Little Eric completes Wainwright Book 3 - Central Fells


Date - 26th May 2014 Distance - 9.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL5/OL7
Start point - Broadgate car park, Grasmere (NY 338 077)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Steel Fell (Dead Pike) 1811 553 NY 3194 1115
Calf Crag 1762 537 NY 3016 1041
Gibson Knott 1384 422 NY 3185 0992
Helm Crag 1329 405 NY 3263 0935



Grizzly and Shaun with Little Eric riding on his back came in to find Allen and Southey staring out of the window looking decidedly down in the paw.

"What's the matter pals", said Shaun with concern in his voice.

"It's just that with Dad and Uncle Brian having been away once again to Armathwaite Hall, and with other commitments that Dad has had too, we have not been walking for what seems ages."

"Well this has happened before, and with the Bank Holiday coming up I fell sure that Dad will be able to find time to take us out, provided the weather behaves itself", replied Grizzly.

"Come on, let's have tea, that is sure to cheer you up a bit Allen", added Little Eric.

"Ooh yes", enthused Allen, his face brightening, as he and Southey went off to get the mugs and plates.

Meanwhile Grizzly said, "there is a choice of cake. Little Eric has made chocolate caramel shortbread, while I have done apple and cinnamon scones."

"Sounds scrumptious", called out Allen as he returned. "I'll have one of each please."

"Me too, please", added Southey.

So steaming mugs in paw and cakes on the plates we all felt somewhat happier.

It was then that Shaun remarked, "where's Tetley?"

"I'm not sure", replied Allen. "I have not seen him for a little while."

Shaun's query was soon answered when a few minutes later Tetley, hurried into the room. "I bring news of a walk this weekend, and Little Eric you are going to be over the moon."

"I want to hear the news, but have your tea and cake first", he replied.

"Thanks." Then taking a bit of the cakes Tetley said, "they are absolutely scrumptious. You have both excelled yourselves." The cake finished, he then went on. "Dad is aware that we have not been out for about three weeks, and for our sakes and his fitness he needs to do a walk. Branstree was a good test of his returning fitness and stamina after the operation, and so he feels up to tackling the Greenburn Horseshoe."

"Fantastic", cried Little Eric. "Bagging the four summits will mean that I will complete Book 3 Central Fells, the first of the books that Dad has said he will try to complete for me."

"Which way are we doing it?", asked Grizzly.

"The same way as we did in December 2005, going up Steel Fell and ending on Helm Crag", replied Tetley.

"Gosh is it that long ago!", exclaimed Allen. "It was during my first year of walking. How time flies.

"Which day are we going"?, was Little Eric's next question.

"Monday", as Dad says that will be the best day for the weather.

"Roll on", cried Allen, with a wide smile on his face.


The Walk

Monday arrived and anxious to be off on this adventure, we got up early and packed the picnic, which was safely stowed in Allen's rucksack.

About 08:15, we heard Dad slam the boot shut and so dashed out and settled in the car. Dry in Morecambe, by the time we reached Grasmere it was raining.

"Oh heck", said Southey, "I thought the weather was to be pretty good today.

"Don't worry Lad", replied Dad, "this will soon pass over, and although it might be misty on the first climb it will improve and we should have sunshine later. Now I hope that we will get to see Kim later, so I am going to the Wordsworth Hotel first to check."

As we drove in we saw her bright yellow mini, but when Dad went in she was not there. "That's OK, as it means she will be on when we get back and I go for a snack.", said Dad.

"This was where you adopted me", said Southey. "If Kim had not come to work here, you would never had seen me, and I would not be going on these wonderful adventures. What a lucky bear I am."

Dad now drove the short distance to the Broadgate car park, paying the £7 fee which covered us until the next morning. "Well at least you will not fall foul of the ANPR cameras that guard the entrance", remarked Shaun. "Woe betide anyone who overstays. A fine will soon be winging its way to them."

We got ourselves settled in the rucksack, while Dad got his boots on. Then ready he shouldered the rucksack, and set off along the access road.

"We go left towards the village centre, then take the Easdale Road, right opposite the green", instructed Shaun.

