ARNISON CRAG, BIRKS, GAVEL PIKE, ST SUNDAY CRAG & COFA PIKE from PATTERDALE

 


Summary

Date - 30th July 2011 Distance - 10 miles
Ascent -
3060ft
Map - OL5 Start point - Car park opposite Patterdale Hotel (NY 396159)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Arnison Crag 1424 433 NY 3936 1496
Birks 2040 622 NY 3817 1448
Gavel Pike 2572 784 NY 3734 1343
St Sunday Crag 2758 841 NY 3693 1340
Cofa Pike 2700 823 NY 3586 1207

 

Preface

Tetley & Grizzly strolled in to find Allen, tapping away at Dad's laptop, with Shaun and Little Eric looking over his shoulder.

"What are you on with pal?", asked Grizzly,

"Dad has told us that he intends to do the first of the remaining eight walks that are required to complete the Birketts, but before deciding, he needs to know what the weekend weather is like", replied Allen, as he accessed the Met Office website.

He brought up the forecast for Saturday and Sunday, and we read the details eagerly.

"Saturday is the best day", concluded Shaun,

"And a real summery day too", added Tetley.

"Yes, I know, go and tell Dad", said Allen. "Just make sure that the tea and biscuits are ready when I get back."

It was not long before he returned smiling. "OK, so we are going on Saturday as you have probably guessed."

Yes, but where are we going?", said Grizzly, rather exasperatedly.

"Patience pal, I was just coming to that. As the day is to be so good, he has decided that we will get one of the more strenuous walks out of the way, and tick off Gavel Pike and Cofa Pike. We will also visit Birks and St Sunday Crag, so that will be two more Wainwrights you will tick of Little Eric. It maybe three, if we take in Arnison Crag as well, but that just depends upon which route we take up Birks."

"Whatever that will be just great", cried Little Eric, "and I will explore a part of Lakeland I have never been to before."

"For the rest of us, getting Cofa Pike out of the way will be a real step forward", added Shaun.

"So, come on get the tea poured", called out Allen, "I'm gasping for a drink.

 

The Walk

As the forecast had indicated, it was a lovely summer day, with some cloud, little wind, and in fact rather too warm for walking by the afternoon. For about the first time since April on our Lakeland walks, we did not take the M6 north, instead we headed towards Windermere. At the village of Ings, we took the narrow road right, that cuts the corner to Troutbeck, for the delightful drive up and over the Kirkstone Pass. The steep slopes of Red Screes were sharply defined in the early morning air.

Passing the inn, and as the narrow road wound its way down, Little Eric called out, "there's the Kirk Stone, from which the pass gets its name."

"That's right", replied Shaun. "It certainly does have the appearance of a church tower."

Beyond the foot of the pass, the road led on passing beside Brothers Water, that was mirror smooth, providing superb reflections. Passing Hartsop ringed by fells rising on all sides, we thought about our many adventures in the past climbing these.

Tetley said, "Do you see that prominent hill ahead on the left, Little Eric."

"Yes pal", he replied.

"That is Arnison Crag, which paws crossed, Dad will take us to, so you can bag another Wainwright."

Soon we arrived at Patterdale, where there is plenty of parking opposite the Patterdale Hotel. As we turned in Dad remarked, "since we were last here the entrance has been properly surfaced. Good thing too, as it was extremely rough and uneven."

Dad was soon ready and we got ourselves settled in Dad's rucksack.

"You've got the picnic?", said Little Eric.

"Of course pal, it's safely stowed in my rucksack", replied Allen.

We took the path to the right of the Patterdale Hotel that curves to join the main route. This led through a gate, beyond which we climbed on to another gate. This is the path up Grisedale. It was now decision time for the ascent of Birks. Going on ahead a path soon climbs left up Thornhow End.

"That looks extremely steep", remarked Shaun.

"It is, but we are not going that way", replied Dad. "For Little Eric's sake, we are taking the route via Arnison Crag, so he can tick it off."

"Thanks Dad", cried Little Eric. "That crossing of paws worked Tetley!"

So, we did not go through the gate, but climbed up left by the wall. A hill loomed ahead, and Little Eric said is that "Arnison Crag."

"Unfortunately not pal", replied Shaun, looking closely at the map. It's actually Oxford Crag."

Nevertheless it is worthy of note, as from its summit, we looked back in awe, to this superb view over Ullswater. The steamers tied to the pier, were soon to depart on their daily journeys, round the lake.

Close by this Herdwick ewe and its lamb were standing surveying their domain. Well at least we have got the sheep picture out of the way early in the walk!

Climbing on, after a little while the wall veered away right, and here we took the narrow path leading left that soon led to the cairn on the summit of Arnison Crag.

"Great, that's another Wainwright ticked off", cried Little Eric, as with his pals he scrambled on to the cairn for the obligatory picture. Top right can be seen the path to the 'Hole-in-the-Wall', giving access to Striding Edge and Helvellyn. The wall running across the lower slopes of Birks, encloses Glenamara Park. It loops round at Trough Head, continuing as the wall we had climbed by to here.

Afterwards, raising our eyes to the view in this direction, it was dominated by Birks, our next objective, with rising beyond the tops of Gavel Pike & St Sunday Crag, both to be visited too. Descended to the path and walked to Trough Head, at the top of the wall enclosing Glenamara Park. Looking back Arnison Crag, stood proud and we asked Dad to take this picture to include in the story.

