BB1430 : The BOOTboys Black Combe Walking Festival

Wednesday 20th August 2014

The Black Combe Walking Festival lasts from 18th to 24th August.  

This was not the reason for our visit. Black Combe was on Mike's bucket list and, seeing as the sun was shining, I was anxious to see what I had missed when Bryan and I visited (BB0821) in visibility of about five yards.

As there were six of us and two cars, we had the opportunity for a linear walk.  The plan was to start from the Miners' Arms at Silecroft and finish at the Punch Bowl at The Green, Thwaite, rewarding each pub with our custom.

At the time I had no knowledge of any festival but perhaps it explains why neither of them could be bothered to answer their telephone nor to respond to the message I left on their answerphone.  Perhaps they expected to be so overwhelmed with festival goers that any extra custom was likely to be an unwelcome incumbrance.

The churches were much more accommodating. Parking was available outside both St Mary's at Whicham and St Anne's at Hallthwaites,  It was at the former that we learned about the Black Combe Walking Festival.

St Mary's Church, Whicham

St Anne's Church, Hallthwaites

There is a very clear path winding up from Kirkbank to the summit of Black Combe although we detoured to take in its south top.  

The track up Black Combe

Distant view of Sellafield

Isle of Man

Duddon Estuary from  the south top, Black Combe

What a contrast to 2008.  Visibility was superb.  The only demerit was a cold, northerly wind and a few more light clouds than ideal.   Describing the route we took is mostly very simple.  Around the top of Black Combe Crags, out and back to and from White Combe, around Stoupdale Crags to Gray Stones and down.  And at every stage, the views were outstanding.

Lakeland panorama from Black Combe

Comitibus :  Black Combe

Black Combe crags

Looking down Stoupdale to the Duddon Estuary

The only navigational challenges were:

  • the dense bracken encountered on the lower slopes of Force Knott,
  • self imposed confusion about the path through Whirlpippin (thinking, wrongly, that it had been diverted to put in a caravaln site) and,
  • once over Baystone Bank, how to get past Bank House where a footpath seemed to have been diverted but the diversion signs required a contortionist to read them. Bryan obliged.

What's that? .....

Yet more bracken

.....It's a broken one of these

The end's in sight

Back at Hallthwaites the question remained: where to celebrate the Festival?  

Given that we had only seen one person all day, it was clear that both the local pubs must be heaving with festival revellers so we took a vote.

I can now reveal that the unanmimous decsion was that the official pub for the BOOTboys Black Combe Walking Festival is the Hare & Hounds at Levens, a mere twenty miles down the road.

Don, Wednesday 20th August

The Spectre of Stan

Mike sent me this remarkable photo that he took en-route.  Either Stan has a guardian spirit looking after him or he really can be in two places at the same time.




 Wednesday 20th August 2014

Distance in miles


Height climbed in feet



Black Combe


Bryan, Don, Martin C
Mike, Stan, Terry



BOOTboys routes are put online in gpx format which should work with most mapping software. You can follow our route in detail by downloading bb1430 .

To discover which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing - although it may not be that up to date - see: Which Wainwright When?

For the totals of the mileages and heights (ditto) see: BB Log.

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