Half-term. No exploratory trips away on this occasion however, since TBH, who is currently teaching in Cumbria, had already had her half-term, a week before the kids and I and our Lancashire schools. We’ve had a lovely week at home though, so that’s OK. Last weekend we started (or finished in TBH’s case) our break with a bright, cold day in Grange-Over-Sands: rode our scooters along the promenade, played in the park, picnicked in a shelter overlooking the Bay. Regular readers (gluttons for punishment) will know that this is a fairly regular day out for us, but then we rang the changes and finished our day by climbing Hampsfell.

Hampsfell is another of the low limestone hills which fringe Morecambe Bay and the Kent estuary. (It’s one of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells for those who are interested in those kind of things.) Paths criss-cross the hill and, like Arnside Knott or Warton Crag, it must have a plethora of permutations of ascent and descent routes. I’ve almost always used the same route however, taken from Aileen and Brian Evans ‘Short Walks in Lakeland Book 1’, and ascending through Eggerslack Woods to the top.

On the top there’s a large cairn, reputedly a burial cairn made after a battle between Dunmail King of Cumbria and Edmund King of the Saxons, which makes it very old indeed. But it is just a pile of stones. The kids were much more interested in The Hospice:

The Hospice, Hampsfell

…which I suppose you might class as a sort of public folly. Built in 1835 by George Remington, a former pastor of Cartmel Parish, it has verses on boards around the walls inside, which make a puzzle (I took photos but they didn’t come out too well), and on the roof, accessed by a narrow flight of stone steps, a view indicator…

The View Indicator on the Hospice Roof 

…which was apparently built by a retired railway man. The wooden arrow on the top turns and then a bearing can be read off and matched to the hills listed on the board seen on the left of this photo. It can be very handy: the first time I saw the hills of Snowdonia from any of these little hills was on a clear sunny day on Hampsfell when the view indicator assured me that I really could see mountains as far away as North Wales.

Arnside Knott from Hampsfell 

Arnside Knott and Morecambe Bay.

Looking North from Hampsfell

Looking North, distant snowy Lakeland Fells just about visible on the right, Coniston Fells snow free, but equally hazy on the left.

Descending the the north, towards Fell End, you can see that another Outlying Fell, Humphrey Head, is in fact the last gasp of the long limestone ridge of Hampsfell. Rather fancifully, I was put in mind of a sleeping dragon: Hampsfell the huge swollen belly, Fell End the shoulders, and then a long neck extending to snout and massive jaws at Humphrey Head.

Hampsfell Map


9 thoughts on “Hampsfell

  1. conradwalks.blogspot.com says:

    I have never used the Wainwright guides as a main source, but I do admire them and Outlying Fells has certainly been a favourite for three reasons. Firstly, many of the routes made ideal runs in wild and unfrequented terrain between six and ten miles when I was in my heyday of fitness.

    Secondly, and appreciated more as I become increasingly geriatric, in this volume W empathises with the elderly.

    And thirdly, Outlying Fells contains more of W’s dry wit than the others. In his version of The Wet Sleddale Horseshoe there is a poignant drawing of a large rock in the middle of the moors called Gray Bull with a forlorn figure giving it the eye. The caption reads , “Persons over the age of 75 are advised to regard it as unclimbable”. He is more like a friendly uncle than a dogmatic father.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      For many years I scorned Wainwright’s books, which had more to do with my own Tommy Opposite tendencies than with anything inherent in the books themselves: other people liked them in droves, therefore I didn’t. These days, I’ve had to grudgingly admit that I do admire the books and I’m gradually picking them up second-hand. I don’t have the Outlying Fells yet, but shall be on the the look-out for it, given your endorsement.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      It was a bit too hazy to admire the Disproportionately Good Views to full effect, but Hampsfell falls into another top category: hills by the sea. With the tide in, looking down on the Bay from this steep-sided hill was a real treat.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      Highly inconvenient. What’s more, TBH has maintained the fiction that by being off on her own for a week and then going back to work and leaving me with the ankle-biters the following week she somehow missed out! What a cheek!

  2. Martin B says:

    Oops. Sorry Mark, we invaded your territory last week without realising you would be on ‘half term’. We probably passed very close to your house – a shame, as I’m sure you’d have enjoyed an invasion by 12 Plodders!
    Some of the ‘Outlying Fells’ are great, aren’t they.

    1. beatingthebounds says:

      You didn’t go right past the door, which one footpath just about does. I think we could have managed a cup of tea and a biscuit for 12.

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