Dad's 71st birthday walk
Little Eric's 14th birthday walk


Date - 1st March 2022 Distance - 5.25 miles
Ascent -
not recorded
Map - OL4
Start point - Verge parking above Buttermere church


Summits Achieved

No summits were reached on this walk



It was another wet and windy day. "What and awful month February had been, so unsettled", said Tetley.

"For sure pal. Those three storms in a week have caused havoc across the country. Thankfully we missed the real impact of Dudley and Eunice, but we did get the full force of Franklin."

"Aye, it was very windy for a few hours, but thankfully there was no damage to our house and fences", went on Southey.

Just then the rain lashed against the window, but we were cheered by Shaun, Grizzly and Little Eric arriving.

"Ooh tea and cakes", shouted Allen. "Just the ticket on a miserable day. I'll go get the mugs and plates."

This done Tetley said, "I'll lend a paw to help fill the mugs."

"Thanks pal", replied Shaun.

So what are the cakes?", asked Southey.

"Chorley cakes with butter from me", said Grizzly, "while Little Eric has made chocolate caramel shortbread."

"Ooh two of my favourites", cheered Allen, helping himself to one of each.

"Me too", said Southey.

So after a while, by which time Allen was on this third mug of tea, and both he had Southey had had three of each of the cakes, our thoughts turned to walks.

Not before Little Eric had commented, "you two are real cakes stuffers and tea bellies. Just glad though you like our offerings."

"You and Grizzly are ace bakers, and we always appreciate your efforts", replied Tetley.

Grizzly said, "Dad is off to Armathwaite next week, I wonder if we will get to go and have a walk?"

"Dad has been pretty busy lately and I know that he is hoping to have a restful time there. He already has one day put aside to go with Rex and Starbuck to the theatre in Keswick, and also he has been invited out on his birthday to Aunt Deborah and Uncle Paul's in Maryport", responded Tetley.

"There is the weather to consider too. Surely it will settle down soon", went on Southey.

Allen grabbed the iPad and after few taps he said, "it does look like there a good forecast for Wednesday, so that is a possibility, always assuming Dad wants to walk."

"I was not thinking of suggesting the fells" said Little Eric. "Surely we can come up with and idea for a low walk?"

Immediately Shaun said, "I have just the one in mind. Although we have been to Buttermere to climb the fells, we have never actually walked all round the lake. It is about 5 miles, and we are sure, if the day is clear to get super views, to reminisce about climbing the fells all around."

"What a super idea, pal", agreed Tetley enthusiastically. "I think we will be on to a winner there."

Allen drained his mug and said, "I suppose you want me to go and ask?"

"Yes please", said Grizzly. "You are always so persuasive. And yes, we will refill your mug, and there will be another couple of cakes on your plate."

"Bribe accepted", laughed Allen as he ran out of the door.

It was just a few minutes before he returned, and the smile on his face presaged good news. "Dad likes our suggestion. It will also mean that he will go past where his sister Elaine's ashes are scattered, so he can have a few minutes in quiet contemplation. As the forecast stands at present, we will be going on Wednesday."

"Great", cheered Southey. And, raising his mug he went on, "here's to the best Dad in all the world."



The Walk

Settled in at Armathwaite Hall, Monday was a quiet day for us all. We stayed in the room, but our pals Fred and Gladly had gone down with Dad to keep him company. Late afternoon, they returned, Dad saying, "I have looked at the forecast. This has changed somewhat."

"Oh no", said Little Eric worriedly, "does this mean the walk is off?"

"No lad. Tomorrow is the best day with clear skies, and it means too that the walk will celebrate your 14th birthday and my 71st."

"That is just wonderful", said Tetley. "I think back to your 70th Dad. Everywhere was locked down, but we were able to do that walk over The Helm, above Kendal. It was a bright clear day too."

"The sun shines on the righteous", stated Allen.

So Tuesday dawned, and Dad threw the curtains back.

"Look" called out Fletcher, "there's been a frost and the mist is obscuring the lake."

After about half an hour the sun had risen over Skiddaw. "That is very atmospheric, with the mist rolling away and the view opening up towards Borrowdale", said Polly. "Take another picture Dad, please."

Breakfast over Dad returned to the room and we all called out, "Happy Birthday!"

We had also wished our pal Little Eric the same and given him a hug.

Soon Dad was ready, saying "right lads time to go. The rest of you have a nice time."

"Restful and quiet is what I am looking forward too", replied Fred.

We scampered down the stairs and out of the doors heading across to the car, parked by the paddock.

"Ooh", called out Tetley, "those trees will make nice shot to end this section at the hotel."

We headed to the main A66, where Dad turned left towards Cockermouth. Southey asked, "remind me how we get to the start."

Shaun was quick to reply. "In a few miles there is a turn-off left signed to Buttermere. We follow the narrow roads until we reach a t-junction with the B5289. There we turn left and keep on this all the way to Buttermere."

"Oh yes I remember now. We will pass alongside Crummock Water and the parking at Cinderdale Common where we started for the ascent of Grasmoor and other summits on the walk a few years ago with Uncle Eric."

