Holme Fell

Published 3 October 2011

The summit of Holme Fell

“It is characteristic of many of Lakeland’s lesser heights that what they lack in elevation they make up in ruggedness” said Wainwright on his pages on Holme Fell. And he wasn’t wrong there. Holme Fell may be diminutive coming in at a mere 317m in height but boy are its slopes rugged.

I tackled Holme Fell in May 2011, the day after strong winds saw me abandon an attempt to bag the Old Man of Coniston. The weather was good but very blustery on anything hugely above 500m in height so I hit upon the idea of walking from the campsite at Coniston to the campsite at Dungeon Ghyll via two of Wainwright’s smaller fells: Holme Fell and Lingmoor Fell. Holme Fell was the first to be tackled.

Joining the fell at Yew Tree House I spent some time almost scrambling up the fell’s steep slopes; most of the scenery hidden by trees. Finally I broke out of the greenery as I arrived on the far flatter Uskdale Gap. This is a good, solid – but green – path that goes over the fell but avoids the actual summit. There’s no particularly distinct path to the top, you just have to head off and scramble upwards. What initially looks like the highest point isn’t and there’s still more to go as you bounce over the slightly boggy fell top.

Coniston Water, seen from Holme Fell

But when you do finally get to the right place, Holme Fell has a reward for you with a grand view of Coniston Water and Wainwright describes the fell as the “best place for viewing the lake”. It sure is. Okay, the flatness of the land surrounding Consiton Water mean it’s not the most amazing view in the world but it’s still pretty good and more than enough to make up for the effort.

Coming down it’s easy to miss the Uskdale Gap – it’s grassy nature means its easy to miss and indeed I did. Returning to Coniston you’ll have no problem but if you want to go to Hodge Close and see one of Holme Fell’s other sights you may well do what I did and end up on non-path blocked by bog and brambles.

Face in the rocks

Still, whatever way you get down to Hodge Close, you’re in for a treat. The quarries here have left their mark on the landscape and they’re amazing to see. Grand caves, old tunnels and random equipment left lying all over the place. Wainwright was always interested in bits of old industry and how it affected the landscape. And here at the foot of Holme Fell it’s not hard to understand why.

Read more about my May 2011 trip to Lakeland in the blog

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