He did not really need to say this, as the Easdale Road was very familiar to us, having been the outward route for many walks over the years from Grasmere. The road climbs a bit after a level start, and rounding a bend passes the Glenthorne Quaker Guest House.

"Wow", called out Southey. "Those rhododendrons are just magnificent and so so colourful."

"Beautiful", agreed Grizzly.

Continuing we soon reached Goody Bridge, where we had been back in March, when we had done a level walk, as Dad was still recovering from his operation.

A narrow lane branched off right, Shaun calling out, "we go down there for about a mile to Ghyll Foot"

Not far along the lane, Allen called out, "look there are more beautiful rhododendrons in that garden."

At Ghyll Foot we kept ahead to two cottages, where by the second, a gate gives access to the Green Burn Valley owned owned by the National Trust, as indicated by the sign.

As we went through the gate, a fellow walker was approaching so Dad kindly held it open for him.

"Thank you", he said, then added, "onward and upward."

"Yes indeed", agreed Dad, as after he had taken the above picture, he ignored the valley path, instead turning immediately right, following the gentleman up the fell on the path by the wall.

Tetley said, "the route is up the south east ridge past the first outcrop, then over Ash Crags behind and on to the summit at Dead Pike seen most distant in the cloud."

"Thanks pal", said Little Eric and Southey together, as this was their first ascent of these fells.

This can be seen more clearly in this view taken later from the summit of Helm Crag.

The ascent was fairly steep and unrelenting all the way. Grassy to start the path then skirted the rocky outcrop and on upwards over Ash Crags. With the mist being down we could not see clearly see the way ahead, but the path was never in doubt.

Looking right at one point, Tetley said, "Aww, just look at those Herdwick lambs sitting together and peeking over the rise. So cute"

"Well I will snap off shot if you will let me include it in the story", replied Dad

"OK", agreed Allen, with a resigned tone in his voice.

One rise followed another until finally the last was reached, where the path now rather rocky zig-zagged to gain the summit area. A cairn is reached on the line of an old fence, and looking left we could see just a short way a higher cairn.

"That's the summit at Dead Pike", said Shaun.

Reaching this we quickly scrambled out and settled for our picture.

"Yippee", cried Little Eric, "that's one down. Where do we go now?"

"We follow the path by the fence, descending off the summit", replied Shaun, adding "Wainwright says where the fence turns away right, if we go on a short way beside it there is a nice view of the Wythburn Valley."

"It was worth the detour", agreed Allen.

"What is the stretch of water?", asked Southey.

"Thirlmere Reservoir, that supplies water to Manchester", said Tetley. "And the dark distant mountain in the centre, is Blencathra."

"That's one that I have to climb in book 5", said Little Eric.

"Well all being well, after we have done the ones in Mungrisedale, I will take you up there to complete that book for you", replied Dad.

"Oh you truly are the best Dad in the world."

Then it was back to the ridge path that meandered over at times very boggy ground, to pass some little tarns, of which this is one.

By now we had come quite a way from Steel Fell, Southey saying, "when will we get to Calf Crag?"

"We are about two-thirds of the way now", replied Shaun. "See we will be following those posts of an old broken fence for about another half mile to the summit."

Sure enough Shaun was correct and soon the summit outcrop topped by the cairn was just ahead.

And once there, Little Eric called out, "come on pals let's get settled on the cairn for our picture."

This done, Shaun then said, "OK, now we start the return leg along the ridge on the opposite side of the Greenburn valley, with lovely Easdale on the right."

The path descended for a short distance retracing the route, but soon forked to the right, to then turn right as the ridge proper was gained. As we did Easdale was spread out below, and Tetley implored, "must be worth a picture, Dad." (PS. we apologise for the small area of condensation on the lens, which Dad was not aware of).

To the far left can be seen Gibson Knott and beyond Helm Crag our final two summits today. The path from here to Helm Crag was winding, very undulating, rocky and very typical of the Lake District. The first section took us over the rocky crag of Pike of Carrs.

