Black Fell is a fell in the Lake District which rises to the north
of Tarn Hows, between Coniston and Hawkshead.
Black Fell is the
high point in the hilly area bounded by Windermere, Langdale and
Coniston. It occupies an area of around one mile by two, clad mainly in
fell grass with many small outcrops of rock.
The fell has no
obvious connecting ridges in the manner of higher mountains but in fact
has a pivotal position in this area of the district.
To the west
over Oxen Fell High Cross (518 ft) is Holme Fell and an onward link to
Wetherlam and the Furness Fells (Coniston Fells).
To the south
east, a broad highland runs out between Windermere and Esthwaite Water,
terminating in Claife Heights.
Finally southward runs the 7 mile
ridge of Grizedale Forest, capped by Carron Crag and Top O'Selside,
Black Fell's topographical parent.
Black Fell's northern boundary
is formed by Elterwater and the River Brathay. The broadleaved woodland
of Brow Coppice stands above the village of Skelwith Bridge in the
Beyond the eastern slopes is a mile of gently falling
country running through plantations to the head of Windermere.
There are many tarns within this landscape most of them artificial. The
largest are Blelham Tarn and the pools near the Drunken Duck (Inn)
crossroads. On the western side is the A593 road from Coniston to
Ambleside crossing the minor pass of Oxen Fell.
South of Black
Fell is Tarn Hows, a picturesque work of landscape design initiated by
James Marshall in the 1860s. This is one of the most popular
destinations in the Lake District, the mixture of water, rock and
arboretum being finely contrived.
Now owned by the National
Trust, the motor traffic is so great that a one-way system had to be
initiated as early as the 1960s. Tarn Hows is maintained by a dam at the
south west corner and circumnavigated by a broad, level path, providing
access to all.
Few of the millions of visitors stray onto the
slopes of Black Fell or even know the name of the hill which provides
the backdrop to so many photographs.
The whole fell was once
owned by the Marshall family of Monk Coniston, before passing via a Mrs
Heelis (better known as Beatrix Potter) to the National Trust, by whom
it is held in perpetuity for the nation.
Although the lower
slopes are wooded (except in the west), the top of the fell is open to
In addition to the summit outcrop, somewhat
optimistically titled Black Crag on maps, there are other tops at Great
Cobble and Stephen How to the north, and Arnside and Tover Intakes to
A further feature on the southern flank of the fell is
Iron Keld Plantation through which the main access path to the summit
climbs. There are some steeper areas, particularly at Pull Scar on the
A bridleway runs across the fell from the summit of
the A593 in the west to Knipe Fold in the east, locally known as the
A further footpath branches off northward to the
vicinity of Skelwith Bridge, providing the best access to the summit.
This bears an Ordnance Survey triangulation column complete with a
National Trust sign.
200 yards to the east, a prominent cairn
marks the best viewpoint for Windermere, whilst northerly views can be
improved by the short march to Great Cobble.
The panorama takes
in both the high Coniston and Langdale Fells and the lowlands and lakes
to the south and west, a fine distillation of what Cumbria has to offer.
All ascents end via the short walk from the bridleway at Iron Keld
to the summit, but starts can be made at Skelwith Bridge, High Park,
Oxen Fell, Yew Tree Tarn, Tom Gill, Tarn Hows or Knipe Fold.
routes near Black Fell