Little Eric completes Wainwright Book 6 North Western Fells


Date - 12th July 2016 Distance - 7.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4 Start point - Cinderdale Common (NY 1623 1928)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Lad Hows 1398 426 NY 1720 1930
Grasmoor 2795 852 NY 1748 2035
Wandope 2533 772 NY 1882 1973
Third Gill Head Man 2402 732 NY 1835 1960
Whiteless Pike 2165 660 NY 1802 1897
Rannerdale Knotts 1165 355 NY 1673 1825



As Shaun, with Little Eric riding on his back, and Grizzly, arrived with the tea and cakes, they found Allen, Southey and Tetley, huddled over the laptop.

"What are you looking at", called out Grizzly.

"The pictures Dad took on our last walk to Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks", replied Tetley. "There are some good ones and certainly enough for our forthcoming story.

"That is", went on Southey, "when Dad as the time to type it for us."

Allen then looked up and cried, "tea and cakes! Just what the doctor ordered."

He and Southey went off for the plates and mugs, then Tetley, helped Shaun with filling the mugs and passing them round.

Little Eric announced, "Grizzly had made the peach and apricot slice. I have done chocolate covered flapjack, as you all said you liked it last time when Grizzly made it."

"Wonderful", said Southey. "I really do so appreciate you doing the baking. It is not taken for granted I can assure you."

"We know pal", replied Grizzly. "But like Little Eric has said in the past, we both enjoy baking and find it therapeutic too."

By now Allen had helped himself. "Mmm, the flapjack is delicious."

"And the peach slice is scrumptious", went on Shaun.

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

"I have looked at the diary", said Southey. "There are two days down next week for a walk with Uncle Eric."

"Have you checked the weather?", asked Allen.

"Yes pal, either day is OK, but I guess then we will be going on Tuesday."

"So now we need to come up with a plan", said Grizzly. "With the long days it would seem sensible to again go to the north lakes."

Little Eric replied, "I agree, and I wonder if we can suggest the round including Grasmoor? That would mean I would at last finish Book 6 North Western Fells, and advance my Wainwright and Birkett challenges."

"I am sure that Dad will be happy to do that, but it is a question whether Uncle Eric feels able to tackle it", responded Tetley. "Maybe we should come up with and alternative idea, as well?"

"Well, how about the Buttermere ridge?", said Shaun. "Little Eric and Southey have not done those."

"OK", agreed Little Eric, "but I would dearly hope that we do Grasmoor etc."

Allen drained his mug saying, "I will go and see what Dad thinks." Then, as he went, he called out, "will you pour me another mug of tea, for when I return."

"Sure pal", laughed Tetley. "We all know what a tea belly you are."

Little Eric helped himself to another piece of cake.

"That's your fifth piece", chided Grizzly, shutting the lid on the tin, firmly. "At this rate there will be none left for Allen, when he comes back.

"Sorry pal but I am nervous about whether Dad will agree to the Grasmoor walk."

Minutes later Allen returned, and he accepted the refill mug, "thanks Shaun." He had a smile on his face, and then said, "Dad is happy with both suggestions but we will have to wait until he speaks to Uncle Eric for the final decision."

So we waited patiently until Monday night. After the conversation, Dad came and told us the decision. "We are doing the Grasmoor walk. Uncle Eric, I feel, does not think that he can manage the Buttermere ridge in one walk."

"Yippee!", cheered Little Eric. "Finally I will get Book 6 completed."

"You are one happy bear", said Tetley, laughing.

"One final thing", said Dad. "We will be making an early start, setting off from Uncle Eric's about 08:15. So we will be leaving home at 07:30."

"No problem", replied Tetley. "We were well used to those when we walked with Uncle Bob."


The Walk

On the morning we were all up early and lent a paw to get the picnic made and stowed in Allen's rucksack, and then true to his word Dad set off about 07:30.

The day was dry throughout, but cloudy and at times quite cool, so not really feeling like July.

"Good morning, Uncle Eric", we called out, as we decamped to his car for the journey to the start.

"Hello Lads", he replied. "I hope you are well?"

"Yes, thank you", Shaun replied.

So we drove through the lakes to Keswick, and then to Braithwaite. Then over Newlands Pass to Buttermere, here going right beside Crummock Water to the start. This is a rough parking area on the right, by Cinderdale Beck, just a little way past Hause Point.

Dad and Uncle Eric were soon ready, so we quickly settled in Dad's rucksack and just minutes before 10:00, we set off.

"There is the path", pointed Shaun. So, we have to cross Cinderdale Beck"

This was achieved by walking to the road.

"I love that warning sign, in local dialect", smiled Grizzly.

"Yes" agreed Shaun, "drivers need to watch out for my relations."

Dominating the view was mighty Grasmoor.

