Date - 21st July 2020 Distance - 4 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL7
Start point - Gummer's How car park (SD 3898 8762)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Gummer's How 1054 321 SD 3904 5548
Birch Fell 1043 318 SD 3951 8913



It was Monday, and Dad was at Elaine's as usual. Thanks as always to Grizzly and Little Eric it was afternoon tea time, the cakes having arrived and Shaun had brought the flasks of tea.

Southey said, "I'll go get the mugs and plates", and then said, "I'll lend a paw to help fill the mugs."

"Thank you pal", replied Shaun.

Meanwhile Grizzly was telling us what cakes he and Little Eric had made. "I thought I would give the Chorley cakes a rest, so have instead there are fruit scones with butter jam and clotted cream. Little Eric has done chocolate coconut and cherry slice."

"Ooh that is one of my favourites", cheered Tetley, helping himself to a couple of slices.

"Now whose the cake stuffer", laughed Allen, who was spreading the jam and cream onto a scone."

"Takes one to know one", riposted Tetley.

"Mmm, the cherry slice is absolutely scrumptious", said Southey. "Where did you get the recipe?"

"From Dad", replied Little Eric. "Long ago when he first came to live in Morecambe, he used to bake his own cakes. But he stopped as he did not want to put too much weight on. Shame really as he told me he enjoyed baking. Perhaps that's where I get my liking for baking from."

Wiping his mouth, Shaun said, "Grizzly the scones are delicious. I see Allen is on this second already."

"I am. I have to live up to my cake stuffer reputation."

"Since I got Aunt Elaine's recipe both Little Eric and I have mastered making scones", said Grizzly.

Tetley, having scoffed a scone too, now picked up the iPad and after a few taps, said, "the weather looks to be good for tomorrow, then there is rain for Wednesday. So, I am sure Dad will be happy to walk tomorrow, so let's come up with an idea."

"Maybe a small hill", suggested Southey. "It has been a very difficult year for Dad with Uncle Brian's death and then the lockdown due to Covid-19, so I realise why Dad has felt reluctant to tackle the fells again."

"And I fully understand", agreed Little Eric. "Of course it would be great to complete the Wainwrights, but I will not be upset if Dad feels he can no longer do the mountains."

Shaun said, "whether or not, we will have to return to Birch Fell, as while you had considered it done in 2012, we really only went to the fence and not on into the woods to the rocky outcrop."

"That's a good idea", cheered Little Eric. "And we will take in Gummer's How that you will bag as well Southey."

"Definitely a good idea", he cried. "Let's hope Dad is agreeable."

He was as here is the account of our adventure.


The Walk

It was a familiar drive to the start. We left the A590 at Gilpin Bridge and drove the delightful road through the Lyth Valley.

"In the spring this is ablaze with Damson blossom", Tetley told Southey. "A wonderful sight. It has long been famous for this even going back into the 19th century."

At the valley end, after a sharp left bend, we then shortly kept ahead where the road went sharp right. This took us through the village of Bowland Bridge and then steeply up Strawberry Bank, following the hairpin bends. After the road summit it dropped down with views of Windermere, and soon we arrived at Gummer's How car park.

"It's busy", remarked Southey.

"No surprise, this is a very popular walk."

We followed a car in that then just turned and exited. "Oh dear", said Little Eric. "Seems there are no spaces."

"Here", said Dad, "In front of this car, I can squeeze in."

As he got ready Shaun pointed to a path opposite. "That is our return route."

"There's Gummer's How", pointed Grizzly. Then for Southey's sake he went on. The path is through trees and level then climbs more steeply to a flat area where a path goes right round below the summit. There is then a short scramble over rocks before a level walk right to the trig point."

I'm ready", called out Dad.

"OK", replied Allen, as we got snugged in the rucksack.

At the road we turned right a short way to the kissing gate onto the path to Gummer's How.

Two ladies with young children were coming through. They spotted us, so Dad had to explain about our adventures, and his teddy collecting in general. We love the fuss!

As Grizzly had indicated the surfaced path was level before the climb kicked in. Here the heavily eroded path had been repaired into steps.

After a stop to catch his breath, we soon reached the level area where a path leads right.

"Wow", pointed Little Eric. "I had forgotten what a superb view there is of Windermere and Lakeside. There are steamers at the pier.

We noted that soon after the smaller boat to the left, set off for Bowness. "They must have lost and absolute fortune due to the pandemic.", remarked Allen. "Let's hope that it can be kept under control in the UK, so that life can get back to normal sooner rather than later."

"Just that section of scrambling now" pointed Shaun.

Dad made easy work of this, having faced far more challenging sections on other walks in the past, and brought us to a grassy level area with the summit just a little way ahead.

A well trodden path took us past the grazing cattle...

...and to the trig point.

"Amazing", remarked Tetley. "We have timed it when there is hardly anyone at the summit. Come on pals, let's take advantage and sit on the trig point for our picture."

We then looked about. "Wow the views are amazing", breathed Southey.

"Wonderful of the Coniston range", pointed Tetley.

"And of Windermere, with the Fairfield Horseshoe and Red Screes", called out Grizzly.

"And there's the Langdale Pikes", pointed Allen. "Elterwater can be seen too."

"As we have always said", remarked Shaun. "You do not need to be on the highest mountains to get superb views."

