Barf from Powter How
Jane Carrigan (and Russ the dog) gives Hike.Mountain.Trail an insight in to one of her favourite hikes, amid the fantastic scenery near Keswick on her hike from Barf from Powter How.
My Favourite Hikes: Barf to Powter How
Jane Carrigan tells us about one of her favourite places to go hiking - Barf to Powter How, accompanied by Russ the dog.
If you find yourself near Keswick with a few hours to spare, go and do this walk; it’s only a couple of miles to the top and back, but it’s a slog. The smallest are usually the steepest but this is really worth the effort. This walk starts from the free car park in Powter How Wood at grid ref NY 220 265. The quiet hamlet of Powter How is situated on the minor road that runs parallel to the main A66 trunk road by Bassenthwaite Lake near Thornthwaite. The car park is a great place to view the looming face of Barf and its Bishop. The wood itself is another lovely if short circular almost flat walk.
From the car park turn cross the road, the former Swan Hotel will be on your left as a track heads to the right away from the road. Follow the track to the right and after a short walk down the track before you reach the gill cross a stile on the right clearly signed as a footpath. This path heads through the wood and ascends slowly reaching the obvious white painted standing stone known as The Clerk. The Clerk is the smaller of the two white painted rocks on Barf. The Clerk indicates the start of the scree ridden ascent path to The Bishop rock. Look up from The Clerk and you can see the path, I wouldn’t go up it as on my first visit I had a little scramble and fell, only Russ my dog stopped me from rolling into the gill.
Legend has it that the rock marks the spot where the Bishop of Derry was killed when he fell from his horse in 1783. The Bishop of Derry was apparently drunk and was bet that he couldn’t ride up Barf on horseback. The rock is often re painted by the Swan Hotel staff.
The Clerk lower down the hill is said to be the burial place of both The Bishop and his horse. The rock being painted bright white on a dark hillside is often mistaken for a patch of snow in winter months or Summer if you are like me! From the Clerk rock head west on the same path uphill keeping the Beckstones Gill on the left. Eventually the path will turn left and cross the Beckstones Gill.
After crossing Beckstones Gill you need to turn right and start the extremely steep ascent up through the forest on the left side of Beckstones Gill. This path is a lovely path through beautiful woodland with woodland flowers and pine needles creating a natural carpet on the forest floor. The path is however extremely steep. The first three hundred metres will really get your calves burning.
I was absolutely shattered Russ the dog kept stopping to give me withering looks and shaking his head in disbelief at how unfit I was. Luckily the carpet of pine needles creates a nice abrasive surface over the otherwise slippery mud – I didn’t want to accidentally do the splits!! After the main steep section the path reaches a tricky rocky section as it passes over then round the end of Birch Crag. The paths direction is unclear but basically just head up and over the rock, there is also a few wooden stumps with directional arrows.
With a little helping push, Russ was up the rocks and I wasn’t too far behind. It was a little more scary lowering him down them on the way back but it’s really not very high.
After crossing the tricky section the path opens up on open land near the plantations and heads uphill still into another plantation. On the right before you get to this point you will see the southern face of Barf and a few small waterfalls at the top of Beckstones Gill. The path enters another plantation and reaches a forestry road. Turn right onto the road and ascend it for around twenty metres. Here turn right on to a path that crosses a stile then crosses the Beckstones Gill before heading up the ascent of Barf along a slightly zig zagged dry path through purple heather.
Yay, the top; it’s a fab view!
Opposite Barf over Bassenthwaite Lake is the mighty Skiddaw and below it the smaller tops of Ullock Pike, Carl Side and Dodd. You can see the whole length of the waters of Bassenthwaite Lake from here. There are several other tops to bag directly from the summit, if that’s what you are wanting, but today Russ and I had a picnic on top then had a steady meander back down. So, there you have it: Barf from Powter How.
A couple of specs:
Height:468m / 1535ft
Parent Peak: Lords Seat