BIRK FELL MAN, WETHERLAM & BLACK SAILS from TILBERTHWAITE

 


Summary

Date - 13th July 2008 Distance - 6 miles
Map - OL6 Start point - Tilberthwaite car park (NY 306010)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Birk Fell Man on Birk Fell 1722 525 NY 2957 0171
Wetherlam 2502 762 NY 2882 0110
Black Sails 2443 745 NY 2829 0075

 

Preface

It was Sunday but for once Dad was not walking with Uncle Bob, so he took the opportunity of taking us for a walk in the Lake District.

Although he, Shaun and Tetley have completed all the 214 Wainwright fells, we still have a number of objectives to achieve in the Lake District. Among these are Dad taking Grizzly & Allen to the summits of the Wainwright fells they have not done – 4 for Grizzly, about 50 for Allen. Wainwright was selective about the summits he included and in fact there are 541 tops over 1000ft and climbing all these are another of our challenges. As we write this at the beginning of September 2008 Dad's total done is 401.

This walk therefore would advance both these objectives.

The Walk

Our drive to the start took us alongside Windermere and Dad pointed out Wetherlam to us across the lake. It buttresses the northern end of the Coniston massive. A delightful drive through wooded country passing some of the farms that were given to the National Trust by Beatrix Potter, brought us to the hairpin turn on to the narrow road that led up the valley to Tilberthwaite. From the car park our route was up the clear stepped path starting the ascent up Tilberthwaite Gill.

There was and to an extent still is quarrying in this area and there are many long abandoned quarries like this one just off the path that Dad took us to see.

A steady ascent along the grassy and stony path brought us to the top of the gill and Wetherlam came into view before us. A direct approach was not possible due to exceedingly boggy ground, so there was nothing for it but to cross the stream and follow the path as it wound its way below the Tilberthwaite Fells.

Above Buttermere in the northern lakes stands the fell Haystacks, which was Wainwright’s favourite and indeed when he died his ashes were scattered at Inominate Tarn on Haystacks.

What few people know is that there is another hill called Haystacks in the Tilberthwaite Fells. Although rocky it does seem aptly named from its shape. Its height is 1381ft and we had climbed it with nine other hills on 18th September 2007.

Eventually the path began to swing left and then climb as we made the ascent to the first top of the day Birk Fell Man on Birk Fell. In fact there are two tops split by a gully, the one to the right being the summit where guess what we hopped out for our photo.

From here we could see Wetherlam Edge that was our route to the summit.

However what this photo does not show is the substantial descent that was necessary from Birk Fell before commencing the climb. The path is very steep and rocky as it contours across and up the fell, so Dad had to take care but sure-footed as ever we reached the summit marked by a large cairn. Grizzly, Allen and Little Eric gave a cheer at the completion of another Wainwright. Dad met a nice lady here and chatted to her for a little while and she kindly took our photo with Dad.

Once safely tucked up again in the rucksack we headed west descending the rough eroded path that leads to the col at Swirl Hause. From here a steep rocky ascent up what is called the Prison Band leads to the summit of Swirl How. We had been up this before, the last time in snow and ice and on reaching the top had experienced a horizontal hailstorm – not nice we can tell you! Today though we were not destined to take this route as soon after reaching level ground Dad struck off half left for the easy ascent to the cairn marking the top of Black Sails. We of course hopped out for our photo and then sat with Dad quite a while resting and having our sandwiches. He also took the opportunity to phone Uncle Brian to let him know all was well. Good views were to be had from here including this of Levers Water backed by Coniston Old Man.

Now, there is a good ridge path from Black Sails but this would have taken us into the wrong valley so it was necessary to retrace our route to the top of Wetherlam. The easy ridge path south was then our route. It was a gentle descent at first but then it was necessary to go down a steep slope on the left to gain the path at Hole Rake. As we strolled along Dad snapped this photo of a Herdwick ewe with its lamb. We have said it before but the lambs do have lovely faces. Ah!

Further along we passed this narrow entrance to another long abandoned quarry.

We had walked this track before and we pointed out to Dad where we had sat for lunch that day. The path eventually brought us to the stream of Tilberthwaite Gill we had crossed early in the walk. Here we joined the outward path and descended to the car, with this delightful view to Tilberthwaite with the Fairfield Horseshoe behind.

Well this band of "Happy Wanderers" had had another grand day out and all that remained was for Dad to drive us safely home, via a café of course!!

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