Date - 20th August 2017 Distance - 8.5 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4/OL6 Start point - Gatesgarth Farm (NY 1948 1498)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Seat 1840 561 NY 1855 1342
High Crag 2443 744 NY 1805 1399
Grey Crag on High Stile 2648 807 NY 1697 1478
High Stile 2644 806 NY 1674 1478
Red Pike (Buttermere) 2479 755 NY 1605 1545
Dodd (Buttermere) 2103 641 NY 1639 1575



Allen, and Southey were huddled over the laptop, when Tetley trotted into the room. "Your new Lakeland magazines have arrived, pals."

"Thanks Tetley", replied Southey, "I look forward to reading the interesting articles."

"What are you looking at?", asked Tetley looking over their shoulders.

"The pictures Dad took on the walk with Uncle Eric when we climbed Seathwaite Fell", said Allen.

"They are good and will illustrate our adventure story perfectly", went on Southey.

Hearing a noise, Tetley looked round to see Shaun and Little Eric arriving with the flasks and cake tins.

"Ooh tea!", cheered Allen. "I'm..."

"gasping for a cuppa", finished Tetley, letting out a bellow of laughter. "You truly are just like Dad for tea."

Southey had got the plates and mugs. "I'll lend a paw helping you pour."

"Thanks", said Shaun.

Meanwhile Little Eric had opened the tins. "There is chocolate caramel shortbread, or flapjack", he announced.

"Lovely", cheered Southey, "my tummy has been rumbling a bit."

We munched away, Shaun saying, "the cakes are delicious."

"Mmm", agreed Tetley, who then said, "where's Grizzly."

"Oh watching MacGyver, with Dad and our other pals", replied Shaun. "There was not long to go, so he will be here soon."

A few minutes later he trotted in with an excited look on this face. "I bring news of our next walk. You are going to be very happy Little Eric."

Southey handed him a steaming mug, saying, "then I'm going to be happy too, but get your tea and cake first, we can contain ourselves."

A few minutes passed, then putting the empty mug down Grizzly said, "Dad has decided to do the Buttermere ridge again, so that will mean you bagging three Wainwrights, and three other Birketts.

"Wow", replied Little Eric, "that will be fantastic. I am truly very happy as you said."

Tetley who has an amazing memory remarked, "it is 11 years since we last did this walk. So for Dad I guess it will be tougher this time, especially as there are some very steep ascents and descents."

"I know", replied Little Eric with a worried tone in his voice. "I feel for Dad's knees already."

"So which day?", asked Allen.

"Either Saturday or Sunday", replied Grizzly. "At the present Saturday looks the best, but there are a few days to go and we all know how changeable the weather is."

Well in the event is was Sunday. Saturday had been rather wet with strong winds, but Sunday was a much calmer day, dry, but cold for the time of year. All in all this has been a very poor summer.


The Walk


Dad had told us he wanted to set off at 07:30, so we packed the picnic the night before, putting the sandwiches in the fridge.

Knowing Dad would be true to his word, we got up extra early and quickly settled in the car, as we heard him slam the boot shut.

As he backed out of the drive, Southey asked, "how do we get to the start."

"Much the same way as we went with Uncle Eric, when we climbed Seathwaite Fell", said Shaun. "However in Borrowdale, instead of turning off to Seathwaite, we continue through Seatoller then over Honister Pass."

"Ahh I remember now", replied Southey. "I have been to the top of Honister Pass, when we climbed Fleetwith Pike and Haystacks."

"Well today we continue down and at the bottom we will come to Gatesgarth Farm, where there is parking on the right."

It was a lovely drive seeing all the spectacular scenery, and being so early there was no traffic. Even in Ambleside the streets were deserted!

At Gatesgarth, Dad pulled into the car park, then went and paid the £4 fee for the day.

As he got ready we looked out across to the ridge, Tetley commenting, "it will be a much better day than 11 years ago. Then the tops were shrouded in mist all day."

Pointing over the farm buildings Grizzly said, "There are the three Wainwrights. From the left High Crag, High Stile and distantly Red Pike."

"Ooh, real mountains", enthused Southey. "It is going to be quite an adventure."

"Right lads, I'm ready", called out Dad. "Come and get settled in the rucksack."

Dad then shouldered it and with his trusty stick strode off, across the road and through the farm following the wide level track.

"There's Haystacks", called out Little Eric. "That was quite a day when we did it last year."

Warnscale Beck was crossed via Peggy Bridge, then shortly beyond a gate the path immediately became rough and rocky as it steepened considerably at the start of the long ascent to the top of Scarth Gap.

Dad stopped to catch his breath a few times, and looking left Allen said, "that is an impressive view of Warnscale Bottom backed by Fleetwith Pike."

For a spell the steepness eased, before the final pull to the top of Scarth Gap, the way always rough and rocky. "To the right is our first summit, Seat", called out Tetley."

As the ascent levelled, Shaun said, "we should look for a path off to the right that starts the ascent of Seat."

