At Maggie's Bridge, just west of the village of Loweswater is a little National Trust car park that is an ideal starting point for these two Loweswater Fells: Gavel Fell and Blake Fell. They are quite typical of the area being mainly of grass, moss, bilberry, and heather. Bracken also puts in its ubiquitous appearance in places. Flat or gently sloping ground is often boggy. This high moorland is crossed by fences with the two fells linked by a zigzag fence which is, at least, a handy reference in mist.
The ascent climbs the bilberry covered ridge above Black Crag from where they are excellent views back down to the Vale of Lorton, Highnook Tarn in the combe below the crag, and behind to the Grasmoor range of fells. Once above the crag the ground becomes moist and colonised with heather and mosses, the path soft and squelchy after rain. The small cairn of Gavel Fell - High Nook is soon encountered, This is not Gavel Fell, the Wainwright summit, which lies just beyond the fence on the skyline. Following the fence north west down to the damp saddle of Fothergill Head wasn't as wet as we expected, but the climb to Blake Fell was steep as it looks. This little bit is a simple out and back just to visit the windshelter/cairn marking the summit. The return path is alongside the deep gill carved by Highnook Beck and follows grassy zigzags down a tongue of steep ground. The small Highnook Tarn in the combe below Black Crag is worth the minor detour to visit its rough dam and shores.
Maggie's Bridge car park only has space for 6 to 8 cars so get there early.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Return to the road at the entrance of the car park and turn right to go through the gate labelled "High Nook Farm No Parking". Follow this rough roadway to High Nook Farm, through the yard and exit through the gate to the immediate right of the farmhouse. The rough track starts climbing immediately, with Highnook Beck to the right in a deep ravine.
At the top of the track, go through the gate in the intake wall, and bear slightly right to continue along the track.
In 100m (110 yards) bear left on a grass track rising up to the saddle behind the grassy knoll to your left, and with Black Crag to your right. There is a fine view of the little Highnook Tarn in the combe below.
Do not go over the crest of the ridge.
Nearing the crest, bear right on a narrow path to climb steeply amongst knolls along the ridge above the edge of Black Crag. Meandering through the moss, grass and bilberry is very pleasant if a little steep at times - a good excuse to look at the views behind you to Fellbarrow, the Vale of Lorton, and the Grasmoor range of fells.
Once above Black Crag the gradient eases and becomes damp. Follow the path as it bears left and aim for a cairn visible in the distance. After a couple of boggy dips the cairn is reached. This the Birkett of Gavel Fell - High Nook. Gavel Fell summit is just the other side of the fence visible higher and further south west.
Drop down to the again boggy depression and climb the final slope to the fence which can be crossed easily enough at the step-stile for humans. Jessie struggled and had to be lifted over.
The summit cairn of Gavel Fell is then a few steps to the left.
From the summit of Gavel Fell, stay on that side of the fence and turn sharply right to head roughly north west along the fence. Descend on soft mossy grass following the fence as it first bears slightly left and then turns right. Descending towards Fothergill Head keep to the path as it cuts off the corner and then climbs the other side to a junction of paths and fences.
Cross the fence at a curious hurdle construction, or use the step stile nearby. Dogs can easily get under the hurdle in the corner. Bear right on the path climbing up the ridgeline. Keep with the path as it continues to the cairn/windshelter at the summit of Blake Fell.
Return to Fothergill Head, not forgetting to cross the fence again at the curious hurdle at the junction of fences. Instead of bearing right onto the short-cut, keep with the fence and descend to the step stile. Turn left over the stile, noting the boundary stone at the base of the old fence post has the initials I and G carved into it.
Now follow the path ahead, narrow but followable with care. Highnook Beck quickly cuts a deep ravine just to your right. The gradient gets steeper and the views out more dramatic. Keep out of the ravine, and any becks feeding it. The path makes use of various grooves, at least one of which does veer right into the ravine. Keep left, and as the path becomes ever steeper watch for the start of the zigzags which initially go left before right. You'll see the bottom of the path and the lie of the path in good time.
At the bottom of the steep slope, bear right and cross the beck. On the other bank bear left and head to Highnook Tarn in its beautiful little setting. Cross the outfall and the rudimentary dam, and bear left to join the rough track back to the gate in the intake wall. Follow the track back to the farm and then on to Maggie's Bridge.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Mellbreak and Scale Force||0.7km (0.5 miles) away|
|Hen Comb from Loweswater village||0.9km (0.5 miles) away|
|Lanthwaite Wood and Crummock Water||1.5km (0.9 miles) away|
|A stroll to Holm Wood beside Loweswater||2.2km (1.3 miles) away|
|Burnbank Fell, Holme Force and the woods||2.2km (1.3 miles) away|
|The Grasmoor Six Wainwright Fells||2.5km (1.5 miles) away|
|Fellbarrow from Thackthwaite, Lorton Vale||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Grasmoor via Lad Howes ridge||3.9km (2.4 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