Date - 19th April 2009 Distance - 7.8 miles
Map - OL4/OL5 Start point - Dobgill car park, Thirlmere (NY 316140)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Brown Rigg 1519 463 NY 2057 1462
Blea Tarn Fell 1830 558 NY 2982 1430
Standing Crag 2005 611 NY 2964 1340
Low Saddle - Coldbarrow Fell 2152 656 NY 2880 1329)
High Saddle - Coldbarrow Fell 2215 675 NY 2893 1293
Ullscarf 2382 726 NY 2915 1217
Wythburn Fell 1667 508 NY 3118 1253



"Are we walking in Yorkshire with Uncle Bob on Sunday?", asked Tetley.

"No", replied Dad, and his little face fell.

However he brightened up when Dad continued, "but we are still going out, and to the Lake District instead."

By now Allen had joined him, so he said "where to exactly?"

"From Thirlmere to climb those Birkett Fells up to Ullscarf", stated Dad.

Allen cried, "I hope we manage to get to the start this time."


The Walk

The explanation for this is that Dad set off to do this walk during the last winter, but had been prevented from reaching the start as the A591 beyond Dunmail Raise was closed due to ice, and the very nice policewoman was adamant that he could not continue. As we drove up today there was no risk of that as the weather was superb with sunshine all the time and only a very light breeze. We were glad Dad was wearing his cap.

Our start point was Dobgill car park, one of many on the shores of Thirlmere, the reservoir providing water to Manchester. A couple did not have enough change for the car park, but when Dad offered to change a £10 note he found that he did not have enough. Instead he gave them the £1 they needed - his good deed for the day. Once ready and settled in Dad's rucksack, we set off along the road and then through a gate, and on the path to the right of the walls of this old lane.

As it climbed up beside the forestry, the gradient became very steep, but finally the unrelenting ascent eased off, and Dad was able to catch his breath. We paused too, to enjoy the superb views down to Thirlmere. Ahead the first objective Brown Rigg was now in view, and walking on Dad was soon at the balanced rock marking its summit.

The distant lake is the northern reaches of Thirlmere by the dam. The imposing mountain behind is Blencathra (2847ft). To the right the high fells are the Dodds, the northern part of the Helvellyn Ridge.

Next was Blea Tarn Fell, which was clearly in view ahead.

We perched ourselves on the rocky summit, as Tetley called out, "come on Dad take our picture"

That done, the next objective was Standing Crag, towering above us to the right ahead. Its summit was clearly in view being marked by a group of upside down fence posts, at the fence corner.

"However are we to get up there?", enquired Little Eric.

"We will have to approach from behind", replied Dad, "so it is going to be a bit of a slog"

Not for the first time we were glad to be inside the rucksack.

Dad started off making a steepish descent over rough and trackless ground, to reach and cross the gill. Here he paused and we surveyed the ground ahead.

"Oh, that looks steep", said Allen.

"It certainly is", replied Dad, "but there is nothing for it but to plod on upwards"

The very steep ascent was again over trackless terrain, and Dad rested a few times to catch his breath, on the way to the ridge. Now backtracking along the ridge, soon we arrived at the rocky summit with the upturned fence posts. Below we had this wonderful view of lonely Blea Tarn. "Please take a picture" implored Shaun.

Bill Birkett now states, in his walk guide, that the traverse across to the distinct Low Saddle top of Coldbarrow Fell is easily made.

"Well it is I suppose" remarked Dad. "However I do not want to lose too much height, so we will have to walk in a long arc. There is no path again so it will be rather hard going on the rough ground"

Despite this it did not take too long and in about half an hour we were at the summit. This stands proud and has a neat cairn, where we posed for our picture.

From from here we enjoyed the superb view to the tiny hamlet of Watendlath with its tarn. The lake beyond is Derwentwater.

Also looking west we could see down into Borrowdale with the high fells behind. We marvelled at this and Tetley remarked, "what a wonderful sight"

Dad replied, "it makes all the effort worth while".

The village in the centre is Rosthwaite, and the smaller community up the valley to the left is Seatoller, at the bottom of Honister Pass that leads to Buttermere. In the centre the highest top is Dale Head (2473ft) with Hindscarth (2385ft) behind to the right. On the left above Seatoller the fell in shadow is Fleetwith Pike (2126ft), behind which are the Buttermere Fells, comprising from left to right, High Crag (2443ft), High Stile (2644ft) and Red Pike (2479ft).

Now at last there was a path. An easy walk along the ridge, down and then up, brought us to the next top, High Saddle on Coldbarrow Fell - a bouldery cluster with a small cairn. Now we reached the highest point of the day on the easy ascent to Ullscarf, the summit marked by a modest cairn. We had been here before in 2005. However this was before Little Eric joined our club so he was very pleased to bag this Wainwright top.

Our route now lay east over more totally trackless terrain to pick up the ridge above the Wythburn Valley. The guidebook advised that Dad should keep near to the edge of the ridge. He did, but not perhaps quite as close as intended, but in doing so he missed having to negotiate a lot of the rocky crags. At last the final summit of the day, Wythburn Fell came into view and the rocky top was reached.

Here there was a majestic view of Thirlmere backed by the Helvellyn ridge. "Wow", cried Allen, "that's fantastic."

Continuing Dad carefully picked his way down off the fell, avoiding the sheer crags we saw from below after the descent. Further on he found the long-forgotten grassed track that eventually led to Harrop Tarn, with Tarn Crags behind.

From here a constructed path descended through the woods to the car park. We had had a quite superb day and bagged 6 more Birkett summits. Arriving at the car he noticed something tucked under the windscreen wiper. It was a note from the couple to whom he had given the £1. They must have got further change during the day, as they had returned the money, expressing thanks for the help this morning. How kind we thought.

Dad then drove us home, for a well earned rest after the exertions of the day.


shopify analytics