CAW, PIKES & GREEN PIKES from SEATHWAITE

 


Summary

Date - 3rd December 2014 Distance - 4.75 miles
Ascent -
1640ft
Map - OL6 Start point - Church Hall car park, Seathwaite (SD 2290 9606)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Caw 1735 529 SD 2304 9445
Pikes 1539 469 SD 2376 9475
Green Pikes 1378 420 SD 2362 9509

 

Preface

It was Sunday and all was well with the world, steaming mugs of tea in paw and cakes on our plates.

"This chocolate caramel shortbread is really scrumptious", said Allen, shutting his eyes in ecstasy

"Thanks" replied Grizzly. Then he went on "isn't this mincemeat slice lovely too."

"Yes", agreed Southey, helping himself to another piece. "It's Little Eric we have to thank for that, I guess"

Glad you like it", responded Little Eric.

Reflecting on yesterday's walk, Shaun said, "it was a good day and nice to revisit those hills again. Quite nostalgic for me too, as Black Crag was my very first Wainwright back in February 1998."

"For once we all had good views too", added Tetley, "and Little Eric, it was another two ticked off."

"Ooh yes, and my Book 4 bagged list is beginning to look better, although there are some really challenging ones to come. And, I am still saying that Dad does not have to do them all again, if he does not want to."

Allen had the iPad in paw, and commented, "there is a walk day down for next Wednesday with Uncle Eric, and the weather looks to be good. I noted that he has sent Dad and e-mail listing the Outlying Fells that he still has to climb. In the past Uncle Eric had been so very accommodating when we have had to deviate from paths to bag Birkett summits. Now I know that we have all done the Outlyers but it would be nice to return the favour, and repeat some to advance Uncle Eric's quest.

"I agree", said Tetley. "Let's have a look at the list and see what can perhaps be done on these shorter days." After a minute he went on, "it seems that there is the Devoke Water round, the Black Combe group. I think this latter Uncle Eric is planning to do on his own."

Grizzly suggested "how's about Caw, Pikes and Green Pikes?"

"Yes a good idea", agreed Tetley.

Shaun went and got the book. "Wainwright goes up from Seathwaite in the Duddon Valley. That would be a new route for us too as last times we went up from the Lickle Valley."

"I'll go and suggest this to Dad, and if agreeable he can ring Uncle Eric tonight, to give him a few days to think about it."

This Dad did and when they spoke again on Tuesday evening our suggestion was agreed upon.

"Great!", exclaimed Southey. "I alone amongst us will bag the summits. I know I will not complete any of the challenges, but I just want reach as many summits as possible."

Shaun said, "Dad has said that being a long way to the start and the fact that the roads in the Duddon Valley are narrow he intends to set off early to allow plenty of time."

 

The Walk

With this last comment in mind we were up very early and got the picnic packed and stowed in Allen's rucksack. Then true to his word at 08:00 we were pulling out of the drive.

Tetley said, "it is not nearly as early as we used to set off to meet Uncle Bob in Yorkshire. Often by this time we had been driving for over and hour and in the depths winter it was still dark too!"

The route was familiar. The A590 to Greenodd then over the tops to Broughton in Furness. Shortly then at Duddon Bridge it was right up the valley to Ulpha, where just beyond for once we ignored the Birker Fell road, and instead kept in ahead towards Seathwaite.

About another three miles to go, and after a while we caught up with a car ahead. "It's Uncle Eric", called out Grizzly.

Soon we arrived at Seathwaite. Now there had been some concern about parking as we were relying on a lay by opposite the church, but as it turned out there was a car park at the church hall with plenty of space. Pulling in beside Uncle Eric, we called out "hello", as he got out of his car.

"Good morning, lads", he replied, "nice to see you."

There was a £2 charge for the car park via an honesty box, towards the upkeep of the hall. A very fair charge and a good cause.

The day had started very cold with the first real hard frost this winter. Calm with hardly any wind and quite a bit of sunshine, just perfect winter walking weather.

Before setting off both Dad and Uncle Eric walked the short distance to get a picture of the Church of the Holy Trinity.

Originally built in the early 16th century, William Wordsworth visited here and dedicated one of his 35 Duddon Sonnets to the place and to the Reverend Robert Walker (1709–1802) who was parson at the church for 66 years. In the church is a memorial plaque to Walker, who was known as "Wonderful Walker" because of his long and exemplary ministry. Wordsworth refers to him in the sonnet as someone "whose good works formed an endless retinue". Due to its rundown state the church was completely rebuilt in 1874, and reconsecrated in May 1875.

Coming back to the car park, Allen said, "look Southey, that is Caw up to the left, and the trig point at its summit can just be made out."

All ready for the off, Shaun said, "we go back along the road to the bend and then take the track left."

As we approached Tetley said, "look there is the signpost for our route."

Through the gate we passed the sheep pens and beyond a further gate, went right along the cart-track that was to be stony in places. It ran by the wall and diagonally across the fell.

"This is the Park Head Road", said Shaun, looking up from the map. "According to Wainwright it was of some importance when the quarries were operating."

Presently we passed some of our lovely Herdwicks, this one standing patiently while Dad took its picture.

"Oh well", said Allen resignedly. "We have had a few stories without sheep pictures, so my luck was bound to run out. Anyway I do not mind it being one of our favourite Herdwicks."

"Brr", shivered Grizzly. "Even though with its full winter fleece, I bet it was cold last night in the hard frost."

The track climbed steadily passing through a gate. Shaun then said, "what we are looking for is a track going off sharp left which is the road to the long abandoned Caw Quarry."

Dad remarked to "I reckon we need to climb to that brow ahead."

Nearing this what looked like just another of the many rocky outcrops by the track, Uncle Eric suddenly said, "it's the retaining parapet supporting the track we have to take."

