SEATHWAITE FELL

 


Summary

Date - 10th August 2017 Distance - 6.5 miles
Ascent -
1970ft
Map - OL4/OL6 Start point - Verge parking approaching Seathwaite Farm (NY 2385 1260)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Seathwaite Fell 1970 601 NY 2290 1018
Great Slack on Seathwaite Fell 2073 632 NY 2273 0971

 

Preface

Allen and Southey were deeply engrossed reading their Lake District magazines.

"Some good articles in this edition", commented Southey. "Thank you once again for taking the subscription out for me."

"You're welcome, pal", replied Allen. "Tetley and I decided you must have it, as after all you come from Grasmere, in the heart of Lakeland."

A glance to the door had Southey calling out, "tea!", seeing Grizzly, Little Eric and Shaun arriving with.

Southey brought the mugs and plates, then helped Shaun pour the tea. "Thanks."

Little Eric announced, there is peach and apricot slice that Grizzly has made and from me chocolate coated flapjack.

The tins were passed round and soon there were sounds of contentment.

"The flapjack is scrumptious", breathed Allen.

"As is the peach slice", said Shaun.

Then suddenly, Grizzly stopped with a pieced of cake halfway to this mouth. "Where's Tetley? He never misses tea and cakes."

"I did see him sitting with Dad, who was on the phone at the time", replied Shaun. "I'm sure he will be along very soon, as like you Allen, he can smell tea a mile off", went on Shaun laughing.

This was indeed the case, as just a few minutes later Tetley strolled in. "I bring news of our next walk."

"Well have your tea and cakes first", said Little Eric, "we can be patient."

He sat down and after a few minutes said, "the cakes are delicious pals, as always. Thank you. Now about the walk. It is to be on Thursday and we will be with Uncle Eric, and this will gladden your heart Southey and particularly you Little Eric, as we are going to the Lake District. The plan is to drive up Borrowdale and climb Seathwaite Fell."

"Yippee" cheered Little Eric. "That means I will tick off another Wainwright, as will Uncle Eric too."

"There is also a second summit that is actually the highest point in the fell, that is a Birkett summit", said Grizzly. "So you will tick off two Birketts as well."

"Wonderful", cried Southey. "Can't wait. Roll on Thursday."

"Yes", called out Allen, raising his mug. "Here's to Dad."

 

 

The Walk

Knowing that the parking area on the verges approaching Seathwaite Farm fill up quickly, Dad had told us that we would be leaving home about 07:30, so we wisely packed the picnic the night before and put it in the fridge.

As we pulled out of the drive, Tetley said, "this is reminiscent of those early starts we made to meet Uncle Bob in the Yorkshire Dales."

"Aye", agreed Allen. "in the winter we would get to Hawes and it would still be dark."

"Good times", said Shaun. "We were meant not to do the Fellbarrow walk the week before when it rained, so that when we went the next week we would meet Uncle Bob with his grandson Jack at the summit."

At Uncle Eric's we decamped to his car for the drive through the Lakes and down beautiful Borrowdale, taking the narrow road left to Seathwaite, where there were already many cars parked.

"Wow", breathed Southey, looking round in awe at the fells towering all around.

Shaun pointed ahead to the one in the centre. "That's our objective, Seathwaite Fell."

"That bit of a ridge prominent in the centre is the Wainwright summit", went on Tetley.

"What is the mountain behind?", asked Southey.

"Great End", replied Allen, "although we tend to call it jokingly Big End."

We were to enjoy a glorious day with plenty of sunshine and light winds. Dad now ready, we quickly settled in his rucksack, and he and Uncle Eric strode off to, and through, the farm, to a gate. Beyond walking the wide stony track to Stockley Bridge.

Looking right, Little Eric said, "that waterfall is pretty impressive."

"It's called Taylor Gill Force", responded Tetley. "Our route will take us above the gorge on the left side."

So crossing the bridge and passing through the gate, Shaun said, "we continue ahead towards Styhead."

"This will be a first going up this way, as in the past we have always turned left by the wall and made the ascents via Grains Gill", commented Grizzly.

"That's right, pal", agreed Shaun. "Today Grains Gill will be our descent route."

Climbing on Seathwaite Fell rose to our left, its upper slopes being the towering Aaron Crags.

We passed through another gate then looking left Tetley explained. "Wainwright has two ascent routes A and B. Route A is left up the fell now initially by the wall.

"The final climb is up that grassy gully", Tetley went on.

"My that is very very steep", said Southey.

"That is why, for Uncle Eric's sake and the sake of Dad's knees", we are taking route B, as it is a bit less steep", replied Allen.

Continued along the Styhead path, until a stream crossed, where looking left was route B.

A narrow path led off by the stream, prompting Little Eric to comment, "I think that most of the ascents are done this way."

A steady climb ensued on this first section and after a few stops for Dad to catch his breath, a small level plateau was attained.

The views were opening out as height was gained.

"That's the Seathwaite Valley", informed Grizzly. "Then the nearer fells in the centre are Castle Crag and King's How. The ridge behind is Bleaberry Fell and High Seat, and distant to the left is mighty Blencathra."

