards the top. Our aim was to get up and down before the rain forecast for mid-afternoon.

UllswaterGreat Mell Fell from Gowbarrow

Gowbarrow Fell reminded me very much of Loughrigg Fell (1,099ft/335m) or Silver How (1,296ft/395m), a low hill with a bump coated top, lots of false summits and paths winding in all directions. We followed what seemed to be the main path and were surprised at how long it took before the summit finally came into view.

Gowbarrow Fell

We got back down and ate an ice cream in the car park, which was full of visiting Sri-Lankan cricket fans visiting the waterfall the day before the first match.


Three separate walks, starting from three different locations:

Little Mell Fell: at the road (NY424235).
Great Mell Fell: at the road (NY407247).
Gowbarrow Fell: at the National Trust car park (NY401201).

Mell Fells Route


High Pike (Caldbeck)

Friday, 23 May 2014
1650ft/500m ascent
Trail 100 #37
Wainwright #145 & #146

A poor weather forecast with high winds made us abandon the walk we had planned and go for a less craggy route in the far North of the Lake District.  The Caldbeck Fells are wild, have few visitors and are scarred with the remains of intensive mining.

We set off (typically) by walking straight up the hill following a steep ravine. Very pretty with views towards Ullswater and occasional trees sprouting from the crags.

The Route UpTree on a Crag

However, as we neared the top of the hill we disappeared into the mist which would remain with us for the rest of the ridge walk.Disappearing in to the Mist

I enjoy the challenge of navigating with map and compass without being able to ‘cheat’ by using visual clues; and today we managed to follow our chosen route over Carrock Fell (2,175ft/663m), Round Knott (1,978ft/803m), Miton Hill (1,991ft/607m) and High Pike (2,159ft/658m).  I did use a GPS to confirm our location on two occasions.Carrock Fell 2Carrock Fell 1

The summit of Carrock Fell was an Iron Age hill fort and the remains of the stone walls cover the plateau.  They looked eerie in the mist.  The terrain between Carrock Fell and High Pike is boggy and covered with a scattering of small pools.

High PikeThe summit of High Pike has three features: a stone bench, a trig point and a stone shelter where we ate our lunch.  The view from the bench at the top is supposed to be wonderful.  We didn’t see anything as we sat and ate our sandwiches in the cloud.

Great View on a Clear DayWe rejoined the miners track and quickly dropped below the cloud.  Now able to see, we walked passed the old mine shafts and huge piles of debris; discarded piles of stone and brightly coloured gashes in the green grass covered hill.


Dropping Below the CloudsOld Mine Shaft

Back at the road we walked across Caldbeck Common, stopping to chat to the sheep and ponies.  No apples, so we couldn’t feed them.  We crossed the stream by the bridge, and walked back to the car with a splendid view of Little Mell Fell (height), Great Mell Fell (height), Gowbarrow Fell (height) and Place Fell (height).

Carrock Fell and Howthwaite StoneTalking to More AnimalsBaaaOn a BridgeGreat Mell Fell and Place Fell


Starting at the road (NY354337).

High Pike Route