Date - 29th November 2014 Distance - 7.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL7 Start point - Glen Mary Bridge (SD 3214 9987)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Holme Fell 1040 317 NY 3153 0066
Black Crag on Black Fell 1056 322 NY 3402 0159



Little Eric was looking over Southey's shoulder as he tapped away on the iPad. Looking up from the book he was reading Tetley said, "what are you on with pals."

"The diary shows that this coming weekend Dad is not at the Lifeboat Shop, so the whole weekend is free", replied Southey.

"So", went on Little Eric, "perhaps we will be able to get out for a walk. On the fells too maybe."

Allen trotted in with Shaun and Grizzly, with flasks and cake tin in paw. "That sounds just great, but before we get down to the planning, let's have our tea and cake."

Tetley and Southey soon got the mugs and plates. Shaun then poured the tea, Allen helping to pass the mugs around.

Grizzly said, "there is chocolate caramel shortbread that Little Eric has made, and I have made apricot and cherry slice."

"Mmm, scrumptious", said Allen passing the plates round so we could all help ourselves.

"Both are delicious", said Southey after a while. "It is so good of you both to make them."

So all happy and content, our thoughts turned to walking.

Allen said, "what are the weather prospects?"

"Both days are OK", replied Southey.

Shaun then said, "I think we should suggest Saturday, as that will then give Dad a restful day before he and Uncle Brian go to Elaine's on Monday."

"So where to go?, mused Little Eric.

After a little thought Grizzly said, "doing something out of Book 4 seems to be the best idea, as it will not involve too much distance."

"Good idea", agreed Tetley, bringing up the list on the iPad. Running his eyes down, he then said, "I know they are not very high but how about Holme Fell and Black Crag."

"Sounds fine", enthused Little Eric. They have all got to be done, and it will mean that we will be able to take our time, but get it completed on these short days."

"To the day it will be almost exactly seven years since we last climbed them with Uncle Eric", remarked Shaun. "And if I remember correctly the cloud and mist was down all day, so we did not get any views. Long ago when just I alone was starting to go with Dad it was in fact my very first Wainwright fell. That was in February 1998."

"My", breathed Southey, "you have all done so so much since then. So many memories."


The Walk

We awoke to what was to be another lovely mild autumn day, with blue skies and little wind. Not as clear as some we have had as the views were rather hazy and closed in more as the afternoon wore on.

As we set off Southey asked, "where do we start from?"

Shaun replied, "Glen Mary Bridge, which is on the road between Ambleside and Coniston, just past Yew Tree Tarn."

"You have been some way along the road, when we went to climb Lingmoor, but that day we turned off at Skelwith Bridge to drive up Great Langdale."

"Oh yes, I remember", said Southey. "Bit by bit I am beginning to get my bearings."

The rough parking area was just on the left, and while Dad got ready, we went and looked at the information board. This told us about Glen Mary, in which runs Tom Gill.

For Little Eric and Southey's sake, Tetley said, "Tom Gill runs out of Tarn Hows. We will come along the path by the tarn and descend Glen Mary at the end of the walk."

"There is an impressive waterfall that we will see as we descend", added Grizzly.

"Ooh great", replied Southey. "I will look forward to that."

We then got settled in Dad's rucksack and shouldering this Dad strode off, Shaun instructing, "it's left on the road to Yew Tree Farm."

Seen here with Wetherlam forming the back drop, note the distinctive ‘spinning gallery’ in the barn. The farm house was built in 1693 being owned in the 1930s by Beatrix Potter and is still home to many of her furnishings. In the movie 'Miss Potter', it featured as 'Hill Top'. Yew Tree is still a working farm, but the main farmhouse is now luxury self catering accommodation.

"We do not go into the farmyard, but take this signed path right that takes us through Harry Guards Wood", said Shaun.

Shortly, by a gate in the wall in front, the path went left and led on ascending through the woodland. By a large boulder waymarks indicated the path divided. "Which way do we go?", asked Little Eric.

"We take the left fork", replied Shaun. "The path will now climb quite steeply, heading up eventually to Uskdale Gap on the ridge of Holme Fell."

Although we had walked above Yew Tree Tarn, the trees had obscured any view, but now as Dad started the ascent, Grizzly called out, "look finally we can see the tarn."

Stopping and getting the camera out Dad took this rather moody shot.

We climbed on, through the very autumnal landscape, bare of any real colour apart from this single celandine still bravely flowering.

Onwards and upwards the path led on. There were a couple of false dawns, but finally the ridge was crested at Uskdale Gap.

"At last!", exclaimed Little Eric. "That climb seemed never ending."

The wide area of Holme Fell spread all around. "What are those cattle with the white band?", called out Southey.

"Belted Galloway's", replied Tetley. "I recall it was Ennerdale where we first saw them."

