Date - 2nd May 2011 Distance - 5 miles
Ascent -
2000ft (appx)
Map - OL4
Start point - Above the gate on the little road behind Hopebeck (NY 169242)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Dodd (Lorton) 1489 454 NY 1690 2306
Ladyside Pike 2306 703 NY 1849 2274
Swinside 1670 509 NY 1766 2391



Allen, Grizzly & Tetley, were whiling away the afternoon reading some of Dad's many books on the Lake District, when Allen glanced up at the clock. "It's just after 3 o'clock, so time for tea and biscuits."

"Too true", replied Grizzly, "I'm gasping."

Right on cue, Shaun came trotting in with Little Eric riding on his back. "I've brought the flasks of tea. Get the tuck tin, Allen."

"OK pal."

The mugs filled, we all sat contentedly to drink our tea and enjoy a chocolate biscuit or two.

"That was some walk last Sunday up into Eskdale", remarked Little Eric. "Hard going for Dad as there were no proper paths and all the ascents were particularly steep."

"You're right, but at least that group is done and finally out of the way", replied Tetley.

"The good thing too, it was 5 summits and 20% of our outstanding Birketts in one go", added Shaun.

"Dad seems to be keen to walk again this Sunday, and I have been looking at the outstanding list and I wondered about suggesting the Ladyside Pike walk, as that would get another three done", mused Grizzly.

"That sounds a great idea and one of the few areas of Lakeland we have never walked in before", enthused Allen. "I'll have a look at the forecast for Sunday", he went on booting up Dad's laptop and tapping away on the keyboard. Frowning slightly he said, "it is to be dry and sunny, but the winds are forecast to be extremely strong with gusts over 60mph above 700m."

"We will get up to that level, so it will be rather unpleasant at times. We better make sure Dad knows that when you go and ask him, Allen", said Shaun.

"Why is it always me?", said Allen.

"Because you are very persuasive, and Dad rarely has the heart to refuse", replied Shaun.

"OK, once I have finished my tea, I will trot off and ask.", agreed Allen.

A few minutes later he returned, smiling, so we knew the walk was on.

"Dad's agreed, but he has told me we need to be up early, as it is a long drive", said Allen. "And yes, I did tell him about the strong winds that are forecast."


The Walk

Sunday dawned, and as Dad had instructed we were up early, to get the picnic ready and packed into Allen's rucksack.

Tetley said, "I sometimes think that I should carry the rucksack for a change to give you a rest Allen."

"Thanks for the offer pal, but the straps are not big enough for you to get it on you back. Anyway I don't mind as we are mostly in Dad's rucksack on the walks."

We heard the boot slam shut, so knew that Dad was ready for the off. We dashed out to settle in the car, calling out, "goodbye Uncle Brian, enjoy your quiet day."

"I will lads. Tell Dad to take care in the strong winds."

Shaun, our route finder had been looking closely at the map, and said, "the start is behind the fells to the west of Whinlatter Pass, so our route will be north on the M6, then west along the A66, a route we have taken countless times to the starts of many walks."

The day was glorious with cloudless blue skies. However the calm conditions had slipped away, and as forecast, the east wind was extremely fierce and gusty, so much so that it blew Dad over once.

When he mentioned this later, Uncle Brian said, "it really must have been strong to do that."

Blencathra looked stunning, and as we approached Keswick, the views were stupendous of the Coledale Fells, and those above Derwent Water, and in the Newlands Valley.

Through the village of Braithwaite, we headed up Whinlatter Pass. Shaun with his eyes on the map advised, "just beyond the summit, we take the narrow road forking left that soon crosses Blaze Bridge." Dad's car almost completely filled the road, so we were relieved not to meet anything coming in the opposite direction, as there were no passing places.

Shaun now said, "at the next junction we go left towards High Swinside Farm. We will come to a gated section, and just before the second gate, there is a small rough car park that is our start point."

While Dad got his boots on, we sat patiently looking across to the view ahead. This shot was in fact taken near the end of the walk, but illustrates almost exactly what we could see. Tetley said, "that is Whiteside in the background, but of more import today is the summit to the right - Dodd (Lorton)." The bracketed name is included to distinguish it from its namesake above Bassenthwaite Lake.

