BARF & LORD'S SEAT from WHINLATTER FOREST PARK CENTRE

 


Summary

Date - 15th April 2012 & 9th May 2012 Distance - 5.5 miles
Ascent -
1150ft
Map - OL4 Start point - Whinlatter Visitor Centre (NY 2080 2445)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Barf 1536   NY 2146 2673
Lord's Seat 1811   NY 2043 2655

 

Preface

"I wonder if we are ever going to get any spring weather", moaned Grizzly. "It always seems to be windy, and very unsettled too."

Allen by now had grabbed Dad's iPad and brought up the mountain forecast for Sunday. "Well for once it is going to be a good day, dry with sunshine, but still that perennial cold wind."

"So maybe we will get a walk", added Tetley.

Allen had navigated to the calendar on the iPad, and said, "Ooh I don't know. Dad and Uncle Brian are at a concert the night before, and then on the Monday they are off to Nottingham."

"Well, perhaps we can come up with a shortish walk, in the north Lakes, so that afterwards he can go to Armathwaite Hall. That is bound to tempt him", said Shaun.

Little Eric piped up, "well I have not done Barf above Bassenthwaite Lake, so maybe that is a possibility."

"Lets have a look on Go4awalk.com", suggested Allen, booting up the laptop and navigating to the page.

"You'll need Dad's password", cautioned Little Eric.

"I know it", replied Allen. Then after a few taps with his paws, he said, "look there's one here starting from the Whinlatter Visitor Centre. It's 5 miles and takes in Barf, and Lord's Seat too."

"Sounds good to me", said Tetley. "Now off you go and ask Dad."

"Why is it always me", complained Allen.

"Because you are the most persuasive", Tetley replied.

"Well I will on one condition that the tea has been poured and the tuck tin got out when I get back." So off Allen went and it was not all that long before he returned his face wreathed in smiles, so we knew the walk was on.

SPECIAL NOTE

A few weeks later, we needed to suggest a walk to do with Uncle Eric. He had not done either of the fells on this walk, and although he had not done much hill climbing lately, we felt that this would not tire him too much. So as a result the walk was repeated on 9th May. The majority of the pictures included were taken on the day in April, but about a third are from the walk with Uncle Eric. We will annotate these in the text.

 

The Walk

Up early, we got the sandwiches made, and these with the rest of our picnic safely stowed in Allen's rucksack. It was a lovely sunny morning as Dad set off on the ever so familiar journey north on the M6 then west along the A66, where the views of Blencathra and the Coledale Fells etc around Keswick were just tremendous. The same could be said on the day with Uncle Eric, but we had even more views, as we drove through the Lakes, past Thirlmere.

The verges near the visitor centre are being churned up by cars, where the occupants are not prepared it seems to pay the parking fees, but the installation of double yellow lines will now stop this. Our start was in a small layby just past this visitor centre, but this too has been fenced and grassed over, so we parked at the visitor centre.

Whinlatter Forest is a popular destination for walkers and more recently for mountain bikers, since the creation special routes. Many of the junctions are numbered, and reference to some of these was relevant to our walk today.

"The instructions say we walk past the buildings and junction 15, and then on to a second junction", called out Shaun.

So off we strolled, the track being well surfaced as they all were to be within the forest. We were actually descending towards this second junction, so it was quite obvious, even without the instructions that we should here turn left uphill. The wide forest road, climbed crossing some streams, then swept round a right hand hairpin, to come to angled crossroads, where there was a seat.

"What a superb view", called out Little Eric, as he with the rest of us sat on the seat, looking out over Keswick and the fells around.

"Well I never", remarked Dad. "Just look, at the plaque, it says this is Bob's Seat."

Not Uncle Bob of course, but nevertheless we just had to have our picture taken sitting on it! A steep drop is immediately in front, hence Dad's need to take the picture at an angle.

"Wow that view to Grisedale Pike is magnificent", called out Allen. "That mountain holds a special affection for me, as it was my last Wainwright. What a day for celebration that was."

