Hills: Barrow and Outerside
Date: Friday 31st December 2021
Company: Just myself
Distance: 11.3km, Ascent: 575m
Time: 3Hrs 30Mins

The weather forecasts for today were not wonderful. MWIS suggested 40-60mph winds with sudden gusts, and the MetOffice suggested gusts in excess of 70mph atop Scafell Pike and in excess of 60mph on nearby Grisedale Pike.

Based on the MetOffice's suggested wind direction, on pondering over the map I suspected Barrow and Outerside would be sheltered from the wind by Causey Pike and Scar Crags. I therefore set out to ascend Barrow and Outerside with a view to then dropping down to Coledale Beck to return to the car. As is often the case, the MetOffice are not to be trusted when it comes to forecasting the weather - their stated wind direction was incorrect.

For this walk I parked in a small car park off the B5292 above Braithwaite. I also parked here four months previous to undertake a traverse to Buttermere taking in Grisedale Pike, Grasmoor and several other Wainwrights.


From the car park I walked the B5292 down to Braithwaite. Seeing prayer flags across the Coledale Beck really made my day. A wonderful splash of colour on an otherwise dull and dreich day. Apart from the prayer flags in my campervan, these were the first I have seen since being on top of a Himalayan peak in Ladakh.

Prayer Flags over the Coledale Beck:

During the initial ascent I passed a lovely 'seat with a view' looking down to Braithwaite.

A seat with a view:

The ascent of Barrow's NNE ridge is nice and easy up a wide grassy track through the bracken.

Ascending Barrow:

Given the number and depth of the footprints on the path, this is obviously a popular ascent/descent route.

Ascending Barrow:

During the ascent it was nice to see Dodd appear out of the cloud. I ascended Dodd in spring on my first of three week-long visits to the Lakes in 2021.

Looking back towards Braithwaite with Bassenthwaite Lake and Dodd beyond:

At the lowly 455m summit of Barrow it was incredibly windy. At one point I was physically moved a foot or two by the wind. Given the windspeed would be even greater on gaining more height, and given the windspeed was meant to peak later in the morning, I ruled-out extending the walk to potentially also take in Causey Pike and Scar Crags. I would be sticking to my original plan.

At the summit of Barrow:

From the summit of Barrow, I followed the good track towards Stile End and Outerside. I could see an excellent track skirting round the side of Outerside so decided to use this track to gain some more height instead of taking a more direct approach up its trackless NE face.

I sometimes think I am a bit mad walking in all weathers so it is always good to see there are loons madder than myself. Fell runners definitely fit into the "loon" category. While I was togged-up with boots, fleece and waterproofs a couple of fell runners ran past me wearing little more than their underwear .

Outerside from Barrow:


As per the summit of Barrow, the summit of Outerside was also somewhat breezy but it was also now p'ing down despite no rain forecast.

Outerside summit area:

From Outerside I followed a small track heading down towards Coledale Beck.

Descent towards Force Crag Mine:

I could see that the track led to an unbridged crossing of Coledale Beck which looked wide as well as being in spate. I therefore left the track making my way towards the base of Force Crag. I could see that the Coledale Beck was fed by several smaller streams and it would be easier to cross several smaller streams than crossing them once joined.

Force Crag:

I managed to locate a section with a small island in the middle allowing for one large stride and one leap.

Unbridged crossing:

Once safely across Coledale Beck I decided to take another small diversion to reach the base of one of the Force Crag falls.

Force crag waterfall:

Looking back to Force Crag waterfall:

I next passed Force Crag Mill. I have to plead ignorance in not knowing the purpose of this building so it was useful to find a nearby information sign.

Force Crag Mill:

Force Crag Mine was the last working mineral mine in the Lake District. Lead, Zinc and Barytes were mined here for 130 years. This is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Scheduled Monument by English Heritage.

Force Crag Mine information board:

Next to the mine there are two large pools which are signed, "Force Crag Mine Water Treatment Works". I guess these are used to help reduce the high mineral (lead) content in the water.

Force Crag Mine water treatment works:

Disused mineshaft:

As anticipated, the walk back out alongside Coledale Beck was pleasant and sheltered from the wind. I passed numerous other walkers and cyclists on this track who I think were all just staying low-level.

Looking back towards Stile End and Outerside:

Looking back: