Date - 31st August 2011 Distance - 11 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4/OL6 Start point - Seathwaite (NY 2356 1234)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Esk Pike 2903 885 NY 2365 0750
Pike De Bield 2657 810 NY 2359 0683
Broad Crag (Scafell) 3054 931 NY 2186 0755



Allen was tapping away on the laptop, with Grizzly looking on, while Tetley was thumbing through the Birkett Almanac.

"We are down to seven outstanding tops now, so the walk options are getting rather limited", commented Grizzly, peering with Allen at the listing.

"The two toughest left, are the tops above Ennerdale, and those near Esk Pike & Scafell Pike", said Tetley, who by now was perusing the list too.

It was just then that Shaun and Little Eric trotted in.

"It's tea time", piped up Little Eric, "so we have brought the flasks. Yorkshire tea too, so that will suit you Tetley."

"Aye lad", he replied, going off to get the mugs.

"I'm gasping", said Allen, temporarily abandoning the laptop to get the tuck tin, and pass round the biscuits.

"You really do take after Dad, for your tea", said Shaun, laughing heartily.

Then once we were all settled happily with our mugs of tea, he went on, "I was talking to Dad, and he is thinking of walking on Wednesday, and asked if we could come up with some ideas."

"We were just looking at which tops we have left, when you came in", replied Allen.

"Although it will be hard on Dad, it seems to be a good idea to get one of the tougher ones out of the way", mused Grizzly. "We had two in mind, but it is not that long ago that we went to Ennerdale, and I guess that Dad, would not want to go back so soon. So, that leaves the climb up to the Scafells, to get Broad Crag out of the way, and over Esk Pike to do Pike De Bield."

"Oh heck, that sounds a long long way", cried Little Eric. "You will need to be at your persuasive best, when you put the suggestion to Dad, Allen."

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

"Because you are the best at doing it, and anyway we all know you like to go and ask Dad", said Shaun, laughingly.

So draining his mug, Allen trotted off to find Dad.

"Better pour him another mug for when he gets back", said Tetley, holding out his mug too for a refill.

"OK pal", said Shaun.

Just a few minutes later, Allen returned. "You were right Grizzly, he does not want to do the other Ennerdale walk just now, but agrees that getting Broad Crag etc. done will be a big step forward. For sure it will be a rough and rocky walk."

"Great" cried Tetley, passing Allen his second mug of tea.

"Thanks pal."


The Walk

Setting off early, we were once again heading north, up the ever so familiar M6 and then west along the A66 to Keswick.

"I bet you'll be glad not to have to make these long journeys north, Dad", said Shaun.

"I certainly will, lad", Dad replied. "Just two more trips now. One up to Whinlatter to do Hobcarton End, and once more to Ennerdale.

In Keswick we then took the rather narrow winding road along Borrowdale. On the first part Derwentwater was to the right, and we could see Catbells and Skelgill Bank rising above. Soon we were passing through the jaws between Castle Crag and King's How.

If I remember right, we climbed Skelgill Bank, Catbells and King's How on the same day last year", said Little Eric.

"You're right lad", replied Tetley. "It was in fact last November."

"What a memory you have", said Little Eric.

Beyond the valley opened out, and and we passed through the village of Rosthwaite, on the way to taking the left turn along the narrow road to Seathwaite. This was our start point, parking on the verge, just before the farm.

We arrived soon after 09.00, Allen saying, "I'm not surprised it is already busy with cars, such is the popularity of this as a start point for the Scafells, Great Gable etc."

When we returned after the walk, it was obvious that many more cars had arrived afterwards.

Dad was soon ready and we got settled in the rucksack. Then we were off, walking through the farmyard, and on along the wide track with the beck to the right, the view ahead dominated by Seathwaite Fell.

"I remember well the day we climbed that", remarked Allen. "We went up via Base Brown then on to Green Gable and Great Gable, before returning via Seathwaite Fell. It was Remembrance Day in 2005, and by the time we had descended off the fells it was dark. Made for a rather interesting walk back to Seathwaite. Good job Uncle Bob had his headlight."

The path undulated on its way to Stockley Bridge, immediately below the slopes of Seathwaite Fell.

Across the bridge and through the gate in the wall, the path divides.