"I can't see any real sign of a path to the summit, and the upper slopes look hard going", said Little Eric.

"There is a dotted path marked on the map, which is what we need to follow according to Birkett, until shortly after a ruined building, when we cut up through the steep heathery slopes to the summit", replied Shaun. "Looks like we will be continuing where we left off on the last walk with steep ascents on pretty trackless ground."

"Well Lads, it has to be climbed, so the sooner we get going the sooner the summit will be reached", said Dad

Not needing a second asking, we immediately settled in Dad's rucksack. Starting off we climbed the slope and then went right round the corner of the wall and followed along by it.

"What are those fells across the valley?", asked Little Eric.

"The Fellbarrow group", replied Grizzly.

"Although we have only visited them once, they hold a special affection to us, because this is where we met Uncle Bob", added Allen. "Had that not happened, we would not have enjoyed his company on Lakeland walks, nor would be have explored so extensively the Yorkshire Dales."

"It nearly didn't", went on Shaun. "Dad attempted to do the walk two weeks earlier. We arrived at the start and it was raining heavily. Dad sat nearly an hour in the hope that it would brighten up, but there was no sign at all. So the walk was abandoned. It was fate, so that we would meet Uncle Bob."

Strolling on we crossed Hope Beck, then took a vague path right over the lower slopes of Dodd. The path was intermittent and hard to follow, so Dad climbed steeply right over grass to gain height. The grass gave way to thick heather concealing rocks. No path whatsoever here, Tetley saying "there's no alternative Dad, but to plough your way through and eventually gain the top ridge of the fell."

This finally done, Dad said with feeling, "phew, I'm glad that climb is behind us!"

Here a tiny path through the heather led right to a large cairn. The wind was blowing fiercely, but Allen said, "we are determined to get out and sit in the lee of the cairn for our picture."

Looking south, Shaun remarked, "the ground is higher over there, and looking at the map, I reckon that is the actual summit."

"I agree", replied Dad.

Eager to reach it, we settled quickly in his rucksack, and Dad walked the 100 yards or so to where a tiny cairn marks the actual summit. The wind again was ferocious and there was a steep drop just yards to the right.

"I know you like to have your picture at the summit, but if I get you out here, you will be blown over the edge", said Dad.

Tetley replied, "as you quite rightly say, it is far too dangerous here. We are content with the picture at the larger cairn, and after all, we have reached the highest point."

"Where now?", asked Little Eric.

Shaun replied, "we have to descend to the Hope Gill valley, the head right up the gill."

"Oh dear, we have to lose so much height, to then climb again", replied Little Eric, disconsolately.

"Never mind lad", said Dad. "The other alternative would be to make the round via Whiteside, but I do not fancy it in this wind."

Walking through the heather on the upper slopes it was then quite steeply down over the grass, to finally cross the gill and gain the good path in the valley, where we turned right. Our route lay up the valley, that narrowed into a ravine further up.

Shaun said, ultimately we walk to just beyond where the heather ends, then turning up left to climb to the ridge near the pointed rock, known as the Pinnacle."

Allen pointed, "the dominant fell to the right of the Pinnacle is Hopegill Head. We summited that last August, in the company of Uncle Eric."

The going was easy for a while, on the good path, and even where the bank had fallen away obliterating the path, a new path had been blazed by crossing the gill and then recrossing a bit further up. On this section the hillside was covered in heather and beyond where it ended all was grassy. Here, the path climbed steeply away from the gill through the last vestiges of the heather and on to the grassy slope. Now the real hard work started up the very steep slope.

The wind seemed to swirl around too. It was mainly coming from the right, but then suddenly it gusted in from the left. One particularly strong gust blew Dad off his feet. "Good job you are tightly snuggled in his rucksack, Lads", as he got to his feet again.

Not surprisingly, Dad had to pause on the ascent at times to catch his breath, and on one such occasion he took this shot looking back.

