23rd April 2013Classic viewpoint: Black Combe

Black Combe's lonely position out on the south western edge of the Western Lake District seems to live up to its slightly moody name. Its domed peak, rising above the Irish Sea like the prow of an enormous ship, seems to be giving the rest of the fells the cold shoulder as it sits isolated and glowering across the waves. 

Black Combe, the Western Lake District

But, despite appearances, this is actually a wonderfully friendly hill to climb with a clear and generally easy path winding to one of the best viewpoints in the Lakes. William Wordsworth and Alfred Wainwright are two of the authors to wax lyrical about the rotund top of Black Combe which, due to its separation from the rest of the high ground, offers a panorama that is hard to beat.

All this comes at manageable physical cost as this is one of the most easily accessible peaks in the Lakes. Wainwright, the great compiler of Lake District hills and dales, wrote: "It is considerate to the old and infirm. The grass bridleway from Whicham is amongst the most delectable of Lakeland fell paths. Which other can be ascended in carpet slippers?"

The 600m peak is said to be the only point in England where it is possible to see the whole of the UK, with views to Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. It has to be said, this Great British view is severely weather dependent and the evening we chose to hike up its mossy sides its summit was shrouded in cloud. A different and still worthwhile experience compared to that of sunnier days, when the views are classic in every way.

Black Combe, the Western Lake District

There are a few different ways to get up Black Combe, but the most obvious is from Whicham, the hamlet that gives the beautiful Whicham Valley its name. From here the very obvious path takes a gentle route up Black Combe's flank. Even in the mist there is something magical about ascending with the sound of crashing waves coming from the distant beaches and the view along the wild Western Lake District coast growing greater but ever more indistinct in the cloud. After about an hour-and-a-half's steady walking you reach the rock shelter on the summit, with the whole of the British Isles laid out beneath you.

Whitehaven - the perfect day out
Millom & Black Combe

Brian Sherwen Photography

Many images on this website have been supplied to us by Brian Sherwen.