4.8 of 5 (101 votes)

The Western Fells

A hard walk (mountain (above 600m)) in national park Lake District starting and finishing in Cumbria, England, about 56.40km (35.05 mi) long with an estimated walking time of about 22:15h (2 overnight stays). It is unsuitable for families with children, prams & pushchairs, wheelchairs.
Elevation Profile
Ascent 1961m (6433ft)
Descent 2028m (6653ft)
Max. Elevation 610m (2001ft)
Altitude Gain & Loss 3989m (13086ft)
Distance 56.40km
Duration ~22:15h
Car Free Walks TeamCreated by Timwoods on 27 Nov 2014
Many of the Lake District's western fells are hard to reach by bus or train - so why not venture through them on an epic three-day walk? Starting from Keswick, this route passes through many of the great neighbourhoods of Lakeland: the Newlands, the Honister Fells, Hay Stacks, Ennerdale, Wasdale, Eskdale, and the Black Combe group. On the way, you will pass through many lesser-known corners as well, making for the perfect exploratory trip. If you don't enjoy this, you don't enjoy walking.

Walk Functions


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Walk Map

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OS Grid NY263235
Start your walk from Keswick, which is well connected by buses to the rest of the Lakes and West Cumbria. There's a good selection of cafes for that final pre-walk fry up.
OS Grid NY262237
From the bus station, walk up to the main street and turn left, crossing the bridge. Just over the bridge, take the footpath to Portinscale.
About 0.21 km (~0.13 miles) from
OS Grid NY253238
You can get a bus to Portinscale, but the route from Keswick, past the school playing fields, has enticing views of the Newlands fells ahead.
About 0.83 km (~0.52 miles) from
OS Grid NY252232
Walk through the village; keep heading south, you can't go far wrong.
About 0.58 km (~0.36 miles) from
OS Grid NY252228
As you leave the village, look for signs marked 'Cumbria Way' that heads through the woods of Fawe Park.
About 0.46 km (~0.29 miles) from
OS Grid NY247212
Leaving the woods, you reach the busy car park at the foot of Catbells (there is even a summer bus service to this point should you need to save time on this walk). Ignore the line of boots heading up this famous hill, and follow the road alongside its western edge.
About 1.60 km (~0.99 miles) from
OS Grid NY242208
At Skelgill, the Newlands Valley opens up before you. You can follow the valley floor path, but my preference is for the bridleway a little way up the valley side - better views.
About 0.65 km (~0.4 miles) from
OS Grid NY234194
The path leads beyond Catbells and hugs a steady line of elevation. The views from Little Town are particularly good, with views down and across the valley to the north/west, and a glimpse of the fells ahead.
About 1.64 km (~1.02 miles) from
OS Grid NY229176
The path heads further into the valley, with a real sense of leaving civilisation behind. Continue past the climbing hut, from where the path begins to climb gently...
About 1.86 km (~1.16 miles) from
OS Grid NY227169
... and then more steeply. At Castle Nook, take the left-hand fork in the path.
About 0.77 km (~0.48 miles) from
OS Grid NY230151
The path peaks just below Dale Head, crossing the busy pathway around the Newlands Fells. Just a fe metres beyond, you will find instant solitude at Dalehead Tarn. Amazing how easy it is to find peace and quiet in the Lakes! This beautiful spot makes a good lunch spot.
About 1.77 km (~1.1 miles) from
OS Grid NY227147
There is no real track across from the tarn, so you may need to take a bearing to pick the right route across this boggy patch. But the path south from Dale Head is hard to miss.
About 0.57 km (~0.35 miles) from
OS Grid NY225143
The path leads down to Honister, with the slate mine in clear view. More dramatic Lakeland views here as the Central Fells rise up ahead of you.
About 0.47 km (~0.29 miles) from
OS Grid NY224135
The slate mine may divide opinions, especially when they try and set up zip wires, but I actually think it adds character to the Lakes and reminds walkers of the region's history. Take the bridleway to the right of the main buildings.
About 0.76 km (~0.47 miles) from
OS Grid NY207134
The path leads to some old mine workings, and the path towards Haystacks picks its way through the rocks below.
About 1.70 km (~1.06 miles) from
OS Grid NY201129
Continue round to Blackbeck Tarn, then through the well-trodden route to Haystacks.
About 0.86 km (~0.53 miles) from
OS Grid NY192131
Famously Wainwright's favourite hill, it's easy to see the attraction, with stunning vistas across Buttermere and Crummock Water.
About 0.89 km (~0.55 miles) from
OS Grid NY189132
Join the Scarth Gap Pass into Ennerdale, with the imposing Pillar directly ahead.
About 0.35 km (~0.22 miles) from
OS Grid NY195123
This refurbished hostel makes for a good option for the first night. You won't get a more atmospheric night in many hostels. Book well ahead, though, it's popular. If it's full, or you want to push on, continue over the pass ahead.
