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Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.


Postby trailmasher » Fri Jun 09, 2017 6:51 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Buckbarrow, Middle Fell, Seatallan

Hewitts included on this walk: Seatallan

Date walked: 25/05/2017

Time taken: 2.06

Distance: 9.3 km

Ascent: 743m

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Middle Fell-Seatallan-Buckbarrow.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


I can't say that we were exactly enamoured by the start of the day as we both stirred ourselves to arise at around 6:30am and on peering out of the window looked upon a valley full of cloud. A cloud that touched the floor of the valley, covering all from side to side giving us a grim reminder of what it was like yesterday - Wednesday - as the cloud came down on Yewbarrow, and just like now, the valley bottom. Despite the low cloud it's been a warm night and remains so as we ventured outside for a wander about, Chris with Sonny and me with camera in hand, hoping to photograph what, grey swirling moisture, but wait, the sky is brightening slightly, more so to the northeast behind the farm. Now that was a good sign and as I walked across the yard in the direction of Great Gable and Kirk Fell I stopped at the sheep pens to see GG and a fair chunk of Kirk Fell looming large as life out of the cloud to the left and pointing majestically into the clear blue sky above them with Scafell Pike still shrouded and unseen on the right.
2 - Early morning mist between Great Gable and Scafell Pike.JPG
Early morning mist between Great Gable and Scafell Pike.

Anyone wild camping at height or just up there would have had a superb view of a cloud inversion and just now I wished that I could have been one of them.
I attempted to take some shots with just the one being half decent as the mist was bright with the sun and causing burn out. I also wished that I had walked the extra few metres past the sheep pens to get a proper shot along the head of the valley but by being lazy I probably missed taking a decent photo. Within a half hour the sun was making inroads into the remainder of the clag and it began to lift and melt away, ever so slowly at first but soon enough as we sat and looked south there was but a low band of valley width mist hanging just above ground level and over Wast Water, a delightful sight with the top of the bulk of Illgill Head showing dead centre above the cloud.
4 - Illgill Head with the mist now clearing.JPG
Illgill Head with the mist now clearing.

The mist was clearing off the fells quite quickly by now though we could see that it was still lingering over Wast Water. O to be on Middle Fell just now to see the covering of mist over Wast Water and the valley bottom extending its way southwest into the distance.

The plan today was to get up Middle Fell, Seatallan, and Buckbarrow and as soon as we had finished our second day of 'al fresco' breakfast we set off for the large flattish grass area at Greendale where we would park up for this walk.

There is a sizeable car park opposite the quite large collection of dwellings that are in fact used as holiday accommodation and this car park is solely for the use and benefit of their paying guests. There is ample room on the grass, just take care not to hit the bottom of the car on any of lumps of rock that is sticking out of the ground in various spots.

On the opposite side of the holiday accommodation from this car park there sits another dwelling, Lower Greendale, a smaller house set in an enclosure of small fields and this is where the great Joss Naylor lives and sets out on his daily runs into the fells despite his advancing years.

It was whilst we were booting up that we spotted Joss setting out on one of his daily outings onto the fells. We could see another couple of walkers just approaching the beginning of the climb onto Middle Fell and Joss slowed down to have a word with them and then he was off up the path.

The temperature was 16°c with the sun shining down from an impossibly deep blue sky, a stark contrast to Wednesday on our climb up Yewbarrow and like our outing on the Tuesday we hoped that we had brought enough water with us, I had 3 bottles and Chris had 6 because he wanted to keep Sonny hydrated as when we leave the gill and apart from the odd hole full of peaty water it will be a bit thin on the ground. If I adopted him as a dad I wonder if he would carry my bag for me!

We soon made it across the grass to the bottom of the fell from where one can either take the grassy path that runs north alongside the fenced enclosure that has been planted out with young tree saplings or take the well worn path that eases its way around to the east before turning back on itself to meet up with the grass path at a bend from where it is now a rough and stony path that more or less follows Greendale Gill before turning northeast onto an easily followed path up the grassy fell. The path is well worn with indents in the ground, a sign of many boots digging into the soft ground when wet.

