Date - 14th June 2012 Distance - 7.25 miles
Ascent -
1000ft (approx)
Map - OL6
Start point - Ulpha Bridge, Duddon Valley (SD 1967 9300)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Hesk Fell 1566 477 SD 1761 9466
The Pike 1214 370 SD 1864 9340



Shaun, Tetley and Little Eric, were sitting quietly reading, and having a mug of steaming tea, when Allen and Grizzly came dashing into the room.

"I told you", laughed Tetley, "Allen and smell tea from miles away."

"Yes I'd love a mug, but that is not the only reason for the urgency."

Grizzly went on, "Dad has spoken to Uncle Eric, and we are walking tomorrow, doing two of the Wainwright Outlying Fells, Hesk Fell and The Pike, which he has not climbed before."

"Ooh that's just great", interjected Little Eric, "as they are on my outstanding list too."

"We last did these in February 2006, utilising a walk published in the Westmorland Gazette, although we had to adapt it to take in The Pike, as well."

Allen quickly booted Dad's laptop, and opening the walks index file, did a search, and said, "the reference number is 306."

Grabbing the binder, Shaun quickly found it. Meanwhile Tetley had got the map and opened the Outlyer book at the appropriate page. We then all gathered round, while he traced where we would be walking.

Tetley said, "I remember the cloud was down on Hesk Fell, but the wire fence that crossed the summit, provided a good guide."

"The start is at Ulpha Bridge, and we are meeting Uncle Eric there, about 09:30", said Grizzly.

"Roll on tomorrow", replied Little Eric, with enthusiasm.


The Walk

For once we were at the start before Uncle Eric.

Jumping out of the car, Tetley called out, "the River Duddon makes a lovely scene here, so lets go and have a look."

Scampering across the road, over the grass and down the bank, quickly brought us beside the river.

"How idyllic", exclaimed Little Eric.

"Truly English pastoral scene", added Grizzly.

Glancing up Allen called out, "I can see Uncle Eric's car coming over the hill."

So we climbed up the bank went back to Dad's car, to meet him. "Hello and good morning", we called out, as he got out of his car.

"Hello Lads", he replied, "nice to see you all."

The day was dry and mild but rather windy on the tops at times. Soon ready, and settled in Dad's rucksack, we started off crossing Ulpha Bridge, then continuing along the narrow road, climbing slightly to pass the the Church of St. John the Baptist, seen here through the lych gate.

Grizzly said, "I looked it up and made notes. Ah here they are. The church is built on the site of a chapel of ease to the church of Millom. There is no record of when it was built, but it is known that a church existed in the 13th Century. It is a typical dales church, constructed from rough local stone, with clear glass windows, and a bell turret containing two bells at the west end. Entry is through the wooden lych gate with a slate roof."

Continuing along the road we soon reached the post office.

Shaun called out, "we leave the road here, taking that signed path uphill, and then go right at the junction. Then it's along by the wall, crossing it by a stile into the woods."

The path led on through the trees, to emerge on to the Birker Fell road at the top of the very steep hairpin bends. Turning left, we continued climbing along the road, to finally emerge from the trees.

"Is that Hesk Fell to the left, ahead?, asked Little Eric.

"Yes pal", Allen replied.

Soon we reached a track on the right signed Hazel Head. "That's our route", called out Shaun.

This was the access track, and at the buildings we continued through the gate ahead, and along the track, to come to the house called Brighouse. Here the route was through the grounds and onwards above Crosby Gill.

There were Herdwick ewes and lambs grazing here. One ewe and lamb stood side by side, posing for Dad to take a picture.

"There goes our chance of a sheep free story", laughed Tetley, as Dad lined up the shot.

Grizzly remarked, "it seems to me, that the markings on the faces of each lamb are different, rather like a fingerprint."

"I know I complain about sheep pictures, but I do not mind those of Herdwicks, which are without doubt our favourite sheep", said Allen.

The path led to a corner of the fence and trees, where Dad and Uncle Eric went on ahead.

Shaun studied the map, and called out, "were going the wrong way. We should have turned left at the corner, and then diagonally right to the gate in the wall."

"OK", replied Dad, turning left across the rough moorland, to sight and reach the gate. As we approached, the path we should have taken could be seen on the left.

Through the gate we headed on towards the Birker Fell road. Two girls were standing on a rise, and our route led past them. They were from Sheffield University, and their names were Abi & Fran, as this was printed on their T-shirts. They were overseeing a group doing their Duke of Edinburgh Gold award.

Abi asked, "have you seen a group of walkers. They should have been through here about half an hour ago."

"We haven't", Uncle Eric replied. "Apart from a National Trust Warden, you are the first people we have met today."

As it turned out we did see them later, distantly, from the slopes of Hesk Fell.

Saying our goodbyes, we continued on to the road, passing through the gate to reach it, by this lichen covered signpost.

"It's left here, along the road and over Crosbythwaite Bridge", said Shaun.

Immediately beyond as the road swung right there was a track that led to Crosbythwaite Farm, as indicated by the slate name sign. We also liked the depiction of a tractor and tree. Somewhat rusty, but after all, this is a wild lonely and exposed location.

"Where now?", asked Little Eric.

"We continue along the road for just a little way, then take the next path on the right, through a gate", replied Shaun.

This climbed steadily with the large bulk of Hesk Fell to our left. "We have to get to and over the wall, running round its lower slopes", Shaun instructed.