Along here we began to meet many other walkers who had come up via Helm Crag. Passing the time of day, some saw us, causing Dad to have to explain and also mention the website. One lady said, "I will look it up and read some of the stories to my grandson!" Another lady, with a gentleman, obviously liked this idea too, shaking Dad's hand and saying, "we will look at the stories." Wonderful!

Further on Dad chatted with another older gentleman who was from York. He said, "it is so flat there, I could not wait to be on the hills again. I am going up Silver How tomorrow."

So finally after more undulations we arrived at the cairn on Gibson Knott, beside which another walker was sitting.. Dad chatted to him, and he told us that he was waiting for his friends who were doing the Coast to Coast, to arrive. Dad explained about us as we scrambled out for our picture. He seemed rather amused by the expression on his face.

The lake behind is of course Grasmere, of which we were to have better views later.

Returning to the path, there were more undulations, Helm Crag, the final summit dominating the view ahead.

The path finally descended to a depression at 1050ft, where followed the steep ascent of 320ft to the summit plateau, where today it was like Blackpool with lots of people and families.

"Well", said Allen, "Helm Crag is a very popular climb from Grasmere, and must be amongst the most popular of the fells in the Lake District, with others such as Catbells, Helvellyn and Walla Crag."

A bit breathlessly Dad reached the level ground, and a gentleman commented, "it is a bit steep."

Dad agreed saying, "well that's the last of the four tops today."

"Four!", he replied rather incredulously. "It took us all our effort to get up just this one. Where have you walked."

So Dad pointed out the route to him. It had been quite a hard walk, and Dad admitted that this made him feel quite good.

At this end of the summit plateau is the rock known as the Howitzer, the top of which is officially the highest point. People were climbing all over this and some made it to the top, but then needed some guidance to get down.

"Dad, you must not attempt to take us to the top of it", said Little Eric. "It would be nigh on impossible and carrying your bulky camera too. I am content here at the plateau." Then he let out shout, "I've done it. Book 3 complete."

We all gathered round our pal and gave him hugs of congratulation. There were lots of children climbing around the rocks, but Dad did manage to take us part way up and get this group shot.

Then with the Wainwright book open at Helm Crag, Dad took this of Little Eric on his own to mark his achievement.

"I'm hungry", complained Allen.

"Me too", replied Dad. "Let's sit on that rock over there and have a nice snack.

Allen opened his rucksack and we shared the sandwiches and cake with a nice mug of tea. Lovely!

Settling again, Dad set off along the summit, coming to the famous Lion and Lamb rocks, by which the fell is instantly recognised from the road as people drive by,

and just a few minutes later this classic shot looking to Grasmere, with Loughrigg rising at the far end of the lake.

Now Dad faced the rather steep descent. "I am not looking forward to this, bearing in mind how my knees hurt when we were coming down the Corpse Road into Mardale", remarked Dad. However as it turned out they did not hurt today, for which Dad and us too were thankful. The path meanders down on we think a new route and was graded in places. Eventually this brought us to a gate through which on the left was the gate we had taken in March into the grounds of Lancrigg, which we could see across the fields as we walked along to the Easdale Road. This was then followed to the village and the car.

"Thanks Dad for a great day", cried Little Eric, "and for repeating those fells so that I could complete all the 27 tops in book 3 today."

"I have had a wonderful day too", added Southey. "It has been magic to climb these fells that are immediately above where I was adopted."

So now we went to the Wordsworth Hotel, where Kim was indeed now on reception. She was dealing with a guest, but she saw Dad. He ordered his usual brie, tomato and avocado ciabatta and a pot of tea. Shortly Kim came to chat for about 10 minutes. She has just two weeks to go before moving to Manchester, working in a similar job at the Palace Hotel. Then later this year she plans to go to University to study to become a nurse. She is excited about all this, and we are very pleased for her. We will not see her much now, but it is not goodbye as she said, "it is not far off the motorway to Morecambe so she will be able to call in sometime, on my way to see my family in Keswick."

So, a good day all round, and all that remained was for Dad to drive us home.

"I'm rather tired Lads, but exhilarated too."


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