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A whirl around the Whinlatter Fells
by trailmasher » Wed Jun 24, 2015 5:52 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Broom Fell, Graystones, Lord's Seat, Whinlatter
Date walked: 13/05/2015
Time taken: 3.48
Distance: 13.95 km
Ascent: 754m1 person thinks this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
Since it had been quite some time since I was last in the Whinlatter area I thought that it was time for a revisit and knock off a few new Birkett's in the process. The chosen day was fair with a mixed sky of cloud and sunshine and a cool breeze blowing when we set off from Spout Gill - free - car park which is tucked in on the left behind the trees of Darling How Plantation. There is room for quite a few cars and is at NY181256 whilst the access road is on the right hand side of the B5292 about 500 metres before Scawgill Bridge is reached.
The car park was empty when we arrived at around 9:45am so booted and bagged we set off southeast along the well made but stoned up and undulating road leading to Darling How Farm. As the farm is reached the forestry road can be seen to lead as straight as a Roman road for as far as the eye can see until it veers further east upon reaching the corner of the wall which is the limit of the large tapered field that is on our right.
It is at this point where we leave the road to find a faint and narrow path on the right running roughly south up the fell side of the now cut down area of trees.
After an easy climb of some 50 metres the forestry road is met and this is where the tree line starts again.
The path is now getting indistinct and although the going is easy as it remains at a steady pitch it is made harder on account of the many dead trees and branches that litter the ground. Forgoing the path we just made our way as best we could over and around the fallen obstacles until we reached the intake wall at the upper limits of the plantation.
The wall is quite high with a wire fence behind it so we elected to walk east along the wall to see if access through it could be gained in that direction. We wended our way up a short bank and through some trees and within a short distance we came across a breach in the wall and where some kind person had placed some stones so as to be able to climb over the wire fence.
Once over the fence we started to climb the 130 metres or so over steep, pathless ground to the summit of Brown How at 517 metres, our first Birkett. It seems a long 130 metres as we fight our way up through the long heather and tussocks of grass with a couple of false summits on the way which seem intent on destroying our hopes of an early view of the top proper. Quite near the top we came across a well trodden path on our west side which we gratefully took to as it wound its way around to finally reach the summit of Brown How with its shelter cairn and great views across Lorton Vale and the fells in all points of the compass.
If you turn uphill along the forestry road for around 100 metres there is a faint and narrow path which leads more easily through the trees until the intake wall is reached. There are a couple of gaps here where once again the fence can be crossed by the help of well placed stones from the wall. Once over the fence it is an easier climb than the one described above as it follows the lower contours of the fell with only bilberry to contend with as they climb gently up and around the west flank of Brown How until the afore mentioned path is once again reached.
Leaving Brown How we now took the path for Whinlatter Top to our east. The path is mostly good with some wet patches here and there but nothing to bother about really. It winds its way gently across the fell until the summit is reached at 525 metres with its small stone cairn stuck on the grass by the side of the path.
Now there are two paths leading off Whinlatter. One continues east towards Thornthwaite Forest boundary fence and then turns north following the fence to the top of Tarbarrel Moss our next objective, whilst the other one takes off in a south easterly direction towards Tarbarrel Moss, and as it cut off a big corner this is the one that we elected to take. Big mistake. The clue is in the word Moss.
Looking down over Drycloff Gill the terrain looked alright and apart from the usual hummocks of grass there were no obvious signs of wet ground as the path was well defined as it dropped down into the hollow. Many have been before us so it must be the quickest way to go. We followed this path down into the confines of the hollow and into the long grass but after a short distance we discovered the true nature of the ground. It's wet with the boggy area covering the whole of the hollow. It's a bit confusing when the map tells you that the top of Tarbarrel Moss is actually around 40 metres higher than the wet area and I would have thought that the unnamed hollow would have taken precedence with the name as opposed to the summit of this Birkett.
Retracing our way out of the bog we skirted it by following the higher contour under Whinlatter Crag until we met the forest boundary fence where we then picked up the dry path leading us to the top of the Birkett. No time saved then but a lesson learned for when I come this way again.
Tarbarrel Moss at 493 metres is a small raised grassy area with no cairn and is sat in the corner of the forestry boundary fence. A cairn is mentioned in the book of Birketts but I suppose that it's got lost over the years because we couldn't find one.
To leave this top we went through the gate in the fence and walked roughly north downhill through the pine trees…
until we reached a large clearing in the trees. In the centre there is a signpost stating that this is Tarbarrel Moss, but that can't be right as we had just left it behind, so I'm presuming that someone decided to name the whole of that area by that name. I can only describe it as a massive roundabout where many paths meet. From here the path continues through the trees in a south easterly direction until reaching the bottom of Ullister Hill. We followed a path which meandered in the general direction of Seat How our next objective and came upon a sign confirming that we were on the right track. The path had been recently upgraded, was well stoned up and compacted, and wound its way through the trees first gently climbing and then upon reaching the base of Ullister Hill went gently down in a north easterly direction before turning south east and back again to form a loop which eventually after a level stretch and a last short climb led us to finally arrive at Seat How at 496 metres.