"Birkett's instructions now say we should take the path immediately climbing left that leads to Ivy Crag", said Shaun.

After a short way Dad paused and took this picture of the scene below. "After summiting Holme Fell, we will pass that disused reservoir."

"The fell behind is Lingmoor", said Tetley. "And beyond we can just make out the Langdale Pikes, through the haze."

Dad climbed on, passing more belted Galloways, to quite soon reach the large solid cairn on Ivy Crag. "I know it is not counted as a summit", said Allen, "but will you take our picture on the cairn."

"Of course", replied Dad.

Looking left across a heathery basin with various ancient trackways, Grizzly said, "that higher outcrop is the actual summit of Holme Fell. There is a couple standing at the cairn too."

Quickly now we settled in the rucksack, Dad then descending to the basin and crossing to the narrow scrambly path that climbed steeply to the summit cairn, seen here as we approached.

"Hooray", cried Little Eric, that's another ticked off."

"Photo time again", called out Tetley.

Glancing east, Allen said, "look the couple who were here when we were at Ivy Crag, are now at that summit. We have exchanged places!"

"Despite being of modest height there are good views", remarked Tetley, "although it is a shame that it is not a clear as it could be today."

"Well it is certainly better than the last time seven years ago", replied Grizzly. "Then it was hard to see your paw in front of ones face."

"So", said Southey pointing with his paw, "what can I see over there, beyond the ridge of the fell."

"That is the Fairfield Horseshoe", responded Tetley promptly. "It comprises nine summits and is usually done anti-clockwise, going up the far ridge and returning down the nearer one. The summits are Low Pike (1667ft), High Pike (2042ft), Dove Crag (2598ft), Hart Crag (2698ft), Fairfield (2863ft), Great Rigg (2513ft), Rydal Fell (2037ft), Heron Pike (2008ft) and Nab Scar (1476ft). About 10 miles in all."

"If Little Eric is to complete Book 1, that is one of the walks we will have to do again next year", said Dad.

"I recall the last time, in May 2006", went on Tetley. "As we walked up over High Pike etc, it was raining, then when we got to Fairfield it was snowing, but by the time we got to Great Rigg the sun was shining and it was like summer again."

"Like they say, four seasons in one day", said Allen.

After a pause, Southey turned round and asked, "what is that lake?"

"Coniston Water", replied Little Eric. "With the hazy conditions rather a moody shot too." Then he went on, "where do we go now?"

Shaun advised, "north down off the fell. Whilst Birkett does his best to describe the route, it is not entirely clear as there are lots of different paths crossing the depression. What we have to do is pass that reservoir we saw earlier and also cross an old dam wall."

So we made our way down Dad choosing one of a number of paths, to then skirt a boggy area, and so go left past the disused reservoir. "Some more nice reflections", remarked Grizzly. "Worth a shot I think."

Almost immediately we then came to and crossed the dam wall, the fallen tree presenting no difficulty for Dad to climb over.

Getting to the far side we paused. Reading the instructions Shaun then said, "I'm not sure this is exactly right, as perhaps we should have been crossing the dam in the opposite direction."

"Hmm", said Dad, "I see what you mean. But look there is a vague path going right and as long as keep heading on that general direction we are OK."

Shaun replied, "I agree." Then pointing at the map he went on "what we have to do is descend to this bridleway, and then go right. It will be a wide track."

Dad walked on and soon Allen called out, "look there is the track below."

Along here we passed a group of teenagers, sitting having their lunch. We had seen some of them while on Holme Fell dashing around up and down doing orienteering. Good for them we thought.

Soon now to the left was the huge hole that was once Hodge Close Quarry. One of many slate workings in the Tilberthwaite Valley, this was worked on a large scale from the 19th century to small scale in the early 1960s. A massive excavation of light green coloured slate, sheer-sided with an original worked depth from ground level of about 100m (300 feet). The 150 feet deep face is a favourite with abseilers, while the 150 feet deep flooded workings which extend below the surface are popular with divers.

At the end of the track was a gate onto another track.

"Our way is right", instructed Shaun.

This led through the buildings of High Oxen Fell, where we timed it just right to hold the gate open for a number of 4x4 vehicles. All the passengers said "thank you", as they passed.

Coming to a junction Shaun said, "we go left to Low Oxen Fell."

Here we met a couple coming in the opposite direction, but were then going on the same way as us. They were the people we had seen on the summit of Holme Fell when we had been on Ivy Crag. Dad chatted with them as we walked along, and noticing us the gentleman commented and Dad explained about our adventures mentioning the website. The narrow road led to the A593, where they were parked. They had now finished their walk but we still had some way to go including another summit of course.

"It is across the road and up the track rising left", instructed Shaun.

So started the long and rather laborious climb up Hollin Bank. We met a group of walkers coming down, one lady saying, "I am glad we are not going up!" A gentleman noticed us, commenting to Dad, "I see you have some companions with you!"

