Walk: Ascent of Black Combe

Black Combe is notable for two reasons - it is the southernmost of the Lakeland fells and it is the only really coastal fell (it just falls short of the 2,000ft required for mountain status). It is also visible from many southern and western fells. Its location means that the view is very varied, with a great view of the high peaks around Scafell Pike in one direction and vast coastal views in the other. On a clear day Wales and Ireland are both just visible (I've seen Wales and I've met people who have seen Ireland).

Ascent: 1,900ft
Length: 6 miles
Map: Lakes South West
Last Walked: November 2012

We start from a lay by just to the south of Whitbeck. If coming from the north this is on the right about three miles south of Bootle. If coming from the east then the lay by is on the left, just after you turn on the coastal A595 from the A595 at Whicham (the road numbering here doesn't match the actual layout on the ground).

1: SD121836
The footpath starts opposite the southern end of the car park - cross the road and turn right onto the path. This path runs parallel to the road, although is always several feet above the road. Ignore any paths that branch off to climb up the hillside and keep to this path. It does rise a little as it climbs across the southern spur of Seaness, but then drops down gently to join a rough track.
2: SD128827
Turn left onto this rough track, which runs alongside a stone wall, sometimes on a boardwalk. The track brings us around the southern tip of the fell and east towards Whicham and the valley of Moor Gill, which opens up to our left. The track eventually turns into a more solid lane. At this point another track branches off to the left, passing through a large gate before heading up the valley. Turn onto this track, which soon turns into a footpath. We now follow this path nearly all the way to the summit. This climb falls into three general areas. First is the steep climb up Moor Gill. This is followed by a gentle spell on the top of Townend Knotts. Finally we climb again, as the path runs along the western side of a ridge that runs down from the summit.
3: SD134853
Black Combe has a double summit, with a small tarn in the gap. The northern summit is the higher of the two. Our path curves around the southern summit, and heads towards the northern summit. The main path curves around to the west of the northern summit, while a minor path branches off and heads straight up slope. Ignore this path and continue along the main path for a little longer.
4: SD134855
This path continues to climb for a little longer. Close to the point where it stops climbing a clear path branches off to the right and heads up an easy slope to the summit plateau. Follow this path.
5: SD135854

The summit is marked by a large stone shelter, which can come in very useful in this windy location. The best views of Lakeland can be found from the northern edge of the large summit plateau, but the views out to sea are good from the top. After enjoying the view retrace your steps back down the fell, right onto the track and along the original path back to the lay by

Wales seen from Black CombeFurness from Black CombeScafell from Black Combe

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