Date - 16th September 2010 Distance - 10.75 miles
Ascent - 1470ft
Map - OL7
Start point - Beside A593 Nr footbridge over river at Brathay (NY 363034)



"What a week so far", complained Grizzly, who was staring glumly out of the window, as the rain beat against it, in another torrential downpour.

"We would be soaked in seconds", replied Allen.

Tetley was sitting in front of Dad's laptop, looking at the Met Office forecast for the Lake District. "On Thursday, when we have a walk day with Uncle Eric, the weather looks to be mostly dry, but the winds on the fells are still gale force with even stronger gusts."

"It doesn't sound too pleasant, and it would be very hard going for Uncle Eric", replied Grizzly.

"It would be a better idea to do a low walk", said Allen. "After all we do not need to necessarily be on the high fells to get good views."

During these exchanges Shaun, with Little Eric riding on his back, had wandered in.

Little Eric said, "I agree, your ideas make sense."

We all then gathered round Dad's laptop, while Tetley navigated the folders to show us the results of Dad's photographic efforts on the recent walks.

"There are some good shots and they give a good record of the adventures, which will be great to look back on in the future", mused Grizzly.

The next day, we were sitting reading the book by Bill Birkett on Scafell, when Dad wandered in. "I have spoken to Uncle Eric about walking tomorrow. The winds are still forecast to be very strong on the fells, so it has been decided to do a valley walk. We will be walking in the Skelwith area and round Tarn Hows.

"Haven't Shaun and I done that before?", asked Tetley, who has a phenomenal memory of past adventures.

"Yes", agreed Dad. "We did it in June 2002, but much of the detail has faded over time, and it will be a completely new adventure for Allen, Grizzly & Little Eric."

"Can't wait", shouted Little Eric, excitedly.


The Walk

Dad drove us to Uncle Eric's, where we decamped to his car.

"Good morning Uncle Eric", said Allen, on behalf of us all. "We are looking forward to the walk and so nice to have your company."

"Hello lads, good to see you too. We are lucky to get out this week, with the weather being so unsettled."

The drive was about 10 miles via Windermere and Ambleside, to the start point on the A593 at the boundary between Brathay & Clappersgate.

Dad and Uncle Eric soon ready, and us snuggled in the rucksack, we set off, Shaun directing, "cross the road and in a few yards fork left along that path, and over the bridge that spans the River Brathay."

"It is flowing quite fast", commented Little Eric. "Hardly surprising after all the rains this week."

This led to Bog Lane, where almost immediately we went left through a gateway.

"Were going the wrong way", called out Shaun, who was scrutinising the map.

"Yes, I know we should continue along the lane but we are going to have a look at Holy Trinity church, first", replied Dad.

"I have researched about this", said Grizzly. "William Wordsworth wrote: 'There is not a situation outside the alps or among them more beautiful than this'. He is describing the top of a small rugged hill, among trees and high above the River Brathay - the site he suggested for the building of the church. The space on the summit is so limited that the dramatic church is orientated north-south rather than customary east-west. It is built in the Italianate style by the Redmaynes of Brathay Hall and was consecrated in 1836. The Redmaynes made their fortune in the Italian silk trade, which may explain the style of the Church. The burials in the sloping churchyard are of the clergy facing west and the laity east."

"Thank you pal", said Tetley. "There is no doubting the beautiful and tranquil situation."

We took this in a little longer, Allen then saying, "time to be getting on now."

"Yes, you're right", replied Uncle Eric.

So, we returned to the lane, and turning left strolled along to the buildings of Jeffy Cottages. "We take the permissive path right through the deciduous trees, beside the fast flowing Brathay", said Shaun.

This lovely path brought us back onto Bog Lane that we continued along.

Suddenly the view opened out, Allen shouting, "wow what a superb view of the Langdale Pikes. I like the way that patch of sunlight is falling across the mountains."

"Before you ask, yes I am going to take a few pictures", said Dad, knowing full well what Allen is like.

The quiet lane led to the pretty hamlet of Skelwith Fold. There Shaun advised, "our route is the lane signed Hawkshead."

As we ambled along it was plain to see that long ago, there had once been at intervals gates across this lane, for reasons that Uncle Eric and Dad could not properly work out. While the gates had been removed the old lichen encrusted stone slab posts still survive with the fastening for the latch to sit in.

Below Pull Scar, the road turned sharp left. Looking at the instructions, Grizzly said, "we leave the road and go ahead through that gate, to walk the good track that climbs through the glorious woodland of Pullscar Plantation."

"Just look at the view to the right", called out Little Eric. "There are so many different greens in the trees."

"Oh yes", replied Dad.

"I'll stroll on while you frame the shot", said Uncle Eric, after having surveyed the scene. "You are faster on the uphill sections."

Exiting the woodland, the path led on, muddy at times after the rains earlier this week, to come to an excellently signed junction.

"Our route is on ahead to Sunny Brow", advised Shaun. "We could follow the path to Iron Keld, as we will pass its other end later, but doing so we will miss out on Tarn Hows."

At Sunny Brow, we joined another narrow lane that led through the hamlet of Knipe Fold.

Coming to the next junction, "take the right fork up the steep hill", called out Shaun.

"Well, the sign does say that we are at Hawkshead Hill", laughed Allen.

This led past the gallery and tea room of Betty Fold.

"That's one you have not visited before Dad", chimed up Allen.

"It's also too soon to make a stop", added Shaun.

"OK", said Dad rather downheartedly, marching on past.

"Well it's one to remember to bring Uncle Brian, sometime", said Grizzly, helpfully.

"Ooh yes", replied Dad, his face brightening.

Shortly a signed track went off right. "That's our route", called out Shaun.

This took us past the cluster of houses called Yewfield, where the rough track climbed to a gate on to open pasture, where Uncle Eric strode on towards another gate beneath more glorious trees.

Shortly beyond the gate, at a cross of paths, Shaun instructed, "it is over that stile on the right."

Beyond the narrow grassy trod, led past Rose Castle, a tiny house belonging to the National Trust. "It was built in the 19th century, and is grade II listed", informed Grizzly.

The path wound behind the house and as it started to descend, suddenly below us was Tarn Hows. "Wow, what a view", cried Little Eric.

It is one of the most popular tourist places in the Lake District, and one of the most photographed too. Dad snapped off a few shots, this we considered being the best. Well it's our story after all.

"That's Wetherlam behind", said Tetley. "We last climbed it in July 2008, via the steep slope on its right, Wetherlam Edge."

"I had forgotten that it was over two years ago. My how time flies", added Allen. "We did a story about that adventure too." Wetherlam

Little Eric, who is not as familiar with the fells as the rest of us asked, "what is the mountain away to the left beyond Wetherlam?"

"Coniston Old Man with Brim Fell to the right", replied Shaun instantly.

Up to now we had seen only two other walkers today, but descending to the tarn and proceeding round it, there were people everywhere, which was hardly surprising. Some of the groups talked in loud voices, rather shattering the peace and tranquility. We were to be glad when we finally got away from the tarn area.

Strolling down the path rounded the head of the tarn below the narrow road. "Another beautiful view", breathed Little Eric. "I can see why it is so popular."

Proceeding on the path along the west side, we passed the signed path to Glen Mary with its lovely waterfalls.

"We walked down there on an adventure in November 2007", said Tetley.

"Oh yes", replied Shaun. "We climbed Holme Fell and Black Crag that day too. It was very misty and navigating to the tops was rather difficult, but we made it."

A little further on there was a free seat. "Good place to stop of lunch", suggested Uncle Eric.

"Oh yes", agreed Allen. "I'm hungry as usual."

Here it came on to rain, but it was not too heavy so we did not get very wet. The shower soon passed over and it was dry again for the rest of the walk.

Continuing on, as the head of the tarn was reached, Shaun advised, "we leave the 'round the tarn' path, to take the track heading north."

This led to a gate on to a wide track, where another substantial signpost, clearly displayed the route options.

"Which way now?, asked Grizzly.

"Right in the direction of Iron Keld", replied Shaun, consulting the map.

The track wound on, a gap in the trees affording another fine view to the Langdale Pikes.

"That will make a good picture for our story", called out Allen.

"I know", replied Dad, hauling out the camera.

Setting the scene, Tetley said, "the sun is shining on Pike o'Stickle and Loft Crag. Then right, just in the shadow is the lower summit of Thorn Crag, with in full shadow Harrison Stickle and Pavey Ark. The bare fell in the foreground is Lingmoor that lies on the opposite side of the valley of Great Langdale, from the Pikes."

Walking on, we finally came to another junction. "We go left through the gate into Iron Keld Plantation", said Shaun.

"The name means Iron Spring'", informed Grizzly.

The wide track proceeded through the plantation, although the trees had been considerably thinned out. After a straight section at first, it then wound through a few bends to reach yet another junction. "The path coming on from the right is the opposite end of the path from the junction on the track from Pullscar to Sunny Brow", said Shaun.

Staying on the track we continued under the slopes of Black Fell, and up to a brow, where there was a most wonderful panorama. It brought us all to a stop as we took in the scene.

We could see - The Coniston Fells, Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, Esk Pike, Great End, Allen Crags, Rossett Pike, Langdale Pikes, Sergeant Man, Ullscarf, Steel Fell, Helm Crag, Seat Sandal, Dollywagon Pike, Fairfield Horseshoe & Red Screes.

"Incredible and absolutely breathtaking", called out Little Eric.

This picture shows just part of the scene. Helvellyn with the ridge to Dollywagon Pike, and Seat Sandal in the sun in front. Then right the highest is Fairfield with Hart Crag, while in front is Great Rigg falling to Stone Arthur. Right the ridge runs to Heron Pike. These are part of the Fairfield Horseshoe.

Allen said, "as we have said before, it just goes to show that we do not necessarily need to be high up to get great views." Then looking left he went on, "there is a heavy rain storm passing over Bowfell and the Crinkle Crags."

"Glad we are not over there, then", remarked Tetley.

Just here there was a little outcrop of rocks. "Perfect place to have our picture taken", said Grizzly. "We have to appear at least once in every story."

The path descended steadily, eventually bringing us to the main A593 from Ambleside to Coniston. "We go right", said Shaun.

This is a busy road, so Dad and Uncle Eric took extreme care at the first bend.

Past the entrance to Stephen How, Shaun said, "we soon take the permissive path through the woods, above the road."

This brought us to a narrow lane via this flight of steps.

"Where now?", asked Little Eric

Once again Shaun came up with the answer, after consulting the map. "We go up the lane until the end of the wood. There we take the narrow steep path down through the woods, to come to the road by the Skelwith Community Centre."

There Shaun further directed, "turn right and then left at the next junction to climb the short steep hill to Skelwith Fold."

At the junction is was then left, rejoining the outward route, to pass Brathay Church and cross the bridge to reach the car.

"What a lovely walk", said Allen.

"You're right", the rest of us chorused in unison.

"Thanks Dad and Uncle Eric", called out Grizzly.

"You're welcome Lads", they replied.


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