Looking back there is a great view over Greendale with the massive crags and screes of Whin Rigg over to the left the ridge of which gives a great walk over to Illgill Head. The sides of the lower section of path is littered with black bags full of stone indicating that repairs to that well worn stretch are imminent.
9 - Chris toiling up the path on Middle Fell.JPG
Chris toiling up the path on Middle Fell.

We climbed up the steep slopes that are not unlike the south ridge on Yewbarrow in their steepness and with the sun out in earnest the glory beads soon began to sprout out of the brow. I got fed up with wiping the sweat out of my eyes so rummaged through my bag for my bandana that soon solved the problem of stinging eyes although it did nothing to make the day any cooler and it's barely turned 9 am just yet.

Despite the heat it didn't take too many minutes to arrive at an area of many stones and rocks that littered the ground in great profusion and although there is the makings of a path through it and a couple of cairns marking the way we found that it was just as easy to pick our own way across this wide belt of rocky debris.
13 - Chris picking a way through the rocky ground.JPG
Chris picking a way through the rocky ground

Soon after leaving the rocky ground behind the ground eased off quite a lot and we were once again walking along a grassy path that would take us to the top of Long Crag, a short break, and a long drink. There is no sign of Joss Naylor though the views from this lower viewpoint are quite amazing with a good long look over towards Nether Wasdale and its surrounding farm land with the massif of Illgill Head and Whin Rigg dominating the southeast and Seatallan over to the northwest.
12 -  Looking down on Greendale with Whin Rigg in the background.JPG
Looking down on Greendale with Whin Rigg in the background.

We continued on from Long Crag passing two other couples on the way, still on a good path that now began to meander up and down, side to side as it worked its way around small outcrops of rock to make the final short climb onto the highest outcrop to find its fairly large cairn of small stones.

From the summit the views are quite remarkable from its 582 metre summit and it bears its name well as it's certainly at the centre of things being surrounded by a multitude of some of the classic and most famous mountains in England. The Scafells, Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Scoat Fell, Haycock, Seatallan, Buckbarrow and far too many more to mention here.
18 - The Scafells and Slight Side behind a calm Wast Water.JPG
The Scafells and Slight Side behind a calm Wast Water.

19 - Yewbarrow and Dore Head with Great Gable and Kirk Fell behind.JPG
Yewbarrow and Dore Head with Great Gable and Kirk Fell behind.

It's absolutely amazing. I've been here several times before but the views never ease my ardour for a landscape such as this, and for a first timer like Chris it was absolutely gob smacking.
21 - Middle Fell summit with Haycock-Scoat Fell and Red Pike behind.JPG
Middle Fell summit with Haycock-Scoat Fell and Red Pike behind.

Leaving the cairn behind we continued north with the path now leading down into the depression that sits between Middle Fell and Seatallan. It's a good path and easy to follow as it makes its way steadily down as it wanders about a bit between the outcrops of rock. Directly in front of us was the bulk of Seatallan with its steep grassy flanks pockmarked with areas of grey scree in its higher reaches and grey rock lower down whilst further over to the north stands Haycock with the rough and scree ridden face of Gowder Crag in stark contrast to its easier and more gentle east and west sides.
27 - Haycock and the east ridge to Seatallan summit.JPG
Haycock and the east ridge to Seatallan summit.

When we were about halfway down we saw movement and a flash of blue in front of us more or less coming our way but more to the right of us off piste if you will. It was Joss Naylor - with the regulation sheep dog at his side - that legend of the fell running fraternity, not taking the easier path up to the Middle Fell summit but making his own way over rough ground as people of his ilk are wont to do.
He passed Chris who spoke to him and as I made my way across and intercepted him he readily stopped for a chat and after asking him where he had been he pointed at Seatallan and said that he had just been to the summit. I mean, come on, he is now 81 years young and although he wasn't running he was speed walking the hills and even though he set off not far in front of us at Greendale here we are meeting him on his way back from climbing Seatallan and halfway back up Middle Fell. Now I don't think Chris and I hang about when walking but it would be hard having a day on the fells with this man.
28 - We met Joss Naylor ascending the slopes of Middle Fell.JPG
We met Joss Naylor ascending the slopes of Middle Fell.

