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Completion of the North Western Fells

Completion of the North Western Fells

Postby trailmasher » Sat Aug 10, 2019 11:22 am

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

Date walked: 17/07/2019

Time taken: 4.59

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 911m

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Unfortunately for some reason I cannot upload the gpx file for the route as the WH website refuses to accept it as the web page is not recognised. A strange anomaly as everything else dropped in nicely including a dummy run with a gpx file of a different walk just to test it out. If anyone has an answer to this problem could you please advise and I'll try to introduce it later. Thanks in advance for any replies.

Chris hasn't got many of the Wainwright's left to do now and whilst he's waffling about which one to finish his venture on he decided that he wanted to clear up the fells in the North Western area thereby closing the book on the last five fells in that sector. He had thought about ending his journey through Lakeland on Great End but, that's been done aplenty so he now seems keen on making that last climb for completion to the summit of Place Fell and what finer fell could he have chosen. Not the highest choice by any means but one that is surrounded by many memories of many climbs on those O so familiar fells that can be seen from the summit of this middling mountain.

He, of course, is not just satisfied with collecting the Wainwright's but is also intent on barging his way through the Birkett's that are anywhere close to where we are walking and sometimes - well nearly always - putting extra mileage and height gain into the walk, well, this was just such an occasion where five Wainwright's suddenly became a walk of ten summits, albeit a couple that were hardly noticed as we walked across their tops.

It was a cloudy though warm day as we parked up at the Spout Force car park - NY18148 25535 - just off the B5292 Whinlatter Pass road just below the west slopes of Darling How where there was a couple of overnight sleeper vans and a couple of other cars just arriving to keep ours company for a while.

Our intention was to first climb the north side of Darling/Brown How and then complete a circuit of the 'ridge' after doing a sideways lurch towards Barf, that awkward little sod of a fell stuck out to the east of Lord's Seat, but first of all we had to walk a good few metres along the forestry track from the car to a wall on the right where we found that the start of the climb that in the past I have found to be a decent stepping stone up to the Aiken Plantation service road was now full of young pine trees that are spread about in such a fashion that we found it quite a struggle to work our way along the path through the skin pricking needle clad branches. The good news was that the plantation above the higher service road had been cut down.

ImageStart of the climb to Brown How summit

With much cursing and threats voiced towards the Forestry Commission we finally reached the service road and a clear view before us extending right up to the intake wall that we could see through the debris of dead branches and tree stumps.

ImageA patch of colour amongst the debris of the fallen plantation

There's quite a steep banking to climb from the track and after a bit of searching found a place that was easily scrambled up and from what we could see neither of us was looking forward to the struggle through the mess of debris that littered the ground with quite a lot of it now covered in grass making it even more un-user friendly. A walk about looking for a decent place to start the struggle ended up with finding a machine track that ascended at an easy angle across the fellside in a zigzag fashion…

ImageA convenient machine track leads up the fellside

and this soon had us at the intake wall where we found a tumbledown section of wall from where we could access the open fellside proper.

ImageAt the intake wall

Although we had full cloud cover fortunately it was high and we had clear views of Lord's Seat, Broom Fell, Graystones, Kirk Fell and a hint of Lorton Vale over to the west.

Through the wall and over the wire fence we went and were now on the tussocks of rough grass and swathes of heather making for quite hard work especially on the steeper slopes just above the intake wall.

ImageRough walking on the lower slopes of Brown How

ImageGraystones - Kirk Fell and Lorton Vale from the north ridge of Brown How

As we battled through the heather in a roughly southerly direction we came across a path that appears to start from nowhere but is clear enough on the ground but not shown on the OS Map. This we followed all the way along the easy slopes of Brown How all the way to the summit where I found Chris talking to a couple of other walkers who had three dogs with them.

ImageChris chats to a fellow walker on Brown How summit

Whinlatter has two summits, Whinlatter Top at 525 metres on the east end of the fell and Brown How at 517 metres to the west. According to Wainwright's bible Brown How is the official summit adorned with the small wall of what little remains of an old shooting hide.

There are more of the surrounding fells to be seen now and we could take in the views as we took the steady walk from Brown How across to Whinlatter Top taking a meandering course as the path wound its way up and down and around and about the many small hillocks that sit between the two.

ImageThe way to Whinlatter Top

We passed over a tumbledown wall and through a broken fence from where I had a look back towards Brown How.

ImageLooking back to Brown How

A bit of a breeze had sprung up and whilst walking it isn't too bad but once stopping it worked its cold fingers into the body. These are friendly fells, easy to walk with your way forward to be seen at almost every step and although the views north are across the lower pastures, east, south and west there are more than enough high fells and mountains to be spotting and naming as you stroll along, views that today are marred only by the lack of clarity due to the distant hazy conditions.