"Ahead is to Styhead Tarn, but our route is left beside the wall to ascend Grains Gill", instructed Shaun.

"We came this way in 2007", said Tetley. "I remember we ploughed a lonely furrow as all other walkers took the Styhead path. That day we went on to climb to Allen Crags, then along the ridge to Glaramara, ticking off a few Birkett tops in between."

"That was the second time we climbed Allen Crags, after which I am named ", added Allen.

So best foot forwards, Dad sent off along the path, on the long steady climb, where after a while the scene ahead was dominated by the massive bulk of Great End.

The path has been extensively repaired and graded, which while it made for an easier ascent, it was hard on Dad's poor knees when we were coming down later. Although not too clear in the photograph, the path wound its way up the grassy bank to the left of the deep ravine to, once the gill was crossed, join the path from Styhead.

"Is this Esk Hause?", asked Little Eric hopefully, who was the only one of our group not to have been here before.

"Sadly not", replied Shaun. "We take the path left, and there is about another 400ft of ascent to the Hause.

Dad climbed on towards Esk Hause, and after a while Little Eric asked, "what are those mountains behind?"

"Great Gable with Green Gable to the right", replied Tetley.

Dad said, "I recall, when we were descending the path on Great Gable, we met the well known Lakeland personality and author Bob Orrell, who lives in Ennerdale."

"Oh yes", said Grizzly. "What made me smile was his referring to the graded and repaired path up Great Gable, as the National Trust's stairway to heaven!"

Reaching Esk Hause, the large cairn marks the cross road of paths. "Left towards Allen Crags, while looping back right is the wide path, with the steady stream of people, heading for Scafell Pike", said Shaun. "We go straight on to Esk Pike, that dominates the view ahead."

As we surveyed the scene, two fell runners passed by having descended from Esk Pike, to then take the path towards Scafell Pike.

"Phew", said Dad. "I wish I had their energy."

"Well Dad, its not the speed, but the getting there and back that is most important", said Tetley. "You are our hero!"

From Esk Hause, the summit of Esk Pike cannot be seen. Setting off the path climbed right through the rocky sections to emerge on to a level and grassy plateau. Here the extensive summit rocks were finally revealed, in two sections split by a gap. Approaching we could see that there was a large cairn on the left section, and a smaller cairn on the right section.

"The one on the right marks the highest point", said Shaun who had consulted the chapter in Wainwright's Book 4 - Southern Fells.

"I have decided to leave the taking of your summit picture here, until we have been to Pike De Bield."

As he was standing at the summit, a gentleman who was walking with a young lad asked, "is this Esk Hause?"

"No", Dad replied, "this is the summit of Esk Pike."

They had come up from the Hause, and we do not know how they had missed the junction and the wide path to Scafell Pike, where they were bound. Dad showed him on the map, the current position, and then pointed out the rather distant path they needed to take.

"I'll not be popular", he replied, heading off having thanked Dad for the guidance. We were in fact to meet them later on as we were heading for Broad Crag. They had made it successfully to Scafell Pike, which they said was extremely busy today.

Before continuing, we paused to look around. Much rock abounds here, as can be seen in this shot of Bowfell.

Looking beyond right Allen pointed, "that's super view of the Crinkle Crags."

"We climbed those in October 2006 with Uncle Bob", said Tetley. "We summited all five. Only the highest is a Wainwright, but the rest are Birketts."

Descending through the rocks to easy ground, Dad strolled across the grass, towards an outcrop with a large cairn.

"Is that Pike De Bield?", enquired Little Eric.

Shaun studied the map and replied, "no, we have not come far enough." Then looking up he went on, "it is that next top, with the easy slope leading to the summit.

"We can see the summit, marked by the upright stone pointing skyward like a needle", pointed Allen.

After an easy clamber up the rocky step, the cairn was reached and that was another Birkett summit ticked off.

The cairn is neat with the standing stone in the centre, and wishing to show it off, Dad took this picture, with the stunning back drop of England's two highest mountains, left to right Scafell (3162ft) and Scafell Pike (3210ft).

"Wow", exclaimed Little Eric, in wonder.

We now scrambled out, Allen calling out, "time for our picture." He then went on, "the cairn is recently built, as compared to the picture on the Striding Edge website, from July, it was then just a small untidy heap."

