Grizzly achieves his 1000th summit


Date - 14th August 2011 Distance - 8.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4
Start point - Car park beneath Bowness Knott (NY 109153)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Bowness Knott 1093 333 NY 1121 1555
Brown How (Ennerdale) 1056 322 NY 1152 1583
Herdus 1844 562 NY 1175 1634
Great Borne 2019 616 NY 1239 1638
Gale Fell 1699 518 NY 1338 1637
Starling Dodd 2077 633 NY 1421 1574
Little Dodd (Ennerdale) 1936 590 NY 1491 1552



Shaun, Allen & Little Eric, were reading quietly, while enjoying a mug of freshly brewed tea and biscuits.

Suddenly their quiet reverie was interrupted, as Grizzly and Tetley came rushing into the room, Tetley calling out, "I have news about our next adventure. We are going to Ennerdale."

"Fantastic", cried Allen

"There are two walks we have to do from there, so which one is it?", asked Shaun.

"First things first, pour us a mug of tea", said Grizzly.

"OK pal", said Allen obligingly.

So all settled, Tetley then went on. "Dad is planning to take us on the walk that starts with the ascent of Bowness Knott, and in all we will visit seven summits on the day, which for you Little Eric will mean seven more tops bagged, including two more Wainwrights."

"Wonderful", exclaimed Little Eric with glee.

"I'll get the map, so we can see the route", said Shaun trotting across the room.

"It's a walk straight out of the Birkett Almanac", added Allen, grabbing the book from the shelf and thumbing through the pages.

By now Shaun had returned and spread the map out on the table, and we all gathered round while he pointed out the route.

"We start at this car park, then walk back along the road and climb up behind Bowness Knott, and cross to its summit. Then return to summit of Brown How, before climbing the ravine of Rake Beck to Herdus and then across to Great Borne. Down by the fence following along to Gale Fell, then up to Starling Dodd and finally the short distance to Little Dodd. Then it's down to the valley and back along the track."

"That's spot on pal", said Allen who had been reading the text in the book. "The first three summits will be Birketts we have not been to before and will reduce our outstanding to eight."

"It will in actual fact be four Birketts in truth", went on Tetley. "The last time we were up here was in July 2005, before Dad bought the Birkett book. When he checked them off he nominally claimed Gale Fell, but as you can see from the map the path does not actually go to the summit, marked by the corner post in the fence, but that will be rectified on Sunday."

Grizzly was checking Dad's walk records on the laptop, and said, "seven summits will mean that Little Dodd, will be my 1000th.

"That will be fantastic pal. You will join Tetley and I in having achieved that. We must remind Dad, so that he can take your photo on your own there", enthused Shaun.

"Well there's one thing for sure, it is a long long drive, so that will mean an early start, so we better have an early night on Saturday", said Allen, holding out his mug for a refill.

"You are just like Dad, a real tea belly", said Shaun laughingly as he poured the tea.


The Walk

It is 90 miles to the car park below Bowness Knott, so we were indeed up early, and on the road by about 07:15. M6 north then A66 to Cockermouth, turning left by the Sheep Wool Centre, towards Cleator Moor, but turning off after a few miles to pass through the village of Lamplugh.

"We parked here just opposite the church, when we did the walk taking in Blake Fell amongst others" remarked Tetley. "It was two years ago. How time flies."

A little further on the road dipped down, and by a junction, Allen called out, "there's the football score signpost (it reads Kirkland 1 Rowrah 2). This is where we parked when we did the round including Gavel Fell."

"That was just a couple of months before the walk from Lamplugh", added Tetley. "Do you remember that terribly steep ascent of Knock Murton."

"I really felt for Dad, as not only was it so unrelentingly steep, but a hot and oppressive day", replied Shaun.

Shortly we reached the tiny community of Croasdale Bridge, where turning left, we followed the very narrow road to the rough car park under the trees, below Bowness Knott, arriving just after 09:00. A good track continues up the valley, but this car park is the limit for vehicular traffic unless you are at the Youth Hostel or Field Centre.

Seeing the sign reading 'Welcome to Wild Ennerdale', Tetley said, "that is certainly true, especially the upper sections below the mountain of Pillar etc."

Within minutes it was raining hard. "Oh no", said Little Eric.

"We'll sit in the car, while it passes over", said Dad.

This proved to be a wise decision, as after about half an hour the rain stopped, and so we finally set off about 09:50.

"That's Crag Fell, across the lake", said Grizzly. "We climbed it with Uncle Bob."

"It's hard to believe that was in July 2006", added Tetley.

"However do you remember all this information?", said Little Eric, with awe.

"Don't know pal. I just seem to have a head for dates etc.", replied Tetley. "Over to the right below the fell is Angler's Crag. We walked below that with Uncle Bob along that side of the lake, on that very hot day, when we bagged Haycock, earlier in the same month."

"It will make a good close-up shot", said Dad, lining up the camera.

The reminiscing over, Shaun instructed, "we walk back along the road to the end of the forestry, and then climb the stile on the right by Rake Beck. Eventually we will actually follow Rake Beck back to its source between Herdus and Great Borne."

