Lord's Seat & Barf from Powter How


A fantastic walk in a quieter part of the Lake District. Taking in three or four Wainwrights in one easy ridge walk after a steep ascent through woodlands from the quiet hamlet of Powter How by Bassenthwaite Lake. This walk is a moderate walk as once on the smooth and grassy ridge it is an easy walk linking a few Wainwright's, however the initial walk through the forest by the Beckstones Gill is a very steep and direct route testing anyone not used to a steep climb. Once on top of Barf you will understand why, despite being really a ridge off Lord's Seat, Barf was given the Wainwright status. The views across Bassenthwaite to Skiddaw are incredible. The other tops on the walk provide views to Scotland, the Isle of Man and the Eastern Fells. The forest plantations provide solitude so if your after a quiet walk with mountain views then this is it. Look out for the bizarre white painted rocks of The Clerk and The Bishop on the hillside of Barf!

Route Directions

  1. This walk starts from the free car park in Powter How by the beautiful Powterhow Wood at grid ref NY 220 265. The quiet hamlet of Power How is situated on the minor road that runs parallel to the main A66 trunk road by Bassenthwaite Lake near Thornthwaite.
  2. The car park is a great place to view the huge crags above on the impressive western side of Barf. Paddock Crag and Slape Crag being the most prominent.
  3. From the car park turn left onto the minor 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.
  4. 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 monoliths on Barf. The Clerk indicates the start of the scree ridden ascent path to The Bishop rock. Look up from The Clerk and you will see a bizarre white painted boulder on the hillside known as The Bishop.
  5. 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 horse back. The rock is often re painted by the Swan Hotel staff.
  6. 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 has prompted many questions from drivers passing on the main A66 Keswick to Cockermouth trunk road, often mistaken for a patch of snow in winter months.
  7. If you want to explore The Bishop rock you can ascend the steep scree path though I wouldn't recommend it myself. 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.
  8. 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 calfs burning. Luckily the carpet of pine needles create a nice abrasive surface over the otherwise slippery mud.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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. Look out here for lizards on hot sunny days!
  12. The path eventually tops out on Barf. The views from this proud little mountain are fantastic, I could sit here for days watching the hills and lakes. Directly opposite Barf over Bassenthwaite Lake is of course 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.
  13. Directly behind Barf to the west is the highest top here of the Lord's Seat. To reach the Lord's Seat head directly west on the fairly obvious path. This is the only really bad boggy section of the walk unfortunately, in wet conditions you may find yourself having to avoid some fairly horrible patches of peat bog. Rounding them you will eventually find yourself heading up the eastern side of Lord's Seat.
  14. Lord's Seat is a grassy bump with no cairn and just a few old iron fence rods on its small summit. From here you can see the topography of this small range of fells. North of the Whinlatter Pass these are the only fells, Lord's Seat being the highest at only five hundred and fifty two metres above sea level. The other hills include the Wainwright's of Graystones, Broom Fell, Whinlatter and Barf. The other hills on the range include Seat How and Ullister Hill. You can see all these hills from Lord's Seat and see how they are all connected together by one long and star shaped ridge.
  15. From Lord's Seat you can choose your own routes to any of these hills. Probably the easiest is Broom Fell. From Lord's Seat simply head in a north west direction across the grassy ridge of Todd Fell to reach the unmistakable huge stone cairn on Broom Fell. From Broom Fell on a clear day you should be able to see the Isle of Man floating out in the Irish Sea and to the north, the hills of Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland across the Solway Firth.
  16. After enjoying Broom Fell follow the path back across Todd Fell back to Lord's Seat, on the return journey enjoying the views to the right of the pointy topped Derwent Fells including Grisedale Pike. Back on Lord's Seat now take the path that heads off south then south east towards Ullister Hill. The path will come off the open moorland and head into a dry heather area. Follow the path for a while and then before it starts to ascend to Ullister Hill the path will split, head left to descend a path through a mix of heather and pine woodland.
  17. After bending to the right the path turns into a forestry track heading downhill in a south easterly direction. Turn down the second switch back forestry road heading off left and downhill now heading north west with a fantastic panorama including Barf, Bassenthwaite Lake and Skiddaw.
  18. Eventually this road will reach the point earlier where the steep Beckstones Gill path met a forestry road. Here turn right heading down the path you ascended earlier and follow the same route back down to Powter How.
  19. On your way home you could turn left out of the car park and head south along the minor road to Braithwaite where you will find a few friendly hotels and pubs selling great food and drink including the excellent Royal Oak.

Maps for this walk

Paper maps for this walk

Click to buy OS Explorer OL4 Map Click to buy OS Landranger 89 Map Click to buy Harvey Super Walker Lakeland North Map Click to buy Harvey Lake District Mountain Map

GPS files for this walk

Route map of this walk

Photos & Trip Reports

Planning for a walk

Check the weather

The weather is a very important part of hill walking. Weather conditions and daylight hours will dictate where you walk, what gear you will need to carry, how far you walk, and may even decide if you go at all. The following links will help you gather information on weather conditions for areas of Britain...

Plan your journey

Planning your journey before you set off for your walk can save you vital hours on the day. You need to make sure you know the area surrounding your starting point as many factors can influence or change the place you park. Don't forget change for parking meters and fees.

Maintenance of your vehicle and being ready for breakdown situations when driving to remote areas is also vital. Pack a full spare petrol can in your boot, and take de-icing tools in winter, including a shovel. The Transport Direct website below is a great resource for anyone wanting to get to the start of their walk using public transport...

Pack the right gear

Carrying and wearing the right gear is essential for walkers to remain comfortable and safe while hill walking in Britain. However, the best gear in the world is of no use to anyone who doesn't know how to use and care for it. Knowing how to use your gear will give you a much more enjoyable experience. The following items are, in my opinion, the essential items to wear and carry for a hill walk in Britain. It would be foolish to head into the hills and mountains of Britain without these essential items and the knowledge of how to use them. Check out the gear section of this site for techniques and gear lists...

  • Footwear
  • Clothing
  • Rucksack
  • Warm Clothes
  • Waterproofs
  • Map & Compass
  • Emergency Kit
  • First Aid Kit
  • Food & Drink
  • Seasonal Gear

Know what to do in emergencies

It is good practise to tell someone where you are going, and when you expect to return. If you don't get in contact when you said you would on your return, and those you told can't get hold of you, at least they will be able to provide the search party with your general location.

Emergency equipment in the check list above means items such as a survival bag, whistle, and emergency food rations. This isn't anything special; any whistle will do, the orange emergency bags only costs a few pounds, and basic food rations can consist of a couple of chocolate bars. Carrying a head lamp is also an important component and a vital piece of kit used for signalling when you require rescuing.

You should always try and get out of a difficult or emergency situation using your own gear, knowledge and energy. If you cannot do this, then you should dial 999 and ask for the police. Use all the gear you have to keep any unwell or injured members of your party or yourself safe and warm, and use your signalling devices to let the rescuers know your whereabouts. To do this blow six good long blasts on your whistle, or flash six flashes of your torch. Stop for one minute. Repeat. Carry on with the whistle blasts until someone reaches you, and don't stop because you've heard a reply.

Never contact mountain rescue unless absolutely necessary, but on the other hand don't ever feel guilty for having to do so, especially if you are a prepared walker. The Mountain Rescue teams are full of fantastic like-minded souls who love nothing more than people who are prepared for being safe in the mountains.