Allen completes the Wainwright Fells challenge


Date - 19th August 2010 Distance - 7.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4
Start point - Old quarry by B5292 above Braithwaite Village (NY 227237)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Kinn 1227 374 NY 2198 2333
Grisedale Pike 2593 791 NY 1984 2255
Hobcarton Head 2425 739 NY 1938 2205
Hopegill Head 2525 770 NY 1856 2216
Sand Hill 2480 756 NY 1870 2186



Tetley strolled in to find Allen & Grizzly sitting in front of Dad's laptop, deep in concentration.

"What are you looking at pals?", he asked.

"The lists of the Wainwrights that Dad has had to repeat so that Grizzly and I could complete them", replied Allen.

"It was 43 for me and 56 for Allen", said Grizzly, consulting the spreadsheet.

"That's a lot of miles and thousands upon thousands of feet of climb", sighed Tetley.

"There was another 34 tops that he did again for you and Shaun, so that is even more miles and climb", added Grizzly.

"It just goes to show what a wonderful Dad we have. The slog is almost over too, with just Grisedale Pike for me to climb, to catch the rest of you up", replied Allen.

As Allen was speaking Shaun trotted in with Little Eric riding on his back.

"Well pal you are going to be a very happy bear, because Dad and Uncle Eric have arranged a walk for Thursday, that will include Grisedale Pike."

"Hooray", shouted Allen. "I have longed for that day to come."

"Four other summits will be reached too, all of which I will bag,", said Little Eric.

"I will bag some too, which will mean that finally I will also catch up on the Birkett tops", added Allen. "It will be a day to remember for me."


The Walk

The night before Dad told us, "we have to be up earlier than usual as the car park is small and these fells are popular so it will soon fill up."

We were at Uncle Eric's by 08:30 and quickly decamped to this car for the rest of the journey.

"Good morning Uncle Eric", said Allen. "So nice to see you and it is lovely that I will have your company as I finish the Wainwrights."

"Good to see you lads. It is truly a significant day for you Allen."

We took the route through the Lakes, and seeing the fells and mountains thought about the many walks climbing them. Beyond the village of Braithwaite the road starts the climb up Whinlatter Pass.

"So familiar with this", said Tetley. "Many times we have used it to the start of walks."

Today it was just a short way now to the car park in an old quarry, arriving at 09:30.

"You were so right Dad", said Little Eric, seeing it was nearly full, and just minutes later the last space had gone.

Allen eager to be off, called out "which way do we go Dad?"

"Up those steps at the north end, by the signpost", replied Dad

As we reached the foot of the steps, Allen peered to read it, calling out, "it says Grisedale Pike, my last Wainwright. I am just so excited to get to the top."

Shaun commented, "the path to Force Crag Mine, will be our return route."

The steps, then the path beyond, climbed steadily under the trees that conveniently sheltered us from the shower of rain. There were a few of these early on, but basically it was to be a dry day, although rather windy on the tops.

"What's that beside the path", called out Little Eric.

"A large fungi, one of the biggest I have ever seen ", replied Tetley. "Must we worth a picture Dad", he went on.

Soon we were above the tree line and on to open fell with wonderful views all round.

"There's the village of Braithwaite with its many white houses", said Grizzly.

"That's the Helvellyn ridge under the rain clouds", said Shaun.

"Glad we are not up there today then", added Tetley.

In a little way the path reached a stile in the fence, where we paused to look again at the views.

"What a delightful view of Bassenthwaite Lake with Binsey in the distance", said Little Eric.

The path climbed on by the fence and before we knew it just past a corner, we reached the unremarkable summit of Kinn.

"Here already", said Dad with surprise. "In fact we have walked a few yards past."

"Great that's the first Birkett catch-up done", shouted Allen.

"As there is nothing of interest I will get the flag out to add some colour to your picture", said Dad.

"Thanks", we called out in unison.

Settled in the rucksack again, there was a short descent, before it steepened up Sleet How. "How beautiful the landscape looks ablaze with purple heather", called out Little Eric.

This climbed, the route levelled off, then revealing the 500ft ascent of the final push to the summit of Grisedale Pike. "That's every bit as steep as I remember when we climbed in September 2004", commented Tetley.

Dad strode off, making good progress, but then paused after about 15 minutes to let Uncle Eric catch-up.

"Wow", pointed Shaun, "What a super view of the Skiddaw group of fells." He then set the scene. "Behind from the left is Broad End, the Skiddaw summit ridge falling to Skiddaw Lower Man and Skiddaw Lesser Man. In front in darker shadow, is Ullock Pike, Long Side & Carl Side with below Dodd bare of trees."

Dad climbed on to crest the top, and in yards reach the summit cairn, where Allen let out a cheer and shouted, "I've done it."

We all leapt out of the rucksack and added our congratulations, shaking his paw and giving him a hug.

There were other walkers at the summit and Dad explained about Allen's achievement, so they added their congratulations. One gentleman kindly offered to take Allen and Dad together by the cairn. Don't you think that Allen looks a very proud bear. Rightly so too.

"Come on pals", Allen said, "let's sit for our group picture to celebrate."

Then Grizzly said. "now you must sit on your own with Wainwright's North Western Fells book open at Grisedale Pike to record your achievement."

Uncle Eric, who needs to take his time on the steep ascents, had now arrived and added his congratulations to Allen, and he and Dad had a piece of Kendal Mint Cake, a tradition they have on reaching a Wainwright summit.

We spent a little more time here, looking about and Dad snapped this shot looking to Derwent Water and Keswick. "That's Clough Head, Great Dodd and Watson's Dodd left to right", said Shaun. "Then distantly Great Mell Fell and Little Mell Fell."