Now our Dad always tries to be careful and looks where he is putting his feet, but is human and prone to error. He caught his foot on a stone in the path, stumbled, and then gravity took over falling headlong to the rocky ground, taking most of the impact on his knees.

"Ouch", he called out as he assessed the fall and knowing there were no broken bones gingerly got to his feet.

"Oh Dad", cried Little Eric, "are you alright."

"Yes just a little shaken up", then pulling his trouser leg up, "I have taken the skin off my left knee."

"Don't you think it would be wise to just return to the car", said Little Eric "it was a hard fall and on unforgiving ground."

We all know how determined and perhaps at times rather stubborn Dad is, so his reply came as no real surprise.

"No lad, I'll be fine. If we go back, I'll only have to do the climb up Scarth Gap again at a later date. This will be the last time I do this walk, so let's get it out of the way today."

"That's our Dad", was Tetley's comment.

With all this kerfuffle, Shaun thought it best to remind us, "we are looking for a path off right to climb Seat."

Dad strode off, and very soon Grizzly called out, "here's the path."

Narrow and grassy, it was soon to become rocky as it steepened for the ascent to Seat.

Shortly we met a group of three men from Barrow, who were taking a break. They told us they were up for the weekend. One said, "we did Grasmoor, Whiteless Pike etc, yesterday. Strong winds and horizontal rain."

"A challenging and tough day, then", Dad replied. "That ascent of Grasmoor is very steep too", as we all remembered very well. "I had planned to come here yesterday", Dad went on, "but changed my mind seeing the forecast."

"Right decision", another replied.

Climbing on the gradient eased quite soon.

"Wow", breathed Southey, what a fantastic view. What exactly can we see."

Tetley was quick to oblige. "The highest to the left side is mighty Grasmoor, with in front Whiteless Pike, and then going right, Wandope, and the prominent ridge Crag Hill. In the foreground is High Snockrigg the ridge right rising towards Robinson. And finally the fell behind to the right catching the sun is Knott Rigg."

"That was where those gentlemen from Barrow were yesterday", went on Grizzly.

Moving on, Allen said, "the summit is to the left, one of those rocky rises."

"That one ahead has a decent cairn", pointed Southey.

So we went there first, but checking the GPS Shaun said, "not the summit, it is that first rise with the less prominent cairn."

Soon there, Little Eric cheered, "that's one ticked off."

Southey called out, "and for me too. Come on pals, picture time."

"What is that lake", pointed Southey, who being fairly new to the group is still getting the map of Lakeland fixed in his mind.

"Ennerdale Water", replied Grizzly. "The furthest fell above to the left is Crag Fell."

"Oh yes", exclaimed Southey. "That was one of the summits we did as part of the Calder Horseshoe."

"Correct", said Allen.

"I'm getting a clearer picture in my mind", replied Southey. "It just takes time."

"It does, pal", agreed Tetley.

Now regained the path and dropped down towards High Crag, it's ascent being up Gamlin End.

"Oh heck", called out Little Eric, worriedly. "That is very steep."

"Aye lad", replied Dad, "but I was well aware of what we faced. Originally the path was straight up where the scree is in the centre. That got so eroded, that there is now the series of zigzags just to the left. You can see the gentlemen from Barrow just starting up those. At the top the path cuts right across the scree to gain the final ascent."

"If we had realised how hard this will be on your knees, we would have insisted you turn back after the fall", said Southey firmly.

So with pauses to catch his breath, Dad trudged on and on, to finally almost unexpectedly arrive at the summit cairn.

"Two and the first Wainwright", cheered Little Eric, jumping out with the rest of us for our picture. The backdrop is mighty Pillar (2927ft, 892m). "That's one of my outstanding", he went on.

"There's High Stile", pointed Shaun. "It is a mile to the summit, according to Wainwright."

"The right side is called Grey Crag, very aptly named with all the scree", commented Tetley. "The cairn at the top of that is the actual highest point at 2648ft. However Wainwright considered the cairn above Chapel Crags as being the actual summit of High Crag, although it is slightly lower at 2644ft."

"So summits 3 and 4, a Birkett and a Wainwright", said Little Eric excitedly.

Quickly settled in Dad's rucksack, he made the descent off High Crag the path meandering, at times close to the vertiginous drops to the right and with fine views of Buttermere. Once again the Grasmoor group, and a section of Crummock Water, with rising above to the right the long ridge of Rannerdale Knotts.

"Not a good place if you suffer from vertigo", said Grizzly, peering down.

From the col Dad trudged on as the path ascended. As it levelled off, Shaun said, "we need to drift right and head for that large cairn. It is the highest point at Grey Crag."

"Well at least today we can see where the summit is", said Tetley. "11 years ago all was lost in the mist and cloud."

Arriving, Southey called out, "picture time again."

You might have noticed the metal posts in the last two cairns. These are from a fence, now long gone that stretched across these mountains, marking a boundary.

Looking across with our backs to the cairn, Tetley said, "that's the summit of High Crag above Chapel Crags."

"It looks to be higher", said Southey.

"An optical illusion", replied Allen. "This happens quite a lot in these circumstances."