Running from the enclosing wall, is a ruined wall. This was followed, continuing on when the wall turned up the fell. Soon then we found the path that cuts back up Birks. This was to bring us again by the ruined wall, which was followed virtually to the ridge. Joining a path crossing this it was just a short walk left to the cairn on Birks. We don't include our summit picture, but this of Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn and Striding Edge.

The onward scene was now set out before us. St Sunday Crag was ahead and Gavel Pike left. Walking on, the path descended slightly, joining the main path from Thornhow End, that by passes Birks's summit. This was followed, until we took the path left contouring the slope of the mountain, which would lead to Gavel Pike.

After a while, Allen remarked, "that gentleman who we saw descending from St Sunday Crag, has stopped and is looking quizzically in our direction."

"I guess he thinks we have gone the wrong way. It is understandable as he is not aware of our intention to visit Gavel Pike", replied Dad.

A steady trudge finally brought us to the cairn, and the first of the Birkett fells ticked off today!

Set out below was the lonely valley of Deepdale, whose head leads up to Deepdale Hause, which we would reach later. When considering this walk, one of the options had been to walk up this valley, but looking down we could not see any clear path. Turning to look in the opposite direction, indeed the way we are looking from the cairn, a narrow path could be seen for the easy climb of about 200ft to St Sunday Crag. This craggy fell seems to be named from St Dominic, who from the 15th century was also known as St Sunday.

St Sunday Crag is a popular mountain, so we were somewhat surprised to find we had the summit to ourselves, and we quickly hopped out and settled for our picture. Within minutes however there were lots of people, so we had timed our initial arrival just right. Dad chatted to a couple who we had seen on Gavel Pike soon after we had left. They said it was a good route up the mountain. Like us, they were going on to Cofa Pike, then to Fairfield, Hart Crag and back over Hartsop above How. Sitting just a little way below the summit we sat and had our lunch. The place was buzzing now as even more walkers had arrived. Dad chatted to another young couple, who noticed us, and said they thought it was great that Dad took us walking.

Duly refreshed, and settled in Dad's rucksack again, we headed down the rough eroded path towards Deepdale Hause. All the time looking left, we could see the final objective of the day Cofa Pike, a tumbled mass of rocks that towered up some 500ft above the hause.

"Oh dear", said Little Eric rather downheartedly, "it looks awfully rough and steep and I cannot see any path."

"Despite appearances, there is a path all the way to the summit and beyond, according to the book", replied Shaun.

"It's got to be done, so there is nothing for it but to put best foot forwards", said Dad striding out along the path from the hause.

The rough path climbed steadily, becoming a bit of a scramble through the rocks, but the path was never in doubt, and finally at long long last we were at the cairn on the summit, and this mountain was climbed. The second Birkett summit of the day - only 11 to go. The first couple Dad had chatted to on St Sunday Crag, had by now almost reached Fairfield, and seeing us on the top, called out "well done". Dad called back and we all waved. Here we are on the summit.

Of what there is no doubt at all is that Cofa Pike is a magnificent viewpoint. Looking east it stands above the beautiful valley of Deepdale.

While to the west lies Grisedale Tarn.

After lingering looks at the wonderful views, returned down to the Deepdale Hause, and then took the path left to descend to Grisedale Tarn. Whilst we saw many walkers today, it was nothing like as many as on Helvellyn, where according to one of a group of ladies, there were gangs of people and an endless stream crossing Striding Edge. Glad we weren't there, then! Once down the initial steep section the view opened out again. High on the ridge to the left towered Cofa Pike, while below nestled Grisedale Tarn, backed by Seat Sandal.

Just above the tarn, with this beautiful view, we stopped to have another picnic, finding a convenient rock to sit on.

"All done Lads?", asked Dad after a while.

"Yes, we are ready for the off again", replied Grizzly.

Walked over the boggy ground to gain the path and so begin the long descent down Grisedale. A little way and off to the right is a large rock that is known as the Brothers' Parting Stone. The stone is where William and Dorothy Wordsworth parted from their brother John Wordsworth, 29 September 1800. John Wordsworth went to command the Earl of Abergavenny. He was drowned when his ship was wrecked off the coast of Dorset in 1805. In June 1805, William and Dorothy Wordsworth visited this place again, and the poet wrote Elegaic Verses in Memory of My Brother. Canon H D Rawnsley arranged for some lines from these verses to be inscribed on the rock in 1882. Unsurprisingly after all these years, they are hardly readable.

Dad took us across to see it, intending too to take a photograph to show Uncle Brian. However the lens on his camera that had been playing up, finally decided not to work at all, so no picture of the stone or anything else today. Well at least it made for a quicker descent. It is a long long way down but we ploughed steadily on. By now it was very warm and there was no shade at all, so Dad's arms were wet with sweat. Eventually we reached the point where the beck from below High Crag joins Grisedale Beck. Here we walked across to take the bridge over the latter, and continue down the right side of the valley. This path eventually led to an unmade road, then a narrow road leading to the main road in Patterdale, where going right it was a short walk to the car. By now it was 16.30, so Dad just drove home.

Dad went to Ray and Sandra's for fish chips and peas, for his tea. Ray said "was it dusty where you have been walking, as it is lodged under your eyes". Dad had not realised this, but was not surprised as the paths were very rough with plenty of loose stone.

A good day, and we were all glad to finally have got this walk out of the way and Cofa Pike especially, ticked off.

Thanks Dad from us all.

Oh, and finally the boring stuff stats. Little Eric bagged all the tops - all are Birketts and include 3 Wainwrights. The rest of us bagged the 2 Birketts, Cofa Pike and Gavel Pike.

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