"Oh heck", said Southey. "We have certainly got a climb on our paws. Which is our route?"

"On the right", replied Tetley. "We first go to Lads Hows, then on to climb the ridge."

The path climbed steadily, keeping close to Cinderdale Beck, Dad pausing to take these falls.

Then it swung sharp right and continued upwards over a few rises to come finally to the flat top of Lad Hows with just a single stone marking the summit.

"First summit bagged, but just for me", said Southey.

"That's right pal", replied Allen. "The rest of us came here in June 2011. For Shaun, Tetley, Grizzly and I, at that time, it was one of the Birkett mopping up summits."

"We did this and High Snockrigg that day", went on Tetley.

"What a lovely name", replied Southey with a laugh.

Lad Hows is a good vantage point for views, so we paused to look around. "That is a lovely view of Crummock Water & Loweswater", said Grizzly.

Tetley enlarged saying, "Above Crummock is the end of Mellbreak, and beyond is Carling Knott and Burnbank Fell."

Turning and looking across, Shaun pointed saying, "that is the ridge for later. The summits are Third Gill Head Man, and Whiteless Pike."

"But first is the not so small matter of conquering Grasmoor", Little Eric, pointing to the route.

"I well remember us looking at this, when we were last here, but never actually thinking that we might have to do it", sighed Allen.

"Well", said Uncle Eric, "there is nothing for it but to put best foot forwards."

There was a dip from Lads Hows, to then follow the clear at first grassy path onwards over the rises and then more stony as we climbed over a heather girt knoll, at which point the path swung left.

Here Dad paused to let Uncle Eric catch up. "That is quite a view over Crummock Water with Mellbreak", remarked Grizzly.

Once again Tetley enlarged. "The dominant fell to the right is Great Borne. Hen Comb can just be made out rising immediately behind Mellbreak. The skyline to the right is Gavel Fell & Blake Fell."

"Thanks pal", said Southey. "I wish I could name the fells like the rest of you."

"Don't worry it will come with time, as you do more walking and exploring", replied Allen.

Our eyes then travelled to the onwards path. Here it became severely steep up the ridge, such that we had to lift our heads to take it in. Our hearts sank, Southey sighing, "surely we've not got to climb that."

"I am afraid so", replied Dad with a heavy sigh.

Much later as we were traversing the ridge to Whiteless Pike, Dad took this shot, which we think give readers an appreciation of what Dad and Uncle Eric faced.

Uncle Eric said, "I am going to be slow, up here, so you go on ahead, Gerry."

The path was rough stony and eroded as it zig-zagged the unrelenting gradient. At one point looking back, we could see that Uncle Eric had paused to catch his breath, while taking in the view. "That's Rannerdale Knotts", said Little Eric excitedly. "My Book 6 will be done, when I am at its summit."

Dad plodded ever on and finally this section was topped, where stone of the path suddenly became grassy.

"Phew!", Dad breathed. "I am very glad that is over. With it being so eroded and covered in loose stone, I am very thankful we do not have to go down that way."

"I don't suppose we will be traversing this path ever again", said Grizzly.

"No lad, definitely not!"

Sitting patiently for Uncle Eric to arrive, Shaun said, "what a truly majestic skyline of mountains. I know they are dark due to the cloudy skies, but maybe still one for the story.

Furthest ridge - Slight Side (2499ft), Scafell (3162ft), Scafell Pike (3206ft) and Ill Crag (3067ft).
Middle ridge - Green Gable (2628ft), Great Gable (2949ft) and Kirk Fell (2630ft).
Finally in the foreground is Haystacks (1959ft), the scene of part of our last adventure.

Like Dad, Uncle Eric was glad to finish the steep ascent, and take in the magnificent view.

The gradient eased significantly, as we walked on towards the summit.

Allen generally rails against sheep pictures, but makes an exception for our favourites, Herdwicks, so Dad could not resist getting the camera out when Allen pointed, "look at that Herdwick lamb."

"So cute", added Southey. "What lovely markings on his face."

Soon we joined a wide path and turning left it was not long before the summit came into view.

Grasmoor summit is adorned with a huge cairn that is fashioned into shelters.

"Yippee", cheered Little Eric, "that's one down. Come on pals time for our picture."

Dad and Uncle Eric sat in one of the shelters to have lunch. We climbed over and found a nice little niche to gather round, Allen slipping his rucksack off and getting the sandwiches and cake out, as well as the flasks.

The summit view was taken as we were leaving, and the family who can be seen, actually arrived just after us, having made the same ascent as us. We were spotted, and commented on, so Dad explained, and the gentleman took our picture. Like our Dad, we are never camera shy!

"So where now?", asked Little Eric.

Tetley pointed, saying, "that grassy hill is our next objective, Wandope."

"There does not seem to be too much of a climb", commented Uncle Eric.

