Even after a dry spell of a few days High Tove and Armboth Fell on the central ridge lives up to its reputation of the boggiest selection of fells in Lakeland. It would seem only a long dry summer will drain the marshes enough for an enjoyable walk. The views are as good as anywhere else, but it's the bogs that these fells will be remembered by. Alternatively a very cold spell in winter to freeze it all completely solid - but we would still urge caution as falling through ice is not to be recommended either!
So it is often the case that any walkers venturing to the top of High Tove reach it with some relief, though there is little to mark the accomplishment. Just a few stones in a patch of heather are a poor reward. Armboth Fell in comparison is quite racy! It can boast two tops, the Birkett and the Wainwright, separated by 200m (220 yards) both are rocky outcrops topped by a few stones. At least there is something to climb onto and look out from. These fells are the preserve of the true completest, a bagger.
Park at the United Utilities Armboth pay and display car park. Currently (last checked June 2022) you will need to approach the car park from the Keswick end of the minor road around the back of Thirlmere as it's still closed in the middle.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Return to the car park entrance and turn right along the road for a few metres to the where the road swings right. Here, turn left through the kissing gate beside the public bridleway to Watendlath sign. Bear left and cross the bridge then go through the gap in the wall beyond. Bear right, through the sheep pens, to start climbing initially on grass through bracken.
A fence over to your left gradually gets closer as Fisher Gill, and the slopes below Cockrigg Crags converge. Admiring the large boulders and the crags above you from which they have fallen, continue alongside the fence. Watch for the path to hit a low wall to turn you sharp right into a couple of zigzags through some very old juniper bushes. The path then turns sharp right to go behind a large tree, and then zag back just beyond. Go between the end of the wall and fence out onto the open fell.
Still pretty dry and clear the path meanders through grass and more bracken. The path passes a noticeable stone perched on the side of a knoll. As height is gained, so the ground becomes increasingly saturated, with sphagnum and other mosses richly prevalent. The path widens and become faint and occasionally simply stops in the middle of nowhere, previous walkers having fanned out to find something drier. Keep ahead as best as possible.
Worth remembering that heather doesn't favour wet ground too much but is still no guarantee of dry feet.
Eventually the heathery top of High Tove comes into view and not before time! The last bit to the summit is much drier, an oasis in a sea of squelchy marsh.
From High Tove, Armboth Fell can be seen to the south east. Retrace your steps back down the path for 450m (495 yards) and turn right, on the map a track heads roughly in the right direction but discerning it on the ground is next to impossible. Timing or pacing wins here.
Get it right and a plausible looking but vague and hand-wavy path is to be found amongst the tufts of grass, reeds, moss and bog cotton. This path-of-sorts crosses Fisher Gill, and then climbs the short way to the high point of Armboth Fell (Birkett) at 479m (527 yards). A few stones may be found on the prominent whale-backed summit rock.
The Wainwright top of Armboth Fell is 200m (220 yards) further to the south west, another narrow path heads that way across the marshy ground. This summit is again a few stones this time atop of a grass covered rocky outcrop.
Getting away from Armboth Fell back to Armboth the car park is a continuation of the squelching sucking marsh. Retracing your steps back to the outward path and bear right - which is the easiest and most reliable. Or in an effort to 'cut the corner' a path may be found heading north east. Although it starts on drier ground and with the promises of heather it disappears as if the animals or humans making it simply vanished. Don't be tempted to cross any grassy plateaux but keep to any resemblance of rocky ground until crossing Fisher Gill again.
Bearing right aiming for the gap between the wall and the fence to the friendly and solid rough path back down to the road and car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Helvellyn round from Thirlmere||1.2km (0.7 miles) away|
|Raven Crag and Castle Crag beside Thirlmere||1.9km (1.2 miles) away|
|The Dodds and Clough Head, via Sticks Pass and St John's in the Vale||2.1km (1.3 miles) away|
|Great How||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|High Rigg, Naddle Fell, and Wren Crag||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Birk Crag, Harrop Tarn and Blea Tarn||3.4km (2.1 miles) away|
|A Short Walk From Ashness Bridge to High Seat||4.3km (2.7 miles) away|
|A Short Stroll to Lodore Falls||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011