A clear path climbed steadily through the bracken to the forest corner, then continued on upwards a little way to the left of the fence, with Brown How, the second top of the day ahead.

Look at the fungi nestling in the grass", called out Grizzly.

As we climbed towards the crest, Bowness Knott, to the right came clearly into view.

Coming by the fence, Shaun stated, "we are looking for the stile over this to gain access."

Looking over Allen said, "the forestry has been fairly recently felled, and perhaps the stile has been moved further up beyond the crest since Birkett wrote his book?"

"Never mind, I'll just climb the fence" replied Dad.

As result of the forestry work the ground was covered in branches and debris, and any path there may have been was largely obliterated.

"This will be hard going", said Dad. "A rough and unpleasant ascent."

Finally it was done. The summit is marked as a viewpoint on the OS map and indeed there is a majestic view over Ennerdale, so we took time to look at this as we are unlikely to return here again. Crag Fell and Angler's Crag can be seen again, the fell beyond being Grike.

Little Eric then said, "come on pals, time to sit on the cairn for our picture."

Here we looked back the way we had come.

"That rocky heather strewn knoll is Brown How, our next summit", said Shaun. "It looks so close from here, but first Dad will have to renegotiate that rough ground to the stile.", he sighed. "Then behind, the highest top is Herdus a climb of some 800ft, up the ravine of Rake Beck to the right."

"Looks to be an interesting climb", said Allen.

"OK lads, get settled again, time to be off", called out Dad.

The stile regained, it was a short easy climb to the rocky knoll of Brown How, where we posed amongst the heather. In late summer this makes for a very pretty sight on the fell sides.

Grizzly told us, "the name literally means 'the brown hill'.

Herdus, now much closer, towered over all. Also we had a closer view of the steep ravine of Rake Beck, with Scaw to its right, via which we faced the 800ft of climb to Herdus's summit. "That must be the start of the path just about discernible to the right of the beck through then heather", commented Allen.

Dad made the short descent to cross a path running below Brown How, and so start up Rake Beck. Being hidden in the heather and other vegetation, there was little in view at any time, but the cunning path was never in doubt, climbing steadily and winding its way up the fell. Rough and rocky in places, it was real Lake District walking. Dad took his time and was careful as the rocks were wet and slick after the rain. Despite looks, it never felt really steep, unlike Scale Knott when we climbed Mellbreak, and was just a great scrambly climb that we all enjoyed.

At one point the beck tumbled down in this pretty waterfall. "That's got to be worth a picture Dad", enthused Grizzly.

We had also passed a curious circle of stones, of a height akin to a sheepfold, but there was no entrance. "I wonder what this is meant to represent?", mused Little Eric. "There is a triangular structure too."

None of us really knew, but Tetley suggested, "I wonder if they are Andy Goldsworthy sculptures.

"I'll see what I can find on the Internet when we get home", said Grizzly. Later he told us, "I have been able to solve the mystery of the circular structure, as I hit upon a report on the website, and there is a picture of this very one, as clearly in the background can be seen Brown How, Bowness Knott and Ennerdale Water. It is a Fox Bield or more correctly a Fox Trap. When it was constructed is not known but certainly no later than the 18th century. Bait was placed inside that attracted foxes. The top has overhanging stones, so once inside the fox could not climb out. As for the triangular structure, I drew a blank."

As we climbed on Tetley called out, "Dad there is a fine view of where we have been earlier. I think it would be worth a picture, for inclusion in the story."

"OK lad", replied Dad as he hauled the camera out of its bag.

Even so close, the path just walked is partly hidden in the heather. Far below can be seen the rocky knoll of Brown How and behind Bowness Knott, bare of its forest covering, standing above Ennerdale Water.

Eventually the ascent levelled and we reached a plateau. "This is the source of Rake Beck, between Herdus on the left and Great Borne ahead and right", said Shaun. "We continue a along the path, then shortly go left to Herdus."

Keeping our eyes peeled it was Allen who called out, "here's the narrow trod left."

Soon the cairn marking its summit was in view.

And there we quickly scrambled out and settled on it for our picture.

"That's the three Birketts done ", called out Shaun

"Yippee" we cheered.

Grizzly then said, "according to Diana Whaley's book on Lake District place names, Herdus is seemingly 'herd-house; herd from the Old English hi(e)rde, heorde 'herdsman', plus house.

The cloud base was still low at times and as we were having our picture taken it rolled in and Great Borne, our next summit temporarily disappeared. It soon rolled away, and by the time we were ready for the off all was clear once again. Crossing the plateau, a path climbed quickly to level ground, and it was then just a couple of hundred yards across the bouldery ground to the trig point marking the summit of Great Borne.

"Come on", urged Little Eric. "It's calm enough for us to sit on top."

Once again Grizzly enlightened us about the name. 'Bourne' is probably a boundary. The large cairn here, is on a parish boundary. Either the hill or the cairn could be described as great."

Just a minute later, a couple arrived at the summit, the first walkers we had seen so far today.

Having done a good part of the climbing, Allen said, "I'm hungry, let's stop here for a bite to eat."

"Ok lad, we'll sit by the shelter."

