Date - 30th July 2011 Distance - 10 miles
Ascent -
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



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 off 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, and risked damaging cars", went on Grizzly.

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.

Scrutinising the map Shaun instructed, "we take 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. Allen said, "this is the path to the Grisedale valley. It will soon be decision time for the ascent of Birks, as keeping ahead we will have to then take the path left up Thornhow End."

"Which looks extremely steep", went on 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 asked 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. "Hmph", grunted Allen, "well at least we have got the sheep picture out of the way early in the walk! Mind you I do not really mind as they are our favourite sheep."

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.

Ready for the off again, Shaun told us, "we descend to the path and walk to Trough Head, at the top of the wall enclosing Glenamara Park."

Looking back Arnison Crag, stood proud, Little Eric saying, "please take a picture Dad, to include in the story."

Running from the enclosing wall, is a ruined wall. "Follow this, and then when it turns away up the fell keep on ahead", advised Shaun. "Then we will soon find 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, where we Little Eric called out, "picture time again."

Grizzly said, "Diana Whaley in her book on Lake District place names, states the name means 'the birch trees'. This fell was formerly known as Birks Crag, and it is curious that crag appears to have been dropped from the name of this rock-girt height."

"Wow", called out Tetley. "That's a superb view. From the left, High Crag, Nethermost Pike and Helvellyn, with Striding Edge in the right foreground."

Checking the map again, Shaun said, "we follow the path that descends slightly and then join the main path from Thornhow End, that bypasses Birks's summit."

Tetley pointed, "that ahead to the left is Gavel Pike out next summit."

Dad strode on the main path, until Shaun called out, "we want that path branching left that contours the slope of the mountain, and leads 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. "Great cheered Tetley, that's the first of the Birkett fells ticked off today!"

Grizzly told us, "the name means 'the gable-shaped peak', from gavel. As we can see it is a very steep and rugged point on the end of a small ridge that juts out from The Cape."

"That's the lonely valley of Deepdale below, the head of which leads up to Deepdale Hause, which we will go to later", commented Shaun.

"Planning the route, walking up Deepdale had been one of the options we considered for this walk", replied Allen. "Just as well we dismissed it as there does not seem to 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. Grizzly said, "this seemingly is named from St Dominic, who from the 15th century was also known as St Sunday. The actual reason for the name is unknown."

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, and 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", reassured 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 rough path from the hause.

This 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.

"The second Birkett summit of the day", cheered Allen. "Just 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, "thank you", and we all waved.

As Dad took this picture, Grizzly told us, "the name means 'the peak above the corrie'. Cofa may well be the word cove, preserved by coincidence in its Old English spelling cofa. It stands above Cawk Cove and the corrie basin of Grisedale Tarn."

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.

Looking west Tetley called out, "please take the shot of Grisedale Tarn."

After more lingering looks at the wonderful views, we returned down to Deepdale Hause, to then take the path left descending to Grisedale Tarn.

Whilst we saw many walkers today, it was nothing like as many as on Helvellyn, as one lady from a group told us, "there are gangs of people and an endless stream crossing Striding Edge."

"Glad we're not there" remarked Tetley to the rest of us.

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, Allen suggested, "let's stop here for another picnic. That rock over there looks good to sit on."

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

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

Walking over the boggy ground we gained the path to 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 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.

"Thank goodness it lasted for most of the walk", said Little Eric with relieved tone in his voice.

"Well at least it will make for a quicker descent", commented Shaun.

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. "We need to cross that bridge over Grisedale Beck", instructed Shaun.

Then we continued down the right side of the valley, eventually to an unmade road, and then a narrow road leading to Patterdale, where going right it was a short walk to the car. By now it was 16:30, so Dad said, "I am just going to drive straight home."

For his tea Dad called at Ray and Sandra's for fish chips and peas. Ray said "was it dusty where you have been walking, as it is lodged under your eyes".

"I had not realised this", he replied, "but I'm not surprised as the paths were very rough with plenty of loose stone."

"That has been a grand day", said Tetley. "We are all glad to have finally have got this walk out of the way and Cofa Pike especially, ticked off. Thank you 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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