About 1.07 km (~0.66 miles) from
OS Grid NY191114
This is hard work if you are pushing on on the first day! But the reward is nearly here...
About 0.98 km (~0.61 miles) from
OS Grid NY184111
...having the upper reaches of Mosedale to yourself. This remote spot is rarely busy late in the afternoon, and you can soak up the atmosphere as you descend to Wasdale Head.
About 0.73 km (~0.45 miles) from
OS Grid NY187088
Plan B for the first night - the campsite opposite the pub.
About 2.29 km (~1.42 miles) from
OS Grid NY186083
Day 2 starts in Wasdale. The marked path to Brackenclose from Wasdale Head is overgrown and wet, so it makes sense to head along the road.
About 0.52 km (~0.32 miles) from
OS Grid NY184073
As the hordes tramp up to Scafell Pike, take the right fork beyond the climbing hut, stopping to enjoy the views over Wast Water.
About 1.03 km (~0.64 miles) from
OS Grid NY183055
Another rarely-visited spot, a clear path leads between Hard Rigg and Illgill Head venturing ever southwards.
About 1.75 km (~1.09 miles) from
OS Grid NY187045
Wet feet alert: the path leads over the outflow from Burnmoor Tarn and levels can get quite high.
About 1.06 km (~0.66 miles) from
OS Grid NY183040
This old hunting lodge is a good spot for a tea break.
About 0.70 km (~0.43 miles) from
OS Grid NY175034
The map marks the path as being in the valley floor, but I couldn't spot this. Instead, a path leads along the edge of the ridge and it all heads the same way.
About 0.95 km (~0.59 miles) from
OS Grid NY165022
Ever been to Miterdale? Ever even heard of it? Enjoy the slight sense of smugness that you are exploring the Lakes' well-hidden corners on this route. They are clearing a lot of trees here, due to a beetle problem, but it's still a charming spot and hopefully the woods will regenerate.
About 1.58 km (~0.98 miles) from
OS Grid NY154017
The path eventually drops into the dale, past Low Place farm.
About 1.19 km (~0.74 miles) from
OS Grid NY142008
Just beyond the car park, look for the path on the left over into Eskdale.
About 1.50 km (~0.93 miles) from
OS Grid NY142001
There is a small shop here if you need to restock your supplies, and a pub too. For a two-day walk, head west from here towards Muncaster Fell and the station at Ravenglass.
About 0.65 km (~0.4 miles) from
OS Grid SD154998
Eskdale is a more familiar spot to many Lakeland visitors, and it's worthy of its reputation. Head east along the road to the campsite, then leave the road to meet the riverside path at Milkingstead.
About 1.23 km (~0.76 miles) from
OS Grid NY172000
A delightful woodland stretch takes you towards Dalegarth Hall. Here, enter the woods around Stanley Force waterfall.
About 1.80 km (~1.12 miles) from
OS Grid SD173995
A slippery path leads up to this popular waterfall. If you're brave enough, peer over the edge to look down on this mighty beast. The path out of the woods is just above this.
About 0.52 km (~0.32 miles) from
OS Grid SD173980
A distinctive change to the walk's flavour here. You quickly leave behind the tourist trappings of Eskdale to enter the hill farms of the upper fells.
About 1.54 km (~0.96 miles) from
OS Grid SD162969
Veer southwest towards Devoke Water, another beautifully serene spot. This makes for a good wild camping spot if the weather is good. If not (and it wasn't for me!) head down the road to Ulpha; there is a walkers' barn at Hazel Head farm and they will let you pitch for the night if you need to escape the worst of the weather.
About 1.52 km (~0.94 miles) from
OS Grid SD156953
The final day's fells are a world away from the craggy beasts to the north. These rounded, grassy tops see little of the footfall of the popular routes, but have their own wild beauty. Either from Devoke Water or the valley, head for the tops north of Whitfell.
About 1.74 km (~1.08 miles) from
OS Grid SD159929
One of the larger fell tops in the south, keep heading south from here.
About 2.36 km (~1.47 miles) from
OS Grid SD151911
It's a case of connecting the tops from here; head to the knobbly summit of Buck Barrow.
About 1.98 km (~1.23 miles) from
OS Grid SD145892
Across the road and continue to Stoneside Hill.
About 1.94 km (~1.21 miles) from
OS Grid SD151874
Aim for the Stoupdale Crags, then one final pull up onto Black Combe.
About 1.92 km (~1.19 miles) from
OS Grid SD135854
The final fell of the route. Take time to admire the views and enjoy one last contemplative flapjack.
About 2.51 km (~1.56 miles) from
OS Grid SD130828
The main path leads down to Kirkbank. Take the road here to Silecroft.
About 2.64 km (~1.64 miles) from
OS Grid SD130819
Silecroft station is the end point of a very fine walk. If you need an overnight stay, I recommend the Fold B&B, just south in Kirksanton: www.thefoldguesthouse.co.uk
About 0.89 km (~0.55 miles) from

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