Dad had the Wainwright Outlying Fells book in hand, and proceeded to do what he and Uncle Eric call the Eric Robson. That is using Wainwright's diagrams pick out the fells and mountains that are in view. It was clear enough today to see them all.

"Wonderful", cried Little Eric.

We could have looked at the view all day, but it was time to reluctantly move on.

"We head north on that descending path", pointed Shaun.

Soon he then instructed, "now take the path right."

This continued down to reach a narrow path by a boggy area. "Turn left", said Shaun.

The next objective Birch Fell is up to the right of this picture.

"The map shows we have to cross a broken wall and keep on, before striking right to Birch Fell", advised Shaun.

After a few minutes Allen called out, "there's the path right. It leads through that wall gap."

Approaching a fence ahead, Shaun said, "we cross that, and then go right up to a corner."

There was no stile so Dad just climbed over and walked uphill as Shaun instructed. Near the corner there was a gate in the fence.

"That would have been easier", remarked Grizzly.

"Aye lad, but the obvious path did not lead to it", replied Dad.

"OK", said Shaun, "we go left round the corner. The summit of Birch Fell is then over the fence and somewhere in the midst of all the trees."

"Right let's get over straight away", said Dad, making short work of this.

"Look", pointed Tetley, "there's a definite if narrow path."

This very quickly brought us to the summit area.

"We first came here in April 2006", said Tetley. "It was just after Uncle Brian saw the Birkett book of Complete Lakeland Fells. I recall Dad that you wrote a comment something like, this is a Birkett Fell in my new book, however this should not be construed that I intend to climb all 540 of these."

"Well we all know how that turned out", said Allen, letting out a bellow of laughter.

"At that time I really did have no intention of climbing them all", said Dad wryly. "I had done 280 at the time. Then little by little we started to tick them off."

"It was really when we got past 400 that we just had to finish them", went on Grizzly.

"And I am glad we did", said Shaun emphatically. "I will remember the 14th August 2013 forever. It was the day we reached the summit of Pen in Eskdale to complete the challenge."

There were a number of outcrops. We picked the one we thought represented the summit, and Dad took our picture.

As we settled in the rucksack, Shaun looked at the GPS. "We are not actually at the recorded grid reference."

"Ok", said Dad, "let's try to find that position."

This was a very short distance, Allen calling out, "that's the summit rocky outcrop. I remember now. Look too it has a large tree growing out of the top. Bizarre!"

It was not easy to access, but Dad persevered and sat us on top and snapped our picture.

"Great" cheered Little Eric. "Now Southey and I can properly tick this summit off."

All ready for off again Dad said, "I plan to return to the fence the way we came."

Having climbed over then it was down to rejoin the path and go right. This was narrow rough and stony and led through bracken at times, and undulated. At times close by the plantation, but at other times it crossed to the wall away to the left.

At one point the view opened out ahead across the Lyth valley with the Howgill Fells in the far distance.

"Eventually at the end of Birch Fell, we will come to a cross path", advised Shaun. "There we turn right."

Nearing this the path just disappeared. The wall had collapsed here, Dad saying, "best thing is to walk on top."

It was only a short distance, Tetley saying, "I can see the stile on the path we are aiming for."

Now easier walking, Dad strode out. The path was narrow at first and through some tall bracken at times with duck boarding to ease the crossing of boggy areas.

Then where the trees had been felled, it widened into a track that had recently been used by vehicles involved with the extensive tree felling operations.

Shaun said, "it seems that half of the trees in Birch Fell plantation have been felled. If they do the other half then the summit will no longer be shrouded by trees."

"That ruined building is seeing the light of day after a long time, now the trees have been felled", commented Southey.

"And this tiny stream", pointed Little Eric.

Soon we reached the road, Dad using this stone step stile in the wall by the gate.

"Turn right", said Shaun, "then soon we are to go left on a track into The Heights. This will lead to the bridleway between Raven's Barrow and Sow How Lane."

Just under 10 minutes walking and Shaun called out, "here's where we go left."

"Or not", replied Tetley.

"Well", said Dad, "that's an end to that idea. Not only a locked gate, but three strands of barbed wire to discourage climbing over."

"Sorry", said Shaun.

"You've nothing to be sorry about lad. We weren't to know it was private."

Looking at the map, Allen said, "we will just have to walk along the road until we get to Sow How Lane and then rejoin the planned route."

There it was left a few yards to then followed the sign right into Astley's Plantation.

"Nearly back to the car", commented Grizzly reading the sign.

Through here Dad met a couple and their son who were staying in Bowland Bridge, and walking every day the weather was good. He had quite a long chat about the wonderful countryside, and the current situation.

Then we strolled on through the pleasing woodland...

... and so to the car park, with Dad's car opposite. The car park was somewhat less busy by now.

"Thank you Dad for a wonderful day out, and for making sure I have climbed Birch Fell", said Little Eric. "You truly are the best Dad in the world."

As we drove back, Tetley said, "are you going for refreshments?"

"Yes lad, I'll see if the cafe on the A6 in Milnthorpe is open."

It was and he found that it was under new management and now named River Bela Cafe. Coincidently too it was their first day of operation. He had a pot of tea, lovely scone with jam and cream and a scrumptious piece of chocolate cake. Dad chatted to them mentioning that the building was once Bob Parratt's clothing shop. They said that he still owns the building and had popped in earlier. It has a nice ambiance and Dad wished them well and said he would come again when in the area.

"A grand day out", said Tetley.


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