Sharp eyed as ever, Grizzly, suddenly called out, "I can see a hurdle or gate in the wall, so perhaps we should make for that?"

"OK", replied Uncle Eric, as he and Dad went right towards it.

It was a hurdle, so could not be opened, and being in a rather rickety state, made climbing over a bit difficult. Clear of any obstructions now, we climbed steadily the slopes of the fell.

"If we make generally half left, we should be able to pick up the fence, as a guide to the summit", remarked Uncle Eric.

The gradient was not excessive, and eventually eased as the flat top of the fell was reached, just a small cairn marking the summit.

"No sign of a fence", said Uncle Eric looking round.

"No", Dad replied, "but I'm sure there was one in 2006, or maybe my memory is playing tricks and it is another fell I am thinking about."

Tetley, who amongst us all can recall details, dates etc., of previous walks, added his support to Dad, saying, "I know there was a fence, and because the fell was covered in cloud, you used it as a guide to the summit. You took our picture beside it too, to record reaching the top."

We checked the archive when we got home, and here is the shot taken in February 2006, clearly showing the fence.

We e-mailed the picture to Uncle Eric too, and replying, he said, "you have to wonder why someone would go to the trouble of removing many fence posts, wire etc."

Oh, and to prove the fence has gone, and for Little Eric's sake to show he reached the summit, here is today's picture by the cairn.

"Can you tell us anything about the name?", asked Little Eric.

Grizzly replied, "according to Diana Whaley's book, 'Hesk' is obscure. Conceivably a Brittonic word meaning 'sedge, coarse grass', or 'wet ground'.

"Well that's Pesky Fell ticked off", said Uncle Eric.

We all laughed, and Allen said, "we like the rename!"

We made our descent to the wall corner where there was a ladderstile. Just beyond more Herdwicks were grazing, including this ewe and three lambs, who posed for Dad.

"Oh heck, that's another sheep picture in the story", cried Grizzly. "It does though, bear out my earlier comment that the face markings are different for each lamb."

The Pike was directly in front...

...and from the dip about 200ft of ascent, climbing a stile in a cross fence on the way, saw us at the summit, by the wall. Here Uncle Eric approaches the summit, with Hesk Fell behind.

"Come on Lads, time for our picture", called out Shaun, as he trotted up to the highest point against the wall.

Grizzly said, "the name simply means 'the peak or pointed hill'."

The Pike dominates over Ulpha, and there was a fine view down to the road and bridge.

"Look", called out Little Eric, "there are Dad and Uncle Eric's cars by the bend."

Shaun advised, "the slopes of The Pike on the Ulpha side, are excessively steep, so any descent that way is out of the question. So, we have to return by the ascent route."

Crossing the fence by the stile again, just below Uncle Eric found an excellent flat area with a shelf to sit on, and an upper shelf for us, to have lunch. It was nicely out of the wind too.

"Super", cheered Allen as he slipped his rucksack off.

We all munched away happily on the excellent sandwiches and cake, with warming mugs of tea, while chatting about the adventure so far today, and recalling other wonderful days out on the fells and mountains.

Off again, Shaun said, "our route is round to the right under The Pike."

First we contoured down to gain the main path, which then eventually led down to the very bottom left corner, and a gate.

"If I'm right, that's Caw over there", said Little Eric.

"You are", replied Tetley. "It has a very distinctive conical shape."

"We go through the gate here, then follow round to the right, and take the gate on the right into a pasture", instructed Shaun.

"Thanks lad", replied Dad.

We crossed the pasture going through a gap in the wall ahead, and then across another long pasture to come to Rainsbarrow Wood. Here three stiles in close succession (wooden step, stone step, and wooden step) allowed access down into the woods. This shot looks back showing the stone step stile.

"This wall must have been here for a very long time, judging by all the moss on it", remarked Allen.

The narrow path then led on ahead through the idyllic woodland.

Coming to a small signpost (bear size), we went on ahead. The route was actually be between the fence and wall, but it was very overgrown. Instead Dad and Uncle Eric walked to the right of the wall, crossing it further down through a gap, to then climb a wooden step stile, and on to a ladderstile over the wall ahead. In this next field we saw some deer.

"The path leads to a gate in the wall on the right", said Shaun. "We go through this, then descend by the wall to recross it via a gate much lower down."

"Thanks Shaun", replied Uncle Eric.

This done, we walked across the next pasture, and ahead was a tall deer gate.

"I know where we are!", exclaimed Allen. "This is the path we used to get to and from Bigert."

"Of course", agreed Tetley.

"Oh heck", said Little Eric.

"What?", asked Grizzly

"Well, remember that the fastening on the lower gate was jammed and despite his best efforts Dad could not open it, resulting in him having to climb over", replied Little Eric.

"I hope it has been freed, as I do not relish having to do that", replied Uncle Eric, with feeling.

Thankfully the fastening was free, so no acrobatics were required.

The rough path descended quite steeply to come to a forest road. Turning right it was just a short distance to the Bootle road, where turning left along it, we came to Ulpha Bridge, and the cars.

It had been a lovely walk, especially through the woods, and both Uncle Eric and Little Eric were a step closer to completing the Outlying Fells. Apart for the two overseers Abi & Fran and from a distance the Duke of Edinburgh party, we saw no other walkers at all today.

A big thank you as always to our Dad for another great day out.


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