All its approach ridges are shown, the one to the left being the ascent when Allen completed his Wainwrights. The very steep central ridge with the fence had been climbed last year to just about the lowest point of the snow, where we had then traversed to the ridge on the right following this down over Hobcarton End, one of our last few remaining Birkett tops.

"Come on Allen, we better be getting going again", said Tetley.

"OK", he sighed, settling with the rest of us in the rucksack.

We now went left uphill, the track then curving left round another hairpin and to another junction where we turned right. This track eventually led to yet another junction numbered 8, where we took the right fork, the path descending by the forest. Along here there was an impressive view of Barf our first summit, with Bassenthwaite Lake, blue below it.

A familiar sight to travellers west bound along the A66, is the white painted rock perched halfway up the hillside of Barf, known as The Bishop. While people will know the name of the rock, we are willing to bet that fewer will know the name of the hill on which is stands.

Local legend has it that this marks the spot where in 1783 the Bishop of Derry was killed falling from his horse, after drunkenly betting he could ride up the hill. Both the Bishop and his horse are said to be buried near a smaller stone, the Clerk, at the base of the hill. The stone was whitewashed each year by staff at the nearby Swan Hotel, until it was converted to apartments. The whitewashing is now carried out by members of Keswick Mountain Rescue.

The track from junction 8, latterly entered the trees, and as it began to ascend, we branched right to a stile. (photo from May walk)

Over this, we forded Beckstones Gill, and then climbed the good clear path to Barf summit, Dad pausing just below to take the magnificent view of Bassenthwaite Lake.

"Isn't that your favourite hotel, Armathwaite Hall we can see above the northern shore", said Allen.

"Yes", replied Dad zooming in as far as the camera will allow to take the shot (photo from May walk)

On the day with Uncle Eric, he had reached the summit first, and as we arrived, he called out, "look at that large military plane, flying over the lake below."

Dad snapped a couple of shots of which this is the best. It almost immediately banked right and crossed the far shore of the lake (photo from May walk).

The actual summit is a bare rocky outcrop, surmounted by a flat cairn, seen here looking east towards Skiddaw.

"Yippee", called out Little Eric, "that's another Wainwright ticked off. Come on pals, let's settle on the cairn for our picture."

Due west, about 3/4m we could clearly see the grassy slopes of Lord's Seat. From Barf we followed the clear path that descended into a shallow col. On the day in April, a lady fell runner had passed us on the descent, and then glanced down, just before the path began to climb again. Intrigued by this we made a point of looking. It was a shallow pool with lots and lots of tadpoles swimming about. We made sure too that we brought this to the attention of Uncle Eric too.

The path now began to climb again, and crossed a boggy area where it has largely disappeared, but then it emerges clearly once more as the final climb is made to the summit, that is marked by a few stones, small flat cairn and an old fence post. Incidently too, when we climbed this on 27th September 2009, it was Dad's 1000th summit.

"We sat on that square stone for our picture in April", said Allen.

"Well let's have our photo on the cairn today", called out Grizzly, as we scrambled out of the rucksack.

On the day in April, there was no one else there when we arrived at the summit. Just a minute or two later though, two couples arrived. The first couple saw us and commented. They told us that they were doing the Wainwrights. Dad mentioned he and us, apart from Little Eric, had done them.

"How many have you got to go", Dad asked.

"About 10 or so", they replied.

As they walked on, we wished them well in completing their quest.

By then the second couple were asking about us, and were taken with the idea of us climbing the fells. The lady asked it there was a blog, so Dad gave them the web address. She commented about a teacher friend, who took a teddy bear when she went away, taking photos to then show and interest her pupils. It was bitterly cold in the wind up here so they then said goodbye and moved on to keep warm.

On the day with Uncle Eric, they both had a piece of Kendal Mint Cake, here and indeed too at Barf. A tradition they have when a Wainwright summit is reached. Well as Uncle Eric said, if it was good enough to be taken and eaten at the summit of Everest, then it is good enough for them.

Some readers, may well have heard of the walker, write and broadcaster Eric Robson. He did indeed do television programmes with Wainwright himself as well as many other broadcasts. He is quite fond of describing the landscape and pointing out the hills and mountains. So, when Dad and Uncle Eric reel off the names, we call it doing an 'Eric Robson'. Here indeed is Uncle Eric in full flow, on Lord's Seat.

The cairn can be seen, behind which is the descent path to a stile in the fence. The post at the summit, is a relic of a long gone fence that ran over the fell, and beside the path. Another relic of this stands adjacent to the modern stile, seen here with Graystones (1496ft) behind.

"We follow the path from the stile, to a junction 5, where we should go right", called out Shaun.

After and initial section the path bent left and was effectively taking us back towards Barf, albeit to the west. As the trees dropped away, Grizzly called out, "that will make a good shot of Barf, with the Skiddaw group behind."

"You're right", replied Dad, hauling the camera out again.

Behind Barf, the first ridge is that of Ullock Pike (2230ft), Long Side (2408ft) and Carl Side (2447ft). Dominating behind left to right is Broad End (2726ft), Skiddaw (3053ft), Skiddaw Little Man (2837ft), and Skiddaw Lesser Man (2674ft). A majestic sight we think all will agree.

The path now curved right, and we took the right fork at junction 5, passing below the slopes of Ullister Hill. It is sensible we always think, to try to get as much of the climbing out of the way before stopping to eat. This was the case now, so we all kept our eyes peeled for a likely place to sit along this path. Some fallen trees were spotted down to the right, but access was a little difficult, but just then Dad spotted a banked area of stones that provided good seats.

"Come on", said Shaun, "let's gather round in a circle just over here."

"What are the sandwiches today?", asked Allen as he slipped his rucksack off.

"Ham and mustard, and coronation chicken", replied Grizzly.,

They were scrumptious, and together with the chocolate biscuits and tea, we were duly fortified once again. Dad then kindly took this picture, just before we set off again. We like the way that Grizzly had found the perfect stone as a seat to sit on.

Continuing on the path undulated, to then eventually reach junction 3 at Tarbarrel Moss, where we went left along a wide forest road. This forest is one of the strongholds of the endangered red squirrel, and at one point we passed under a rope bridge that allows them to cross the road.

"We will come to junction 2 next", called out Shaun. "Here we go straight on along a narrower path that descends quite steeply."

Soon we were there, the forest road describing a hairpin bend. As Shaun had said our path lay on ahead downhill, passing this squirrel sculpture.

Soon now the road over the pass was reached, and it was just a short walk left along this and then into the visitor centre car park.

"Thanks for a great walk", cried Little Eric, "and for taking me to another Wainwright top."

"And what superb views", added Allen.

As regular readers will know, after a walk Dad always likes to enjoy some refreshment, and indeed on both occasions this was the case.

With Uncle Eric, they went to the Siskins Cafe at the visitor centre, where both had tea, and Dad had a cake too.

On the April day, Dad went to the Brasserie at Armathwaite Hall. Fletcher and Polly had gone with Dad and sat on the chair opposite. Leek and potato soup, was followed by the barbeque rib with chips and salad, and then rounded off with tea. Arturas was serving and made a real fuss, and after other people had gone chatted to Dad for a while, mostly about walking. Before Dad left there was a shift change and Dan, who is Kim's boyfriend took over. He remembered serving Dad the afternoon tea when he came for his birthday. They chatted quite a bit, and it was nice for Dad to get to know him too. Passing reception, the first person Dad saw was Johnny who made a fuss, and Dad asked after Sunshine. They are off to Rumania for 3 weeks on Tuesday, so he wished them well. Then finally he had a cheery few words with Mia, and briefly too with Kim, wishing her well for her driving test on Thursday.

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