"Actually it is 250ft", replied Dad. "It is deceiving as there is quite a descent to the path running between Grasmoor and Crag Hill."

So lunch over, we packed up, then got settled again. Then saying goodbye to the family, set off the way we had come, but kept on the main track. Crag Hill (2751ft) with to its left side the stony area that is Eel Crag (2649ft), dominated the view in front.

Down and down to the crossroad of paths. That to the left goes to Coledale Hause, while the grassy path right heads to Third Gill Head Man and Whiteless Pike. This was our route, but after just a few yards, forked left on the grassy trod that led to the cairn on Wandope.

Here is the summit, the background from the left consisting of, Crag Hill (2751ft), Sail (2536ft), Causey Pike (2090ft) and Rowling End (1421ft). Beyond the end of the grass Wandope falls away into the huge hollow of Addacomb Hole and its near vertical edge to the right drops to the valley of Sail beck in a most dramatic manner, like Sail etc.

Once again we were not camera shy as we sat on the cairn.

"Look", called out Tetley. "The sun is catching Catstycam [pointed fell] and Helvellyn."

"Where now"?, asked Southey.

Shaun replied, "we head west on that clear path, to the cairn we can see. That marks the summit of Third Gill Head Man."

"I need to bag that as part of my Birkett challenge", said Little Eric.

And so just ten minutes later we had settled at the cairn. The lake is Buttermere.

From here we now had an impressive view of our next summit Whiteless Pike. Behind is the High Crag (2442ft), High Stile (2644ft), Red Pike (2478ft) and far right Starling Dodd (2077ft).

Its summit was to be attained, by descending the narrow ridge of Whiteless Edge to the col at Saddle Gate, followed by a short steep ascent of 110 feet.

If we thought the hard work was over, we were sadly mistaken, as now followed the long descent from here. This was rough steep and rocky, with an easier grassy section in the middle.

Herdwicks were grazing and this one posed for us.

On the final section the path traversed below Whiteless Breast, and to the right the view opened up. The hidden valley of Rannerdale, with Rannerdale Knotts above. Crummock Water is overshadowed by Mellbreak and distantly Loweswater can be seen.

In 1930 Nicholas Size published a historical novel called The Secret Valley, which tells the story of how this area resisted the Norman invaders in the 50 years after the 1066 Norman invasion. According to Size, the Norman army was ambushed and defeated by the native Britons and Norsemen at the Battle of Rannerdale.
The battle is thought to have taken place in the valley, where bluebells grow in profusion in April and May. According to local folklore, the bluebells are said to have sprung from the spilt blood of the slain Norman warriors.
A Norman army under the command of Ranulph les Meschines, Earl of Carlisle, advanced south from Cockermouth. The local warriors were commanded by the Earl Boethar, who succeeded in drawing the Normans into the valley, and then routed them with a surprise attack from above and behind.
Little historical evidence is available to support Size's version of the story, which is a romanticised tale of the last stand of the native Britons against the invading force. (source Wikipedia)

A final section of descent brought us to a wide grassy path that goes right and would eventually lead us to the final summit, Rannerdale Knotts. It was not entirely straightforward being undulating in nature to the first rocky outcrop that for a while never seemed to get any closer, but was finally gained.

En route, Southey said, to wind Allen up, "that sheep is just waiting to be photographed."

"Hmph", complained Allen, "it's not a Herdwick."

Reaching the first rocky outcrop however, broke the back of the ascent, as the next outcrop, adorned with a substantial cairn, and the summit was shortly attained. The view is majestic. To the left is High Snockrigg over topped by Robinson. Centre above Buttermere is Fleetwith Pike and the prominence of Black Star on Honister Crag. Right can be seen Green Gable and Great Gable with in front Haystacks.

"Yippee!", cheered Little Eric."I've done it. Book 6 complete as last. Thanks Dad for revisiting all those summits."

"Well done pal", said Shaun, giving him a hug, as the rest of us did afterwards.

"Come on pals, sit with me at the cairn."

Then we left Little Eric to himself, and as is the tradition on completing a Wainwright book, he posed with the book open at the page of the last summit.

Looking north Allen said, "that view to the Fellbarrow group is worthy of a picture for the story. After all it is where we met Uncle Bob."

So now all that remained, was to make the at times steep and rough descent to Hause Point and the road. Near the bottom, there was this superb view of Haystacks, backed by Green Gable and Great Gable. Kirk Fell fills the gap between Haystacks and High Crag.

"Wonderful", breathed Southey.

At the road it was just a short walk to the car.

"That was truly a grand day", said Tetley. "Good to revisit these fells, after nearly eleven years."

Uncle Eric said, "bearing in mind the steepness of the ascents and descents and the rough eroded paths, I am pleased with my performance."


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