21st January 2017

Coves, Combes and Holes of the Lake District - Walk No 2 - Two coves on Birks

Time 8:40am to 2:05pm
Duration 5 hr 25 min
Distance 7.5 mile
Ascent Somewhere around 2700 ft
Walking with Paul Sharkey
Patterdale - Grisedale - Elmhow - Blind Cove - Birks - St Sunday Crag - Gavel Pike - Cold Cove - Trough Head - Arnison Crag - Patterdale
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre -
Car park, opposite Patterdale Hotel / outside the school

I think I'm correct in saying that the hotel actually owns the car park, so needless to say there is a charge. Thankfully this is a daily charge and if I'm honest it is well worth the cost when you consider the fantastic selection of walk that can be undertaken from this spot.

It does tend to fill up rather quickly though, and not only during the summer months. Those who arrive early can park for free on the pavement just up the road outside the school (not when the school is on).

Route Map


After a very slow and icy drive across the high ground between Troutbeck and Ullswater I arrive in Patterdale for a walk which would take us into the two coves on Birks. For days now we just hadn't expected to get such perfect conditions and walking plans were undecided right up to the day before. Up until yesterday dinner time the forecast was, well, crap, causing expectations for a blue sky day to hit rock bottom. Then, they issued Saturday's predictions for a good day. Brilliant!
From behind the Patterdale Hotel we look across to a very cold looking Place Fell.

As we walk through Glenamara Park the early sunshine begins to light up the top of Birks. A decent day was definitely on the cards but first we had to complete the start of the walk in the shade.

While the area we were walking through was gripped by the previous night's frost, Gowbarrow and Watermillock Common in the distance were beginning to brighten up in the early morning sunshine.


After walking through Grisedale for a short distance we head onto the steep fellside just after passing through Elmhow farm. When I say steep, I do actually mean steep. From here you get a great view across to Keldas and Gowbarrow in the distance.

Here we approach Blind Cove

Looking across Blind Cove, pity we were in the shade.

Much higher up now and the view open up to show part of Ullswater and Gowbarrow Fell (and the top of Little Mell Fell).

Arriving in the sunshine between St Sunday Crag and Birks was like stepping into a different world from the shaded side of the fell..

It seemed rude not to had a walk across to Birks - - - so we did.

Birks summit looking to Place Fell.

Turning around we get a fantastic and clear view across the the eastern side of Nethermost Pike / Dollywaggon Pike.

Looking back down to Birks from the walk up St Sunday Crag.

From here I get a good view into the three coves on the eastern side of Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike. I'll be in those at some point in the project but at a time of year when they won't be in the shade.

St Sunday Crag summit.

Although it's only a short walk down to Gavel Pike from St Sunday Crag it definitely feel like a completely separate fell. The view is quite good as well.

Gavel Pike summit.

Looking back up to Gavel Pike.

Looking across Cold Cove to Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Brock Crags and the High Raise ridge in the distance.

Crossing Cold Cove.

As we walked through Cold Cove we noticed the cloud spilling over High Street and Thornthwaite Crag. Anyone up there would have been getting a real treat.

Cold Cove Gill.


As this section of the walk was all off path, we picked out a succession of landmarks to aim for. Eventually we pass by 'the Cold Cove tree'.

At this point I admit to Paul that "OK, I know I'm visiting the coves, combs and holes, but I'm not exactly sure what to do when I get here. Do I walk across it, round it, zigzag through it or just walk past the edge." I suppose any of these counts as a visit because some of these places just don't lend themselves to long drawn out wanderings. What they do offer is the chance to devise some really good routes, plus the chance to do whatever you class as a visit.



That's us two standing at Trough Head and admiring the view down to Ullswater.

More cloud on Thornthwaite Crag.

Dinner with a view of Ullswater.

A close up of Rooking.

And not so close up, this time showing Place Fell as well.


And to finish, we walk past the Patterdale Hotel to find the tables still frozen over from last nights frost.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks