BLEABERRY FELL, HIGH SEAT & SHOULTHWAITE GILL
from below SMAITHWAITE BANK, THIRLMERE

Dad's birthday and Little Eric's first birthday walk


Summary

Date - 1st March 2009 Distance - 5.5 miles
Map - OL4/OL5 Start point - Layby below Smaithwaite Bank (NY 307191)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Bleaberry Fell 1932 590 NY 2856 1957
High Seat 1995 608 NY 2870 1804

 

Preface

"We were having tea and biscuits, and as Shaun refilled Grizzly's mug, he said, "it's Sunday tomorrow, I wonder if we are going to Yorkshire to walk with Uncle Bob."

"It will be two weeks since we did", replied Tetley. "When we climbed Giggleswick Scar."

"And discovered the tearooms as Feizor, run by Elaine Knowles", went on Allen.

"Trust you to think of that", laughed Little Eric. "That's your third mug of tea."

"I know, but I love tea, just like Dad. And, drinking a few cups a day is good for your health." Allen then drained his mug and said, "I'll go and ask Dad what we are doing tomorrow."

As he trotted out of the door. Grizzly called out, "we'll make sure to refill your mug."

"Thanks pal", called back Allen.

He soon returned, with a big smile on his face. "Dad said that Uncle Bob is not free tomorrow, so we are going to the Lakes instead.

"That'll be great", cheered Shaun. "What fells are we climbing?"

"High Seat and Bleaberry Fell from the Thirlmere side", replied Allen. "So happy too, as that will be another two of my outstanding Wainwrights bagged."

"And for me as well", cheered Little Eric.

"The weather forecast is for showers, and it will be very wet underfoot for Dad too, as that ridge never seems to be dry", remarked Tetley.

 

The Walk

We awoke early to make sure we were ready when Dad wanted to leave. It was Dad's birthday, so all the Hug called out a collective "Happy Birthday", and then sang the song.

"Thank you lads. That is most kind. I am happy to be celebrating it with a walk on the fells."

Then we gave our pal Little Eric a big hug and wished him a Happy Birthday. "One year old today pal", said Tetley.

"Thank you pals. What a wonderful year I have had. Over 50 adventures. How lucky I am that Aunt Wendy made me and sent me to be part of Dad's hug."

As we set off, Little Eric asked, "where are we starting from and how to we get there."

Shaun had the information to paw. "The main A591 route through Ambleside and then over Dunmail Raise and alongside Thirlmere. Then just beyond the end of the lake, we go left to cross the huge dam of the reservoir, and at the junction turn right to park in the layby opposite where the path starts for the ascent to Raven Crag."

As we arrived the rain came down. "Oh dear", said Grizzly, "I hope this will pass over."

We sat patiently and indeed after a while it cleared off. To be frank, the weather was to be showery for most of the walk, and only really cleared up on the latter part. While it was wet at times from the sky, as Tetley has intimated, Dad can testify that it was nearly always wet underfoot, such is the perennially boggy nature of the ridge along which we were to walk.

Grizzly commented, "this is be another of those days when we are very glad to be inside Dad's rucksack!"

So settled in the rucksack and this on Dad's back, Shaun said, "we continue along the road, then just beyond Shoulthwaite Farm, go left on the bridleway that skirts by the woods below The Benn."

Through some buildings this continued to a gate and bridge over Shoulthwaite Gill.

"We cross the bridge and then go left and start the steep climb up to and below Goat Crag", advised Shaun.

It had been raining for a while now, and for Dad is was one of those days where it was a real effort to make the climb.

Allen said, on behalf of us all, "with the weather as it is, we would not mind if you want to turn back, Dad."

"No", he replied, "I do not want to disappoint you & Little Eric. I'll get my second wind."

As Dad plodded on thankfully the rain stopped and the visibility improved.

"That's a superb view to Blencathra, with Great Calva to the left", called out Grizzly.

"What is the distant fell behind Great Calva?", asked Little Eric.

"Knott, climbing which will see me complete the Wainwrights", replied Grizzly. "I have just two summits to climb to complete the Wainwrights. Brae Fell and Knott, which will be my last."

"I will take you there this year lad", promised Dad.

Below Goat Crag, Dad got above the path and amongst the rocks, which were slippery. "I will have to take this part very carefully so that I do not slip. I should have kept lower down, but never mind."

Once across, Tetley said, "we are on to easier ground now, thank goodness, and we can round the end of the crag."

This done the gradient eased significantly and the rest of the ascent was more gentle and before too long we arrived at the summit of Bleaberry Fell. As we leaped out to have our picture taken, another couple reached the summit and asked about us.

The lady kindly said to Dad, "I'll take your picture with the Lads."

"Oh thank you, that is very kind."

Shaun said, "just great to have you in the picture Dad, to mark your birthday, and Little Eric's 1st birthday."

While there we took time to take in the views and the nice effects of the light on the hills to the north. "That's quite dramatic" pointed Tetley. "Sun shining on High Rigg while the rain pours down in the valley behind.

The next objective was High Seat that and we could see clearly to the south, and had formed the backdrop in the summit picture.

"Ok lads, time to get settled again."

"Right Dad", replied Grizzly as he eyed the track to High Seat. "Looks every bit as boggy as we thought it would be."

This ridge is always wet, and the muddy track wound its way through bog. Our Dad gets his trousers dirty at the best of times, but nothing compared to today.

"Look at the state of them", Allen said, "I dread to think what Uncle Brian would say."

Quite soon we arrived at the summit marked by a trig point. "Yippee", cheered Little Eric. "Come on pals picture time."

Looking across to Borrowdale, Tetley said, "it is pouring down, like it was last August when we walked there. It lived up to its reputation as being the wettest place in England, and it seems that today is no exception."

Grizzly added, "and again, as with that day last August, it is sunny in Keswick, just a few miles down the valley."

"It would be nice to include a full picture of the summit area", said Shaun. "There is the trig point and the cairned outcrop called Man. Wainwright says there is barely any difference between the two, but the trig point is considered to be the actual summit."

"The Dodds form the backdrop", said Tetley. "From the left, Great Dodd, Watson's Dodd and Stybarrow Dodd."

"That's also a dramatic view to Blencathra", pointed Little Eric.

"I think some of that weather over Borrowdale will be coming this way", warned Grizzly.

"Yes lad, time to get going again. We'll cross to the cairn on Man first, so that we have done all the summit area."

That done, Shaun instructed, "climb the stile in the fence then we head due east down towards Shoulthwaite Gill."

The terrain was rough tussocky grass and boggy. "You are well used to this Dad, having done all those walks in Yorkshire with Uncle Bob!", commented Allen.

"Aye lad, and there will be many more such miles in the years to come."

As Grizzly had warned, some of the weather we had seen over Borrowdale did indeed cross over here too. Rain, hail and even a few flakes of snow. Overall it was a cold day. A complete contrast to the dry weather in Morecambe, as Uncle Brian said when Dad rang him later, to tell him we were safely down.

"There's a gate in the fence", pointed Shaun, "I suggest we head for it."

This Dad did, after first crossing the stream that forms Shoulthwaite Gill.

Just nearby this pretty little waterfall fed into the gill.

Well, our pal Shaun was right about going through the gate, as it brought us to the forest road, rather than the bridleway on the other side of the gill.

"Good" said Dad. "I really did not want to be on the bridleway, as it would have been difficult crossing Mere Gill."

The forest track was quite dry. "What a joy to be on here after the rest of the terrain you have has to deal with today", said Little Eric.

This brought us to the top of the path from where the final ascent is made to Raven Crag. This was most satisfactory used the Raven Crag route for the descent that brought us out opposite the car, so avoiding a long loop round.

"Well it was tough today", said Dad, "but I am glad I persevered."

Allen and Little Eric both said, "thank you. You are truly the best Dad in the world."

"A tea stop is in order and well deserved after all that effort", said Tetley.

"Yes lad. I am going to Darryls in Windermere."

Here he had two mugs of tea, a scone with butter and jam and chocolate flapjack. All for £3.85! Not a fancy place but great value.

We meanwhile stayed in the car to have warming mugs of tea, sandwiches and cake.

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