Continuing up, it was then left through a gate in the wall. By a boulder the path swung right, to then soon join another path where it was right to another gate close to the buildings of Low Arnside. Beyond the path led to a further gate, and on with the wall to the right, and so finally to another gate onto the fell.

Here there was another group of walkers looking at the view. Dad stopped to have a drink and as they set off the way we had come, we were noticed again.

Ready, Dad walked on a few yards, but looking at the instructions and the map Shaun said, "we should be going up left by the wall we have just come through."

"You are right, lad", replied Dad.

Skirting an initial boggy area, a good path led on by the wall and when the gradient levelled, Shaun, said again, "Birkett says to take this path climbing steeply right."

Cresting the rise, Allen called out, "look there is the trig point on Black Crag, our objective."

Dad made his way across to come to the last steep section leading up to the trig point at Black Crag, the summit of Black Fell. There was no doubting that we were there, as can be seen in our picture below. We would have liked to sit on top, but there was just too much breeze.

Here we met a gentleman from Blackburn and of course Dad chatted. He totally understood about us, saying he knows someone who takes a penguin, and another friend has to have his picture taken at the summits while eating a toffee crisp! He told us that one of his walking pals is doing the Birketts.

"The lads and I have actually done those", remarked Dad. That is only the second person we have met or know of, doing these.

"I think it might be worth taking some pictures from here", suggested Tetley.

"That's Lingmoor with the Langdale Pikes behind", said Little Eric. "You can see some of the wall running over the fell that we walked beside."

"I think those trees with the wall and ladderstile lit by the low winter sun, make a nice picture", Grizzly then said.

"OK, time to be getting on", called out Dad. "Get settled again lads."

Headed down, soon picking up the main path that led to a gate into Iron Keld Plantation, and on through this to a gate onto a track, where we went right. "We have been along here a few times before", said Allen, "usually in the opposite direction."

Rounding a corner, there was before us a line of about half a dozen land rovers. The drivers were looking on as the the driver of the lead vehicle, tried to get it over a large rock on the steep rough track. All to no avail it seemed. Pondering this Dad said "how are your reversing skills", to which there was some laughter.

"Can you get past alright", one of the drivers said.

"No problem", replied Dad.

Continuing down, there was suddenly a cheer and the sounding of a horn, indicating the rock had been successfully negotiated

Dad called back, "well done!"

"Just the others have to get up now!" added Grizzly.

Reaching the bottom of the hill at a corner Shaun called out, "its left here through that gate."

"Does this lead to Tarn Hows?", asked Southey.

"Yes pal", replied Allen, "but it is a about half a mile before we will get to the tarn itself."

Reaching the tarn there was suddenly lots of people. "It's busy", said Southey.

"That's because Tarn Hows is one of the most popular places in the Lake District, at any time of year. With good paths round the tarn, they are easy for walkers who are not as adventuress as us", responded Tetley.

As Dad walked left, Shaun called out, "you are going the wrong way."

"I know lad, but I reckon we will get a nice view of the tarn from just over there."

"Ooh yes", said Little Eric. "Nice reflections again."

Turned back and now walked the path as Shaun had directed. After a while Allen said, "that will make a rather moody winter view Dad."

Not many yards further on we stopped again as Grizzly said, "look a money tree."

"What?", cried Southey mystified.

"It's that fallen tree trunk", replied Allen. "People have hammered coins into it."

"Well I never", said Southey.

"We saw a similar one near Janet's Foss, Yorkshire, when we were walking with Uncle Bob", remarked Shaun.

Onwards now and after a little while Southey said, "are you sure we haven't missed where we descend."

"No pal", replied Shaun. "It is at the very far end of the tarn. Look I will show you on the map"

"Oh yes, I see."

It was now soon that we reached this and Shaun pointed, "there is the route down."

However first we paused to look out again over the tarn. Dad got the camera out, of which we include this shot. Mirror smooth with perfect reflections.

So now we made the descent of Glen Mary. The path is pretty steep and rough but presented no difficulty to our sure footed Dad. About half way we met some walkers coming up. They were the ones we had seen by the start of the ascent path to Black Crag. Recognising us the gentleman said "hello again."

"Have you got far to go", asked Dad.

"No", he replied, "just up to Tarn Hows, where we are parked."

Tom Gill was a constant companion on the descent and it was much further down before we came to the impressive waterfall.

"Lovely" cried Southey.

Fairly soon the descent gradient eased and it was not long before we were crossing the footbridge over the gill to the car park.

"Thanks Dad, for a lovely walk", said Little Eric. "That is another two Birketts and Wainwrights out of the way.

"I have had a super day", added Southey.

"That goes for us all", said Tetley.

For a change of route Dad drove via Coniston and Torver, getting home soon after dark, and it was nice to get into the warm of the house.


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