Date - 10th October 2010 Distance - 5.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL6 Start point - Birks Bridge car park (NY 235995)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Harter Fell 2142 653 SD 2188 9971
Demming Crag 1722 525 NY 2224 0022
Horsehow Crags 1421 433 NY 2238 0079



Shaun, Tetley, Grizzly, were enjoying a mug of tea and chocolate biscuit, while idly chatting the afternoon away.

"Well since we reached 500 in the Birkett challenge, I suppose we could be said to be on a mopping up operation, as there was just 40 to go", mused Shaun.

It's hard to believe that when Dad discovered the book, we had only done around 300", replied Grizzly.

"That's a lot of miles and many thousands of feet of climb, that Dad has had to do to get us this far. What a lucky lot we are", said Tetley with the utmost sincerity.

"We have completed the Eastern area and we have just a few left in the Southern and Northern areas, the bulk of the outstanding being in the Western area", called out Grizzly, who was looking at the list on Dad's laptop.

"Where's Allen?", said Shaun. "It's not like him to miss out on his tea and biscuits."

"Don't know", replied Tetley.

But hardly were the words out of his mouth, than Allen came striding in with Little Eric, poking out of his rucksack, and with an excited look on his face. "The forecast for the weekend is good, and Dad has said he is definitely going to take us for a walk on Sunday, but he wants us to come up with a suggestion of where."

"Well its got to be ticking off some of the remaining Birketts", said Little Eric.

"Dad has talked about Skelgill Bank and King's How, near Keswick, but as he and Uncle Brian, have only this afternoon returned from Armathwaite Hall, we can hardly ask him to drive up there again on Sunday", said Shaun.

Grizzly, who was scrutinising the outstanding list again, said, "how about we suggest doing Demming Crag and Horsehow Crags, as that would complete all in the Southern area."

"Yes, and maybe if I ask nicely, he will climb Harter Fell first too, so that I can bag that Wainwright", added Little Eric. "It is a logical way to do it anyway, from what I can see looking at the map."

"That will be starting from Birks Bridge near Seathwaite, where we started, when we climbed it in 2005, although we actually climbed from the west side, as Dad took us to bag Green Crag first that day", said Tetley.

"So, if Dad agrees with our suggestion, we will actually climb the east flank, so ascending by a different route", added Allen.

"Well, what are you doing still standing here Allen ", said Tetley. "Off you go and ask Dad."

Not needing a second asking, he dashed off, soon to return with a wide grin on his face. "It's on. Dad thinks it is a great idea."


The Walk

Birks Bridge is just beyond Seathwaite in Dunnerdale, and although we had not been here for five years, much of the journey there was familiar to us. Dad had decided not to set off too early for once so we were able to have a bit of a lie in, but nevertheless we made sure that we were up in good time to get the picnic ready and stowed in Allen's rucksack. Dad loaded his gear, and when we heard the boot slam shut on the car, we dashed out and settled on the front seat.

The route was along the A590, Barrow road, to Greenodd, turning right here to climb up past Gawthwaite, where the distant ridge, with from the left of Black Combe to the fells above the Corney Fell Road, Whitfell and Stickle Pike filled the skyline.

"We've climbed all those", said Tetley.

"They were interesting adventures", replied Grizzly.

Then we chatted amongst ourselves, about them.

It was a beautiful autumn day with cloudless blue skies, as we dropped down to skirt Broughton in Furness, and come to Duddon Bridge, where immediately before, we turned right up the Duddon Valley, and after a few miles reach Ulpha Bridge.

As we neared here, Tetley said, "that's The Pike with Hesk Fell behind, to the left. We climbed those in February 2006."

"I remember it well, the cloud was down and we could hardly see more than a few yards", replied Shaun. "The top is flat, but since Wainwright wrote his book a fence has been erected that crosses the summit, so helping us find the highest point", he went on.

The road passes the church. "We will soon come to the turning left that we have usually taken to cross Birker Fell. This was either to walk to fells from the road, or continue down to Eskdale, from where there have been a few adventures." said Allen. "In fact there will be more, as some of our outstanding tops will be climbed from Eskdale."

"Today we ignore this road, and keep ahead along Dunnerdale, with the high ground to the right being the Coniston Fells", said Shaun.