Chris and he had a chat about the dogs whilst I just chatted to him about things in general. I had heard and read that he was an amenable man, willing to talk to those he came across on the fells and I can confirm that this is so. He is a true gentleman and one of my hero's.

After a few minutes you could tell that he was straining at the lease, his dog came for a pet, a stroke on the head, and then they were off again.
29 - Having a good chat with Joss Naylor on Middle Fell.JPG
Having a good chat with Joss Naylor on Middle Fell.

Elated and buzzing after meeting Joss Naylor we continued on into the hollow with Greendale Tarn now making an appearance to our left…
33 - Middle Fell and Greendale Tarn.JPG
Middle Fell and Greendale Tarn.

a pleasant place for a moments rest if passing by that way but we are to continue across the depression to start climbing the lower slopes of Seatallan passing over the head of the feeder watercourse that helps to keep the tarn full of water. Initially there is a fairly obvious path across the grass rising steadily up in the direction of Winscale Hows but that soon disappears and we lost it somewhere just below the old sheepfold and rocky scar of Winscale Hows.

Winscale Hows is where we stopped for a bite to eat and a well deserved drink as it was so hot by this time and it's still only morning.

Our initial plan was to work our way around the top of Winscale Hows and then circle around to the north side of Seatallan until we met the path that runs up the northwest ridge by Shooting How but to save some legwork crossing rough ground we decided to go straight up the east side of the fell picking our way along the side of an obvious scree run.
35 - Our way is alongside the long scree run to the right.JPG
Our way is alongside the long scree run to the right.

Now this is a lot steeper than it looks but by keeping more or less alongside the scree we were soon at the point where the gradient eased off quite a lot and I arrived at the edge of the summit plateau directly at a point where there is a metal bar surrounded by a few stones knocked into the ground at NY140 084 and couldn't help but wonder what it's for.
38 - The metal pin with summit trig column and shelter behind.JPG
The metal pin with summit trig column and shelter behind.

The summit trig column and large shelter was now also in view a fair distance away as the top of this fell is enormous.
39 - Seatallan summit decorations.JPG
Seatallan summit decorations.

So large in fact that more than one game of football could be played on it at any one time. The top is mostly short grass with a scattering of small stones and from its 692 metre summit there are commanding views in all directions but once again as so often this year the haze was softening the view of the fells in the far distance and even Sellafield…
43 - The hazy view southwest towards Sellafield and the sea.JPG
The hazy view southwest towards Sellafield and the sea.

was quite difficult to see through the haze.
40 - Haycock from Seatallan.JPG
Haycock from Seatallan.

All of the surrounding fells and mountains are clear to see…
41 - A collection of giants with Yewbarrow in front.JPG
A collection of giants with Yewbarrow in front.

the ones further afield not so easy to pick out through the heat haze…
42 - The hazy view east from Seatallan summit.JPG
The hazy view east from Seatallan summit.

as we grabbed a quick drink before setting off back down but this time along the opposite of our climb up to here, the long easy grassy path running down along the southwest ridge where it makes straight for the small rocky outcrop of Cat Bields.
45 - The path along the southwest ridge.JPG
The path along the southwest ridge.

Cat Bields that has a grass and rocky top offers wide open views over to the western plains and holds a decent conical shaped cairn on its small rounded hump. We left to now turn to the south passing Buck Stone and Cold Well that is at the head of Gill Beck and where Sonny is a bit happier now as he has some small pools to play around in to help keep him cool and provide a source of drinking water if not altogether looking too appetising to us mere humans.

Next place of significance to pass was Glade Hows - a Birkett - with yet another but much larger conical shaped cairn sat on its rocky top. A short climb along a grassy path soon had us on top of this one before leaving and moving slightly to the southeast to meander through the humps, bumps, and rocky outcrops to soon arrive at the summit of Buckbarrow where our mission is nearly completed.
52 - Buckbarrow with Whin Rigg behind.JPG
Buckbarrow with Whin Rigg behind.