"A magnificent prospect", breathed Southey. "Oh what a lucky bear I am!"

Now a narrow trod wound on upwards contouring back and forth on the steepening ascent to finally and thankfully reach the upper plateau.

We were not surprised to see our lovely Herdwicks on the climb the ewes with lambs, even Allen not complaining when Dad got the camera out.

The ascent now largely done, the path swung left towards the rock tor...

...surmounted by a nice cairn, being the Wainwright summit.

"Can you just explain why there are two summits?", asked Southey.

Little Eric was happy to oblige. "When Wainwright was writing his guide to the Southern Fells that was published in 1960, it can only be assumed that the maps and the measurements of height were not as accurate. This tor is clearly a high point and so he took this to be the summit at 1970ft. He comments that there are areas that are higher than this and the current maps show that the the outcrop called Great Slack is indeed the actual highest point at 2073ft.

"Thank you."

So a short scramble through the rocks soon had us at the cairn. "

"Yippee", cheered Little Eric. "Picture time."

"Another one ticked off for you, Uncle Eric", said Tetley.

"Yes lad, I have never been here before."

Looking south across the wide flat top Great End at over 2900ft towered over everything, but Tetley pointed to a rocky tor to the right side of the plateau. "That is Great Slack and the Birkett summit."

The area of the top is grassy with small pools and tarns and is boggy in places. Dad and Uncle Eric taking time to consider the best route to Great Slack.

"That area down to the right looks rather boggy", said Dad.

"So to be avoided", replied Uncle Eric.

"I can see a path on the far side that runs left", pointed Dad.

"So we need to get to it", agreed Uncle Eric. "If we descend from here the way we came up, we can then keep right and cross where those sheep are, to pick the path up."

So gaining the path it led straight and true to the base of Great Slack and a short climb through the rocks had us at the summit cairn. "Come on", called out Southey as he scrambled out of the rucksack, "picture time again."

The dramatic backdrop is the mighty Great Gable, with Green Gable to the right. "Those are two that Uncle Eric and I have to climb", said Little Eric.

While we sat just enjoying the magnificent prospects, Dad took a few shots that we now include below.

First a close up of Great Gable...

....then looking north over the Wainwright summit, we could see Derwent Water backed by the Skiddaw massif.

Finally towards Esk Hause, to the right Great End once again and to the left Esk Pike.

"Time for lunch", said Uncle Eric.

"Too right", cried Allen, rubbing his tummy in anticipation.

We dropped down just below the summit and found some convenient rocks to sit on. Allen quickly slipped his rucksack off and passed round the sandwiches.

"What cake did you pack", asked Shaun.

"Mincemeat slice and flapjack", replied Little Eric.

"Mmm scrumptious", he replied having taken a bite.

We took our time, enjoying the scene all around, then packed up and it was off again on the return leg.

"There's a path down there", pointed Shaun, "that goes south."

"Right" agreed Uncle Eric.

Once gained we went right the path passing below another rocky tor that is just one metre lower than Great Slack. Soon we began to descend, the path skirting right of this small pretty tarn...

...then continuing down to join the main track from Styhead to Esk Hause, where turning left we passed by the pretty Sprinkling Tarn.

The rough track climbed over a rise ahead, then dropped down to a depression at the top of the path left down Grains Gill. In front the path climbed on the few hundreds of feet to Esk Hause a place we had been to a number of times for various ascents. Allen Crags, Esk Pike, Scafell Pike etc. It was busy here, whereas we had had Seathwaite Fell almost completely to ourselves.

Now started the long long descent, the very first part above the narrow gorge of Ruddy Gill.

The path is rocky and rough, Uncle Eric needing to take his time, so Dad got ahead, but always waited every now and then for him to catch up, before continuing on.

Ruddy Gill eventually runs into Grains Gill, on which are some pretty falls, like this.

Lower down the path crosses Grains Gill by this footbridge...

...below which bloomed these wildflowers.

By a gate Dad made one of his stops for Uncle Eric to catch up.

During the day at least four people commented on us saying like, "love the teddy bears. Fantastic." Two gentlemen came through the gate and saw us, and when Dad commented to one that some of us had done the Wainwrights and Birketts he replied, "that's more than me." We we unsurprisingly rather full of our own importance!

Finally the path brought us to the gate by Stockley Bridge and so along the track to the farm and to the car.

"Thanks Dad", cheered Little Eric. "I am a very happy bear to have ticked off another two summits"

"A super day", cried Southey. "What beautiful and dramatic scenery."

So now all that remained was to drive home, and unbelievably this was to take three hours!

This was due to a coach having broken down between Ambleside and Windermere, close to the Low Wood Hotel. We joined the tailback some miles before between Grasmere and Rydal!! Heaven only knows how far behind us it eventually tailed back!! We can say that Uncle Eric and Dad were glad to get to Kendal, and Dad then to get us home. Dad had been in contact with Uncle Brian by phone, so he was aware to the delay and so did not worry.

A truly grand day out.

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