MWIS warned of gales making walking arduous in the Lake District, with low cloud and showers. Didn't sound promising, so decided I wouldn't be heading out anywhere today. Changed my mind late morning when I saw the forecast for the next day was almost certain rain most of the day (in the western fells at least) - didn't fancy spending a day in rain, and I wouldn't be heading off up a hill on Christmas day or Boxing day as I see the rest of my family rarely enough as it is, so I decided I should face the strong winds after all.
The late start and short daylight hours combined with strong winds meant I looked for one or two smaller hills close to home (as I'd done the day previously too, ending up at Sale Fell and Ling Fell on that occasion). Low Fell and Fellbarrow fitted the bill nicely, 2 easy Wainwrights in the west I hadn't done before, and only 20 miles/30mins drive from my parents house. As I got close to them, it looked like a nice wee grassy pair of hills, below the clouds which were shrouding the bigger nearby hills like Grasmoor and so a good choice for today.
I parked in a muddy layby on the north side of Thackthwaite, room for maybe 4 cars in total, 2 on either side of the road. Short walk along the minor road into the village, then turning right at the signed footpath for Low Fell. The initial footpath up to the field was a bit wet and muddy, but that was as muddy as the walk got, the rest was lovely terrain for walking. Through a couple of gates and then following the grassy track to the right, nice views back to Crummock Water and surrounding fells, then curving left uphill. A straighter section, then easy zig zags up the sheltered slope to do most of the ascent.
Clear path continued through a gate, down, up and over a stile, then up to the very windy summit of Low Fell. On a clear day it would be a lovely view point, but today Mellbreak was about the only hill clear of cloud. Still, the view was quite impressive, Grasmoor looked quite imposing rising into the cloud, it was just too windy to spend more than a couple of minutes at the summit as I was struggling to stand still.
I retraced my route back over the stile and to the gate, where this time I turned immediate left and then took the well trodden path branching off right which took me to a beautiful Lake District dry stone wall. Followed that and the continuing fence all the way up and down and up to the summit of Fellbarrow. Trig point and summit cairn were on the other side of the fence, but like all of this walk, anywhere you're likely to want to cross a fence, there's a fence or stile to help you do it easily.
Returning back over the stile, I turned left, continuing along the fence line and down to another dry stone wall where I turned right on another trodden path. The clear path I'd headed up initially was now visible across the ghyll, so it was just a case of heading back there. There were some routes through the bracken I could have taken for a more direct route (might not be an option in summer when it would be higher), but I followed the grassy path above for a slightly longer route before heading on a clear route through the bracken, across the ghyll and back up to the inward grassy track. An easy walk back to the car from there.
Although it was a shame my trip back to Cumbria didn't coincide with good enough weather for some of the longer, high level rounds, the short walks I did today with Low Fell and Fellbarrow, and yesterday with Sale Fell and Ling Fell were both enjoyable and good ones to do in winter or poorer weather. Pretty sure they'll be 2 of the easiest routes around to tick off a couple of Wainwrights anyway!
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