54 - Middle Fell-Red Pike-Seatallan from Buckbarrow summit.JPG
Middle Fell-Red Pike-Seatallan from Buckbarrow summit.

Buckbarrow consists of quite a few crags with the highest being the furthest back from the face of the main frontal crags of which there are four, those being Long Crag, Pike Crag, Bull Crag, and Broad Crag all combining to make one long and knobbly front face that overlooks the road and Wast Water, Greendale tucked in the shelter of them on its southeast corner.
59 - Long Crag-Pike Crag-Bull Crag and Broad Crag on the southern face of Buckbarrow.JPG
Long Crag-Pike Crag-Bull Crag and Broad Crag on the southern face of Buckbarrow.

Directly in front of us and to the southeast there is the long ridge that connects Illgill Head to Whin Rigg with the famous Wasdale Screes running along the foot of the cliffs and full length of Wast Water the path for same being hard to spot even from where we were up on the top of Buckbarrow.

Leaving Buckbarrow behind we now worked our way west along one of the many paths and made our way to Gill Beck. The path from Buckbarrow to Gill Beck varies in its nature from grass as the top is left behind with the odd steep bit to contend with to a rougher and stony path as we swung around to the southwest to begin the descent to the side of the gill. Once we had left the top the heat really closed in as we got lower into the gully of the beck and at one point we felt as though we were in an oven, it was airless and stifling hot. The way down the gill is fairly steep so some care had to be taken as the stones on the dry dust beneath were loose and treacherous in some places, and it was a most welcome moment when we arrived at the shade and shelter of the trees that stand at the foot of the gill where a drink was had before embarking on the last bit of the walk that now entails walking along the hot tarmac for quite a distance before we arrived back at the car. However, we plodded on along the road but walking on the grass verge wherever we could and eventually - and thankfully - arrived back at Greendale.
60 - The Wasdale Screes and the Illgill Head-Whin Rigg ridge.JPG
The Wasdale Screes and the Illgill Head-Whin Rigg ridge.

Opening the car was like opening an oven and checking the temperature it was found to be 29°c and looking at Chris could see the effects that this same heat and sun has had on him. Red head, legs, arms; even his large prehensile nose hadn't escaped the suns clutches today. On offering to give him a slap on his red areas he declined with a north eastern twang to the Anglo Saxon comment that he replied with. There's just no fun in the young of today.

We've had a good three days walking with only the disappointment of missing some fells on the Wednesday due to the clag, but they can easily be got on our next visit to this wonderful and picturesque valley, and it does give us an excuse for another visit in the not too distant future. At least we had dry weather for our three days and although I have seen Wasdale a whole lot busier than the last 3 days this time around it has been fairly quiet with the camp site and car park being relatively quiet. On a selfish note I prefer it that way.
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trailmasher
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby Alteknacker » Sat Jun 10, 2017 5:53 pm

It's a wonderful thing to meet up with a hero that really seems to be the same wonderful person that everyone says he is! So often heroes have feet of clay (not their fault, of course).

Joss Naylor is certainly one of mine - his achievements are just phenomenal. Lucky you!

The 25th seems to have been a brilliant day all over the North. It certainly was in the Highlands. Great that you could take full advantage of it. As you say, on a good day the views from the heights around Wasdale are quite remarkable (though I had 3 goes before I got to see them!).
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby thefallwalker » Sun Jun 11, 2017 10:11 am

hot hot hot!!!
a great end to a smashing 3 days!
meeting joss was an unexpected pleasure & a bit of a privilege as well!
A tough walk in those conditions especially taking "my" new route up onto Seatallon :lol: :lol:
6 bottles of water of which the boy had 4 to make sure he was kept hydrated whilst I had to ration myself! :shock:
and to watch him jump into the small pool for a swim near Buckbarrow made my day :D
& at least there were no carries today! :D
You know my feelings on road walking so I'll leave that alone! :roll:
But nearly 2 weeks the fact that my skin is still peeling should be enough to tell you how burnt I got! :lol: :lol:
cheers for a great 3 days mate :clap:
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:17 pm

Alteknacker wrote:It's a wonderful thing to meet up with a hero that really seems to be the same wonderful person that everyone says he is! So often heroes have feet of clay (not their fault, of course).


