Lake District Walk
Barf (via the Bishop) and Lords Seat
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It is recommended you take a map. The preferred scale is 1:25k.
Walk Route Description
One of the most noticeable features of the North Western fells is the "bishop" of Barf - a pinnacle of rock which is painted white each year by staff of the Swan Hotel at Thornthwaite at the foot of the fell. This Lake District walk passes the Bishop on the way to the summit. Although the walk is short, this direct ascent of Barf is a steep climb on scree and heather plus an easy but exposed rock traverse at the half way point which puts the walk close to the "hard" category and only fit walkers with some scrambling experience should attempt it. Others will find a much easier path marked on the map approaching the summit of Barf from near the top of Beckstones Gill. The views are excellent on the ascent followed by easy walking to Lords Seat and a delightful descent through the forestry of Beckstones Plantation. Note: The last picture shows a slow worm which I spotted on the scree path near the "clerk". These legless lizards are quite harmless and should be left undisturbed.
Start: Take the A66 west from Keswick past the turn to Braithwaite and after quarter of a mile take a left turn signed "Thornthwaite" Proceed along this minor road for 1 mile until the Swan Hotel is seen on the right. Opposite the Swan is a small carpark by a bus stop (GR NY221264).
Walk up the narrow lane next to the carpark for about 50 yards and then pass through a kissing gate on the right. After a 100 yards the path reaches a white painted standing stone (GR219264). This is the "clerk" and marks the point where a steep scree path heads up to the "bishop" a few hundred feet above. After the bishop has been reached, even steeper scree leads to a breach in the rocks. Above the rocks thick heather on a steep slope makes progress difficult but faint paths eventually lead to a final patch of scree below the crescent shaped cliff of Slape Crag. There is only one way to negotiate the crag. There is a heather shelf between the scree and the base of the crag. At the left end of the shelf, a rock traverse for a few feet (exposed but not difficult and with wonderful views over Bass Lake) leads to another steep heather slope. Keep trending left to reach a break in a low escarpment above. Once the crags have been breached the difficulties are behind you. The path is now much more visible and leads over a false summit before joining the tourist path from Beckstones Gill less than 100 yards from the summit cairn.
From Barf summit, Lords Seat can be seen three quarters of a mile away blocking the view to the west but in all other directions there are good views of much of the north Lake District. The path to Lords Seat is excellent at an easy gradient but there will be some muddy patches after rain. To the right good views open up over the Wythop valley to the Solway coast. Lords Seat summit is a rather disappointing broad dome but there are better views westwards than from Barf and the views to the Coledale fells are good. Leave Lords Seat down a path bearing SSE leading to a fence and a stile (GR204265) after less than 100 yards. Cross the stile and proceed along an excellent forest path over attractive moorland dotted with self seeded conifers.
You are now in Whinlatter forest park with paths and tracks in all directions. To reach our next objective, Beckstones Gill, It is vital to turn LEFT AT EVERY JUNCTION you reach. A mixture of good paths and forest roads will take you down into the plantations of conifers until a forest road heading south east breaks out of the trees high above the Vale of Keswick. After 100 yards turn sharp left (GR213261) onto a disused forest road heading north back into the trees. This path becomes grassy once in the trees and reaches Beckstones Gill (GR212265) near the point where the tourist route down from Barf crosses the gill. Stay on the path on the south side of the gill and look for a marker post after a hundred yards where a path to the left leads down through Beckstones plantation with one small rock step to negotiate. At the base of the plantation the path crossed the gill and reaches the "clerk" after a few hundred yards.
Other walks nearby
Walk 2581 Lord's Seat & Barf from Whinlatter - moderate - 8.5 miles/13.8 km
Walk 1120 Grisedale Pike & Crag Hill from Braithwaite - mod/hard - 8.5 miles/13.8 km
Walk 2038 Tower Ridge on Eel Crag returning via Sail & Barrow - hard - 6.3 miles/10.2 km
Walk 2040 A circuit of 4 peaks on the flanks of Skiddaw - moderate - 5.5 miles/8.9 km
Walk 1155 Causey Pike from Stoneycroft, nr. Braithwaite - moderate - 6.3 miles/10.2 km
Walk 1676 Ullock Pike, Long Side and Carl Side - moderate - 5.5 miles/8.9 km
Walk 3029 Derwentwater & Walla Crag from Keswick - easy/mod - 6.5 miles/10.6 km
Walk 3037 High Seat & Bleaberry Fell from Keswick - moderate - 9.0 miles/14.6 km
Walk 2321 Shores of Derwentwater from Keswick - easy - 3.5 miles/5.7 km
Walk 2036 Catbells from Gutherscale (Route A) - easy/mod - 4.0 miles/6.5 km
Recommended Books & eBooks
The Cumbria Way
A guidebook to the 73 mile Cumbria Way, an easy long-distance walk though the heart of the Lake District National Park, from Ulverston in the south to Carlisle in the north, with good transport links to either end. The route is largely low-level but this guide offers alternative mountain days to climb some of the famous fells en route.
Walking the Lake District Fells - Langdale
Part of the Walking the Lake District Fells series, this guidebook covers a wide range of routes to 25 Lakeland summits that can be climbed from the Great Langdale valley, Ambleside and Grasmere, with highlights including Scafell Pike, Bowfell, the Langdale Pikes and Helm Crag (the Lion and the Lamb). Includes suggestions for longer ridge routes.
Map and Compass
An instructive guidebook explaining map and compass techniques, to help readers enhance their outdoor experiences. Whether you are experienced in map-reading, or have never used a compass before, this guidebook will sharpen your skills and have you exploring new areas in no time. There are also tips for GPS and digital mapping technologies.