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



"Uncle Bob is not free for a while, so I wonder if we will be walking this coming weekend", mused Tetley, looking up from the laptop.

"We'll have to go and ask Dad", replied Allen. "I'll volunteer but would like to have tea first."

"Why am I not surprised", laughed Tetley. "I am looking at the pictures from last weekend when we climbed Firth Fell, and the walk with Uncle Eric to Dunnerdale. There will be enough for us to write a story of each adventure."

"That's great, now all we need is for Dad to have the time to type them."

Soon after Shaun with Little Eric on his back, and Grizzly arrived with the flasks and tuck tin.

"Just the ticket", said Allen. "Tea." He went off to get the mugs then said, "I'll help pour the tea pal."

"Thanks", replied Shaun.

We tucked into the biscuits, and had a second mug of tea. Allen said, "not for me, I want to go and ask Dad about walking on Sunday."

"Ok", said Shaun, "but I will make sure it is filled for when you get back."

"Thanks", he called out as he trotted out of the room

Shortly he returned, with a broad smile on his face. "Yes", he called out. "A walk is on and as we are not with Uncle Bob, we are going to the Lake District instead. The plan is to climb those Birkett Fells up to Ullscarf."

That means starting from Thirlmere", said Tetley, "Let's hope we manage to get to the start this time. Last time we were stopped by that very nice policewoman at Dunmail Raise, who was adamant we could not continue, as the A591 was closed due to ice. Even when Dad explained we were going to the west side of Thirlmere, we still had to turn back."

"Shouldn't be a problem at this time of year", replied Grizzly. "I have just looked at the forecast and we are in for a day with sunshine all the time and just a very light breeze. We should make sure that Dad wears his cap."

"That will be seven Birketts we all tick off", said Little Eric. "And I will also tick off Ullscarf, which is a Birkett and Wainwright."

"Roll on Sunday, and here's to the best Dad", cheered Grizzly, raising his mug in salute.


The Walk

Up early we all lent a paw to get the picnic made up and safely stored in Allen's rucksack. Then hearing Dad slam the boot shut, we dashed out to the car, calling a cheery "goodbye" to Uncle Brian.

"Take care lads", he called back, "and tell Dad to be careful."

So the ever so familiar route to Windermere and then on via Ambleside and up over Dunmail Raise to take the turning left just before Thirlmere and shortly arrive at Dobgill car park, one of many on its shores. The reservoir provides water to Manchester, via and 95.9 mile aqueduct, all by gravity there being no pumps on the route.

As we were getting ready a couple approached Dad as they did not have enough change for the car park.

"Can you change a £10 note", asked the gentleman. We are a £1 short of change."

"I do not have enough change, but here take this £1 to make up your fee."

"Thank you", he replied.

"Your good deed for the day", said Grizzly.

As Dad shouldered the rucksack with us safely tucked inside, Shaun said, "we go right on the road, then soon left through a gate to a path to the right of the walls of an redundant lane."

As it climbed up beside the forestry, the gradient became very steep over Bank Crags, but finally the unrelenting ascent eased off.

"I bet you are glad that section is over", said Little Eric.

"Yes lad, I am stopping a little while to catch my breath."

Looking ahead, Tetley called out, "there's Brown Rigg out first summit."

With a much more gentle gradient, Dad strode on and soon we arrived at the balanced rock marking its summit.

Allen set the scene. "The lake is the northern reaches of Thirlmere by the dam. The imposing distant mountain behind is of course Blencathra (2847ft), with to its left Lonscale Fell rising to Skiddaw. While to the right are the Dodds, that form the northern end of the Helvellyn ridge."

Grizzly piped up, "time to perch on the boulder for our summit photo."

"You can ride on my back, Little Eric, to get up there", said Shaun.

"Thanks pal."

Tetley pointed to the rising ground ahead. "That's Blea Tarn Fell the next summit."

Shaun advised, "we descend to Stone Hause, then take the broad rake to the left, before swinging right to the summit. A bit steep to start but then the final bit a gentler gradient."

This accomplished we perched ourselves on the rocky summit, as Little Eric called out, "come on Dad take our picture"

"That's Standing Crag the next summit", pointed Shaun. This towered above us just a bit to right ahead. "We can clearly see the summit at the group of upside down fence posts, by the fence corner."

Grizzly said, "in Diana Whaley's book of Lake District place names, she suggests the name may refer to the commanding position of this crag or rocky height."

"It certainly does tower up and dominate the view", agreed Little Eric. "However are we to get up there?"

"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.

"Well done Dad, you never let us down", encouraged Tetley.

We now backtracked along the ridge, to soon arrive at the rocky summit with the upturned fence posts.

"Wow", pointed Shaun. "What a wonderful view of lonely Blea Tarn. Definitely a picture for our story."

Reading Bill Birkett's guide book, Grizzly, said, "he states 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, of course, we posed for our picture. Out of interest, Grizzly told us, "the name means 'the cold, exposed hill'."

We then sat a little while to take in the scenery all around. Looking north, Grizzly said, "what a stunning view to the tiny hamlet of Watendlath with its tarn, and Derwent Water beyond."

Then to the west we looked down into beautiful 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."

Again Allen set the scene. "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, which 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).

"Thank you pal for the explanation", said Little Eric. "The view is absolutely breathtaking. What a lucky bear I am see such wonders."

So, focusing on the walk again, Shaun said, "at last there's a path. An easy walk along the ridge, down and then up, will bring us to the next top High Saddle on Coldbarrow Fell."

The summit is a bouldery cluster with a small cairn. "Picture time again", called out Allen."

Shaun said, "now it is onwards to our highest point today, Ullscarf."

"According to Diana Whaley, the meaning is puzzling. It possibly means 'wolf gap'. The first part appears to be either the Old Norse noun ulfr 'wolf' or its counterpart the persons name Ulfr. The second part seems to relate to the Old Norse word for gap or col", said Grizzly.

This was an easy ascent, guided after a little while by the old iron fence posts, one of which is incorporated into the modest summit cairn. This time Tetley set out the view behind, "over to the right the distant ridge is High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike above Buttermere. In front is Fleetwith Pike, and the linking ridge going right is Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable and the unmistakable pudding shape of Great Gable."

"I know that you have al been here before pals, but that was before I was born, so I am very happy to have bagged this Wainwright", said Little Eric.

"Tearing his eyes from the view, Shaun instructed, "we go east to pick up the ridge above the Wythburn Valley, and Birkett says to keep near the edge of the ridge."

The first part was across more trackless terrain to the ridge. Here Dad did as instructed, but not perhaps quite as close as intended. However by doing this we missed having to negotiate a lot of the rocky crags.

About half way to the final summit Grizzly pointed, "look a deer. It's quite a way off. Can you get a picture."

Dad trudged on and after another 20 minutes or so, Allen called out, "at last there's the final summit of the day, Wythburn Fell."

Soon the rocky top was reached and we wasted no time in scrambling out for out final picture of the day.

"Wow", cried Allen, "just look at that majestic view of Thirlmere backed by the Helvellyn ridge. Fantastic."

Continuing, Dad carefully picked his way down off the fell, avoiding the sheer crags we saw from below after the descent. Further on, as mentioned by Birkett, 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.

"What a superb day", exclaimed Tetley. "Thank you Dad for taking us on this wonderful adventure."

Arriving at the car, Allen said, "there is something tucked under the windscreen wiper."

"It's a note from the couple I gave the £1 to this morning. They must have got change during the day, and have returned the money, expressing thanks for the help this morning."

"How kind", said Shaun.

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


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