You're so right Alte :) he was very quiet spoken and polite with no sign of impatience in wanting to be off and out of our way 8)
Alteknacker wrote:Joss Naylor is certainly one of mine - his achievements are just phenomenal. Lucky you!


Yes an unbelievable record of events follow this man around and we were so pleased to finally meet him :D

Alteknacker wrote:The 25th seems to have been a brilliant day all over the North. It certainly was in the Highlands. Great that you could take full advantage of it. As you say, on a good day the views from the heights around Wasdale are quite remarkable (though I had 3 goes before I got to see them!).


It was certainly a better day than the Wednesday :) and I also had a couple of visits before getting a decent view but fortunately my last 3 have been great :D
Thanks for your comments and hope that you had a great day in Scotland on the 25th and got what you went for :clap:
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Jun 11, 2017 7:23 pm

thefallwalker wrote:hot hot hot!!!
a great end to a smashing 3 days!
meeting joss was an unexpected pleasure & a bit of a privilege as well!
A tough walk in those conditions especially taking "my" new route up onto Seatallon :lol: :lol:
6 bottles of water of which the boy had 4 to make sure he was kept hydrated whilst I had to ration myself! :shock:
and to watch him jump into the small pool for a swim near Buckbarrow made my day :D
& at least there were no carries today! :D
You know my feelings on road walking so I'll leave that alone! :roll:
But nearly 2 weeks the fact that my skin is still peeling should be enough to tell you how burnt I got! :lol: :lol:
cheers for a great 3 days mate :clap:


Thanks for the company TFW :D :clap: and it was a great day all round, including your 'new' route up Seatallan :? Getting you own back on Lord's Rake :? :?
Good to hear that Sonny is OK and maybe you should invest in a skateboard for the road bits :lol: Oh! and keep on peeling :lol: :lol:
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby Ibex » Wed Jun 21, 2017 8:56 pm

Wow. Not every day you get to meet a living legend.
Looks like it was a hot one. Cool little walk though. Might have to do that one myself sometime.
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:05 pm

Ibex wrote:Wow. Not every day you get to meet a living legend.
Looks like it was a hot one. Cool little walk though. Might have to do that one myself sometime.


Aye, quite a day Ibex, great weather, great walk, and met a great man :clap: :D :D as you say both hot and 8) . Although the walk is easy enough it was the heat that tended to slow things down a bit :roll: Thanks for your comments :D
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Thu Jun 22, 2017 8:57 pm

What a great day that looked, it's a nice little round with Middle fell confirming itself as one of the most underrated fells. Bet it was a bit special to meet a genuine Lakeland legend, not jealous at all :lol:
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Jun 24, 2017 6:31 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:What a great day that looked, it's a nice little round with Middle fell confirming itself as one of the most underrated fells. Bet it was a bit special to meet a genuine Lakeland legend, not jealous at all :lol:


A great day indeed JK 8) made all the better for meeting the legend of the fell running fraternity :D I've got the book and now met the man :clap: . I couldn't stop smiling for a week :lol: I've done these hills 3 times before and never tire of them and the great views that they offer 8) . Thanks for your comments :D
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby simon-b » Wed Jun 28, 2017 8:22 pm

Nice three hills these, trailmasher. Nice to see you meeting the legendary Joss. I do like the far west of the Lakes.
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Re: Middle Fell and an encounter with the great Joss Naylor.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Jun 29, 2017 8:36 pm

simon-b wrote:Nice three hills these, trailmasher. Nice to see you meeting the legendary Joss. I do like the far west of the Lakes.


Good hills indeed simon especially when meeting JN 8) Due to the weather the day before we missed a couple of fells out but are returning very soon for another go :) and you're right, it is a great part of the LD to be in :) Thanks for your comments :D
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