Before leaving Grey Crag, Dad took this shot looking north.

"That's Crummock Water", said Shaun. "On this side the nearest fell is Dodd, our last summit today, and beyond Mellbreak."

"Mellbreak is another where the optical illusion applies", said Allen. There are two tops on that fell. You would swear that the north summit is the highest point, but it is overtopped by the south summit by 3 metres.

A few minutes walk across the rock strewn ground and the cairn on High Stile was reached.

As we sat Southey looked across to Grey Crag. "I now see what you mean Allen. From here it is definitely slightly higher."

Here we met a young couple from York, who were doing the walk the opposite way. Dad had a lovely chat. They had planned to do the walk yesterday, but decided against it due to the weather. Wise decision. They liked us and loved the fact that we go on the adventures with Dad.

So, Red Pike beckoned.

The initial descent of High Stile was rough and rocky, then more grassy across the col, where our lovely Herdwicks were grazing, this being one of this years lambs...

...and up to the summit cairn and shelter.

"Yippee", cheered Little Eric & Southey, "that's all the three Wainwrights ticked off."

There were fine views from here. "What's that tarn called?", asked Southey.

"Bleaberry Tarn. We will descend to it", replied Tetley. "You can see part of this, the path on the left."

"First though we have the matter of the last summit Dodd", said Grizzly pointing down.

Two young men arrived at the summit with a beautiful golden labrador. It was soft as anything and gave you that wonderful soulful look. None more so than when Dad went into his pocket to get his hanky. The dog came over, one of the lads saying, "he thinks it's food your getting."

So saying goodbye we went right to the start of the descent. This was to be the toughest part of the walk, and Dad had, really had, forgotten just how long and unrelentingly steep the descent is to the lake shore. The first section, The Saddle, is so eroded that there are just scree gullies.

"I will be slow here, lads, as I need to take it very carefully.

Fortunately there was still some grassy parts beside the gullies and using these made the descent a bit easier.

This done it was straight on at the crossroads for the quite short climb to Dodd.

We met a couple coming down, the lady saying "tell me it's not far now."

Dad pointed back to Red Pike saying, "the summit is the top of that crag, but it is steep and rough going."

Dodd summit is adorned with a nice cairn, Little Eric calling out, "come on pals, last picture of the day."

Shaun decided to be ' king of the castle', as can be seen!

After taking in the views once again, it was back into Dad's rucksack, to descend the same way and at the crossroads go left and steeply down to Bleaberry Tarn.

Because this route is so popular all of it down to the shore of Buttermere had been repaired with uneven rocky steps. From the tarn there was a short level section, then it steepened again, the gradient being constant on the long long section zigzagging down Old Burtness, to the forest fence. Then the same through Burtness Wood that finally brought us to the lake shore path.

We felt so so sorry for Dad, as it put lots and lots of strain on his knees, and we were very conscious of the tumble he had taken on Scarth Gap.

We kept meeting three young men down here, who we think were either Dutch or German. Dad talked a little to them, they too agreeing how steep it was. They got down first and were standing on a bridge on the path to Buttermere village. Here Dad, called "goodbye" then saying "I am going this way", as turned right.

They replied with a cheery "goodbye."

So turning right Dad strode out on the wide lake shore path, that was mostly level. "Oh, am I glad to have got down to here", he said with feeling.

Good progress was made now, passing a gentleman who spotting us said, "have the bears behaved!"

"Yes, impeccably", Dad replied.

Further on there was a seat and Dad stopped to get a drink, and take this nice shot across the lake to Grasmoor and Whiteless Pike.

A lady passing by with her elderly mother commented, "it is a wonderful view." Then she spotted us saying, "how many have you got in there."

"Six", Dad replied, "they go on all the walks."

"I love that idea", she replied, with a smile.

Onwards we came across these Herdwicks with their lambs. "Get a picture Dad", enthused Southey.

So, finally, we had the welcome sight of Peggy Bridge...

...and crossing, were soon at the car.

"Thank you, thank you, thank you", called out Little Eric. "You are the very best Dad in the world."

"You're welcome lad. I won't be going up there again. It has been a hard day, but rewarding none the less."

We decamped to the car to have the rest of our picnic The tea bar was open so Dad went and had a refreshing mug of tea and a mars bar. He chatted quite a few minutes to the lad serving, including how lovely the tea was.

"It's all about the water", was his reply and pointing to the slopes of Robinson opposite, "it comes from a spring on the fellside."

We could rest, but Dad now had to drive us home. He had phoned Uncle Brian from Grey Crag, but once the descent started there was no signal. As the walk had taken longer than expected Dad was anxious to let Uncle Brian know all was well. Finally he was able to do this in Keswick.

So took the quick route via the A66 and M6.

Dad commented that he ached next day, but his knees had really taken a pounding due to the fall and also the ruggedness and steepness of the ascent and descent. They were badly bruised, and it was to keep Dad confined to barracks for a few weeks. Nevertheless he told us that he did not regret going on after the fall.

And finally the summit tally. For Little Eric and Southey it was 6 Birketts including 3 Wainwrights.


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