The road is narrow, extremely so in places, and Dad's big car seemed to fill it completely. Fortunately there was little traffic and when we did meet a tractor coming the other way, there was just enough room to squeeze past.

"Phew", cried Little Eric.

We passed through the tiny village of Seathwaite with its pub and church, then after about another two miles arrived at the parking area at Birks Bridge.

As Dad got ready, we noticed that there were a group of Mountain Rescue people engaged in training rescue dogs. We saw some of this, as we followed two gentlemen with a dog, over the bridge and along the forest road. Suddenly the dog veered off to the right and stopping by a tree, started barking.

"It has found the man who has concealed himself up the tree", pointed Tetley. "Wonderful, and what an asset they must be, when searching for walkers lost on the fells. We do hope, however that you never needs their services, Dad."

The track led to a junction, where Dad continued to The Birks, a hostel, and then along a footpath east.

"I think we are going the wrong way", called out Shaun, who was looking at the map.

Dad looked too, and said, "you're right. We are not on the path I thought we were. Silly me."

"Well, it is not often you go wrong", said Allen

Returning the short distance to the junction, we walked left for a few yards to find the sign, designed with bears and sheep in mind, pointing the direction to Harter Fell.

"That complex of walls to the left must have once been used as sheepfolds", commented Grizzly. "There's to forest road, stretching away in the background, that we walked along from the car."

Now the ascent started in earnest, the path rising steeply. Passing to the right of Mart Crag, we came to a gate in the fence, close to the rocky outcrop of Maiden Castle.

"Which way are we going from here", asked Little Eric with his paws crossed. He was hoping Dad would continue up Harter Fell, so he could tick it off, rather than turn right towards Demming Crag.

"As we have come this far, on up to Harter Fell", replied Dad. "I doubt there will be a proper path by the fence anyway, so it would only make the walk harder."

"Thanks", replied Little Eric with glee

So we continued along the clear path, climbing steadily, to reach a junction marked by a cairn. A group of our lovely Herdwicks were browsing the grass here. "Great picture opportunity", said Tetley.

"Yes", agreed Allen. "And I don't mind sheep pictures of Herdwicks, as they are our favourites."

Shaun said, "our route is the path left below the crags."

The path wound its way up through them, to the summit area of Harter Fell. Here there are in fact three rocky outcrops, the most southerly having the trig point, where we sat to have our picture taken.

"Great", cheered Little Eric, "another Wainwright bagged."

"Well, yes and no", replied Tetley. "Indeed this is for the majority of walkers, considered the summit, but in fact the highest point is the next rocky outcrop to the north."

"Can we go to the very highest point, please Dad", implored Little Eric.

We surveyed the outcrop seeing that there are a number of routes that can be used to scramble to the top.

"This one to the rear is my route of choice", said Dad.

The very highest point can be seen and the smallest ever cairn, just one small stone was balanced on the top. "No space for us to sit there for our picture", said Shaun. "Let's squeeze into the crevice here instead."

While all this was going on, the summit was deserted, apart from two gentlemen we had passed on the ascent. But, suddenly there were walkers everywhere, individuals and what we guessed was a guided party. "Well", said Allen, "we got our business over just in time."

Dad chatted to the two gentlemen one saying, "we climbed four summits in the Coniston Fells yesterday. It was so windy we nearly got blown off Dow Crag."

"The Lads and I attempted Dow Crag in January 2005. I had to abandon that day due to the strength of the wind."

The other gentleman said, "my friend is very experienced, but I am just starting out on the Wainwrights."

"We wish you well on your quest" replied Dad.

The conversation over, Allen said, "time for lunch, surely."

"Aye lad, let's sit on those rocks."

We enjoyed our sandwiches and drink taking our time.

Then time for the off again, we noted the gentlemen we had talked to were sitting on the summit rocks. "Goodbye", called out Dad as we headed off on the next part of the walk.

"Which way is it now?", asked Little Eric.

"We retrace our ascent route as far as the cairned junction. There we take the path left, heading north", said Shaun who had consulted the map.

The path north descended steadily, Tetley pointing, "that domed hill, to the left is Demming Crag, our next objective."

After a while the path levelled, and Dad struck off left across the rough grassy terrain to the summit of Demming Crag. No cairn marks the summit, but a small rocky rise in the grass was clearly the highest point.

