Walking - Farleton Knott and Holmepark Fell

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Dennis Kelsall ventures on to the glacier-scarred territory of Farleton Knott and Holmepark Fell

Rising abruptly beside the M6 motorway, just south of Junction 36, Farleton Fell is both an impressive landmark and superb viewpoint.

A great block of hard, white limestone, it has been moulded by ice sheets flowing from the glaciers of the higher ground to the north and east and dramatically reveals many features rooted in its frozen history.

Great expanses of naked limestone pavement strikingly define the upper plateau, fragmented into great blocks of clint within a web of deep grikes by the subsequent action of water.

Everywhere is the litter of boulder erratics, great and small, dumped by the melting ice, while the western crags are fringed with aprons of sharp scree. This exciting walk on to its summit begins just outside the pleasant village of Holme beside the Lancaster Canal and returns along the southern fringes of the National Trust reserve of Holmepark Fell and is best saved for a clear day to enjoy the outstanding views at their best.

1 Leave the lane to the north of Holme where it bends across the Lancaster Canal, turning through a gate on the left to join the towpath. Where it is subsequently truncated by the motorway, drop down steps to the field below. Continue beside the M6 to climb out at the far side on to a lane. Follow it over the motorway and the resumed canal to a junction at Dukes Cottage, at one time a coaching inn on the road between Lancaster and Kendal.

2 Cross to the lane opposite, walking as far as a bend at the edge of Farleton. Ignore the first footpath there but take the second, signed to Farleton Fell, which leaves immediately beyond Town End Farm.

Entering the field behind the cottage, follow its edge up towards the scree flanked slopes. However, rather than tackle its steepness head on, mount a stile in the corner and join a contouring path in search of a less demanding route. Where the way later splits, take the higher line, now rising more steeply through clumps of sweet smelling gorse. Eventually turning for the final pull towards the top, the path breaks on to more open ground, squirming upwards and marked by a succession of small cairns gathered from the plentiful patches of bare scree. As the slope then eases, scree gives way to grass and the final cairn crowning Farleton Knott comes into view.

3 It is not the highest point – that lies upon the bare outcrop of Farleton Crags a little to the south – but the views is none the less spectacular, sweeping around from Lancaster in the south to the hills of the Yorkshire Dales in the east.

4 Sticking to the high ground, follow the ongoing path across the head of a dry valley that falls right towards Holmepark Quarries to gain the higher craggy ground behind, continuing over the crest beside a wall on the right.

A few yards along, look for a stile breaking the wall and cross into the National Trust reserve Holmepark Fell to continue on the opposite flank.

The path falls through a spectacular landscape of bare outcrops scattered with perching boulders and fragmented pavement from whose cracks sprout stunted trees and shrubs.

Lower down, beyond a shallow corner, the wall and path part company, the path gradually bearing away to the right, heading first towards the distant Bowland Hills and then later veering again towards Lancaster, distinguished by the dome of the Ashton Memorial.

5 Lower down the way develops as a track, eventually turning towards a gate leading out of the National Trust holding. Rather than pass through, turn sharp right on a prominent track that follows the fenced and wooded fringe of the Holme Park Quarry.

Keep going beyond a gate, keeping an eye open for the ruin of a lime kiln below the path. The stone here was exploited long before the modern quarries were opened, burnt with coal in small kilns to produce lime, which was then used as a fertiliser for the fields or to make mortar for building.

Leaving the fell through a second gate, the track continues between the lower grazing fields to Holme Park Farm, passing through the yard to emerge on to a road. Turn right and then take the next left signed to Holme and Milnthorpe, passing beneath the motorway to return to the start point.


Start/finish: Lane at northern edge of Holme beside the Lancaster Canal, GR. SD527797

Public transport: Bus service to Holme – Traveline 0871 200 22 33

Distance: 4 miles

Height gain: 800 feet

Walking time: 2 hours

Terrain: Fell paths and field tracks

Maps: OS Explorer – OL 7 (The English Lakes – South East)