BIRKETT FELL, HART SIDE & GLENCOYNE PARK from PARK BROW

 


Summary

Date - 28th June 2011 Distance - 7 miles
Ascent -
1800ft
Map - OL5 Start point - Old quarry on Park Brow (NY 3967 2109)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Birkett Fell 2378 725 NY 3645 1980
Hart Side 2481 756 NY 3589 1974

 

Preface

Shaun, came trotting in, with Little Eric riding on his back, carrying the flasks of tea.

"Ooh great"!, cried Allen, "I'm gasping for a mug of tea".

"I'll get the tuck tin", called out Tetley.

The mugs poured, Shaun said, "following up on Friday's walk, Dad has decided to walk again on Tuesday. He told me it certainly was a bit of a struggle up Lad Hows, but going out again so soon will surely help to get his fitness and endurance back."

"So where are we going?", asked Allen.

"Well, Dad said we can come up with suggestions, so we had better get our thinking caps on."

"Not having to drive so far to the start, would be a good idea for one", remarked Grizzly.

"There is the question of the niggling doubt regarding Birkett Fell", mused Shaun.

"Oh yes", said Tetley. It must be 2005 when we did the Dodds, and returned over Hart Side. I can recall we saw the cairn on Birkett Fell from the summit of Hart Side, but as you say none of us, Dad included, can remember whether we actually went to it as we continued the descent."

"That's a good idea", said Grizzly. Then consulting Wainwright Book 1 Eastern Fells, he went on, "getting that doubt out of the way will be good, and from Birkett Fell it is just a very short walk to Hart Side's summit and I am sure that Dad will be happy to go there, so that will be a Wainwright bagged by Little Eric."

"Thanks pal", enthused Little Eric.

Allen then went on, "it will only be by going to Hart Side, that will prompt us and Dad to know whether we went to Birkett Fell on that date."

"Well, what are you waiting for Allen, off you go and see what Dad thinks about our suggestion", said Tetley.

"I will pal, but let me finish my tea first."

"You're just like Dad", said Tetley laughingly in reply.

Minutes later Allen trotted off, to return very soon after, with a wide smile on his face. "Dad thinks it is a great idea."

"Roll on Tuesday", cried Little Eric.

 

The Walk

Tuesday dawned, the skies were blue and we were to enjoy a lovely summers day, although there was some cloud in the afternoon. We were up early and once Dad had loaded his gear in the car, we ran out and settled on the front seat, and soon we were heading north once again up the M6.

As we approached the Lune Gorge, Allen called out, "the Howgills look magnificent, this morning."

"Sure do", replied Shaun. "We have enjoyed many days exploring them."

We knew that we would be leaving the motorway at Penrith, and heading west yet again on the oh so familiar A66.

"Are you planning to follow the route up from Dockray", asked Shaun, who was looking at the map.

"Well yes and no", Dad replied. "The path starts in the village and I do not know if there is any parking, so I thought we would park in the old quarry on Park Brow, and take the path by it that we used when we climbed Bracken How and Round How, because it joins up with the path from Dockray."

Oh yes, I see", replied Shaun. "On the return are you planning to come back through Glencoyne Park, which is a lovely walk?"

"Yes Lad, which again is a reason for parking at the old quarry, as it will not be too far we have to climb uphill from the exit from Glencoyne Park", replied Dad.

Dad's plan to get to Dockray had been to take the turning off the A66 to Matterdale End, but in the event this was closed due to road works, so he just drove on to the Dockray turning. As we passed through Dockray we did notice that there was some parking just beyond the bridge over Aira Beck. We continued to the old quarry which provides ample parking and on the opposite side of the road too, where there is a popular path that leads down to Aira Force waterfall, that drops 70ft from below a stone footbridge. We did not visit it today, but include this picture taken by Dad in late December 2003.

Booted up and ready, Dad shouldered the rucksack with us safely tucked inside. Immediately at the side of the quarry a narrow path climbs by the wall, soon reaching a partly ruined building under the trees, beside which we climbed the stile.

