14th March 2007

A remote walk on the fells around Devoke Water


Walk Overview
Time 13.00 to 16.10
Duration 3 hr 10 min
Distance 9 mile
Ascent 1985 ft
Walking with On my own
Birker Fell Road - Woodend Bridge - Hesk Fell - Holehouse Tarn - Whitfell - Stainton Pike - Yoadcastle - White Pike - Devoke Water - Birker Fell Road
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside parking, near Devoke Water (Birker Fell road)

Being one of the least frequented area of the Lake District means that the limited parking around here is generally adequate anyway. The obvious place to park to reach Devoke Water is at the crossroads at the Birker Fell Road for High Ground or Devoke Water. Although, there are a actually couple of other places close by with space for a couple of cars each.

Needless to say parking is free.


Route Map

Harter Fell (back left) and Green Crag ( the highest point on the skyline ), taken a couple of minutes after the start of today's walk around some of the remote fells found between the Birker Fell road (near Eskdale) and the Cumbrian coast.

On the roadside about half a mile further along you can still see this old boundary stone. The left side of the stone has "Ulpha" carved into it.

Woodend Bridge.

Before starting my ascent of Hesk Fell I walked, for a short distance at least, along the narrow road which eventually leads to Woodend. Originally built in the 17th century as a Quaker settlement, Woodend is a truly isolated place.

Looking across Birker Fell towards some of the higher Lakeland fells.

Hesk Fell summit with Caw and Stickle Pike behind.

Because of the notable absence of any paths on Hesk Fell; for years now, or rather since 2001 I've been using the "foot and mouth" electric fence to point out that I'm reaching the crest of the fell. Today however, the gradient seemed to ease off much sooner than normal. I was sure I should have reached the fence, but continued anyway, then I realised if I did carry on walking I'd soon start to going down hill again. At this point I new something was missing; I don't know when, but after years of foot and mouth continuing to have an impact on the fells, the electric fence has finally been removed.

A close up of Stickle Pike.

Whitfell seen behind an old ruin, found on the wide open fellside above Storthes Gill.
Every time I walk on these fells I promise myself that I'll take a more direct line between Hesk Fell and Whitfell, through the area marked on the map as Storthes. I've convinced myself that I could take an off path route above the intake wall to Bigertmire Pasture and then walk directly to the summit. The downside to this plan is water and lots of it. I have actually attempted the route a couple of times in the past, but on each occasion I've abandoned the idea because the ground is simply too wet and boggy. I must return again during a hot spell in summer; preferably with a pair of wellingtons in my bag.

As the map shows, today I took the longer way round, passing below Holehouse Tarn and Stainton Pike.

The view back to Hesk Fell from the hard slog through the trackless fellside above Storthes.

Holehouse Tarn with Stainton Pike behind.

Although I was quite close to Stainton Pike I decided not to walk across just yet, but to continue on to Whitfell and then visit Stainton Pike on my return journey. Upon reflection I wish I'd done it the other way around; the cloud rolled in while I was approaching Whitfell and I couldn't see a thing from the summit. I did sit at the top for about 10 minutes in the hope that the cloud would clear, but gave up in the end and made my way back to Stainton Pike. Needless to say after I'd left Whitfell the cloud did in fact clear and the sun even put in an appearance.

Following the narrow path towards Whitfell as the cloud was getting lower.

Stainton Pike summit.

The long Whaleback fell across the centre of the picture is Hesk Fell and the dark fell to its right is Caw.

Looking ahead to Yoadcastle.

Once again the cloud rolled in, only this time the view I didn't get was from Yoadcastle. I took this photo from the rocky area near Woodend Height.

Devoke Water seen from White Pike.

From White Pike I followed a faint path down to Devoke Water which runs alongside Rigg Beck.

It had turned into a pleasant, sunny afternoon by the time I was reaching Devoke Water.

Seat How.

The old boat house found next to Devoke Water.

Over the years there have been many disputes regarding the right to fish in Devoke Water. In 1605 the Stanleys went to the extreme lengths of making the tenants at Woodend sign an agreement that prevented them from fishing the streams that ran into the tarn; regardless of the fact that these were actually on Ulpha Land. During the mid eighteenth century the Stanley family employed a fisherman from Dalegarth, who would in turn charge locals 2 shillings for the right to fish in here.

They were so concerned about fish stocks that the tarn was closely watched during the spawning season. It looks as though their biggest issue was with the residents from Ulpha. The bailiff, Henry Hartley was known to break the rods of any Ulpha residents he caught fishing the tarn; once again this was done regardless of the fact that they were fishing on Ulpha land at the south side of the tarn.

Heading back to the Birker Fell road along the short track from Devoke Water.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks