4th March 2017

Coves, Combes and Holes of the Lake District - Walk No 4 - Coves around Catstye Cam and Birkhouse Moor

Time 8:45am to 3:40pm
Duration 6 hr 55 min
Distance 8 mile
Ascent somewhere around 3300 ft
Walking with Paul Sharkey
Glenridding - Gillside - Blea Cove - Quarry - north side of Birkhouse Moor - Sheepfold at Red Tarn Beck - Keppel Cove - Brown Cove - Catstye Cam - Red Tarn - Birkhouse Moor - Little Cove - Gillside - Glenridding
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre -
Car park, Glenridding

Found in the centre of Glenridding, this car park fills up very quickly indeed. Not just because of the amount of walkers heading onto the Helvellyn fells, but with people just wanting to have a walk around the village. Arriving after mid morning during the summer months would be a bit of a hit and miss situation as far as getting a space goes.

To state the obvious; there is a charge for parking here.

Weather Readings

The Gadget
All readings were taken using a Kestrel 2000 Weather Meter
Live temperature recorded at the time I press the hold key
Maximum Wind Speed Maximum wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location Average Wind Speed
Average wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location
Wind Chill
Combination of wind speed and temperature. The gadget does the calculations not me.

Route Map


I was never going to rush through this project but progress with getting stuck into these coves walks has felt quite slow so far. Some weekends the weather has been a complete let down and as of yet, I haven't had any midweek days off work this year. Everything looked like being just right for today so after a phone call last night we decided to go for it. This walk covers everything from completely out of the ordinary to the bog standard.


We leave the level path and begin the walk into Blea Cove. For much of the way there a decent path which seems strange considering it's far from what we'd all think of as a normal walking route. I can only assume it was the route taken by the folk who worked the small quarry up here.

Blea Cove.

Here's a view of Glenridding, Ullswater and Place Fell you don't see very often.

This is the disused quarry we were aiming for. Not a huge amount to see but quite interesting nonetheless. I wonder what they were digging for.


Glenridding, Glenridding Dodd, part of Ullswater and Place Fell seen from the edge of the spoil heaps.

Once around the northern side of Birkhouse Moor we catch sight of Catstye Cam and the track we want to get to (the one over there on the right). Getting onto the track could have been very easy but it didn't end up that way.

Right, we're both in agreement that this presents something of a problem. After a few failed attempts we took the sensible option and headed up stream to find a better spot to cross. Eventually we found a half decent spot but it was just a bit too much on the fast flowing and deep side. However, before I had time to say "what d'ya reckon", Paul had started plugging the deep bits with some big stones. OK, it's a long time since I did this type of manual work but I thought it rude not to join in. After 10 minutes or so we'd placed enough big stones in the beck to get us across without our boots getting full of water.


Well, that was certainly a mini adventure. In hindsight, we should have backtracked towards the mines and crossed the beck by using the bridge. But, we weren't in any rush and we got here in the end.

Catstye Cam seen above the dam.

Keppel Cove.

A very shapely Catstye Cam seen from Keppel Cove. At the time, we described it as the shape left by a giant ice cream scoop.

From Kepple Cove we make our way up to Brown Cove.

Brown Cove and it's tarn.

Brown Cove seen from the start of the walk up the north ridge on Catstye Cam.

The wet slushy snow made for very slow progress on steep ground. It was very slippery indeed and the assumption with every step was that our feet would slide back a little bit.
Here I look back down to Keppel Cove.

Looking across to Swirral Edge and Helvellyn.

We didn't expect to see much in the way of blue sky today but thankfully we were in for a real treat for the rest of the walk.

Dinner with a view of Helvellyn, Swirral Edge and Helvellyn Lower Man. Despite the gadget telling me the windchill was -4.3 it was perfectly comfortable to sit up here having something to eat.

OK, it was warm enough to sit for a while but eventually we had to make a move and head down to Red Tarn.

Brown Cove and Keppel Cove, both seen from the walk across Catstye Cam's short ridge.

Swirral Edge taken from the point where we pick up the path down to Red Tarn.

and the view when I turn around.

Down at Red Tarn today it was about as perfect as you could ever wish for.

Catstye Cam taken from Red Tarn's outflow.

Looking ahead to Birkhouse Moor. It seems like it's a long way from here but it's easy walking and doesn't seem to take long at all.

On a day like this and in these conditions you can't help but keep looking back.

Below the snow line on Birkhouse moor and we look down to Ullswater and the fells beyond. Suddenly there were almost no other people about and we all but had the place to ourselves.

Now we take the Mires Beck route through Little Cove. The only cove on today's route which could be considered part of a 'normal' route.

And to finish, we walk into Glenridding with warm spring like sunshine on our backs.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks