Date - 30th September 2011 Distance - 11.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4
Start point - Car park below Bowness Knott (NY 1098 1532)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Lingmell (Ennerdale) 1427 435 NY 1413 1312
Haycock 2617 797 NY 1447 1072
Little Gowder Crag 2415 733 NY 1402 1098
Caw Fell 2288 697 NY 1319 1100
Ennerdale Fell 2113 644 NY 1233 1192



Tetley & Grizzly strolled in to find Allen, Little Eric and Shaun, with a map spread before them, and a Wainwright book and the Birkett book open beside them.

Little Eric was rather agitated and muttering, "oh dear oh dear, that is such a long and arduous walk, but really speaking, whilst the full round will be very beneficial to me, as far as the Birkett challenge is concerned, only the first and last summits need to be reached."

"What's going on?" asked Grizzly.

"Oh hi pals", said Allen. "We have only four Birkett summits left, so we can no longer put off the one starting from Ennerdale."

"As Little Eric said, it will indeed be a long and very hard walk for poor Dad, and there is that long drive of about 90 miles each way taking about 2 hours", sighed Tetley.

"I've looked and looked at the map, and the appropriate chapters in the book, but there does not seem to be any alternative, if Dad intends to reach these summits in a single walk", said Shaun as he scrutinised the map. "Lingmell could be done as a single summit, by walking along to Char Dub Bridge, then crossing the valley and making the ascent. A second walk would then be needed taking the track below Grike and Crag Fell, and so up the wall to summit Ennerdale Fell."

"You have certainly done some extensive research pal, but I can't imagine that Dad will want to make two trips, bearing in mind the distance", replied Grizzly.

"Nor me", sighed Shaun. "I've done the research because I heard Dad saying to Uncle Brian that he intends to do a walk on Friday, and Allen has checked the weather and it looks good for then, and so Ennerdale is likely to be where we are going."

"Well", said Allen, "let's have a mug of tea and some biscuits, while we mull it over."

"I guessed that was coming", laughed Tetley, "so that is why Grizzly and I brought the flasks with us."

So steaming mugs all round, the pros and cons of Shaun's research was discussed at length. In the end we all agreed that the best option, although the toughest was to do the full round and get them both out of the way at once.

"Right, I have got it all straight in my mind, so I will put it to Dad", said Allen, collecting the map and marching out of the room.

"Another mug, Tetley?, asked Grizzly.

"Yes please pal, and while you're at it you had best pour another one for Allen, as he is bound to say he is gasping for some more tea, when he gets back", he replied laughingly.

Allen was back very quickly and gratefully accepted the mug of tea. "You were right Grizzly. Dad says one more trip to Ennerdale is all he wants, so the full round is on."

"We better have a very early night on Thursday, as it's bound to be an early start", said Little Eric.


The Walk

Just as Little Eric has said, it was indeed an early start, as Ennerdale is about the furthest drive from home taking about two hours, so we were on the way by 07:15.

As we headed north yet again on the M6, Allen said, "well Dad, at least this will be the last time we will have to drive to the North Lakes, on the Birkett challenge."

"Yes lad", replied Dad with feeling. "There have been so many journeys, it will be sometime too before we walk again in the area, and it will be nice to do some more local walks, exploring again places we have not been to for some years."

Leaving the motorway at Penrith, it was west along the A66, where after a few miles we came up behind a tanker, that was making a rather slow and stately progress.

"It's sod's law", said Tetley. "We always seem to get stuck behind a slow lorry or the like, and on the section where it is impossible to overtake."

Dad did eventually manage to pass, and we made faster progress. As we neared the top of Bassenthwaite Lake, Grizzly called out. "look, that's Armathwaite Hall over there, yours and Uncle Brian's favourite place to stay."

"Sure is, and we can't wait for December for our next visit", Dad replied.

Soon we heading left at Cockermouth, then taking the road through Lamplugh, and so finally along the narrow road to the car park below Bowness Knott, arriving just after 09:00.

Last time we walked from here, it had been raining when we arrived, but today, we enjoyed a dry sunny and very warm day, but thankfully on the tops there was a strong breeze that took the edge off the temperatures.

As Dad got ready, we sat reflecting on the day ahead.

"It will be pretty tough today with about 11 miles walking and over 3000ft of ascent", mused Shaun.

"If only one could take the car along the valley road, it would save 3 miles to and from Char Dub Bridge", added Allen.

"It is five years since we last climbed Haycock", said Tetley. "I recall it was an extremely hot day. Dad and Uncle Bob had stayed overnight in Ennerdale Bridge, and we approached on the opposite side of the lake. It was so still, that there were superb reflections across to Bowness Knott."

Here indeed is the picture Dad took. Bowness Knott is in the foreground, with behind Herdus on the left and Great Borne to the right. We had indeed climbed these just this August, and it is interesting to note that the extensive conifers on Bowness Knott have now been felled. This made for a very rough and difficult crossing from the fence behind to the summit.

By now Dad was ready, so we settled in his rucksack, and set off on the 1.5 miles walk to Char Dub Bridge. By a gap in the trees, Tetley called out, "that's a nice view of Crag Fell and Anglers Crag across Ennerdale Water."

"So it is", replied Dad hauling the camera out of the bag.

The mile and a half or so done along the surfaced track we turned right to cross Char Dub via the bridge and then continue along the track.

Looking distantly to the skyline Allen said, "there are some of today's objectives. From the left is Haycock, then the upthrust summit of Little Gowder Crag. The descent then leads to the flat top of Caw Fell. Thrusting into the foreground is the last objective today, Ennerdale Fell."

"The tree clad lower slopes of Lingmell, our first summit are to the left", pointed Shaun.

Passing through the gate at the end of the track we turned left, to then cross Woundell Beck by the new bridge. "The original was about 50 yards down stream, presumably swept away in a flood", commented Tetley. "I doubt such a fate will happen to the substantial replacement."

Just across, Grizzly whispered, "look there's a red squirrel."

They are fighting for survival against the greys and the Lake District is one of their strongholds. It is not very often that we get to see one, so we paused and watched as it ran up and round the tree trunk.

Very soon the track going diagonally right and the old drove path was reached, and it was decision time.

Shaun consulted the map and the relevant chapter in Wainwrights Western Fells. "It seems the drove path is probably more direct."

"I see", said Tetley looking over his shoulder, "but it looks to be very muddy, whereas the track is a better surface."

"I'm all for a direct route, so let's try the drove route", replied Dad.

It was indeed very soft and muddy at first, but soon a proper path materialised, that wound its way on upwards. A steep and unrelenting ascent, so Dad had a few stops to catch his breath. Eventually we reached the fence with a gateless gap where the ascent became rocky, but there was a path winding its way up through this.

"Wow, what a superb view of Ennerdale Water", called out Little Eric. "It must be worth a photo Dad."

"That's Bowness Knott is to the right, below which we had started this morning", pointed Tetley.

More steep rocky ascent followed, until finally the gradient eased, and we arrived at the summit cairn of Lingmell perched on a large boulder. Studying the map Shaun said, "while this does not seem to match the spot height on the map, there is no doubting this is the highest point."

"Phew, and that was just the first top", said Little Eric. "It really is going to be a tough day. Come on Dad please take our picture."

Grizzly informed us, "the name probably means 'the heathery hill', with ling from the Old Norse lyng 'heather', and the Celtic word mel for 'bare hill'."

"There is certainly lots of heather here", stated Tetley looking about.

Sitting here we could look ahead, to our next objective Haycock, on the distant ridge. "Oh dear", said Little Eric, dispiritedly, "it is such a long way."

"I know lad, so we must get on if we are to complete the round."

"OK", said Allen, as we settled in the rucksack again.

There was no path from the summit, so Dad just ploughed through the tall heather, encountering some of our lovely Herdwicks. Despite the need to be 'getting on', Dad had to stop and get the camera out.

"Oh well", sighed Allen, "I don't mind, Herdwicks are our favourite sheep."

The lack of any path persisted, until we had fully traversed left to find the one rising to Tewit How.

Dad made no attempt to take his rucksack off, prompting Little Eric to enquire, "are you not taking our picture by the cairn?"

"No", Dad replied. "This is not considered to be a Lakeland summit."

Surveying the scene, after looking at the map, Shaun said, "we do not want to follow the path along the ridge bending away left to Steeple, but rather we need to keep on ahead, where there seems to be no path at all."

"Hey ho", sighed Dad, as we continued the arduous climb, bearing away slightly right to find a path that led to the ridge between Scoat Fell and Haycock.

"Thank goodness that is over", said Dad with feeling!

As we climbed there were dramatic views of Steeple and Scoat Fell.

From here, all that then remained was about another few hundred feet of climb right to the rocky and stony summit of Haycock, where Dad took our picture by the large cairn.

Once more Grizzly informed us about the name. "The word haycock derives from the Old English heg 'hay' and Old English cocc 'a heap' and is first recorded as a compound in 1470. It is appropriate as the stony dome at the top here resembles a haycock."

After all the effort Dad was ready for a bit of a rest, and also some sustenance to revive him and set him up for the rest of the walk.

Taking off his rucksack Allen got the sandwiches out and passed them round. "There's cheese and tomato and tuna savoury", he said.

"Super", replied Grizzly, tucking in.

Rather mournfully Dad said, "I was hoping to get some photos here, but the haze is making the visibility poor, so there is no point getting the camera out again at present."

So, suitably refreshed, we settled in Dad's rucksack and set off once again. The remaining summits were now basically a ridge walk beside the first ruinous and then rebuilt wall, known as the Ennerdale Fence. A rocky descent from Haycock, was followed towards the rocky tor of Little Gowder Crag.

Allen suggested, "it will be worth taking a shot back to Haycock, for the story."

Very soon Little Gowder Crag was summited, and we jumped out for our picture.

"I can tell you about this name too", said Grizzly. "It is probably 'the rocky height with an echo', from the Old Norse gauo 'barking' in its general singular form gauoar.

Then it was onwards, to make a rough descent on the way towards Caw Fell. Rock truly abounds here, as can be seen in this shot of Little Gowder Crag with Haycock behind.

After all the tough climbs so far today, Shaun commented, "it's a joy to have the very gentle ascent to Caw Fell."

"Yes lad, but I fear we have a hard descent to the valley to come after Ennerdale Fell."

Just ten minutes later we were at Caw Fell summit, marked by this neat cairn.

"What a lovely cairn to sit on for our picture", cheered Little Eric as we scrambled out of the rucksack.

"Don't really know what the upturned mesh bowl on top is for, other than to perhaps keep the top most stones in place", commented Tetley.

"That leaves just Ennerdale Fell, which none of us have been to before", said Allen. "And another of our few remaining Birkett summits."

"Sure does", replied Dad, putting best foot forward.

At this point the wall was still ruinous, but we would soon reach the rebuilt section, so we wisely crossed to the south side for our approach. We followed the wall along and continued by it as it turned right, and descended into a depression. At the foot of this we saw a stile in the fence. "We will cross that later to make the return to the valley", said Shaun.

First however, Dad faced more steady ascent towards the summit of Ennerdale Fell.

The summit cairn is on the opposite side of the wall, and as we approached, Shaun said, "according to Birkett's book there should be a gate in the wall allowing access."

Well, look as we might we could not see a gate. "Maybe it is where the public bridleway crosses the wall", suggested Tetley.

"That means a there and back and we don't want to make Dad walk any further than is necessary", replied Allen.

Just a little further on Dad pointed, "the barbed wire on the top of the wall has been broken away. I suspect that other walkers faced with the same dilemma have climbed over."

So, with a little difficulty and taking great care not to damage the structure, Dad climbed over, and soon we were sitting at the cairn having our picture taken.

"Yippee" shouted Tetley. "That's just two Birkett summits left. We're almost there."

Ready for the off, Dad then carefully reclimbed the wall, and we retraced our steps heading back down to the foot of the depression, and the stile.

Pausing here Dad & Shaun were consulting the route description, when Grizzly piped up, "it's ironic, but there is a step stile, which would have allowed you to gain the side of the wall where the cairn is."

Looking up Dad said, "so there is! Perhaps we should write to Bill Birkett, so that he can change the description in his book."

Shaun said, "there is a footpath shown, but to get there we will have to return almost to Haycock, adding more distance to this already long walk."

"Aye lad, but the less we have to do now the better, so we will just head down by the wall on the left of Silvercove Beck."

The way was basically pathless and considerably steep. A long a very arduous descent, and we stress this most strongly, should any readers consider doing this walk. Dad told us afterwards that it seemed to be endless. Finally we came to the point where the wall turned away left and we were faced with a fence in front of us.

At this point we and Dad looked back. "Phew", said Little Eric, "Silver Cove is indeed a long way up the fell."

"We do not cross the fence, rather go right beside it climbing to the corner, and then continue to follow it down the fell", instructed Shaun.

There was a least here and intermittent path through heather and bracken. In reality we could have continued on further up the fellside to find the footpath marked on the map, but Dad having done so much climb today, we all thought this was the lesser of two evils. Eventually, we reached a fence corner and a stile, where we finally joined the footpath.

"At last", cheered Little Eric. "A proper path."

This stony path led down easily and reached a junction with footbridges left and right. "Take the left", said Shaun.

A very short climb ensued, and then we were heading down again and finally at the valley floor. The onward forest track led right to come to the gate to the path to Char Dub Bridge, from which we retraced our route to the Bowness car park.

It was with some relief that we arrived at the car, and scrambling out of the rucksack, settled on the front seat. Dad got his boots off etc., and then phoned Uncle Brian to tell him we were safely down.

We were the lucky ones now as we could doze away the journey. Not so poor Dad, who had to concentrate on the 90 miles drive.

"I need food", said Dad, "but I am going to get most of the way home, before stopping at Junction 38 services at Tebay."

Here he enjoyed fish, chips and mushy peas, washed down with plenty of refreshing tea.

This revived him for the final leg of the journey and we were home about 19.30. A long long day, but at last this walk is out of the way. We will not be doing it again!!

"Thank you Dad for another super day", said Tetley, on behalf of us all.

"What an epic walk", added Allen. "You are our hero!"


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