Beyond in the morning sunlight, the path climbed steeply up a rocky section to then level out and come to a stile over the wall. It was a ladderstile, and Dad nimbly climbed the rungs, only to find as he looked over that all the rungs on the far side had rotted away and fallen off. This path is not easily seen from the road, and from the state of this stile is maybe rather unfrequented. The wall had to be crossed but for the time being Dad abandoned the attempt here and walked on. After a further distance Dad noticed, where other people had climbed the wall. We managed to cross, if a little inelegantly.

Strolling on Grizzly exclaimed, "that's Bracken How over to the right and just ahead is Round How."

"You can certainly see from its shape why Round How is so named", commented Allen.

"We climbed those in December 2009, along with Common Fell, Swineside Pike & Brown Hills, below which we will walk to get to the path to Birkett Fell", said Tetley.

"Well thankfully we do not have to climb them again today", added Dad with feeling. Bracken How walk

The path undulated but all the time we were gaining height, and suddenly Little Eric called out, "I remember that wonderful view of Ullswater, and today it is so blue."

So stopping Dad hauled the camera out taking a number of shots, like this one.

The slopes on the left are Place Fell, which dominates the southern reaches of the lake on its eastern side.

Place Fell is actually the name of the highest part towards its right end at 2154ft. However there are other tops which we have climbed in a circuit of this upland area, namely Low Birk Fell (1224ft), Bleaberry Knott on Birk Fell (1680ft), The Knight (1778ft), High Dodd (1644ft) and finally Sleet Fell (1240ft). Place Fell

Walking on we finally passed beyond Brown Hills, where the path swung right, away from the wall, to cross boggy ground and so reach the wall rising up Birkett Fell. This was crossed by the stile and we walked on for a short distance, as the map indicated that a path would go off right.

Suddenly Dad stopped and said, "it is pointless walking round the slope, we just have to get on and climb up"

"Well so far you have managed the slopes better today, but this will be a bit of a test", said Shaun, who was looking at the map and the rather close contours."

So off we went climbing steadily and coming by the wall higher up where there was a reasonable path. This is one of those fells where there seems to be just one rise after another, as can be seen in the picture below.

However finally it was done and the cairn came into view a little way left of the wall. Now usually you have to take our word for it that we have reached a particular summit, but today we could prove beyond doubt where we were, from the embedded plaque. Also there is no excuse for not knowing where you are.

The formerly unnamed summit, was named in 1963 in honour of Norman (Lord) Birkett. He was a strong defender of the Lake District and was instrumental in the defeat of a plan to raise Ullswater and convert it into a reservoir, the scheme finally being abandoned only a week before his death. A second memorial on Kailpot Crag, on the western slopes of Hallin Fell overlooking Ullswater, carries the inscription 'He loved Ullswater. He strove to maintain its beauty for all to enjoy.'

Behind the cairn a wide green path led straight over wet ground, to soon curve right and climb very gently the 100ft or so to the wide flat area of the summit of Hart Side.

Taken from the first cairn on the edge of the summit area, the one in the background marks the highest point. The mountain behind is Great Dodd (2812ft).

"Great", cheered Little Eric, "that's another Wainwright I have ticked off. Please will you take our picture for the record, Dad?"

"Of course Lad. Now settle yourselves down."

After the picture was taken, Shaun, who as you can see is sitting at the front, looked at the map and remarked, "Dad, I can see a path leading to that subsidiary rise over there, shown with a height of 740m on the OS map."

Dad now stood and looked over the scene from the summit as he had done in February 2005. "Well Lads, I remember exactly what we did, as if it were yesterday. We took the path over that rise you have pointed out Shaun, so I can definitely say that we did NOT visit Birkett Fell that day, So we can only claim climbing it today."

"Well you will have to change the listings on the spreadsheet when you get home", said Tetley, adding, "that also means that Shaun and my 1000th summit will change yet again."

"Quite right", Dad replied. "I will certainly deal with all that when we get home, never fear."

This all resolved we settled down to have our lunch. There was no one else about, so it was a quiet peaceful time. Then Dad phoned Uncle Brian, before we went to explore more of the summit. Across this in the direction of Green Side and Stybarrow Dodd, is a ditch that Wainwright, in his chapter on Hart Side, likens to the Vallum of the Roman Wall.

He further states that as the project was abandoned, the reason for the prodigious effort is not clear, but probable that this was associated with the Glenridding lead mine.

