Sour Howes, Sallows and Kentmere

TAKE a walk over two Wainwright Fells or choose an easier stroll along tracks to Kentmere Hall, writes JOHN EDMONDSON. The longer walk is rewarded by spectacular views over Windermere to the south and of high fells to the north. Either way you’ll get grand views of the lovely Kentmere valley and its village.

Start from an unmade layby on the road to Kentmere south of the entrance to Hollingsworth & Vose (H&V) factory, map reference NY 456 019, postcode LA8 9JJ.


Distance: 8 miles with 1,600 feet of ascent or 5 miles with 700 feet of ascent

Time: 4 hours

Terrain: Good tracks plus fell paths and open fell on the longer walk.

Map: OS Explorer OL7


1 Walk towards Hollingsworth & Vose across the River Kent, keep left and follow the lane to Kentmere Pottery. Continue along the fenced path left of the house and turn right onto the bridleway signed Kentmere Hall and Ings. Follow the track crossing two becks (with stepping stones). Just before reaching a gate turn left over a third set of stepping stones. For the shorter walk stay on the track going through the gate. For the longer walk, 100 yards after crossing the beck turn right over a marshy area, go through a gate and then alongside the fence and wall on the left. Go through a gate on the left, turn right and follow a grassy footpath parallel to the wall on the right, curving left by a rocky outcrop. Climb more steeply following a line of shooting box ruins to the summit of Capple Howe. Continue northwards, descending towards the wall to the right of conifer woodland then follow the grassy path sweeping left to the Wainwright summit of Sour Howes.

2 Descend to the right and continue north parallel to the wall on the right with stunning views of the fells to the north. Cross a fence stile in the wall and continue up to the Wainwright summit of Sallows: at 1,693 feet, the highest point of the walk. Continue ahead: Kentmere village appears below on the left. Veer right and contour around to the rocky outcrop of Long Crag. Descend in a south easterly direction aiming towards the lower Kentmere valley to meet a former quarry track where it crosses a beck. Follow the track and cross a stile next to a gate. Walk ahead, descending to a track beside a wall and turn left. The walk now joins the route of the shorter one.

3 Follow the stony track and enjoy grand views of Kentmere Tarn and the church. Descend to Kentmere Hall. Its late 14th century defensive tower was built by the Gilpin family and owned by them for 300 years. It was later let to tenant farmers but is now a modernised residence with the farm buildings converted into holiday lets. Turn right at the hall then right again through another gate. Follow the stony track along the edge of the valley past Kentmere Tarn and back to the H&V factory. During the Second World War the tarn was used for development of and training in midget submarines. The tarn used to be dredged for clay formed by a microscopic organism called diatomite, using a dragline from the factory. This led to the discovery of a Viking spearhead in 1942 and a medieval wooden boat in 1955. Dredging ended in 1985 and H&V now import materials to produce filtration products for liquids and air.

Next week: around Skiddaw

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.