Great Burney stands to the north of the A5092. The fell slope you can see from the road involves a steepish climb but when you arrive at the top, you can see a delightful path continuing on and then gently up to the cairn on the summit. The views from here are superb and well worth the effort. The walk then descends to the fell road, easy at first and then through tiresome bracken in high summer. It continues through the countryside to Tottlebank, a lovely quiet corner of Cumbria. The return is made along the Cumbria Way and then skirts the eastern slopes of Great Burney.
Park in the layby below Great Burney, grid ref 255852, or around the corner beyond, where there are two small laybys, on the right. To reach any of these take the branch road, signed ‘Woodland 3 miles’, which leaves, north, at the top of the A5092 between Grizebeck and Greenodd.
1 From the first parking area, head straight up the fell, using a narrow path or a slightly wider easier way. At what seems to be the brow, continue on the path, through a rocky outcrop and then climb more gently to the summit (979 feet). Here look for the Duddon Estuary, for the Furness Fells from Black Combe to Wetherlam. You might even catch a glimpse of the Scafells. Then try to locate Helvellyn, Fairfield and Ill Bell.
2 Go on along the path towards Little Burney, passing through a tiresome boggy area. Beyond, follow the path as it winds slightly left over a hillock and then, keeping parallel with the wall, goes on down through bracken. Bear left for a few steps to join a track in the valley where you turn right to go through a gate on to the fell road, and walk right.
3 Near the top of the short hill, take an access track, left, to Crooked Birch, where you might see a farrier shoeing horses. Once past the corner of the house, turn left to take an easily-missed small gate tucked up against a wall. Look across the valley to see if you can spot Tottlebank, a prominent white house at the top of a hill, and use this as a guide as you traverse the pastures. Descend the field ahead, keeping close to the wall on your right, to cross a stile and a small stream. Walk uphill remaining well left of a hillock to a newish gate. Beyond, turn right for a few steps along a good track, then leave, left, to go over pathless pasture, heading for a difficult-to-spot kissing gate in the wall ahead. Beyond, go on with the wall to your left, to walk a delightful long pasture to the next kissing gate, also slightly hidden in the bottom corner.
4 Step across a stream and climb steeply uphill to the right side of the attractive house, Tottlebank. Turn right along the short access track to join a narrow road and turn right on to the Cumbria Way (CW). A few yards along, watch out for the signed CW turning, off right. Enjoy the grassy swathe as it descends a little. Side-step the boggy patch and go on along the way, winding left. Climb steadily and then curve right with it to take the gate, or the ladderstile, on to a high-level grassy area.
5 Go ahead on the lovely way and at the Y-junction of tracks take the left fork. Wind on, left, towards the farm, Kiln Bank. Before the wall of the house, wind right through a gate. At the ‘multi-armed’ signpost go on down the pasture to pass through another gate and turn sharp left to cross a delectable clapper footbridge over Smithy Beck. Walk up the field to take the throughs (steps) over the wall. Go ahead over the next field to cross the wall in a similar way and then descend half left to join a wide track by ruined Raisthwaite farm.
6 Turn right and walk on through a ‘tunnel’ of trees. Go on ahead and beyond a gate across the track continue to the fell road. At the two-armed signpost, slightly right, climb uphill, left, on a faint path, even fainter when the bracken is high, to cross a wide track. Step over the little stream beyond and, keeping it to your left, climb a fairly distinct path uphill, remaining on a little ridge. The path ends at a feeding station. Carry on up the rough pathless way towards the coll between the slopes of Great Burney and Combs. Suddenly a distinct path emerges and leads to a tall cairn set on what is probably an old hut circle, with Great Burney towering to your right.
7 Keep slightly right from here, descending an indistinct way towards a gate in the fell wall ahead. Do not pass through but turn right and walk a splendid grassy track (or so it seems after the rather ‘tricky’ last quarter mile). Stroll on to join a wider track and go on, right, to rejoin your vehicle.
Distance: 5 miles
Time: 3 hours
Terrain: Some good paths and tracks and one almost pathless climb to the cairn below the eastern slope of Great Burney. A little road walking.
Map: OS Explorer OL6
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.