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All around Wythop Moss

All around Wythop Moss

Postby nigheandonn » Wed Apr 17, 2019 12:31 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Barf, Broom Fell, Graystones, Ling Fell, Lord's Seat, Sale Fell

Date walked: 14/04/2019

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My last day in the north west was an wander round the little hills in the north of the area, starting off with roughly retracing the end of the day before - it would have been easier if the Rules had allowed me to get the bus as far as Thornthwaite, but they don't, so I'd deliberately chosen two quite different routes.

The aim was to cut off the loop of the road by crossing the bridge at Bog House - it all looked pleasingly odd on the map, white and empty, and this kind of cross country route is generally more adventurous than finding a route across the hills! I got myself across the A66, and the little road up to How gave me an amazing view of yesterday's hills, and then I was into the usual maze of fields - I lost the path by assuming that I couldn't be meant to cross a field of small trees and aiming for a gate beside it, but I must have been, because I only met the path again by the bridge.

Bog House bridge

I immediately lost it again, thinking that I wasn't meant to be actually on the river bank, but after a while I was chased up there by gorse, and from there it was simple enough and better marked - out to cross the A66 for a second time and up to the little church at Chapel Beck, where a service was going on, and along through Thornthwaite to Beckstones.


I had a look at the direct route, and if it had been a rocky scramble I might have been quite keen, but I'm never really in the mood for scree, so instead I turned to the path up through the woods with everyone else - quite steep enough, and as well as feeling a bit tired I had tight calf muscles for some reason and didn't want to risk upsetting my achilles (achilleses?), so plodded slowly up through the larches trying to keep my heels down to stretch a bit.


Further up the slope seemed to ease off, and then there was one scrambly place - more a puzzle than a physical challenge, but with my left foot in place I had to swing my all weight up and past to get my right foot onto a hold further to the left, and it took a couple of goes to find a firm enough handhold.

Up here there was a view over the treetops, a nice look out to the wider world.

View over the treetops

According to Wainwright the trees in the lower part of the plantation were larch and in the higher part they were spruce - I don't know exactly what the trees I was climbing through now were, but they smelt exactly like the tree that was in my neighbour's garden when I was little - I used to sit on the edge of the pavement under the bottom branches.

The path briefly joins a forest road, then crosses a fence and a burn to climb across open hillside - with a choice of paths at the end I took one which came round to the summit from the 'back', crossing a ledge with a view down to the edge of the lake.

Bassenthwaite Lake

The summit had a decent cairn and was a nice enough little spot, but it was pretty windy and I didn't hang around for long - there were people coming up behind me, as well.

Barf summit

A winding path led on across assorted bumps towards Lord's Seat, which was well in view - a nice looking place, although with an unexpectedly boggy patch in the middle.

The way to Lord's Seat

The summit was an odd bare flat one with one metal post standing and the remains of others in the ground - it was even windier here, and a family who came up behind me seemed to decide they'd had enough and headed back.

Lord's Seat summit

The next stretch to Broom Fell led above a surprisingly large valley around Aiken Beck - Wainwright describes it as having the rare distinction of being enclosed on all four sides, and I could see what he meant, although I couldn't turn up the quote at the time.

Aiken Beck

The summit turned up before I expected it, and far more impressively - none of the weekend's summits so far had been so well marked!

Approaching Broom Fell

As well as a lovely pillar cairn the summit had a shelter, which was very welcome as a lunch spot even if the wind did just blow in through the gaps between the stones - three more people and a dog came along, which made it a bit of a squeeze, but we did all fit in.

Broom Fell summit

As soon as I dropped down from the summit on the way to Greystones the wind was gone and it was suddenly much warmer - it was hard to tell all day when the wind had really dropped and when I was sheltered from it, because it vanished from some very open places.

The way over Widow Hause to Greystones would once have led past trees, but now they were only grey remnants - however this did give some good views over towards Hopegill Head which must have been blocked before.

Across Widow Hause

Greystones is one of those indecisive hills with two summits - the Wainwright summit is the better one, just beyond the broken wall on the edge of a little drop, with nice rocks to sit on and a view of the vale of Lorton.

Graystones summit

The true highest point is back on the near side of the wall and a little bit further on - unexciting, but it did at least also have a cairn.

True summit

The next section was the one I was least sure about - somehow I had to get over or around Wythop Moss to reach Ling Fell, and there didn't seem to be any particular path.

The night before I'd discovered that Wainwright's route to Greystones from Embleton church covered part of the way, which was reassuring, so I set off down by the fence - there even turned out to be a faint path, and as it went on between the old reservoir and the wall I kept to that side, crossing over to the gate later.

Over Wythop Moss

I picked up a faint track which led on and became more definite, turning into one of the three tracks at the 'interesting intersection', and briefly followed it on along the side of Ling Fell before turning uphill on another grassy track. From here this looked like it should be the hill called Greystones, because it is actually scattered with them, which Greystones itself isn't.

