Energetic walkers on their way to Helvellyn via Striding Edge rarely notice Birkhouse Moor as they climb the slopes. It is a big bulky fell with few outstanding features and yet from its cairn the view is superb. Strangely the cairn is not the highest part of the fell; that is found a little way off and is passed almost without noticing. There are several ways of approach, some more challenging than others. This walk takes you past Keldas and Lanty’s Tarn and then onto famous Hole–in-the-Wall before ascending gently to the cairn.
Park in Glenridding pay-and-display car park, grid ref 386169.
1 Return to the A-road and turn right to cross Glenridding Bridge. Turn right again to walk in front of a row of shops, on the left, and the hurrying beck to your right. Continue on along the track to take the signposted left turn for ‘Lanty’s Tarn and Helvellyn’ to pass through fine deciduous woodland. At the next signpost take the left fork and begin a steady climb through alders. Continue ascending to a convenient seat where you might wish to pause to enjoy the view of Ullswater. Go on ahead and look right for a distant sighting of the Greenside Mine at the bottom of the steep-sided Sheffield Pike. Ignore the gate ahead and turn sharp left to continue climbing more gently. Then the path levels and Lanty’s Tarn lies ahead.
2 Before you go on you might wish to bear left and follow the way up towards a small crag, Keldas, from where there is a spectacular view of the lake through Scots pine, which provide a glorious frame to your pictures. Return to pass through the gate to walk on beside the tarn. In many winters long ago the tarn, after the water was cleared of weeds, provided ice for the big house nearby. Continue on the track and descend downhill to a broken gate. Go through and walk ahead to two paths, one continuing beside the wall on the left, the other, to its right, climbing steadily up the fell slope is the one you need.
3 After one and a quarter miles climbing you reach the Hole-in-the-Wall, filled with an easy stile. Beyond follow a little path that weaves down, right, through rocks, to join a wide track, with a wall to the right which stretches into the far distance. If you have strayed a little and towards the end you’ve taken a grassy path you come to a ladder stile over the wall. Climb it, turn right and walk the same track. It rises and falls and at one point a few struts of timber, direct you slightly left but still continuing parallel with the wall. Pass a large cone of stones and at this point you are on the highest part of Birkhouse Moor 2,359feet.
4 Keep on ahead when you reach a wall corner, away to your right, passing several pools beside the track. Where the track swings right, climb the ‘path’ ahead – a narrow dark streak of grass and climb easily for a short way to the cairn, 2300feet. The view ahead is superb. You can see matchstick figures on Striding Edge to your left, the great wall of Helvellyn ahead, and to the right on Swirral Edge and Catstye Cam.
5 Return to the main track and walk left. This soon begins to curve right and, though much work has been done on its surface, care is still needed in places. It is not shown on the map as a main footpath but as a pecked path. It replaces the path by the wall, which is now no longer viable. Follow it all the way to the wall and then when the path winds away, left, go down along a distinct track, which keeps parallel with the wall on your right. Press on beside the wall for half a mile until you can climb a stile, beneath a tree, to reach the pasture on the other side.
6 Walk a small path that soon joins a wide grassy path dropping down the slope. Wherever it divides walk left, descending all the time to reach the track taken earlier. Press on, left, to reach Lanty’s Tarn once more and then retrace your outward route to return to the village.
Distance: 6-7 miles
Time: 5-6 hours
Terrain: Paths and tracks are dry but some make for hard-on-the-feet walking especially the pitched and restored paths. The views are wonderful throughout.
Map: OS Explorer OL 5
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.