ImageWhinlatter Top pose

ImageGrisedale Pike and Hobcarton from Whinlatter Top

ImageLord's Seat and Broom Fell

Once that Whinlatter Top has been left behind there are but three small fells to pass over before our swerve east to climb Barf, all of them Birkett's and merely higher bumps than any of the many others that are scattered around this corner of the LD. We walked to these on a variety of paths, tracks and forestry access roads with the one to Tarbarrel Moss…

ImageTarbarrel Moss with Skiddaw behind

descending into a great hollow from Whinlatter Top to skirt the edge of the Moss where the long grass was an attractive mixture of brown and green to then make the short climb to the corner of the forest and Tarbarrel Moss.

ImageA view across the Moss towards Whinlatter Top

Apart from the view there is nothing exciting here and we soon took our leave by way of the path through the trees entering by way of a black hole punched into the outward skin of branches laden with green pine needles. Pine forests to their disgrace hold no redeeming features, only death and silence comes to mind when walking through these dark and dismal forests fit only for a Bavarian horror film.

ImageThe dreary innards of Thornthwaite Forest

After descending through this setting for a horror film we made our way along a forestry track and then what looked like recently laid paths of stone marked up for the viewpoint of Seat How but before we turn our faces to that one we left the stony path to take a narrow one through the grass and heather towards Ullister Hill our second bump.

ImageUllister Hill ahead

Again nothing to get excited about here and if we hadn't have been making our way to Seat How we could have continued on walking north along a path to reach Lord's Seat and Barf but as it is we would now swing back to the south along a narrow path to regain the stoned up path that would take us to Seat How.

ImageLord's Seat from Ullister Hill

ImageBarf with Binsey behind from Ullister Hill

Leaving this hill behind we now descended first before making a short climb up to the summit of Seat How with its flattish and rocky top and I must say that the views are very impressive indeed with a panorama of almost 360 degrees and that is why we decided to have a pit stop at this point.

ImageA view towards Keswick and Derwent Water from Seat How

ImageA view south towards Grisedale Pike and Causey Pike ridge

Skiddaw and neighbours were wrapped in a misty haze with the big one hanging on to a head of low cloud. There was a man with his two sons on mountain bikes arriving just as we did and shortly after that the two walkers and their dogs turned up having walked a different route to us. They all left before we did and we were wrapped up in the peace and quiet of the moment when all too soon we had to make a move as the cool breeze was now encouraging us to get up and walk again.

There is a cycle path just below the east side of Seat How and as it also looked a relatively new addition to the landscape and going in the direction of ourselves we took the narrow path down from the summit and began to follow it roughly north. This is a well made path and was a bonus as it's not shown on the map and the last time that I was here a few years ago I had to walk all the way back to Ullister Hill before I could make my way over to Lord's Seat.

The trees in this part of the plantation are quite well spread out therefore allowing a decent amount of daylight through and what a difference it made from the previous path. The lower branches were green and there was an abundance of grass and moss about, even the tweet of a bird now and again.

ImageMoss lined path on the way to Barf

Twenty minutes of walking and deciding which path to take at a junction had us out of the forest and into open views again though due to the trees these being only towards the Skiddaw range and a touch of the Northern Fells in the far distance. Lord's Seat was more or less in front of us with Barf just a little further along to the east.

ImageOpen views towards Barf and Lord's Seat

We left the cycle path at NY20739 26362 to take a thin path through the grass that arced around towards the north and the regular path between Lord's Seat and Barf.

ImageBarf and Skiddaw

It's quite a walk from the cycle path to the one that services both Barf and its bigger brother and by this time the breeze was turning into something more like a wind with a whiff of rain in the air. In fact whilst we were on the approach to Barf we had to don our waterproofs as we made our way through the rocky humps towards the summit.

ImageThe humps and bumps of Barf

A short climb along a sharp and stony path had us at the summit in no time at all and we surveyed the scene whilst being knocked about by the wind. It was just a shame that it was so hazy as the views that were already great would have been amazing from this relatively small fell.

ImageA southeast view from Barf

ImageDodd and Skiddaw from Barf

And of course there was the summit shot of Chris with Binsey and Bassenthwaite in the background.

ImageThe pose on Barf summit

And the usual look back along the route taken.

ImageLord's Seat from Barf

I've spent better days on this summit and although the rain has stopped for now we were glad to get out of the worst of the wind as we started making our way back along our route to here and then followed the well beaten path onto Lord's Seat with its iron post stuck out of the thin covering of grass.