Leaving the top of this hill we retraced our steps back towards Ullister Hill and turned off on a wet, narrow path running uphill in a north easterly direction until we reached the small top at 525 metres. Once again this is a rather dull top which is just a rounded hump covered in heather, bilberry, and some grass mixed in amongst, although the views are very good especially to the north looking over Barf and towards Wythop, the Uldale Fells, and Binsey. Turning anticlockwise we see Lord's Seat, Todd Fell, Broom Fell, and the trees of Darling How Plantation.
From this slightly elevated position the path to Lord's Seat is clear to see. Wet and muddy as it travels downhill through the heather and short grass until it meets up with one of the paths that rises up from Barf. This is a well made path, easily graded with fence posts to help prevent erosion laid across the section prior to reaching the gate…
which then opens up onto the grass track that takes us to the summit which has an old iron fence post and a small rocky cairn sat on short rough grass.
Now we are at a higher level the views are good in every direction and we can see our way west looking over to Broom Fell and Graystones far in the distance. This is where we had a bite to eat.
The way to Todd Fell and our next top - Broom Fell - is clear to see with the path looking like a green lane once we have descended down the short bank of Lord's Seat. The direction of the path takes us north east passing over the small hump of Todd Fell before reaching a fence which has a stile and a small metal gate in it for access to Broom Fell.
We go through the gate and just follow the wide, green, and sometimes wet path to the summit. The walking is easy as it wanders leisurely up the fell side to reach the summit with its large - 2 metre high - stone pillar acting as a cairn plus a respectable sized shelter cairn which would be a welcome sight on a bad day on these wide open fells. Once again good views are to be enjoyed in all directions.
After the regulation photo shoot of the local hills we set off to follow the path which now heads west downhill to meet the gap in the old wall at Widow Hause. Passing over the wall we then followed the plantation fence - again wet underfoot - to reach a stile in the fence at the bottom of Graystones. The ground is covered in stones at this point so care should be taken when passing over them. Now there are two choices at this point. There is a path on the west side of the fence which climbs south to reach the top of Graystones or you can scale the fence and climb up the hill on the east side which is what we did as the path is slightly easier to negotiate and arrives directly at the north and south cairns.
It's warm and time for a short break before leaving here and continuing west over the level, pathless, and grassy ground before dropping down the fell side to cross the col at the head of Sware Gill. From here it is another easy climb up the fell to reach the top of Kirk Fell at 438 metres. This is quite a big fell. It is long and bulky, with a somewhat level, grassy top and a cairn of three small stones adorning the summit.
We returned to the col and instead of climbing back onto Graystones we descended by way of the nearly dry Sware Gill.
The going is all on grass, easy but on steep slopes until after a short distance we were able to get down to the gill itself and walk on the lush grass alongside the small and narrow run of water. We crisscrossed the gill as the ground required until reaching a point where it ran into a rocky gully and we were forced to leave it and head off once again in a north easterly direction across the fell side and above the old quarries. From Kirk Fell there are no paths only sheep trods which we used to our advantage and followed all the way across and down to meet the wall running alongside Darling How Plantation. We then proceeded to head downhill once again along the regular path which upon nearing the old quarry turned off west in front of them and then zigzagged down until we reached Blaze Beck at Scawgill Bridge from where we simply followed the main road uphill to reach the car at Spout Force car park.
It has been a good steady day with some sun and cloud, warm and dry all day. The going was easy with a few wet and boggy bits of path. Of course the Moss below Tarbarrel was another matter which shall not be repeated.
Just a thought. As I have been in this neck of the woods before I should just like to mention that the path from Whinlatter Top running down to - or up from - Thornthwaite Forest is good, as is the path which runs north alongside the boundary fence, albeit, wet and spongy in quite a few places but easily got around. Just over the fence there is a well made path which can be used to reach the Tarbarrel Moss 'roundabout' if an easier option of reaching it is preferred.
by johnkaysleftleg » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:50 am
It also looks like your way off the fells was better and a little less knee jarring than the direct descent from Greystones.
by trailmasher » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:29 am
johnkaysleftleg wrote:There is some nice walking to be had on these fells, It looks like you found a slightly better way onto Whinlatter than we did. I remember just not bothering with some of the Birketts on this round as I wasn't sure just how anybody would class Tarbarrel Moss as a top
It also looks like your way off the fells was better and a little less knee jarring than the direct descent from Greystones.
You're right about the walking Anthony, it's nice and easy. You're also right about Tarbarrel Moss. I've got a bigger hump in my garden . We have come off Graystones by the direct route and it's a nightmare for sure but I can assure you that the way down the gill is excellent, easy even when leaving it and traversing down across the fell to pick up the main path very near the bottom and thanks for your comments.
by ChrisW » Thu Jun 25, 2015 10:29 pm
by trailmasher » Fri Jun 26, 2015 9:12 pm
ChrisW wrote:Great report as always Trailmasher, this is the kind of hike I loved back home, I would definitely have enjoyed this one even with the mistake of taking the 'moss' trail, a good old grunge plod always seems better a day or two later
Thanks Chris and I reckon getting a touch of trench foot goes with the territory
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