MIRES BECK, BIRKHOUSE MOOR, RED TARN, CATSTYCAM
& RED TARN BECK from GLENRIDDING

 


Summary

Date - 26th May 2010 Distance - 8 miles
Ascent -
2500ft
Map - OL5 Start point - Car park, Glenridding (NY 387169)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Birkhouse Moor 2536 718 NY 3634 1597
Catstycam 2919 890 NY 3481 1582

 

Preface

Tetley and Shaun with Little Eric perched on his back as usual, were sitting quietly reading Dad's interesting book about the origin of place names in the Lake District. Their peace was shattered when Allen came bounding into the room, with a wide smile on his face.

"What's going on?", said Tetley, looking up in surprise.

"I have heard Dad talking to Uncle Eric, and despite the weather being a bit unsettled, we are walking on Wednesday", Allen replied.

"That's great", said Shaun, "but why have you got that large grin on your face."

"Because the two summits we are to climb, are two of my outstanding Wainwrights", said Allen.

"Which ones?", said Grizzly, who had just wandered in.

"Birkhouse Moor and Catstycam", replied Allen.

"That means we will be walking from Glenridding", said Shaun.

"That's just great", interjected Little Eric, "as I will bag them too."

 

The Walk

Not wanting to delay Dad, we were up early. We all lent a paw to get the picnic ready and stow it safely in Allen's rucksack. Then as we heard Dad putting his kit in the car, we trotted out and settled ourselves on the front seat, ready for the first part of the journey, to Uncle Eric's. Here we decamped to his car for the remainder of the journey.

At the village of Ings, we took the narrow road right to Troutbeck, and then on up the Kirkstone Pass. Away to the right the ridge of the Kentmere Horseshoe dominated the scene, and we could see north to south, Thornthwaite Crag, Froswick, Ill Bell & Yoke. Nestling below is the large hump of Troutbeck Tongue. In our minds we recalled the climbs to these. At the top of the pass Red Screes dominates the scene and again we recalled huddling by the trig point in the snow for our picture. Once down the pass we passed Brothers Water and Hartsop. Here more fells ring the road - more scenes of past adventures. Then through Patterdale, the next village, Glenridding, being our destination.

The weather was dry and quite bright, so we hoped that this would set the tone for the day. Not to be the case as you will see later. While Dad and Uncle Eric got ready we hopped into the rucksack and settled down.

From the car park we crossed Glenridding Beck, where a clear sign indicated the direction we should take.

We strolled along the lane by the beck, passing Gillside Farm campsite.

"That's Sheffield Pike over to the right, if I remember rightly", said Little Eric.

"You are correct", replied Dad. "I took you all up there in November 2008, and there is an account of that adventure on your website."

Soon now the road ended, and we started the rather steep and arduous climb by Mires Beck up an area known as Little Cove. Part way we passed through a gate, pausing to look back at the scene to Glenridding. While Uncle Eric pressed on ahead, Dad took some time to photograph the view.

So on steeply upwards, to come to a marker cairn adjacent to a substantial stone wall. We were now about halfway to Birkhouse Moor. So, after a pause, we continued upwards along side the wall, the gradient finally easing at the wall corner. Rounding this it was only a short distance to the highest point marked by an untidy pile of stones. By now it was raining but we never flinch from hopping out to have our summit picture taken.

In the mist behind the tall cone of Catstycam, our next objective can be seen. In the background is Helvellyn with the ridge of Striding Edge rising to it on the left. The weather was pretty poor now, so we huddled down in the rucksack as Dad and Uncle Eric ploughed on. The path led to the so called 'Hole in the Wall'. This is a stile over the wall, where if you have climbed from Patterdale or via Lanty Tarn below Keldas, Helvellyn first comes into view. The path divided here. Ahead it led to Striding Edge, but we turned right. After a short uphill section it was mainly level as it followed the contours to Red Tarn. By now the weather had improved significantly, the rain was off and the sky had brightened. From the tarn the path climbed steadily below the slopes of Catstycam, on its way to Swirral Edge and Helvellyn. As we approached the col, we could now see clearly the route up Catstycam. The name probably means the cat's (wild) steep path.

"We had come down off Helvellyn via Swirral Edge, when we climbed it before, if I remember correctly", said Tetley.

"That's right", replied Dad. "It does not seem to be as steep either. I think it felt steeper as we did a long round that day."

Uncle Eric added, "well we had better get on up to the summit while the weather holds".

How prophetic that was to turn out. So, off we went and soon we were there. It is a true peak having a small shapely summit, Wainwright saying it is the finest in the eastern fells. Here we are perched on the cairn with Helvellyn seen behind through the mist.

All had been quite clear when we arrived but in a few minutes the mist was swirling all around and in the valleys below on all sides. Ullswater was in view, but just seconds after Dad took this picture it disappeared completely.

A number of other walkers arrived, while we were there, and Dad and Uncle Eric chatted to them. For one lady this was her first Wainwright. Dad stayed tight lipped about having climbed them all. We returned by the ascent route, and then along the path towards Red Tarn, stopping by some convenient rocks to sit and have our lunch. Helvellyn towered up to the right, and ahead was Striding Edge across Red Tarn.

Settled, we were all merrily munching away at our sandwiches, when Shaun remarked, "the sky seems to be darkening again."

Just then there was a loud clap of thunder, followed a minute later by another.

Dad said to Uncle Eric, "perhaps we had better hurry and finish lunch."

So this was what we did and we made our way under the slopes of Catstycam, but not before Dad had snapped this shot of the mist on Swirral Edge. You can just make out the cairn denoting where the descent from Helvellyn starts.

Our return route was to be via Red Tarn Beck. It had started to rain again, so Dad kindly covered us up inside the rucksack. We were very glad as the rain was to persist for most of the descent, that brought us back to the gate where we had paused to look back over Glenridding. The coats kept Dad and Uncle Eric dry, except for Dad's trousers, which he said could have been wrung out. Eventually the rain did stop for the last part of the walk, so by the time we arrived at the car park Uncle Eric and Dad had dried out a bit. It had been cold coming down, so after changing, a warming cup of tea and cake was the order of the day. For this they went to Fellbites Cafe, that is just a few yards away across the car park. We had a warming drink from the flask we had stowed in Uncle Eric's car this morning.

Then it was off home at the end of another enjoyable adventure. We found out later that over in Buttermere the storm had been much worse and a number of people had been hit by lightening. We were therefore fortunate to only experience those two claps of thunder.

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