Now satisfied with our exploration of the summit, we settled once again in Dad's rucksack, and commenced our descent. Having now been to Birkett Fell, Dad took the same path as in 2005. The path disappeared once over the hill, so it was a case of just picking the best route, to come again to the path by the wall on Birkett Fell. As we crossed this area we enjoyed this wonderful view ahead to the right.

On the far right the path can be clearly seen rising to the crest of Helvellyn Lower Man (3033ft), then following the ridge left is the summit of Helvellyn (3118ft). The pointed mountain in front seeming to over top Helvellyn, is Catstycam (2919ft). To the right of Catstycam the ridge of Swirral Edge can be seen falling away from Helvellyn. The distant ridge on the left of the picture is Striding Edge. The path in the lower foreground is seen rising up the slopes of Sheffield Pike. It would then double back to its summit. It also continues right to climb up to the Sticks Pass, then descending on down to Stanah above Thirlmere.

We crossed the wall a little further up at the point where the path from Dowthwaitehead crosses it. Then made the further short descent to rejoin the path we had walked earlier. Our outwards route was now retraced to come below Brown Hills and once again beside the wall we had followed up from the start.

"We need to take the stile in this wall to get on to the path through Glencoyne Park, said Shaun.

As the path dropped down before us, Tetley called out, "there it is."

Almost immediately after we had crossed the stile, our progress was arrested by the wonderful view north over Ullswater. We could not help but think what a tragedy it would have been, had the proposal to raise the level and convert it to a reservoir, come to fruition The rounded hill rising above the lake on the right is Hallin Fell, upon which is Kailpot Crag that carries the inscription mentioned earlier.

As is apparent, we were still at some altitude, and considerable descent followed as the path meandered through the park. Almost immediately, this prickly tree that had spread out rather flatly, blocked upright passage along the path. Dad kindly detoured left, so that we would not get caught on the branches, before turning to take the picture.

"What a lovely view of Glencoyne Park", remarked Little Eric. "Is the hill behind Gowbarrow Fell?"

"Yes", replied Allen.

"The last time we all climbed it was in April 2008, with Uncle Bob", added Tetley. "The summit, at 1579ft, can just about be made out towards the left end. The lower area to the right is Green Hill (1450ft). We bagged that too with a few other tops on the same day."

"My what a memory you have Tetley", said Little Eric wondrously.

Further down, the path meandered on crossing many small becks running down from the fells above on their way to Ullswater. We entered sections of glorious woodland, as evidenced in the shot below.

You will have noticed that so far there have not been any pictures of sheep in this story. By now we were getting to the end of Glencoyne Park, and just when we thought we had avoided seeing any, we came to a small ravine, and standing on the other side was a Herdwick ewe and her lamb. Well you can guess what happened next. Dad whipped the camera out of his bag, then as he does started to talk to the lamb, who obligingly looked up, so he could snap a picture. Sorry!

Further on the trees thinned out to reveal once again, that superb view to the southern reaches of Ullswater and beyond, that we had enjoyed at the start this morning. The picture is not exactly the same, so we thought we would include it as a fitting end to our story.

"I wish I could just package this view up and take it home", said Little Eric. "What a lucky bear I am to be able to see such beautiful scenery. I'm not too familiar with this, so can one of you tell me what the hills are?"

"Sure", replied Allen, anxious to show off his knowledge. The ridge running up left to right, is Arnison Crag, over shadowed by the tall fell behind, Birks, Gavel Pike and St Sunday Crag.

"We still have Gavel Pike to do", added Tetley.

"That's right", replied Dad. "I plan to take us there soon. Also from St Sunday Crag I will take us down to Deepdale Hause, so we can tick off Cofa Pike too."

Soon now we reached the road, and Dad climbed the third of a mile up the hill to the car.

"Time for some food now Lads", said Dad. "I'm going to Greystone House again."

"What a surprise", cried Allen, bursting out laughing.

Only a few days since his past visit, the lady in the cafe recognised Dad. He had delicious carrot and coriander soup with a cheese sandwich, then scrumptious apple and summer fruits crumble with custard, & tea to drink. So duly fortified Dad drove us home.

Thanks again from us all for another super adventure.

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