(1) STAVELEY FELL & (2) FINSTHWAITE HEIGHTS

 


Summary

Date - 13th January 2013 Distance - (1) 3.25 miles. (2) 1.5 miles
Ascent -
(1) 730ft. (2) 540ft
Map - OL7 Start point - (1) Staveley in Cartmel (SD 379860)
(2) Rusland road near Swan Hotel (SD 3686 8643)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Staveley Fell 853 260 SD 3895 8686
Finsthwaite Heights (Summer House Knott) 607 185 SD 3706 8698

 

Preface

"Brr its turned really cold, but it is winter after all", said Grizzly. "We have got an early start to our 2013 campaign this year and it is great that Dad is feeling so well after two rather tough years. He has lost weight and seems to have so much energy, so that augers well."

"Absolutely" replied Tetley. Now what's the weather like for the weekend Allen?"

He grabbed the iPad and quickly navigated to the Met Office app. "Sunday seems to be the best, so here's hoping we will get out."

Just then Shaun wandered in with Little Eric riding on his back and carrying the flasks.

"Great", exclaimed Allen. "Just what I wanted a steaming hot mug of Ringtons connoisseur tea."

As he went off to get the mugs, Grizzly meanwhile fetched the cake tin. "I have done some cherry and ginger scones", he announced.

Ooh scrumptious", called out Shaun. "They are my absolute favourites of all the scones you make."

So soon we were happily munching away with steaming hot mugs to paw.

"Well now we know the weather is OK for Sunday, we need to decide where to go", said Grizzly.

I think it would be a good idea if we progressed our pal Little Eric's Outlyers", replied Tetley.

That would be just great", said Little Eric gleefully. "There is that list of five we made, of which I have so far just done one."

Getting the book, Shaun said, "one is over in Eskdale, and I think rather too far to go in the winter, but the two others are near at hand around Newby Bridge."

"That will be Staveley Fell on the east side of Windermere, and Finsthwaite Heights just a short distance away on the west side", said Tetley, without need to refer to the book.

"My how knowledgeable you are", said Little Eric in wonder. "I don't know if I will ever be as good as you."

"I am sure you will, after all I have been walking since 1998", he replied.

Draining his mug, Allen said, "so that is decided then." There were murmurs of assent, so he picked up the list and headed out of the door to ask Dad, calling out, "please fill my mug up again for when I get back, and save me another scone."

He was soon back. "It's on. Dad says he had been promising to do these fells and so will be glad to finally get them out of the way."

 

The Walk

Staveley Fell

So we awoke to a cold and frosty morning, meaning an extra job for Dad, having to defrost the car. Once done and his gear loaded in the boot we settled ourselves on the front seat. The start point for both the hills was near Newby Bridge, so it was along the ever so familiar A590 Barrow road.

Staveley Fell lies on the east side at the very southern end of Windermere, so we took the road signed to Bowness, at Newby Bridge, then turning right almost immediately on the narrow road into the village of Staveley-in-Cartmel, eventually parking close to a gateway near the village hall. Soon ready we set off walking back the way we had come.

Looking over the wall to the left, Allen called out, "there seems to be a very narrow gauge railway line."

"It's the Millerbeck Light Railway, and is actually owned and run by some friends of Uncle Brian and mine from Southport", replied Dad.

"Wow that would be a great day out", enthused Grizzly, "and being small the trains would be really suited to Bears."

"I'd love to go on it", added Allen, and I bet Scooter, Higgy and the rest of the Railway Bears would enjoy it too."

We passed the road junction and walked on a little further to come to the path on the right we needed to take, that was clearly signposted to Simpson Ground, a small reservoir.

Metalled for a short way it soon became very muddy, which is par for the course with 2012 being the wettest year ever in England. Soon the track swung left, and Shaun said, "we need to look for a gate on the right after about 100 yards into a large open enclosure."

The path, clearly defined all the way, immediately crossed a small beck by an overgrown bridge, then climbed steadily to a tall gate into a young plantation. Then beyond the now narrow path climbed on to another tall gate on to a forest road. The path to Simpson Ground continued in the same direction on across the road, but we turned left.

"We are looking for the point where the tall fence on the left turns away at right angles", called out Shaun.

"That's where it will get interesting", remarked Allen. "We will have to cross left and climb up through the mature conifers to the ridge, but there is no path. Still that is nothing new to us."

We looked ahead, Tetley remarking, "those fallen trees are barring the way to the left, perhaps we should try to get round them on the right."

None of us noticed at the time, but looking at the picture now, we can see the damp trail at the bottom right, that emanates from a boggy area in the direction Tetley had suggested. In a few strides Dad had walked between the two large trees and stopped to survey the ground ahead.

"Hmm", said Grizzly. "That looks very boggy indeed, and I'm not sure it is safe to cross."

Tentatively Dad stepped forward and placed his boot lightly on the ground. "You're right Grizzly, this way is a no go. We'll have to negotiate the fallen trees."

This was not in fact as difficult as it looked because by going as far to the left, it was quite easy to step over them. No more obstacles remained and a clear route led out of the trees onto the ridge, where it was right on a narrow trod through thick heather, to the first cairned top. Clear of the trees, we had an extensive view down to the plain below. Staveley-in-Cartmel is in the bottom left corner and left to right between hedges runs the road from Newby Bridge. Beyond, the water is the River Leven, the outflow from Windermere.

Looking more to the right, Shaun called out, "there are the two large Windermere steamers, tied up at Lakeside Pier for the winter."

"What are they called?", asked Little Eric.

"The Swan and Teal", replied Tetley in a flash.

A fine vantage point, this was not the summit and looking north, Little Eric went on, "I can see two further summits, which are we making for?"

"The one to the right is the objective, where a cairn should mark the highest point", replied Shaun.

A fairly good path led across the grassy ground, to a small valley between the tops. At the crest Dad climbed right over the rise, from where it was just a short way to gain the summit. This is adorned with a neat cairn with a central standing stone, seen here backed by from left to right Gummer's How and Birch Fell that we had climbed again last July.

Please take our picture", implored Little Eric as we scrambled out of the rucksack and settled on the cairn.

The views had been quite good to start with, but soon we noticed that the mountains were disappearing as the cloud came down and by this time snow albeit light, had begun to fall. Nevertheless a fine view of Windermere stretching away north could be seen. There was one advantage about the cloud being down, it stopped Dad doing what we call the 'Eric Robson' i.e. naming all the fells in view.

"Where now?", asked Little Eric

"We continue north just a little way to that wall you can see, then descend right beside it", replied Shaun.

Dad did as Shaun said and as we reached a depression, where a rough track crossed left and right, Shaun instructed, "we go right here to regain the forest road and then go right along it."

The tall trees rather ominously lined the road and Dad stopped and stood a minute or so to listen to the absolute silence! In this busy noisy world of today this was bliss! Strolled along the road for nearly a mile keeping right at the junction, to come again to the gate by the forest road used earlier and through which we retraced the route to the car.

Passing the Millerbeck Railway, Allen called out, "look some alpacas have been released to graze. They are such lovely animals and gentle too."

Reaching the car Dad walked on by. "What are you doing?" queried Shaun.

"I want to take a picture of the church, which is less than a 100 yards along the road", replied Dad.

This sturdy building constructed in stone rubble with a slate roof, is dedicated to St Mary and was built by 1618 being extended or restored a number of times since. Its plan consists of a nave and a chancel in one range, a south aisle and a west tower. This has its doorway on the west side and a two-light window above. There is a battlemented parapet with crocketed pinnacles at the corners.

"Can we go inside?", asked Grizzly.

"Yes of course", replied Dad.

Sadly however this was not to be the case as the door in the tower was firmly locked.

At the car, we all had a quick snack, before Dad drove us the short distance to the Rusland road, to start our climb of the tree clad Finsthwaite Heights, which we had had a good view of as we had returned along the road to the car after the descent from Staveley Fell.



 

Finsthwaite Heights (Summer House Knott)

As Dad was driving us to the start for this ascent, Shaun said, "Finsthwaite Heights is the name that Wainwright uses for this summit, but if you look at the Ordnance Survey map, it clearly shows that the summit is actually called Summer House Knott. I suppose he used the name due to the proximity to the village of Finsthwaite, but the map actually shows Finsthwaite Heights to be to the north-west and just south of High Dam. It is an area with no defined highest point.

