The undulating summit plateau as seen from Great Meldrum.
|Elevation||481 m (1,578 ft)|
|Prominence||c. 95 m|
|Parent peak||Little Mell Fell|
|Range||Lake District, Eastern Fells|
|Topo map||OSExplorer OL5, Landranger 90|
The fell stands at the end of a short ridge ascending slowly to the north east towards Little Mell Fell. This ridge runs parallel to the middle reach of Ullswater, providing fine views of the lake. There are a number of intermediate tops along the way, including Great Meldrum (1,433 ft) Little Meldrum (1,325 ft), and Watermillock Common. Gowbarrow Fell is the high point of Gowbarrow Park, formerly a medieval deer park.
To the west of Gowbarrow Fell, separating it from the foothills of Hart Side is Aira Beck. This flows down from the rolling fells of the Dodds, passing through the village of Dockray, before turning south toward the shore of Ullswater. Two main waterfalls, High Force and Aira Force are within this final stretch as the water drops over 200 ft in total. The Aira Force attraction is blessed with two stone bridges at the head and foot, making it one of the most photogenic sites in the District with easy access from a main road. The bridges are of particular interest: the lower is made of vertical stones, not traditional in these parts, while the higher has horizontal stones, more in keeping with the dale customs. The falls and the main body of the fell are owned by the National Trust.
Gowbarrow Fell's northern boundary is formed by a wide bowl, across which is the domed form of Great Mell Fell. This basin drains to the north via Thackthwaite Beck and Dacre Beck, ultimately swinging around to the east to join the River Leven.
The southern slopes of Gowbarrow Fell are wooded, providing a picturesque backdrop for views over Ullswater. Above this is a fringe of rock, the main feature being Yew Crag at the south eastern corner of the fell. The woodlands and crags continue eastwards beneath Great and Little Meldrums, a rocky spur jutting out from the latter toward the lake.
Summit and view
The summit of the fell is set back to the north, whilst a second top, generally known as Green Hill (1,522 ft), is nearer to the lake. There are many small knolls spread across the wide plateau, but the prevailing landscape is of tough heather and bog. The top bears a triangulation column with a National Trust plaque and provides good views down Patterdale. Better views of Ullswater can be derived from Green Hill.
The most usual routes of ascent begin from the Aira Force car park. Green Hill can be climbed from near to the waterfall, followed by a traverse northward across the summit plateau. An alternative route follows a terraced path around the south of the fell to Yew Crag and then ascends northward to an old shooting box. The final climb to the summit is very marshy. Access from the north can be gained at Todgill or Dockray. A longer walk can be made by traversing the full ridge from The Hause.
It was at Gowbarrow that on the 15th April, 1802, Dorothy Wordsworth noticed daffodils growing on the west side of Gowbarrow. In her Journal she wrote: 'When we were in the woods beyond Gowbarrow park we saw a few daffodils close to the water side.' It was a record that later (in 1804) inspired William Wordsworth to write one of his most famous poems, Daffodils.
3. Richards, Mark. The Near Eastern Fells (Lakelandland Fellranger, 2008, Cicerone Press) ISBN 978-1-85284-541-4.