BIRKBECK FELLS FROM A6 SHAP SUMMIT

 


Summary

Date - 22nd May 2018 Distance - 9 miles
Ascent -
1380ft
Map - OL7 Start point - Layby on A6 at Shap Summit (SD 5534 0657)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Packhorse Hill 1365 416 SD 5568 0766
Crag Hill 1312 400 SD 5676 0674

 

Preface

It was a nice afternoon, and we were sitting quietly enjoying tea and cakes.

Allen said, "you know, I was gasping....

...for a cuppa", finished off Tetley, letting out a bellow of laughter.

"You are just like Dad, a tea belly", remarked Little Eric.

"And you are like Dad too, but a cake stuffer", responded Allen. "The mincemeat slice is delicious though pal, so thanks for making it."

"And you Grizzly, for making the peach and apricot slice", went on Shaun. "It's scrumptious."

Grizzly was looking at the iPad and said, "we have a day down for walking with Uncle Eric, next Tuesday. But where to go."

Shaun said, "I know that Dad has been looking at the area by the summit of the A6 on Shap. Birkbeck Fells common."

Grizzly quickly opened the OS app and found the area in question. "It's a triangle with a there and back section below Packhorse Hill."

"Well we have never explored those paths, and I am willing to bet that Uncle Eric has not been there either", said Tetley.

Draining his mug, Allen said, "I'll go and see if Dad wants to suggest it,"

As he went out of the door, he called, "pour me another mug of tea, please."

"I rest my case", laughed Little Eric."

Well Dad agreed and so too did Uncle Eric, so here's our account of the adventure.

 

The Walk

So on a day that was sunny and warm after a cool start, with a nice breeze, we met Eric at the layby at Shap summit on the A6.

"Good morning Uncle Eric", we called out.

"Hello lads, nice to see you."

From the start we walked on north for a little way to take the signed stony track on the right. This was part of the Old Shap Road, before the current A6 was built. It descended, before climbing again under the slopes of Packhorse Hill, as can be seen in this view back to the A6.

"Uncle Eric?", asked Tetley. "Would you mind if we climbed Packhorse Hill, so we can bag the summit."

"No lad, as long as I can take my time."

At corner then we struck off over the rough ground to after a few false rises finally get to the summit.

"Picture time", called out Allen.

The A6 curves below Packhorse Hill and beyond is Shap Pink Quarry. This is one of the sources of the sought after pink granite. Later in the story we were fortunate to see a boulder of this, with the pink tinge.

Ready for the off, Shaun said, "we need to head down roughly east across the rough ground and regain the old road."

This done we were now at a junction. To the left would be our return route, while the outwards route was over the fence in front. There was a gate, but it was tied up!

The track rather stony at first meandered on and on eventually becoming more grassy. We kept on as this seemed to be the main track. There were pools of water, in one of which there were tadpoles.

However, as we were to find, somewhere along here we should have turned off left, as we got too far south. However there was a benefit as it led towards the cairn on Crag Hill.

Looking at the map, Shaun said, "as far as I can see this is the highest point on the common."

"So it counts as a summit", replied Allen with glee. "Come on pals picture time."

Uncle Eric continued on the track, but Dad was not quite happy, and after a little way we all realised it was the wrong direction. A look at the map made it was clear that a grassy track we could see to the north was where we should really be.

"Oh heck", said Little Eric. "It means that you and Uncle Eric are going to have to cross that rather rough grassy ground."

"So be it", replied Dad as he strode off.

We used this forlorn ruin by the track as a guide to our objective.

At the track turned right over Nan Hill and on, the path now more stony and surfaced again. A gentleman was rebuilding the stone wall. He had already done many many yards and still had lots to go.

"Such an art", remarked Grizzly.

"Yes" agreed Allen. "we are without a doubt full of admiration."

Dad and Uncle Eric stopped to chat with him for a few minutes. He apart from a farmer near Salterwath, were the only people we saw all day.

Striding on the route led us past the buildings of Ewelock Bank and a narrow road.

"Where now?, asked Grizzly.

"It is left on the road for a few yards", said Shaun. "Then we take the track off left. Our ultimate objective on this section is almost to Salterwath."

At the track the signpost confirmed the way.

The track kept with the wall on the right and after being relatively smooth for a while then became rough and boggy.

Sheep with lambs were grazing in the fields beyond the wall.

"I know that I prefer to not have sheep pictures in the story", said Allen. "But that ewe and lambs are just begging to be photographed.

"My", said Southey laughing, "that makes a change."

Walking on, Shaun said, "it's over this stile on the right."

Immediately now the obstacle of a stream in a steep sided ravine was overcome followed by a stile into a field towards Gill Farm.

Waymarks now guided us on the diverted path past the farm. Then on a clear surfaced track we walked on to Rampshowe, nestled amongst its protective trees.

Here again the waymarks guided us through gates, and so along the path.

"Look", called out Tetley, "there's a boulder of pink Shap granite."

"Ooh yes", said Allen. "When you look closely the faint pinkish tinge is quite evident."

After a little way the path came beside a wall that we crossed via a ladderstile below some majestic trees.

Keeping in the same direction along by the wall the path was boggy for a spell. This led us to Stonyhill Farm.

"The map shows that we should go right through the wall, then through the farm", said Shaun.

"I agree", said Uncle Eric, "but this track to the left that circles the buildings seems to be easier."

In the event it was and then led on towards Salterwath.

"Aww that horse has a cute foal", said Little Eric. "Must be worth a picture."

Eventually the track headed through a gate and down towards the bridge over Birk Beck. "We do not cross the bridge", said Shaun. "We strike off left."

We heard the farmer coming down in his tractor, so Dad opened the gate for him. He got a toot and hand wave of thanks!

"Time for lunch", said Uncle Eric.

"Ooh yes", said Allen fervently, rubbing his tummy.

We gathered in a circle to enjoy the sandwiches, cake and tea.

"That's better", said Southey, as we settled in Dad's rucksack once again.

There was no path, so we tramped over the heathery ground, initially above the stream to the right and then crossing this. The map clearly showed that we needed to keep parallel with the wall until it bent sharply right.

At this point we stopped to consider the route. There were two hills ahead. Uncle Eric said, "we pass those to the right."

"I agree", replied Dad. "There will also be a wall to our right as we pass under the hills."

Shaun nodded, "I agree."

We don't know why, but Dad stepped a few yards to his right finding the path. This became clearer as we went on and led us along our desired route.

There were sheep here too. "That group are posing for you Dad", said Southey.

"Hey steady on", said Allen. "Just because I suggested the previous one, let's not go mad."

Looking east, Tetley said, "that's Crosby Ravensworth Fell behind the M6."

"I remember when we climbed that", said Allen. "On the Oddendale walk. Dad kindly deviated off the route so we could bag the summit. There is the trig point and the large cairn that can be seen from here."

If you look carefully too, you might spot an Eddie Stobart lorry heading north. Just above the tree on the left.

The route led on and on, coming below and rounding the slopes of Dryside to the left. Then at a gate rejoined the Old Shap Road at Wasdale Old Bridge...

...by which were some pretty wildflowers.

The route was left on a long steady ascent to the brow, passing where we had made the outward route. Then down and up over the lower slopes of Packhorse Hill. Finally down again before another steady ascent to the A6 and so right to the cars.

"That was a good walk", said Uncle Eric. "Thanks for suggesting it."

"You're welcome", replied Tetley.

"And another area explored", said Allen.

So a rather tired group we rested in the car. We felt for Dad, who could not rest until he had driven us home.

A grand day out!!

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