Date - 21st January 2009 Distance - 6 miles
Map - OL5
Start point - Swirls car park, Thirlmere (NY 315170)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Great How 1100 335 NY 3134 1877



It was Monday night and Allen came rushing into the room, calling out, "I have news of a walk on Wednesday, with Uncle Eric."

"Where?", asked Little Eric.

"Well on those journeys north on the A591 towards Keswick, we have seen that rounded hill on the left, near where the road goes off to St John's in the Vale."

"Oh yes", said Tetley. "Great How."

"That's right", replied Allen. "It is one of the Birkett summits we have to tick off, and that is what we will do."

"Great" cheered Grizzly. "A good one to do on a winter day, as it's only about 1100 ft in height."

"What's the forecast?", asked Shaun.

Checking on the laptop, Tetley replied, "dry with some sun."

"Roll on Wednesday", cheered Little Eric.


The Walk

Dad drove us to Uncle Eric's where we decamped to his car for the rest of the journey, through Ambleside and then up over Dunmail Raise, and along by Thirlmere to park just past Swirls car park on the lake side of the road.

"Hmm", said Tetley, looking at the sky. "I fear that forecast was for Morecambe. Looks like it will be less settled here."

He was right too as there were frequent hail showers with the odd flurry of snow and then later some light rain.

Dad was soon ready and we jumped into his rucksack and settled ourselves.

Shaun said, "we should carefully cross the A591, and then walk through Swirls car park and on to the open fellside below White Side."

There, Little Eric pointed, "what can I see?"

Grizzly replied. "the valley is St John's in the Vale, and the distant mountain is Blencathra. To the right are Bram Crags that buttress Clough Head the most northerly summit in the Helvellyn range. On the left side of the valley is Wren Crag"

Looking left, Allen said, "that's Great How, our summit objective for today. It literally means,'the big hill'."

Onwards the delightful path undulated along passing above the tiny settlements of Thirlspot & Fisher Place.

A bridge took us across Fisher Place Gill, that was hurtling down. "A picture is in order for the story", said Allen.

About another half mile or so the path descended to the hamlet of Stanah.

On reaching the road Shaun said, "we go right a short way towards Legburthwaite, then take the footpath left across a field to the A591 again."

Here, Little Eric asked, "where now?"

Shaun replied, "go right for 100 yards then cross the road."

"Wow", called out Tetley, "That's a superb view of Castle Rock. We climbed it with you Uncle Eric, nearly two years ago."

"That was before I was born", replied Little Eric. "It looks an interesting climb. Will you take us there again sometime?"

"I will lad, but it may be a few years."

Shaun called out, "that signpost points our route. Through the gate and along the wide track through the woods."

On and on with How Beck on the left the track eventually turned right, rounding the fell and brought us to a four-armed signpost. "It's right", said Shaun,

The onwards track climbed steadily and then we went right on a narrow path signed to the summit.

This wound its way on upwards to a t-junction. "Turn left", called out Shaun.

Very soon then the cairned top of Great How was reached. "Yippee", cheered Grizzly as we scrambled out of the rucksack and climbed onto the cairn.

"Come on Dad, take our photo", cried Allen.

"Wow", said Grizzly, "despite being only 1100 feet there are some excellent views, like that down to Thirlmere dam.

Tetley pointed, "there's Raven Crag, another that we have climbed before."

"Lunch time", said Uncle Eric.

"Ooh yes", agreed Allen, rubbing his tummy. "I'm hungry."

"No surprise there", laughed Tetley.

"There's a seat", pointed Grizzly.

"Yes lad, but we need more shelter from the weather today", replied Uncle Eric. "That fallen tree trunk in the woods looks a good spot."

It was an excellent spot under the trees out of the wind, but the roof leaked when the hail came on!

Before heading down we walked to the other seat that commanded a superb view south along Thirlmere, similar to the one we had had from Raven Crag. "This would be a wonderful lunch spot in nicer weather", commented Little Eric.

The same route was used for our descent to the four-armed signpost. Here Shaun said, "take the path south."

This led along the lake, passing Dalehead Hall Hotel and then round to eventually climb to the car park.

The final part was by the Helvellyn Beck, where the waterfalls thundered down. "No chance of survival if you fell in there", said Allen. "Good job it is well fenced off."

"That was a very enjoyable walk, despite the weather", said Grizzly.

Uncle Eric then drove to Grasmere. Yes you've guessed, cafe time. We were happy to stay warm in the car and have the rest of our picnic, while Uncle Eric and Dad went to the Miller Howe Cafe. Tea was the order of the day and Dad also had a delicious fruit scone with butter and jam. There is a shop here that mostly sells just jigsaws. Passing it Dad noticed they had for sale the largest in the world - a massive 24000 pieces!!!

Thank goodness he did not buy it. We do not know what Uncle Brian would have said if he had!


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