Little Gems – Binsey

Newlands, from Binsey

Binsey is a small, unregarded, unlovely of shape fell,north east of Bassenthwaite Lake, lying well away from the main body of fells included in the Northern Fells. It attracts no eye, and few walkers, but its position as an outlier makes it a fine viewpoint into Lakeland, and the ease of its slopes puts it well within reach of young and old alike.
As with Latrigg, there are two possible approaches, one that is tedious and dull, but which saves the view as a surprise vista on reaching the summit, or a slightly longer approach, more entertaining as an expedition, but with the vista in sight more or less all the way.
Even with the bonus of the unexpected view, I can’t, in all conscience, recommend the tedious approach from High Ireby, a small hamlet in a corner of the road, round the back of the fell. It can be reached by leaving the main Carlisle road at the Castle Inn on the east side of Bass Lake, heading for Ruthwaite, and turning left.
After a couple of moments hesitancy about which is the correct line from the corner, the path borders the fields before reaching open ground at the base of the fell. There are no paths: just head uphill, maintaining a bearing half left from the fence at the corner, until the summit comes in sight, at which point just make a beeline.
There’s nothing that can be done to improve the experience, no detours to anything of interest, no way to escape the dull trudge uphill, but the view is, at least, an ample reward for this effort. Return by the same route.
A much more entertaining experience can be had by sticking to the main Carlisle road north, as far as Bewaldeth, where there’s an off-road car park, a former section of the old, quiet road, cut-off by road-straightening and providing a convenient space.
Walk on a third of a mile before turning right along an avenue of trees to the base of the fell, where a well-established path trends to the left, turning uphill towards the roughness of West Crag. The view towards Bassenthwaite, and Newlands beyond it, grows steadily more wide as height is gained, but the ground underfoot is easy, and once above West Crag, the path slants away right towards the summit.
The walking is, in absolute terms, not that much more absorbing than the direct approach from High Ireby, but there is a feeling of openness on this side of the fell, a sense of connection to the Lakes brought about by having more than the uninteresting northern bulk of the Skiddaw massif in view.
Again, return to the car by the same route, but in a bit happier mood this time.

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