Despite the clear weather it was quite a breezy day, Grizzly suggesting, "let's sit in the lee of this for our picture."

From the top of all the fells today we enjoyed quite magnificent views and we took a few minutes to marvel at them, before continuing on.

The final objective Horsehow Crags was to the north beyond a fence. "Descend the same way, and then bear left down the bank of Castlehow Beck, to regain the main path where it crosses a gill", advised Shaun.

After crossing the stream, Shaun now instructed, "leave the path and sweep left to that great bog. This we skirt to the right below the sheer craggy face of Demming Crag, and on to the fence."

This was crossed and then it was leftward over further bog and rough grass to climb to the summit ridge of Horsehow Crags, the left end being the highest point.

Just before, we came across two more of our lovely Herdwicks, who looked inquisitively as we passed by. You will see that their coats are dark brown, indicating that they were born this year. They start almost totally black, turning brown by about a year old. Then finally in adulthood their fleece turns blue/grey.

Then we hopped out and settled for our obligatory picture at the summit.

As we have said, the views were magnificent from all the summits and we just sat a while taking them in. We could see the cars making there way along the steep narrow road of Hardknott Pass, which, with Wrynose Pass, connects Eskdale with central Lakeland (one of the most thrilling and challenging drives in Lakeland, achieving at times a gradient of 1 in 3!).

"What an amazing plane view of the remains of Hardknott Roman Fort", said Allen.

"I have some notes about the fort", said Grizzly. "Hardknott Fort, known to the Romans as MEDIOBOGDUM, was one of the loneliest outposts of the Roman Empire, built between AD120 and AD138. As can be seen, it is on a spectacular site overlooking, to the west Eskdale, and south and east the pass which forms part of the Roman road from Ravenglass to Ambleside. The walls surrounded granaries, barracks, and a commandant's house. The baths, with a sequence of three rooms can be seen outside the main walls. An area of flattened ground is believed to have been a parade area."

"Thank you pal for adding interest to our adventure", said Little Eric.

Over the summit of the pass stands its namesake fell, but it was beyond that our eyes were drawn to the mountains.

Setting the scene, Shaun said, "these are Lakeland's highest peaks. From the left Scafell 3162ft, Scafell Pike 3210ft, Broad Crag 3054ft tucked in behind, and to its right the double summit of Ill Crag 3067ft.

Tetley went on, "we will be climbing some of those next year as Broad Crag, and the little pointed top of Pen on the ridge running down from Scafell Pike, are amongst our outstanding tops."

"I could look at this scene for ever", said Little Eric in wonder, "but we had better be moving on."

"Yes", agreed Allen, reluctantly.

However this was not before Dad took this super shot looking down beautiful Eskdale.

As we crossed east over the ridge of Horsehow Crags, Shaun said, "that gate in the fence we can see clearly below, is what we have to make for."

It was not far, but the ground was very rough grass, with hidden rocks, so it took a bit longer for Dad to reach the gate. Here we joined the bridleway, through the cleared forest area.

This meandered, not losing much height, Little Eric saying, "are we sure this is the right path."

"Yes pal", replied Shaun, "I can assure you that eventually we will descend."

Keeping the height initially did provide a superb view across the valley. Looking at the map, Grizzly said, "that is the little summit of Castle How backed by Grey Friar.

"Looks a steep ascent to that from this side", commented Shaun. Later he looked it up saying, "it is 2.5 miles and 2000 feet of ascent."

At one point the remains of a felled tree trunk had been fashioned into a seat. "We must sit there and pose for a picture", insisted Little Eric.

Continuing, the path, as Shaun had predicted soon began to descend steeply, and eventually brought us to the forest road, we had walked along this morning. Turning left we soon reached the car.

"Another super walk, Dad", cheered Tetley. "Thank you as always."

"And what magnificent views we have been treated to", went on Grizzly.

"Just the perfect day to do this walk", said Allen.

It was mid afternoon, but as quickly as was safely possible, Dad headed home so that he could call at Jane and Sam's, Hat Trick Cafe, at Low Newton. The good thing too is that we get to go in as well.

He had tea and a large portion of delicious apple and blackberry crumble with lots and lots of custard. They do spoil him!


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