By now the clouds were lifting and the dramatic views were becoming clearer, although the mist was still hanging over the mountains at the top of Ennerdale. The zoomed shot below is of Pillar, with high on its slopes just below the cloud, Pillar Rock. Tetley said, "that is a Birkett, but it can only be reached by a rock climb. So will be the only one we do not actually summit. Nevertheless if all the other summits are reached it is accepted that the Birkett challenge is attained."

"Were ready when you are Dad", said Allen packing the remnants of the picnic in his rucksack.

"Right", Dad replied, "settle yourselves in my rucksack, and we will be on our way."

A fence in a dip, bisects the two tops of Great Borne, and we descended by it on a reasonable path to the corner, where bearing left we continued along the path towards Starling Dodd. It was along here that we met the only other walkers today, a group of five people.

"This was the path we took in 2005, so it is clear that we did not actually summit Gale Fell", said Shaun. "We need to strike left off this path and cross to the fence corner which is Gale Fell's summit."

"According to Birkett, marked by a stout corner post", added Tetley.

This was soon achieved and here we are by said stout corner post.

"Now, that's truly just eight Birkett summits to go", said Dad

"Yippee!", we all cried out.

With his back to the post, Dad now walked ahead, and crossing a dip, we joined the main path, and the climb was soon accomplished to Starling Dodd. The top is grassy, and bare apart from the two cairns - one of stone and the other mainly the old fence posts as we remembered from last time.

"That's a fantastical cairn", cried Little Eric, who had not been here before. "Let's climb up to have our picture taken."

Grizzly said, "the origin of the name is interesting. Of course Dodd is just another name for a hill. Starling seems to be named from the track Styalein which is named in Loweswater bounds of 1230. This in turn seems to be an inversion compound meaning 'Alan's path', from the Old Norse stigr or Old English stig 'steep path' and the personal name Alein of Breton origin but popular in Middle England."

"Thank you pal", said Shaun. "Indeed very interesting, as are all your insights that add to the enjoyment of our adventures."

By now the views were stupendous, and Dad took a number of shots.

Allen was first to describe the view, pointing, "there are the upper reaches of Ennerdale leading to the Black Sail Pass. The mountains overshadowing it are from the left, Green Gable, the pudding basin shape of Great Gable, Kirk Fell and dominant to the right Pillar."

Then turning our backs on this view, Tetley said, "that's Crummock Water, dominated by from the left, Whiteside and Grasmoor, with the steep end of Rannerdale Knotts on the right above the lake. The lower summit of Lad Hows can be seen to the right of Grasmoor. Leading behind is the ongoing path that leads to the extremely steep ascent to the summit of Grasmoor."

Looking ahead in the direction of our walk, Grizzly said, "we can see the flat top of Little Dodd and beyond Red Pike with High Stile rising behind."

"You took us up to Red Pike last time", said Tetley.

"I did", replied Dad, "but that day we started from Buttermere not Ennerdale."

So onwards now to our final objective Little Dodd (Ennerdale), the rounded rise in the foreground of the above picture. The clear path from Starling Dodd, bypasses Little Dodd, so at the fork it was right to cross the flat top, to the similar fence post cairn marking the summit. This was a significant milestone for our pal Grizzly, as it marked his 1000th summit. We all gave him a hug to congratulate him on the achievement. Here he is sitting proudly at the cairn.

Soon after leaving the summit, we came across this Herdwick ewe, looking rather thin having been shorn, and its lamb. They are totally ignoring us, looking to another Herdwick about 50 yards away. The ewe was not happy at all about the proximity of this other sheep, which she appeared to perceive as a threat to her lamb, and she successfully forced the 'intruder' to move off.

Up to now Shaun and Dad had been paying close attention to Bill Birkett's description of the route, but maybe it was the sheep that distracted them. Whatever, we headed straight off the fell, rather than walking on first to the ravine of Gillflinter Beck, the descent of which would have been easier than the steep route we took through rocks, and heather.

"I will never learn", Dad said, after a particularly awkward section.

Finally however it was accomplished, after forcing his way through a section of bracken to gain the proper path, that wound on down to reach the unsurfaced road in the valley at Gillerthwaite. At least there had been wonderful views up the valley towards Black Sail Pass, like this of Pillar, with Pillar Rock prominent too.

All that now remained was the basically level about two miles walk along the unsurfaced valley road to the car.

"Easy walking at last", said Little Eric. "It is pretty along here under the trees, and by the lake."

"Thank you Dad for a truly great day out", said Allen. "We have made significant progress with the remaining Birkett tops. Finally we have the outstanding down to single figures."

Faced with the long drive home, Dad said, "I am going to get a good way before stopping for a meal."

"I guess Junction 38 Services", said Tetley.

"That's right lad."

After a hearty plateful of steak and vegetable pie, chips, beans, carrot & swede, followed by chocolate rice crispy cake with tea, he was duly fortified and a quick run down the M6 got us home in about another 45 minutes.

And finally the stats - Little Eric bagged all seven tops, including two Wainwrights (Great Borne & Starling Dodd). The rest of us bagged 4 Birketts (Bowness Knott, Brown How, Herdus and Gale Fell).


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