"That's Dodd to the left, with the Fellbarrow group behind", said Tetley. "The immediate lowlands are the Vale of Lorton. Beyond the landscape stretches away to the Solway Firth. Although rather lost in the haze the mountains in Galloway can just be made out."

Grizzly said, "according to Diana Whaley in her book, a dodd is normally a steep compact rounded summit. The one we just climbed is a perfect example of this."

The breather over Dad said, "time to get going again up to that ridge."

At a another pause to catch his breath, Little Eric pointed left, "that must be our next summit, Ladyside Pike."

Just below the ridge the wind eased somewhat, but we knew that as soon as we topped the ridge, the full force would be directly in Dad's face. The low remains of the fell wall had to be crossed to reach the path.

"I am going to time it to when the wind drops bit, as I do not want to be blown over and down the fell", said Dad.

It took a number of attempts, those unsuccessful ones needing Dad to stand using his stick as a prop to stop being bowled over! Finally to everyone's relief the ridge path was gained.

"Phew", said Little Eric. "That was a bit nerve wracking."

Turning left, the ridge soon led up to the summit of Ladyside Pike with its two cairns. Shaun said, "the one to the south is the highest point."

We scrambled out on the lee side, Allen calling out, "come on Dad take our picture please."

The ridge that can be seen rising behind leads to Grisedale Pike, and distantly, top left, is Blencathra.

"Time for lunch", called out Shaun.

"Ooh yes", cheered Allen. "I'm hungry as usual."

"OK" replied Dad. "Let's walk a few yards beyond the second cairn and sit in that hollow below the ruined wall, out of the wind."

A lady who had climbed at the same time was sitting there too. She came from near Workington. Dad chatted with her for a few minutes, before she set off down. We sat a while longer, with the lovely views to enjoy, before hopping into the rucksack ready for the off.

"That's a nice view of the Skiddaw fells", said Grizzly.

"Sure is pal", replied Tetley. "Make a good picture to include in the story."

"I get the hint", said Dad, hauling the camera out of its bag.

"That's Hobcarton End in the foreground one of our outstanding Birkett summits", commented Allen. "It rises from Whinlatter Pass, and beyond the ridge leads to Grisedale Pike."

Lunch over we got snugged in the rucksack, then we followed the steep descent on the right of the ruined wall.

Just before the corner, Shaun said, "we should cross to the other side of the wall."

The gradient had eased, and we continued ahead by the wall/fence to make the rather gentle climb to Swinside. Comparing our position to the spot height on the map, Shaun advised, "the summit is over the wall at the corner of its junction with the wall at right angles."

Grizzly said, "the name probably means the sheiling or hill for pig grazing."

Looking back the views were quite dramatic to Ladyside Pike and Hopegill Head.

Dad reclimbed the wall to continue the descent. "Super view of the Vale of Lorton", commented Little Eric. "We can clearly see the village too."

Some of our lovely favourite Herdwick sheep were grazing on the slopes. "Do you mind Allen if we include this picture in the story."

"No Dad, I do not mind pictures of Herdwicks."

We followed the descent, as the wall turned left. This last section was exceedingly steep.

"Glad I'm not having to climb up this", remarked Dad.

Just above the road a narrow trod was followed left to the start.

Although not a long walk, the climbs had been steep and the very strong winds had not helped either. Still, that is another three of our outstanding Birketts ticked off, and another corner of Lakeland that we had not been to before, explored.

Finally we all say, "thanks once again Dad for a good day out."

To avoid returning along that narrow road, Dad continued through the adjacent gate, then through Hopebeck and on to Lorton, and so over Whinlatter Pass.

"Tea and cakes now Dad?, asked Tetley.

"Yes pal, I plan to stop at the Forest Park Visitor Centre."

However it was Bank Holiday and judging by the cars parked on the road, Dad said, "it will be extremely busy, so change of plan, I will call at Greystone House in Stainton."

"One of your favourite cafes", laughed Allen.

After tea with extra hot water, chocolate cake and trio of tray bakes (small pieces), he was suitably refreshed for the easy drive home.


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