Grizzly informed us. "According to Diana Whaley's book on Lake District Place Names, the name means, 'the peak with the shelter or animal lair'. The map shows a 'bield', but as she says there is no certainty that it is the one commemorated in the name."

Looking again at the view Tetley said, "to the left of Scafell Pike is Ill Crag, between which is the steep ravine of Little Narrowcove."

An ascent up part of this would be necessary, to reach Pen, which was to turn out to be our last Birkett top. But that is another story.

So tearing our eyes away from the stupendous views of the rocky mountains, the route was then retraced to Esk Pike.

That Herdwick lamb is begging to have it's picture taken", said Little Eric.

"They are born with a black fleece, then it begins to turn brown as is the case here", said Tetley. "They have such lovely faces with the markings that seem to be different on each lamb, almost like fingerprint. When about a year old the fleece will be completely brown, then turning finally to the characteristic blue/grey."

At Esk Pike we now posed at the summit.

Dad took our picture at the other cairn too, and then settled in the rucksack we made our way down to Esk Hause.

"Just Broad Crag left to tick off", said Allen, as in the footsteps of many walkers today, we headed up Calf Cove, along the broad track.

Some of the path had been repaired and graded so making for easier going, but it is still hard walking amongst the rock, something a gentleman commented on as we passed him.

Dad said "I'm not as fit as I was".

"Nor me either" he replied.

His much younger companion said the same, to which he replied, "you were never fit!"

The path was always rough, and care was necessary over the 150 yards of large boulders, to reach Ill Crag col. Beyond our final objective, Broad Crag loomed to the right.

A short descent, was followed by a short climb to Broad Crag col. At the top we struck right, to clamber carefully across the jumbled boulder field, and reach the shaped rock with a small cairn marking the summit.

"So good that is a calm day as we will be able to balance ourselves on the boulder to record the achievement", said Shaun.

"Five to go", cried Allen

Just as we were settling back in the rucksack, two walkers arrived, a gentleman and a younger man. Dad offered to take their picture for them, which they were pleased to accept.

All that was left now was the long walk down to Seathwaite. First we had to carefully recross the boulder field to the main path.

"I'll be glad when this over", said Dad with feeling.

"It would be quite easy to get injured crossing here", said Little Eric worriedly. "Take as long as you want."

Returning to Esk Hause we had more superb views. "That's Kirk Fell, Great Gable and to the left of them Pillar its summit just in cloud", pointed Allen.

As we got there, a RAF Typhoon aircraft came screaming over and disappeared between Great End and Great Gable. It just so happened that Dad was ringing Uncle Brian, at the time, so he heard it too.

Setting off again we made the descent along the path towards Styhead, then once again crossed the gill and started down Grains Gill. "It's going to be a long way down", sighed Shaun.

On the lower section we met a lady who was going to check on a Duke of Edinburgh group. They were camping at Angle Tarn, having started today near Grisedale Tarn. To reach Angle Tarn they were having to climb Rossett Gill.

Dad said, "oh I hate Rossett Gill."

She had walked extensively, having not only done the Wainwrights, but the Munros too. Now that is some achievement!. In all Dad chatted with her about ten minutes, about various parts of the Lake District and their respective favourite areas. She had two wonderful border collies with her too, for company.

Walking on it was now not too far to Stockley Bridge and so finally on to Seathwaite. At the farm, Dad stopped at Jake's Snack Shack, run by Jake, a lad of about 13. How enterprising. He serves drinks, biscuits, chocolate bars etc. Not surprisingly Dad had a very welcome mug of tea. It must have been because Dad was rather tired by now, that it did not occur to him to take a picture, so you will just have to imagine the stone building with a pitched roof.

With some relief Dad reached the car, and we settled on the front seat while Dad got his boots off. Then we headed home, but not before Dad had made a stop at Junction 38 services for some much needed sustenance. He enjoyed a plateful of sausage chips & beans washed down with a pot of tea with extra hot water.

"Thank you Dad for all your effort today and for taking us on such a splendid walk", said Shaun.

"It was a tough one and I am glad it is out of the way finally", he replied.

"Another step closer to realising our ambition to complete the Birketts", went on Allen.


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