The Lord's Seat Fells from Darling How

28th January 2023

In terms of getting up to the Lakeland fells January 2023 has proved to be one of the most frustrating months of my fell walking career. Favourably the best of the brighter dry weather was reserved for the week and right on queue the cloud and windier conditions rolled in just in time for the weekend.

I've written about these frustrations many times before and even after all these years of experience I don't seem to handle them terribly well. I worked last weekend and was looking forward to meeting up with Rod and David again come what may. There'd been some decent weather through the week but come Saturday yes you've guessed it, the cloud and mist rolled in but after three weeks away from Lakeland it didn't matter. I'd missed the fells so much no matter the conditions I needed just to get back out there and smell the Lakeland air.

David didn't need to tell me it has been an incredible seven years since I last trod the Lord's Seat fells and that's not because I'm not fond of them, it's just I'm lured elsewhere or wherever my heart takes me. Despite the conditions it was great to revisit some old friends who I promised I wouldn't leave it so long until I returned.

Wainwright Guide Book Six
The North Western Fells
Broom Fell is the geographical centre of the upland mass riding between Bassenthwaite Lake in the north and Whinlatter Pass in the south, but acknowledges the superiority of a near and higher neighbour, Lord's Seat, to which it is connected by a high ridge.

Ascent: 2,151 Feet - 655 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Lord's Seat - Barf - Broom Fell - Graystones
Weather: Rain & Low Lying Mist Throughout. Highs of 7°C Lows of 4°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Darling How Farm
Area: North Western
Miles: 7.5
Walking With: David Hall, Rod Hepplewhite & Calva
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 4 Hour 15 Minutes
Route: Darling How Farm - Aiken Beck - Forestry Track to Lord's Seat - Barf - Return to Lord's Seat - Broom Fell - Widow Hause - Graystones - Spout Force - Darling How Plantation - Darling How Farm

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA13 9UE
Grid Reference: NY 181 425
Notes: Pass through Braithwaite after leaving the A66 and join the Whinlatter Pass, after passing the Whinlatter Visitor Centre continue for around two miles and Darling How is sign posted on the right. There is room for around a dozen cars and parking here should be ok all year around but during peak seasons it may be advised to leave early if you want to secure a parking space. The parking spaces are ideal for exploring the Lord's Seat Fells. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Darling How Farm, Lorton Vale 08:30am 4°C
With mist lying just above the tops of the trees we arranged to meet at the parking spaces just off the Whinlatter Pass at Darling How. I followed David and Calva onto the car park around 08:00am and Rod arrived about ten minutes later. Given todays misty conditions you'd have thought it would have put people off but the car park was starting to fill quickly which lead us onto the subject of how the Winter months used to be quiet on the fells compared to how busy the fells get every weekend.

It was a calm morning with no wind and we kitted up accordingly ignoring Rod's advice to add gaiters which would become an instant regret after a couple of hours into the walk. With our cars locked we strode up the track towards Darling How farm Calva leading the way eager to get paw onto fell while us three dawdled behind.

Aiken Plantation.
We followed the forestry track to the point where it splits into two. Taking the left track passes over Aiken Beck and through the marshland before rising steeply onto Broom Fell. Heading right we followed the track through the plantation towards Lord's Seat.

Aiken Plantation.
In the seven years since my last visit there has been widespread felling of the woodland making an ascent of Brown Howe and Whinlatter Top very difficult through the debris of the felled trees the best option being from Darling How Farm now.

Aiken Plantation.
We continued to follow the track towards a right hand U bend where we forked left rising steadily towards Lord's Seat just as it started to rain.

In the clag, Lord's Seat summit.
We were soon passed by a fell runner with three dogs in tow as the summit came into view. By now the wind had picked up causing the drizzle to swirl in all directions. Sadly there was no views from the summit and it was mentioned should we bother to head to Barf given the amount of mist and lack of views. Rod mentioned that we might dip out the cloud given Barf's lower elevation so we thought why not.

Bog fest between Lord's Seat and Barf.
We took in the slight descent from Lord's Seat and instantly ran into the bog fest which stretched almost all the way to Barf. A quick out and back that should have taken us ten minutes each way turned into double that.

It was also here we passed a young girl coming from the direction of Barf who started to make her way back to Lord's Seat but after a quick look back I spotted her looking back on our progress across the bog.

Barf comes into view.
It looks like we might not get those views after all.

Barf summit.
Thankfully it had stopped raining and through the mist we could hear the traffic on the A66 below. Out of the four summits we would visit today it was the view from Barf I was looking forward to the most. Oh well not to worry.

Calva, Barf summit.
That's one new summit to Calva's increasing tally. I think his face says it all!

Ridge linking Lord's Seat with Broom Fell.
For some reason we seemed to make it across the bog fest quicker than the outgoing leg but non the less we were muckier than mucky things. On a good note we passed the young girl again just below Barf summit who we assumed had turned back half the way across the bog before following us. Alone, in the mist and with all that bog who could blame someone for turning back but she gave it another go and made the summit. I really liked that determination.

Broom Fell summit.
We found ourselves walking head on into the rain which was causing havoc with Rod's glasses adding to our frustrations was the lack of visibility at times which was down to around 50 metres.

The summit of Broom Fell came into view where we spotted two walkers emerging from the shelter who were just about to leave. We crossed over the sty and arrived at the summit at the same time as another group of walkers who asked would I mind taking a photo stood in front of the impressive summit obelisk.

Hey up.

Views across Widow Hause.
From the forestry track earlier we had marginal views over Widow Hause which were hampered by the mist and low cloud. For a brief moment the cloud broke during our descent and we were able to get our first distant view where I was shocked to find the trees had been felled across here. I've only visited these fells three times but Widow Hause without the trees just doesn't seem right. On a lighter note the views do open up though.

The first long distant view we had all morning.
Here looking towards Darling How, the lower slopes of Brown How and Swinside.

Descending Graystones.
We crossed Widow Hause before beginning the short, but steep pull onto Graystones and flanked the subsidiary summit before making our way towards the summit cairn. It was here three parties met including ourselves, a trio of girls and what appeared to be a grandfather and his teenage granddaughter. The granddaughter gave out a little whoop before the grandfather said "this isn't the summit"

We were clearly stood at the summit with the cairn at our feet so David politely said "this is the summit" but the grandfather wasn't having any of it "100% this is the summit" David politely remarked again but the grandfather ignored David and yomped off to where he thought the summit was where he took a photo of his granddaughter arms in the air.

Views over Scawgill Bridge towards Swinside.
We continued in descent switching from left to right if only to ease the pressure on the knees. Further down the slope a young girl was waiting for her friend who was struggling with grip in the mud and when David passed he advised her to use the grass which although wet, was firmer underfoot "be quicker if I go down on my arse" she laughed. We caught up with her friend who had a six month old Dachshund who Calva got acquainted with. Learning that the girls were local we advised if they were struggling with the steep slope to use the forestry path through Darling How Plantation just as we were about to.

The forestry track had also been felled from the banks of Aiken Beck all the way to Widow Hause 400ft above our heads. It had started to rain on and off showing no signs of the improved forecast for the afternoon. With Broom Fell and Lord's Seat still masked by mist we arrived back at Darling How Farm passing the couple who we'd seen back on Broom Fell earlier. Cars now lined the track from the farm back to the car park re-igniting our conversation about how busy Lakeland can get during the Winter months. Arriving back at the cars it was time to remove our wet gear but before that I sipped on piping hot Vimto whilst a pair of clean gaiters stared back at me from the boot of the car.


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