ImageBarf - Skiddaw - Blencathra from Lord's Seat

ImageFrom Lord's Seat to Broom Fell and Graystones

ImagePose on Lord's Seat top

From here, and now that we're above the tree line, we could see across towards Grisedale Pike etc and the Whinlatter ridge that we walked over earlier today.

ImageLooking across to Brown How from Lord's Seat

Also from this top we could see our way forward towards Broom Fell and Graystones away in the distance northwest and west respectively with the wide green path leading the eye directly to the currick on Broom Fell summit.

It's a good and simple walk now right the way over to Graystones with only the weather now marring this easy walk as the rain started once again to play havoc with my camera lens but a steady 20 minutes of walking and fighting the wind saw us in the shelter that keeps the large currick company on Broom Fell. This is where we stopped for our second break taking advantage of the welcome shelter that gave us some respite from the windblown rain.

ImageHaving a grin on Broom Fell

The clouds were dropping as we prepared to leave the shelter and Graystones still seemed a while away.

ImageGraystones from Broom Fell

ImageA meandering path to Graystones

We could see that another large swathe of forest had been cut down in Darling How Plantation opening up the views from Widow Hause and the east face of Graystones and it's amazing how much better the fells look when you can actually see the shape, contours, and features of them just as they were - apart from the debris left behind - before the Forestry Commission got their hands on them. The added bonus is of course that you can now see right across the valley instead of walking behind an impenetrable wall of pine trees.

ImageLooking back to Broom Fell

As we descended towards the wall we passed Ling Fell on our right looking a bit like a smaller version of Binsey.

ImageLing Fell


We crossed over the tumbledown wall to take the steady climb alongside the fallen plantation wall before then dropping down again to the tangle of wire fences at the start of the climb proper to Graystones summit.

ImageA short but steep climb initially

We struggled getting Sonny across the fence as there was so much of it tangled and thrown about but once that was negotiated the climb took but a few minutes to get us to the summit where Chris posed for his photo on the north summit as it was on the way to his final top and Birkett of the day, Kirk Fell.

ImageGraystones top

Chris was feeling a bit burnt out by this time and had previously opted to miss out Kirk Fell but when he saw how close it was he found the stamina from somewhere to walk the short distance and climb to the grassy summit thereby completing the full round and tops of these fells.

ImageKirk Fell

We left this fell by walking southeast towards Sware Gill, following it downstream for a while before continuing in the same direction across the fellside until we reached the old tumbledown wall and path that would put us on the steep path that runs down alongside Darling How Plantation then turns to take us through the old quarry…

ImageDescending through the old quarry

to end up on the path to the road and Scawgill Bridge.

ImageScawgill Bridge

From the bridge there is quite a walk back along the road to get to the car park, all uphill and not a pleasant experience walking along the narrow road competing with the traffic. There is a parking area at Scawgill Bridge, one that I have used quite a few times and wonder at the value of starting the walk from there and doing the road walking at the start of the walk instead of the end when legs can be weary.

Well then, that's another Wainwright volume completed for my man and as I leave the walks choice up to Chris and have no idea what he has selected until a few days before he gets back onshore it will be interesting to hear what is coming next. We will now call in at our friendly local and I will try and entice him to what his thoughts are on our next walk into the fabulous LD but he will probably throw me a red herring and then change his walk completely during the next two weeks whilst I await with maps at the ready.
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Re: Completion of the North Western Fells

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Mon Aug 19, 2019 9:34 am

I had forgot just what a pain including Brown How into this walk was until I read your report. It doesn't sound as if things have improved, looks like they've got worse if anything. I missed out quite a few Birketts when we did this a few years ago so I expect I'll be following in your footsteps at some point in the future. At least this way you avoid that knee and toe crushing descent down from Greystones.
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Re: Completion of the North Western Fells

Postby trailmasher » Tue Aug 20, 2019 2:43 pm

johnkaysleftleg wrote:I had forgot just what a pain including Brown How into this walk was until I read your report. It doesn't sound as if things have improved, looks like they've got worse if anything. I missed out quite a few Birketts when we did this a few years ago so I expect I'll be following in your footsteps at some point in the future. At least this way you avoid that knee and toe crushing descent down from Greystones.

In a lot of cases things only get worse on the fells especially with inconsiderate foot passage and dare I say it :( mountain bikes chewing up the ground and then making it worse by going around it to make the mess even more of a problem for walkers :crazy: :roll: and of course the Forestry antics don't help at all :shock:
Hope that you soon revisit and clean up your to do list and miss most of the 'knee and toe crushing descent' off Graystones :lol: Thanks for your comments JK :D
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