"Thank you for the clarification and for adding to my knowledge", said Little Eric. "I still have a lot to learn to catch up with the rest of you."

By now Dad was turning off the A590, crossing the bridge spanning the River Leven, with the Swan Hotel facing. The road swings left in front and almost immediately, we went left again on the road to Rusland. There was a pull in on the right just a few yards on, but Dad drove on to just before the railway bridge, so he could turn round and be pointing in the right direction for home.

The river runs beside the road and we could see the impressive buttressed, five arched stone bridge, which dates from 1651-2. It is one of only four or five of its kind in the country and replaced a wooden bridge on the site which once spanned the River Leven.

"I think it is worth a picture", called out Tetley.

"OK", replied Dad, lining up the camera.

Allen had turned his attention downstream and called out, "look at that large weir, that has been built to control the flow. I think we should have a picture of that too, to give a full appreciation of the river at this point."

Incidentally the distant bridge links a small island to the left bank.

"Time to get on up the hill", said Dad, turning away from the river and marching determinedly along the road.

Shaun instructed, "it's left at the junction along the road to Lakeside and immediately after crossing the railway bridge we take the unsurfaced track left."

The scene ahead was now dominated by our objective.

Again Shaun issued his instructions once on the unsurfaced track, "we soon take the signed path on the right."

Reading the sign, Little Eric remarked, "yes we are certainly on the right route."

The climb started in earnest, and these are some of the 48 steps that initially helped with the gradient. Some of you may be thinking, not 39 steps as in the title of the famous book by John Buchan. This was indeed what both Uncle Brian and Uncle Eric said when Dad mentioned the number to them!

At the top, Shaun said, "we now keep on this path for another 300 yards then follow it on as it swings sharp right."

The way climbed on and we made the suggested detour to the view point to Hampsfell & Newton Fell, but due to the deteriorating weather this was largely lost in the snow clouds. Rejoining the main path it was just a short climb to reach the tall tower close to the summit of the fell.

"There is an inscribed tablet set into the wall", said Little Eric. "What does it say?"

Allen had got the Wainwright guide in his paws. "Right here is what Wainwright says about this." -

'This memorial tower-cum-summerhouse is indicated on old two and a half inch Ordnance Survey maps as Pennington Lodge Tower. It is no longer kept in repair. A tablet high on the south wall is inscribed as follows:

ERECTED
TO HONOR THE
OFFICERS, SEAMEN AND MARINES
OF THE
ROYAL NAVY
WHOSE MATCHLESS CONDUCT AND
IRRESISTABLE VALOUR DECISIVELY DEFEATED
THE FLEETS OF FRANCE, SPAIN AND HOLLAND
AND PRESERVED AND PROTECTED
LIBERTY AND COMMERCE
1799

"That was truly when Britannia Ruled the Waves", added Tetley.

"So are we at the summit?", asked Little Eric, who was eager to tick of another Outlyer and have his picture taken.

Shaun replied, "well I reckon that many consider this to the be top, but if you look at the map, the spot height is just a little way to the north-east."

"I have brought a note of the grid reference for the summit from the last time", said Dad, "but if I remember rightly there is actually no doubt about it."

So leaving the tower behind we set off through the trees and soon reached a grassy mound that was clearly the highest point. We quickly scrambled our of the rucksack and settled for our picture, Little Eric calling out, "that's 89 ticked off now."

Now all that remained was to return via the outwards route, the higher set of steps also helping now with the descent.

Further on we encountered the 48 steps again, Dad suddenly stopping in his tracks.

"What's the matter?", asked Grizzly

"Well it is January, but unbelievably there are blooms on this rhododendron bush."

 


As Dad got his boots off and we decamped to the car Allen said with a laugh, "time for some refreshment now I guess?"

"Yes Lads, I'm ready for some tea and cake."

First however we stopped at the new Booths store in Milnthorpe for a few items, then it was on to the large cafe at Beetham Garden Centre. Here Dad had a nice scone with butter and jam, with to drink a pot of tea (leaf), with extra hot water. It was Dad's kind of cafe!

As he then drove us home, Little Eric echoed the thoughts of us all, "thanks for another grand day out."

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