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



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. "Wow", said Tetley. "A huge amount of rock has been extracted here in the past. With the Lake District being a National Park, many visitors will be totally unaware of the tremendous amount of quarrying, and other industries that once took place."

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. 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. Its height is 1381ft and we had climbed it with nine other hills on 18th September 2007.

"It certainly is aptly named from its shape" laughed Little Eric.

Allen had his nose in the map. "If not for Uncle Brian finding the Birkett Fells book for Dad, we would not have known of its existence, as it does not appear on the OS map."

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. As we neared the summit we could see that there were two tops split by a gully. "The one to the right is the actual summit", said Shaun.

"Picture time", cried Grizzly. "We have to be photographed on every summit."

We then looked about. Pointing back the way we had come on the ascent Allen said, "that's Hawk Rigg, Haystacks and Blake Rigg. They are all Birkett summits, and like Haystacks we climbed the other two on 18th September 2007."

"That's Wetherlam Edge", indicated Shaun. "You can see the path that we will take top the summit."

However what this photo does not show is the substantial descent that was necessary from Birk Fell before commencing the climb. "If only there was less descent", sighed Dad. "Still best foot forwards."

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.

"Hooray", cheered Grizzly, Allen and Little Eric. "That's another Wainwright ticked off."

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.

"I remember we climbed that route with Uncle Bob in January 2007 in the wind, snow and ice", said Grizzly. "At the top of Swirl How there was that horizontal hailstorm.

"Oh yes", replied Allen. "It was not nice at all, and we did not even bother to have our picture taken."

"Well pals, today we are not destined, thankfully perhaps, for that route", said Shaun. "Black Sails is our target, there to the left."

The path was clear and Dad made short work of the easy ascent to the summit cairn.

"Picture time again", cheered Little Eric.

Then we sat quite a while resting and having our sandwiches. Dad also took the opportunity to phone Uncle Brian to let him know all was well.

"Super views", commented Grizzly. "There's Coniston Water, with Morecambe Bay in the distance. Lets wave to Uncle Brian and are many pals at home."

"The square building on the edge of Morecambe Bay is Heysham Nuclear Power Station", commented Allen.

"Superb too of Levers Water backed by Coniston Old Man", pointed Tetley.

"And wow, what a is a terrific view of the Scafells", said Grizzly. "From the left is the small rise that is Slight Side then rising to Scafell. The depression is Mickledore and right Scafell Pike. Right of the next depression if you look closely, is Broad Crag behind Ill Crag then on the far right the prominent summit is Esk Pike. Right of that in the foreground the round summit is Great Knott, with the Crinkle Crags beyond."

Seeing the good path on the ridge from here, Little Eric said, "is that our route?"

"No pal", replied Shaun. "If we do that we will end up in the wrong valley. We have to retrace our route to the top of Wetherlam."

"Oh dear", he said, "more hard work for Dad's legs."

"We take that easy ridge path south", instructed Shaun.

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.

Nearing it, Allen said, "that's a super view to Coniston Old Man and Brim Fell. You can clearly see the extensive spoil heaps from the quarrying long ago."

As we then strolled along Dad snapped this photo of a Herdwick ewe with its lamb. "Ahh", said Little Eric. "The lambs have such lovely faces!"

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

"We walked this track before, when we did the Tilberthwaite and Yewdale Fells", said Tetley. "There is where we 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 and Red Screes to the right.

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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