Looking down the track we had climbed Allen said, "there are two walkers with a dog, but they are not coming up here, as they have taken the footpath going off to the west."

These were to be the only other people we saw all day.

What a fine view", called out Southey. "Is that Wallowbarrow Crag in the foreground?"

"Yes pal", replied Little Eric, "and the tall triangular fell behind is Harter Fell."

"That was a lovely walk when we climbed Wallowbarrow Crag", went on Southey. "The return route through the gorge was wonderful."

"That was new ground for us all, and we just had to summit Wallowbarrow Crag to ensure that Shaun, Allen, Grizzly and I had completed all summits in the Fellranger Guides", said Tetley.

"And so that I will too, should I complete the Wainwrights", added Little Eric.

The quarry road climbed steadily, being grassy for the most part, but stony too. In places it had deteriorated somewhat over the years, but largely was still in a good state. Cresting the final rise we arrived at the sparse remains of the quarry. A large spoil heap and a roofless stone building.

Looking right, Tetley said, "there is an old level running into the fell." Wandering over we peered inside and could see that the tunnel ran for some little distance, but unsure how safe it was, we wisely perhaps did not venture inside.

Uncle Eric was looking at the Wainwright book, saying "he includes a small drawing of this level, on the ascent description page. The scene now is still just exactly the same, even down to that piece of slate lying on the right. That is 40 years ago, and probably the scene is unchanged from when the quarry closed, whenever that was. Probably back in the 19th century?"

"So where now?", asked Little Eric.

"We have to climb that steep slope to the right", replied Shaun.

There was a vague path of sorts, but the route was clearly marked by a line of small cairns, that led up to a col, where a grassy path emerged. This swung left, and looking up Allen called out, "there's the summit. Not far to go now."

"Not much more than 100ft", replied Dad checking the GPS.

"Come on" urged Southey, "let's go"

Still fairly steep, this last part of the ascent was soon accomplished, and the trig point was reached, perched on a rib of rock.

Unlike Black Crag, there was no wind, so were able to sit on top of the trig point for our picture. "Hooray!", we all cheered.

Extensive views from here of the Duddon Estuary and Morecambe Bay. We all waved a paw to Uncle Brian!

Looking round Southey said, "what a superb prospect of mountains."

"That's the Coniston Range", replied Tetley. In fact from the distant left, "Grey Friar, Great Carrs, Swirl How. In front of Grey Friar is a rising ridge culminating at Dow Crag. Right from there the ridge continues over Buck Pike and Brown Pike with overtopping behind Coniston Old Man. In the foreground is White Pike the behind right White Maiden."

"Thanks", replied Southey. "Those first three, we of course climbed earlier this year."

Around there are a number of rocky outcrops and Dad could not really remember which was Pikes, especially as we had not climbed to Caw this way in 2008, rather coming up from Pikes. Also for some inexplicable reason Dad read the compass wrong and we headed to what we thought was Pikes but was in fact Tail Crag, seen below.

Nearing it, Shaun said, "I think we are going to the wrong summit as the GPS reference does not match that for Pikes."

"You are right lad. I am sorry Eric", responded Dad.

Going left away from Tail Crag, and finally heading in the right direction Pikes was before us.

Crossing the depression and up the slope beyond, we drifted right to make a bit of a scrambly ascent to the summit, a rock outcrop, here with Dow Crag, Buck Pike, Coniston Old Man, White Pike & White Maiden.

"Yippee", called out Southey that is another one Uncle Eric and I have bagged."

Jumping out we settled by the summit rocks for our picture. As can be seen just a few stones formed the cairn. Uncle Eric found a few more lying nearby making it a bit more substantial, before we left.

"Wow", called out Allen, "that is a magnificent prospect of the Scafells. Well specifically Scafell, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End and Esk Pike."

Shaun said, "if we look carefully and follow the ridge down from Scafell Pike (the mountain in the centre bathed in sunlight) it ends at Dow Crag with on top Pen, our last Birkett summit!"

Getting settled again, Shaun then said, "Green Pikes is roughly north from here".

Dad got his compass out and took a bearing, and pointing said, "that must be it down there."

Everyone was agreed, so Dad and Uncle Eric made their way carefully off Pikes and over the rough ground to then make the short ascent to the summit.

"Hooray", cried Southey. "That's all three off your outstanding list Uncle Eric."

"Yes lad, another step closer", he replied.

"Hmm, there's no cairn", said Allen. "Will you get the flag out, please Dad?"

Behind us below, runs the intake wall. "We should descend to that and follow it right to the gate in it", advised Shaun

Shortly we came to a short section of fence which Uncle Eric correctly surmised was where the wall had collapsed and was not the gate referred to by Wainwright. Dad however insisted that this was where we should cross. Uncle Eric acquiesced and after then following a path right we very soon found the gate!

"You were quite right Eric, I am truly sorry, said Dad.

"So you should be", chided Tetley.

From the gate an old drove path, intermittent at times wound down the fell. "What and incredible view of the Duddon Valley and mountains beyond", breathed Southey. "So beautiful and majestic."

Still unsure of the names Allen obliged for him, saying, "the sweep of mountains from the left is, Scafell, Scafell Pike, Broad Crag, Ill Crag, Great End, Esk Pike & Bowfell.

Further down we stopped for lunch by some rocks with these fantastic views. Early December and mild enough to sit without getting cold. How lucky to have such a good day. Then setting off again, the path continued down criss-crossing a stream called Gobling Beck to finally come to the gate we had taken at the start. Then to the road and just the few yards to the cars.

"What a super day", said Little Eric. "Thanks Uncle Eric for your company."

"Thank you lads, for repeating these, so that I could tick them off."

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