Then all done, we settled back into the rucksack, Allen calming himself down after the excitement.

"There's our next objective the intermediate summit of Hobcarton Head along the wide path beside the remains of a collapsed and long forgotten wall", said Shaun. "Behind is the massive bulk of Grasmoor."

Here Allen called out "hooray. At long last I have caught up with Shaun, Tetley & Grizzly on the Birkett challenge. Please can I have my picture taken with my pals, to mark this achievement too?"

"Sure", replied Dad. "Now just settle yourselves down, so I can frame the shot."

Hopegill Head was next, and as he is not as quick as Dad, Uncle Eric had walked on towards it. We did not want to delay Dad too much but Tetley said "there is such a panorama of mountains in view, please take some pictures so we can look back on them in the future."

"That of Grasmoor is a must", pointed Shaun.

"I recall you having to toil up that slope above the crags to its summit, Dad", sighed Tetley. "Thankfully not our route today but the path we will take later can be clearly seen. We will descend right to left, the shoulder in the foreground, down to Coledale Hause, and then take the descending path on the extreme left into Coledale."

That's Eel Crag and Crag Hill to the left above the hause", pointed Little Eric. "We were there two months ago. The steep ascent from Sail can be clearly seen."

But first, was Hopegill Head. Grizzly said, "I can do no better than to quote Wainwright. 'Its summit is at the culmination of the ridge from Whiteside, that quite suddenly collapses in the contorted rocks of the massive Hobcarton Crag, at the point of the junction of the routes ascending the two flanks of the precipice to its apex'."

You can see that the path hugs the rim of the crags. Not a good place for vertigo sufferers.

As Dad put the camera away, Shaun said, "Uncle Eric is a long way up the slope, so we had better get a move on."

"OK", replied Dad, putting his best foot forward.

Shortly before the summit we caught Uncle Eric up, and proceeded together to the cairn on the small summit area - a real alpine feel. Little Eric called out, "come on pals picture time."

There were more tremendous views to Whiteside, Grasmoor, Crag Hill, and over the ridge approach from Ladyside Pike, so we just sat a few minutes taking it all in.

"Ladyside Pike and the lower summit Swinside beyond are two of the Birketts we still have to do", remarked Allen.

"It does not look too steep, and in approaching from Whinlatter, we will also tick off Swinside too", added Grizzly.

"I am thinking that we may well do that walk later in the year, as it will be suitable for the shorter days", replied Dad.

Between Whiteside and Grasmoor lies Gasgale Gill, that provides a descent route from Coledale Hause to Lowthwaite Green above the shores of Crummock Water.

"That is Mellbreak on the west side of Crummock Water, with beyond to the left Hen Comb between which, is the valley of Mosedale", said Grizzly. "We have explored them extensively, as well as climbing all the fells more distantly behind. Oh happy days!"

Our reverie over, we descended the path south, for the short climb to Sand Hill.

It was here that Dad met again a couple from Culcheth, near Warrington. While Dad was busy taking our final summit picture, Uncle Eric chatted to them. They had much in common with Uncle Eric having worked, like him, in Bolton and connections too with Manchester. They had been walking about 5 years and had really got the bug. Just like our Dad, happily!

Goodbyes were said, and they set off, leaving us to take a last lingering look at the views. Tetley said "it is clear how Whiteside gets it name from the white look of the extensive scree."

A short, but rough stony descent finally brought us to Coledale Hause, where turning left we started our descent into Coledale.

The track we were to follow can be clearly seen. The community in view at the end of the valley is Braithwaite, just above which was where we had started this morning. The ridge on the left above the valley was the one we had climbed to Grisedale Pike. The whole scene is backed by the bulk of the Skiddaw group, of which notably in view is Skiddaw Little Man (2837ft) and Skiddaw Lesser Man (2674ft). More distantly to the right is Blencathra (2847ft).

Once below the hause, we were out of the strong gusty wind, Uncle Eric saying, "those rocks will make a convenient place to sit for a late lunch."

"Ooh yes", cheered Allen, "after all the excitement I am really hungry."

As we munched our sandwiches, we reflected on the walk so far. We then each had a piece of cake with icing and the words - 'Well done Allen on completing the 214'.

Allen said, "thanks for doing this Tetley, it is a lovely surprise."

"You're welcome pal", he replied.

Then, lunch over, it was time to get going again, the path winding down like a snake.

"Well that's right, as when we play snakes and ladders, we always have to go down the snakes", said Shaun, laughingly.

This led on to a rough track that descends to the side of the impressive Force Crag.

Nestling below are the buildings of Force Crag mine.

Grizzly said, "this was the last mineral mine to operate in the Lake District. It is a Lead, Zinc and Baryte mine, which operated at various times from the early part of the 19th century, until 1991 when it was finally abandoned. The site is owned by the National Trust and access to the processing mill buildings and machinery was restored in 2004. Visitors can discover what was mined and follow the processing of the minerals through the unique collection of mill plant. Admission into the mine building is via booked tours only. There is no access to the mine itself. The waterfall that can be seen is called Low Force."

By now the rough rocky descent had been made to the mine road. About 2 miles along this level easy path then led us directly to the car park.

"What a super walk", called out Little Eric, who had never been on these paths before.

"You're so right, especially as it was the completion of my Wainwright challenge", replied Allen excitedly. "I will remember this walk for ever."

By now we hardly need to say that, as usual, at the end of a walk, it was cafe time. Just a short distance away in Braithwaite is the camp site, where the cafe provided a perfect venue for a refreshing pot of tea. Dad had a nice scone with butter and jam too.

"Just the ticket to nicely round off the day", he said.


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