Yewdale, Holme Fell and Tilberthwaite

The day after my walk up on Great Hill I was driving up the M6 heading up towards the Lake District. I’d booked a few days in a B&B in Coniston with the intention of spending a few days chilling out walking on the fells. The weather had broken after a hot Bank Holiday weekend, which was a  little unfortunate. But hot sunny weather can be a mixed blessing when you’re out walking so I wasn’t particularly bothered.

I arrived around 11 a.m and parked up near the B&B. I decided to start off gently so set off down the pleasant valley of Yewdale, with no particular plans on my route. I thought I’d decide as I went along depending on how I felt.

My walk started right by the B&B at Shepherds Bridge, as it’s right next to the footpath through the valley, which forms part of the Cumbria Way.


The route through the valley is relatively easy walking through beautiful, peaceful countryside




The path was heading towards Tarn Hows but I cut off and headed across to Yew Tree Farm, a typical Lakeland hill farm previously owned by Beatrix Potter and used in the 2006 film Miss Potter.


Walking past the farm, I decided to take the path that headed north towards Holme Fell – a relatively small fell, 1040 feet high, that overlooks the valley.

Initially passing through some rough heath


and then pleasant woodland


At first it was easy going but then I was following the path up hill – a short sharp climb to the top of the pass. The path leads to Tilberthwaite and then on to Little Langdale and was no doubt used by the men who worked in the slate quarries that used to operate in these valleys.

Looking back down towards Yewdale Tarn and across to the other side of the valley


I wanted to climb to the summit of the modest fell so at the top of the pass, where there were some cattle taking a break, I turned left to climb to the top of the fell.


The rain was now starting to fall, which meant that when I reached the summit the views were rather grey and obscured by cloud. But it’s certainly a viewpoint with views over Coniston Water and, when not obscured by cloud, the Coniston and Langdale fells.



I set back down hill. The rain was really starting to fall now and I was at the furthest point from my final destination – i.e. my starting point! So rather than follow the path to Little Langdale I cut across towards Tilberthwaite



I crossed over to the west side of Yewdale Beck


as I’d decided I might as well go and take a look at the sheepfold built by Andy Goldsworthy as part of his Sheepfolds Project which we’d visited in October 2016


The valley looked very atmospheric with the low cloud swirling on the hills – but I was getting rather wet by now!

I followed the road down to the end of Tilberthwaite and then took the path through the woods on the west side of Yewdale beneath the crags back to Coniston. The trees provide some shelter and the spring flowers and fresh leaves on the trees made it a very pleasant walk despite the rain!


Back in the village, I called into a cafe for a brew (always welcome at the end of a walk) before walking the short distance back to the B&B to check in.



Tilberthwaite Sheepfold


One of our objectives during our walk around Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite was to see the sheepfold in the bottom of the valley, near the old quarry. It’s not an ordinary sheepfold but was built by Andy Goldsworthy as part of his Sheepfolds Project

SHEEPFOLDS is Cumbria County Council’s major county-wide sculpture, landscape and environment project by the internationally renowned artist ANDY GOLDSWORTHY. The project started in January 1996 for the ‘U.K. Year of Visual Arts’ in what was then the Northern Arts Board region. Beginning as part of this programme Andy Goldsworthy has created a body of environmentally responsive sculptural works across Cumbria using existing sheepfolds, washfolds and pinfolds.


Although each fold is an individual piece, the project should be seen as a single work of art .


It’s possible to access the structure and get inside for a closer look. (This Herdwick sheep was wondering what we were up to!)




Goldsworthy creates six different types of sheepfold. The one at Tilberthwaite is A Touchstone Fold

A series of folds with artworks built into the fold’s wall, rich in texture and using slate and pebbles as in earlier stone works

He uses traditional drystone walling techniques, the same as used by the farmers who built, and continue to build and repair, the drystone walls that are found all over the Lake District, and other parts of Britain for that matter (we’d seen an example of drystone walling techniques used to build a bench on the Chatsworth Estate the previous weekend). But he incorporates “artistic elements” into the structures. So, at Tilberthwaite, in the centre of each of the walls there’s a rectangular section of dark slate which incorporates a circle. For each of these circles the slate is laid in a different direction, catching and reflecting the light in different ways




The effect will vary depending on the time of day and the weather.

There are directions to the accessible sheepfolds on the web. The directions to the Tilberthwaite fold is here. It’s also large enough to be seen on the 1:25,000 OS Map

Wetherlam and Tilberthwaite


Friday morning and the view from the bedroom window looked promising – sunshine, albeit with cloud over the tops of the fells. So it looked liked we be able to go ahead with our plans for the day – a walk up Wetherlam (2503 feet), one of the Coniston Fells, at the other side of the ridge from the Old Man.DSC01016

We headed into the village and took the path towards Coppermines valley along the river. We passed the Ruskin Museum.


The Yewdale crags looked inviting


Along the path to Coppermines valley


passing the Miners’ bridge


The fells came into view


An industrial landscape with the remains of mining and quarrying industries. There’s still a working slate quarry in the valley


We took a right turn and started our ascent to Wetherlam


Looking back over Coniston Water


On our left there were great views of the Old Man and Swirl How. The cloud had largely cleared from the tops.




We passed a small tarn


and views over to the mountains of the Fairfield Horseshoe opened up


We could see Windermere in the distance


Finally, we reached the summit of Wetherlam. There were a few other people around but I reckon it would have been a lot busier on top of the Old Man.


It was a clear day and there were great views of the surrounding mountains.

Scafell, Scafell Pike, Pike o’ Blisco, Crinkle Crags and Bowfell


Over Langdale


Helvellyn and the Fairfield Horseshoe


Over to Windermere


Swirl How


We decided to descend the way we’d come up and then cut down the valley to Tilberthwaite before doubling back to Coniston along Yewdale.

Taking in the view of Coniston Old Man


and Coniston Water


At the bottom of the descent we reached Hole Rake which we were to follow along to Tilberthwaite


In the bright afternoon sunshine and good visibility the views, and autumn colours, were outstanding




Eventually we reached Tilberthwaite Gill



Looking back to Wetherlam



The late, low afternoon sun was illuminating the distant mountains


and intensifying the autumn colours






Looking down into the Tilberthwaite valley we could see a sheepfold (more about that in another post)


After a short stop we set off down the road towards Yewdale passing Holme fell on our left




Reaching the Ambleside to Coniston road through Yewdale we took the path on the right side of the road that led through the woods back to Coniston



The view across the valley


Finally reaching Coniston


Looking back over the Yewdale crags


We stopped at the Co-op in the village to pick up some supplies, but it was still light and a lovely early evening so we decided to take a detour over to the lake

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It was after 5 o’clock by now and the Bluebird Café was closing up. However, they have a take away window and this was still open so we bought coffees and sat for a while enjoying the view. 


There were a few other people around, most of them tempted by a brew or ice cream

Canoeists coming back in after a trip on the lake


A brave soul going in for a swim


The sun began to set so time to make our way back to our B and B.


A beautiful sunset to finish off a great day