As you drive along the A66 from Keswick heading west towards Cockermouth your eye is drawn to a brilliant white rock perched high above to your left: The Bishop Of Barf. Legend has it the Bishop of Derry fell off his horse at the site of this rock pinnacle and was killed after a bet he could ride to the top. He couldn't! The rock is white as it used to be painted by staff from the nearby Swan Hotel, but since it shut the local Mountain Rescue Team have taken on the task. It is said the Bishop and his horse are buried somewhere near The Clerk: a much smaller white painted rock immediately beside the footpath.
Actually visiting The Bishop is a bit much for this walk, but you do pass the bottom of the scree slope up to it.
Our route passes The Clerk and climbs up beside Beckstones Gill through the woods and it certainly takes some effort! The ground is steep and the infamously slippery Skiddaw Slate gravel does not help. Bear in mind as you puff your way up that you come back this way, though this isn't as bad as it may seem. On the return leg just take it slow placing each foot step with care. The author sometimes puts in her own zigzags to help lessen the gradient. The views from the summit of Barf, on a clear day, are breathtaking. From here the way to Lord's Seat can be rather wet and boggy, and in mist it would be quite easy to head off in the wrong direction. Coming back the long way: through the woods, we pick up the Birkett's of Ullister Hill and Seat How. The latter with views towards Whinlatter Pass and over to Grisedale Pike.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Starting from the free car park at Powter How, go back to the road and bear left, then almost immediately bear right onto the minor road. In approximately 200m (220 yards), before you get to the bridge, turn right onto the signposted footpath. Go through the gate and follow the path gently left to the white standing stone, which is the Clerk.
Continue on the path which narrows and threads through the trees for a short way. Up to your right is the Bishop of Barf.
Reaching the river on your left, cross it and the stile the other side. If you have to cross some scree you've gone too far. There is a large hole in the fence for dogs to get through.
Past the stile, the path is marked by a post. Turn right, uphill, on the wide path through woodland. This is the main climb of the day! Some way on is a respite from the climbing at a viewpoint.
Eventually reaching a small rock face scramble up it directly using a handy groove. There are plenty of handholds.
The path now bears away a little from the gill to join a forest track. Turn right and then 50m (55 yards) on turn right again to cross the head of Beckstones Gill. There is a stile here crossing the fence line, it has a little swinging dog gate and gaps under the wire.
The path now climbs again heading north-west for Barf. At the path junction bear right and follow the path as it traverses round the face, then left to the summit.
Cross the summit of Barf and descend roughly west.
As the path starts to climb, bear left over heather and bog to Lord's Seat. The final bit on grass comes as a welcome relief.
Bear left, approximately south, off the summit down to the obvious stile and fence line. Cross the stile, dogs can slip easily underneath the fence, and continue on the winding gravel track beyond.
At the junction (post No.5) take the left fork for 20m (22 yards) and then turn right on a faint narrow path in the direction of the high ground ahead (approximately south again). The path is boggy again.
Cross the mound of Ullister Hill and drop down the other side. The path bears right to join another gravel path. Turn left to meander all the way to Seat How.
From Seat How, return to the path and turn right beside the post. This crosses a cycle track and zigzags down the east side. Eventually it joins a forest track, where you turn left. Climb gently for approx 100m and bear right onto another track. This track, blasted from the rock, takes you back to the junction at the top of the woodland climb.
Turn sharp right and descend taking great care on the steep loose surface. At the post near the stile, cross it and the river, then bear right and continue down to the road. Turn left, then bear left and cross the road back to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Words In The Woods||2.0km (1.2 miles) away|
|Whinlatter Forest - Heavy Sides Walk||2.0km (1.2 miles) away|
|Skiddaw - Dodd||2.2km (1.4 miles) away|
|Ullock Pike, Longside Edge, Carl Side||2.2km (1.4 miles) away|
|Whinlatter||2.6km (1.6 miles) away|
|Force Crag Mine||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|Grisedale Pike and Hopegill Head||2.8km (1.7 miles) away|
|The Coledale Horseshoe||3.0km (1.9 miles) away|
|To Force Crag Mine - a Coledale Low Round||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|A Shorter Coledale Round||3.1km (1.9 miles) away|
|Graystones, Broom Fell, and Lord's Seat||3.9km (2.4 miles) away|
|A short walk to Spout Force||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
|Ling Fell||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Sale Fell||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
|Causey Pike and Scar Crag||4.9km (3.0 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