Stones on Ling Fell

Two faint paths led on up, one a bit to the left and one a bit to the right - I chose left, up towards some low dark plants which I thought must be the ling but turned out to be low-growing flowerless gorse, decorated with wool where sheep had passed through. I managed to pass through without leaving any of myself behind, and then headed on up and up - it seemed a surprisingly long time before I came in sight of the fence.

Up to the wall

There was no real stile at the top, where I had thought there might be, but some of the stones from the old wall had been piled up to make crossing the fence a bit easier. Beyond that I found the hill surprisingly pleasant - not just the smooth grassy lump I'd expected, but a slightly meandering place with stone showing through in spots.

This is another hill with a trig point, much better than the inadequate cairn it would probably have otherwise. I expected these hills to be even quieter, but instead two people were standing by the trig point as I came up and another two just leaving, and I met a couple more as I headed down.

Ling Fell summit

A decent path led down the other side and met a surprisingly solid track above the wall, which had possibly run right round the back of the hill - it kept on round, passing above the house at Burthwaite to come out on a very minor road. I followed the road to a junction at Eskin and down a steep hill and then had the slope of the next hill right in front of me, although I had to go on along the road a bit to start climbing by a wall.

Climbing by the wall

The path here was lined with violets - not very thickly lined, but for violets they were doing very well. I had a feeling of having come to the edge of civilisation, but the view back over to Burthwaite was a proper middle of nowhere one.


As I came to the high point of the wall a group of half a dozen or so came up from the other side - I really hadn't expected these two hills to be the busiest of the day. They were unexpectedly two of the best looking, as well, and I was a bit sorry to be rushing them - originally I'd meant to spend a day around these two and the outlying fell summits on Watch Hill and exploring the Wythop valley.

Sale Fell had a longer top with rival paths winding through the bumps, and its bones showed through even more - there were even small crags below me as I climbed up.

Along the top

A lovely little hill, although its summit barely even had a ragged cairn - it did have the best view of the day of the hills back o' Skidda, a place I'm looking forward to exploring.

Sale Fell summit

I took a grassy path which led down on the other side - two men were coming running up from Lothwaite, but I turned down by the wall, meeting the crowd again as they down came by a different path, and a family coming up.

Descending to the woods

It looked like it would be quicker to go down by the forest tracks than to turn right back on myself towards the new Wythop church and then follow the road out, so I crossed over to the access stile - there was a sign up about forestry closures, but the places I wanted to be were all open again, so I came in and onto a track heading down.

For a while it seemed like this might have been a very bad idea - the track had been opened without really being cleared (at the road end I found a sign saying that they had more work to do in the area and would reinstate the track surface once it was all done) and at one point a whole tree was down over it so that I had to clamber through the branches, and I wasn't sure if the place where I had to turn off would be obvious, although I'd worked out where I would end up if I missed it.

It was kind of half obvious - a narrow green path running almost parallel to the track but downwards, and I could see the track I wanted to wnd up on down below, so it seemed to be the right place. A very steep turn half worn away by water joined them, and then I was slanting back down the other way, finally joining a third track to come out at Routenbeck.

In the forest

I had time for a cup of tea at the Pheasant Inn, but they wanted £3 for it, and between Scottish indignation and not being sure if I had enough change for that and my bus fare I decided not to bother - it must have made me cross, though, because I forgot to check the map and walked out to the wrong road end for the bus stop, and had to walk right back along the verge to the little junction at Dubwath. But the bus came along, and took me to Penrith and a quick dinner.

So there we are - one book to go. I have a bad habit of getting almost to the end of something and then not wanting to do the very last bit and have none left, so I might have to get the completion date into other people's diaries to make sure I do it!

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Re: All around Wythop Moss

Postby simon-b » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:26 am

A nice wander around those hills, nigheandonn. Your route from Greystones to Ling Fell sounds similar to the way I've linked those two hills before, with the aid of both chapters from the Wainwright book. A local friend mentioned that the Pheasant is a bit 'up market and pricey' and I've never been.
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Re: All around Wythop Moss

Postby trailmasher » Sun Apr 21, 2019 7:17 pm

Another nice amble there nigheandonn and congrats on completing another book :clap: :clap: These are two fine hills and some that I have often walked whilst fitting in the 3 Birkett's en route. For such small hills the views are very fine indeed and being a Yorkshire man I can understand your grievance re the prices at the Pheasant Inn :crazy: :?
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Re: All around Wythop Moss

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:33 pm

simon-b: They're definitely much more linkable, if that's a word, than Wainwright's maps make them look at first. It might have helped that it was very dry, though, the low point was still a bit wet.

trailmasher: The views were a bit hazy, especially pver to Scotland, but still pretty good. And I'm having nothing to do with Birketts!
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Re: All around Wythop Moss

Postby nigheandonn » Sun Apr 21, 2019 9:37 pm

An addendum: I was looking today at a house painted white on the front but left brown at the back, and thought to myself that it was just like (the old picture of) the Bishop of Barf - and finally got the pun.

In my defence, I say Barf with a definitely 'ar' rather than a long ah. And Bath with a short 'a', for that matter!
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