Date - 7th October 2011 Distance - 4.75 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL6
Start point - Ulpha Bridge, Duddon Valley (SD 1967 9300)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Bigert 1086 331 SD 1766 9320



We were having a relaxing afternoon, enjoying a steaming mug of tea and biscuits, when Grizzly remarked, "well after that mammoth expedition to Ennerdale, we have now just two Birkett summits to go, to complete the challenge."

"That's right pal", enthused Allen, "and just maybe we will get them done before the days get too short."

"There is however that niggling doubt concerning whether we actually reached the summit, when we climbed Bigert in October 2008", replied Tetley.

"I'll get the map", said Shaun, going to the drawer, and taking out OL6 - The English Lakes, south western area. Opening it out, he said, "here's Bigert."

Tetley was looking over his shoulder and said, "we walked to the road end beyond Hole House, and then on along the track that climbs along Bigert's lower slopes, to beyond the gate in the wall. There we climbed left beside it."

"That's right pal" replied Shaun. "The wall then intersects with that new fence, and the spot height is shown beyond this. And, thereby rests our doubt, as we did not cross the fence. Dad took our picture by those few stones that seemed to be a cairn just before the fence."

"Unless we climb it again, we will always have that niggling doubt", said Grizzly.

"I know", said Allen, draining his mug, "I had better go and ask Dad what he thinks."

"Another mug of tea, Tetley?", asked Little Eric.

"Yes please pal, and you had better pour another one for Allen, as you know what a tea belly he is."

It was not long before he was back. "Thanks pal", he said, accepting the refilled mug from Little Eric.

"Dad agrees, that there is some doubt about this fell, although he thinks that the OS map may not be completely accurate, but nevertheless we need to do it again, and it will be our next walk."

"I guess we will be starting from Ulpha Bridge, as the parking is so limited by Hole House, immediately below the hill?", queried Grizzly.

"Yes pal", replied Allen.

"Well there's one thing, it will make a nice change not having to drive to the north Lakes, and so we will not have to be up and away very early", said Tetley, with relief in his voice.



The Walk

As Tetley had predicted, it was mid-morning before Dad was ready, and hearing the boot of the car slam shut, we dashed to the car, calling out our goodbyes to Uncle Brian.

"Have a good time lads", he called back. "Make sure Dad takes care, especially after all the rain we have had recently."

The drive was along the A590 Barrow road, passing below Whitbarrow Scar.

"We have made a few ascents of that", remarked Allen.

"Quite pal", replied Tetley. "Great views too, despite its modest height of 700ft."

Here it is, taken from Leven's Bridge, in March 2009, while Dad was waiting for Uncle Eric to arrive for a walk. The usual ascent is made via the woods at the left end, then traversing right across the scar to its summit, called Lord's Seat.

According to Diana Whaley, the name means 'the white hill'. Viewed from this side we can see why."

At Greenodd we turned right, heading towards Broughton. Passing Gawthwaite, Little Eric called out "there's Burney, which I ticked off earlier this year."

The main road bypasses Broughton village, and soon we reached Duddon Bridge, where just before we turned right along the narrow winding road up the valley. After a while it became unfenced, and our lovely Herdwicks were grazing the verges. Soon we arrived at Ulpha Bridge.

Grizzly said, "it probably dates from the 17th or 18th centuries. The main left arch spans the river, the other two being for flood water."

As can be seen the sun was shining and there was little wind too, in contrast to the recent spate of rain and gales. This however was just a respite before more wet weather arrived for the weekend.

Dad got ready, so we got settled securely in the rucksack, "We cross the bridge", advised Shaun, "then by the house at the corner take the road signed to Bootle."

Before doing so, Dad paused to take this shot of the River Duddon, sparkling in the sunlight.

Approaching the old bobbin mill, Shaun instructed, "go right into Rainsbarrow Wood, and then immediately left."

The muddy overgrown path wound its way over the slopes of Hard Hill. We do not think the path is walked very often, which was perhaps just well in view of the incident that happened at the first tall kissing gate. An area has been fenced to allow native woodland to regrow, and as can be seen this had clearly been successful.

The gate has a chain and hook fastening, and after a minute or so Dad was no nearer to getting it open.

"What's the problem?" asked Tetley.

"Well lad, somehow when it was last fastened a link in the chain has got wedged against the hook, and I just can't free it", replied Dad in exasperation. "What is needed is a sharp blow with a hammer, but that is not standard kit when we are walking."

"Oh heck", said Little Eric, "whatever are we going to do."

"I'll just have to climb the fence surrounding the gate", replied Dad promptly.

This was easy, but as he got over the map caught on the top of the fence, but then came free. We thought nothing more about this, but in fact what we all failed to notice was that this caused Dad's GPS & case to come off and fall to the ground.

The path climbed steadily to come out of the wood via another tall kissing gate whose fastening presented no problem, and on over a pasture and further rough ground to a stile and gate.

"There's Bigert", called out Allen, pointing ahead.

Reaching for the GPS, Dad exclaimed, "its gone!"

"It must have fallen off when you climbed that first kissing gate", said Tetley.

"Oh heck", cried Little Eric, "We'll have to go and get it. Hopefully it will still be there."

Dad hurried and to everyone's relief, it was lying there on the ground.

"Phew!!", said Tetley.

This there and back, added about another half a mile to the walk. Now however all went to plan.

As we reclimbed, Little Eric said, "what's that fell over to the right."

"The Pike", replied Tetley. "We climbed that with Hesk Fell on a misty day in February 2006."

"That was before I was born, so if I am to eventually complete the Outlying Fells, we will have to repeat them", said Little Eric.

Beyond the stile, the path comes above the gill. The map shows a way across this to Hole House, and indeed there is a waymark pointing to it.

Shaun said, "we tried that path last time but the route has disappeared, so instead we need to climb the stile in the wall on the right."

"Thanks", replied Dad.

Beyond we crossed the pasture diagonally left, to climb the stile in the wall, and then up the pasture to the access track to Pike Side Farm. "Go left along the track to come to the narrow bridge over Holehouse Gill", advised Shaun.

Crossing Dad paused to take this pleasing picture, looking upstream.

So, with the approach walk done, we could now get on with climbing Bigert. Over the bridge, we immediately turned right through a gate, and climbed steadily the rough track passing through two more gates.

Looking right, Tetley said, "Little Eric, that is Hesk Fell, that we will need to climb again for your Wainwright Outlyer challenge."

Beyond the second gate, we left the track immediately to climb up the steep rough grassy slope by the wall/fence. As the ground levelled, we struck right to the grassy knoll, with the few stones that is supposed to be a cairn.

Shaun got the map and peering closely said, "there is a spot height shown here, but without a number." Looking round he then went on, "we crossed the remains of a wall just before the knoll, which is what the line on the map represents, rather than the new fence. So this spot height is just where we are now."

Tetley was standing by Shaun and replied, "I agree pal, but the map does also show the 331m spot height, some little distance on beyond the fence."

In the meantime, Allen had taken his rucksack off, and was looking hopefully at the flasks of tea inside, but his face fell, when he heard Dad's reply.

"Well lads, what we will do is cross the stile over the fence and walk towards that point."

Noticing Allen, Grizzly said, "it's not that far pal, and we will soon be back here, so we can all have a mug of tea then."

"OK", replied Allen his face brightening.

So off we went crossing the brown dreary and boggy ground towards a slight prominence in the otherwise flat area.

As we reached this, Tetley looked back said, "the grassy knoll is definitely higher." Then reading the Birkett book, he went on, "and that knoll is the summit that he describes in his book."

So, all of us happy, we returned to the knoll, where we settled by the stones for our summit picture.

Slipping his rucksack off again, Allen passed round the welcome mugs of tea, which we had with a chocolate biscuit.

"Thanks pal", said Grizzly, on behalf of the rest of us.

Meanwhile Dad had some water and a mars bar.

"That view of the Coniston Fells is worth a picture for our story", said Grizzly. He then set the scene, "Dow Crag is to the left, with Coniston Old Man in the centre and to the right Walna Scar and White Maiden."

Ready for the off, Shaun said, "it's just the case of retracing the route to and across Holehouse Bridge."

There he directed us again, "if we climb that step stile we will cut off the corner of the drive to Pike House Farm."

Our outwards route was now followed, and as we crossed the pasture towards the tall kissing gates, Grizzly called out, "there's the southern Caw its summit at 1735ft. It was only last week that we climbed its northern namesake above Ennerdale that is somewhat higher at 2288ft."

At the second kissing gate, Dad once again tried again to free the fastening. After pulling hard he sighed, "it's no good. As I said before it needs a hammer blow to free it."

So again he agilely climbed the surrounding fence, taking care not to leave the GPS. Out of the wood, it was then back along the Bootle road, to Ulpha Bridge, and the car parked on the rough layby, just beyond the cattle grid. From this side it can be seen more clearly that the two far arches are for flood water.

As we settled in the car, Allen piped up, "I guess it's time for a late lunch Dad?"

"Yes lad."

"We know where you will be going too", said Tetley. "Jane and Sam's at Low Newton, but that is great because we get to go in too."

Here Dad had delicious sweet potato & leek soup, served piping hot with crusty bread. This was followed by the delicious apple & blackberry crumble with custard. Tea to drink.

Rather quiet by the time we got there, there was a couple in who were regulars, and Dad joined in the conversation with them. The lady noticed and admired us, and thought Dad taking us on the hills was great and she loved the idea of the stories.

She said "they are not just Teddy Bears but REAL."



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