Brunt Knott

Date: 14 Feb 2019 Weather: 7’C, cloud then sun
Height gain: 1,211 ft Distance: 5.6 miles
Time taken: 3 hrs 10 mins Wainwrights: Outlying 2 of 116

I’ve realised that we’ve been doing a number of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells but as they have been shorter walks I haven’t been writing them up.  Given that I’m sure we’ll try and complete them all in the years to come I’ve decided that they need a proper record so I’ve decided to start catching up.  So – we walked this in February 2019 but I’m writing this report during the Coronavirus Lockdown in April 2020.

I also hadn’t decided to start a website at this point last year so didn’t think about writing up reports when taking photos.  This was a great walk but now I look back I see that neither of us took any pictures of one of the walk’s major attractions – Potter Tarn.  This report is therefore very light on photos.

So – we had our first visitors to our new house the week before this walk and we had our next visitors the week after it.  The weather forecast for the day is good and we decide to explore an area we don’t know to build up our knowledge of walks we can do when we, or our friends, don’t want a full on mountain day.

We head for Staveley and turn across Barley Bridge and up Hall Lane out of the village almost as far as the road will take us.  We find some good roadside parking close to the track up to Brunt Knott Farm.

We get our boots on and pack our rucksacks and head up the track towards the farm.  The weather feels warmer than it has done recently but it is still quite grey overhead.  The track takes us up past the farm and through a gate onto the open hillside.  We follow a clear path up and then to the left which takes us to the top of Brunt Knott:


The views actually looked quite good in real life with the hazy cloud adding to the atmosphere, but the views haven’t photographed all that well:


From here, S has devised a route across the open access land which should eventually join the footpath down to Potter Tarn.  We initially head down on a clear path towards Black Beck and cross a wall and then we’re into fern covered moorland with no visible paths:


We tramp through it, heading upwards as we plough broadly east.  The walking becomes a little easier as we reach the crest and start descending gently downwards.  It seems to be taking an age and we’re really not clear what we’re aiming for but finally we reach the edge of the ferns and a good footpath comes into view.

We join the path as it loops to the right towards the tarn.  The clouds are starting to clear and the sun is peeking out so we decide to stop on some comfy rocks to enjoy the leftover lemon cake we retrieved from the freezer to keep us going on our walk.  It’s nice to have some sunshine on our faces but we still quickly get cold in the chilly wind.

We set off again with the tarn ahead of us.  There are some runners cresting the path behind us and they catch up with us just as we reach the tarn.  They are all tall, willowy twenty somethings and we hold back to let them pass – but they don’t come past us and instead take a sharp left to run to the edge of the tarn.  With no hesitation at all they start to take off their running gear down to their underwear and, without a hint of a noise they jump one after the other into the icy water and start swmming out to the middle.  We stand transfixed looking back at them.  It’s not a big tarn and within five minutes they’re back at the edge and pulling themselves out.  They dress quickly and set off again on their run.

We’re walking again by now as they all stream past us, all very quiet as if an outdoor February dip was the most normal thing in the world.  One of them has taken a bit longer to dress and she comes past us a few minutes later – she seems to be struggling to catch the group and looks very, very cold, but she soon reaches them and they disappear into the distance.

I would love to swim in a tarn and this looks like a good one to choose – although not in February.  I resolve to come back on a warm day for a dip.

There is a large damn wall at the end of the tarn which has two rows of square concrete blocks which act as stepping stones to allow walkers across it (and this is where I really needed a picture – and one of the tarn would have been good as well!).  We pick our way across from stone to stone and follow the path through fields until we reach a quiet road.

We follow the road through Littlewood Farm as it first descends quite steeply and then start the final ascent back up to the car.  The weather has really cleared now and it feels pleasant in the late afternoon light as I look back up towards Brunt Knott:


I’ve really enjoyed today’s walk in a part of Cumbria I don’t know at all and I hope we’ll come back and do this again, perhaps on a warmer day so I can see if I’m brave enough to try a spot of wild swimming.

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