"That's right pal", replied Allen.

Passing Crummock the reflections in the water of Mellbreak were just superb, but due to the narrow road Dad was sadly unable to stop to get a picture. Still we can hold the wonderful image in our minds.

Coming to Buttermere village this signpost stands at the three-way junction.

"We need to find a car park", said Southey, "as we do not want to go either of the ways to Keswick."

"Actually we want to take the road signed Keswick 8.5 miles", replied Tetley. "We climb up just past the church and then park on the verge. It will save a hefty fee."

Already there were a number of car parked here, but Dad soon found a space. As he got ready we looked across to the ridge beyond the lake. "Phew that was some walk when we did that back in August 2017", said Grizzly. "Dad stumbled and fell on the ascent of Scarth Gap and cut his knee. But undeterred he carried on and despite the steep ascents and rough paths we completed all the summits."

"All of which Southey and I bagged", said Little Eric. "The long descent from Red Pike was really tough, on the uneven steps of the repaired path. We were all relieved when we finally got down to the lake side path."

"Aye lads that was a tough walk. Not one I plan to repeat. I'm ready so come and get settled in the rucksack."

We hunkered down and off we went down the hill. The weather just could not be better. Blue skies hardly any wind, and clear views. Just a fantastic day to be out, and unsurprisingly we encountered lots of people doing this popular walk, a number of whom Dad chatted with as we made our way round.

"Look" called out Little Eric. "Herdwicks. Our favourite sheep. Take a picture please."

"Yes do", called out Allen. "I do not mind pictures of Herdwicks."

"Our route is along the path to the left of the Bridge Hotel", advised Shaun.

As Dad made to do this his progress was stopped once again by Little Eric. "There's the post box. It dates from the reign of King George VI. Will you take a picture for my collection, please?"

"However can I refuse", laughed Dad.

Past the hotel the path turned sharp left.

This is taken by a junction. "Keep ahead where the man is walking", said Shaun. "The path to the right is the one that leads to Scale Bridge."

"We have been along that a few times in the past", commented Tetley. "One of which was when we climbed Scale Knott and Mellbreak, over there."

"Oh the climb up Scale Knott was so steep", sighed Grizzly. "Up by the fence to the right of the slight line of crags."

"Hmm, yes!", replied Dad. "It was only when we returned after walking along Mosedale, that we discovered there was a more contoured route to the left of it!"

"Probably not going up there again either?" queried Allen.

"No lad."

Looking right we could see the steep ravine containing Sourmilk Gill. "It is the outfall from Bleaberry Tarn, that we walked past on the descent from Red Pike in 2017", said Tetley.

The path brought us to the side of Buttermere. "Wow!" exclaimed Southey. "The reflections are almost mirror sharp."

The view is dominated by Fleetwith Pike with Honister Crag protruding on the left.

Here we met the gentleman who had been in front of us on the initial path. He was with his dog, and he told us that he was doing the ridge. A further reminder of our walk in August 2017!

Looking back, Shaun said, "that's Whiteless Pike with Wandope to the right. The lower ridge running right behind the tree leads to Rannerdale Knotts. Those were to other summits we did on the walk with Uncle Eric, starting with that very steep ascent to Grasmoor that can be seen in the background to the left behind the tree."

"That was in July 2016", said Tetley. "How time flies by."

"I am still in awe of how you remember all these dates pal", Southey said in wonder.

So we crossed the bridge over Buttermere Dubs...

...Shaun saying, "it's left of course."

"Agreed lad, but I just want to go a little right through that gate to get a close-up shot of Sourmilk Gill."

As we started along the path by the lake. Grizzly said, "I think that will make a nice picture of the trees by the shore where we took the picture along the lake."

"Can you tell us the origin of the name Buttermere, Grizzly?, asked Tetley.

Yes pal. According to Diana Whaley in her book on Lake District Place-names, it means the 'lake with good pasture-land'. This is from the Old English butere 'butter', conveying the fertile nature of the flat alluvial land at both ends of the lake, plus mere 'lake'. The parish and village are named from the lake."

"Thank you pal. You never let us down."

As we continued Dad got into conversation with a lady and gentleman, until we reached this tiny bay.

He said to the lady, "this is where my sister Elaine's ashes are scattered."

She replied, "ahh, we'll leave you to have a quiet few minutes."

Dad stood in quiet contemplation, then had a little chat with her, and thought of Uncle Keith.

"I remember Auntie Elaine", said Tetley. "Shaun and I went on some walks with her. She was such a lovely person. Taken before her time she is sadly missed."

Keeping to the lower path close to the lake, this took us through Burtness Wood. We like this shot Dad took of the sun shining through the trees.

A few minutes later, Allen pointed, "there's a superb reflection of the fell on the far side. The summit is High Snockrigg. It was one of our last few Birkett summits. We climbed it from the top of Newlands Pass."

"That we did", replied Tetley. "It was on 24th June 2011. Hard to believe it was so long ago now."

The path eventually led out of the woodland. "That promontory is Horse Close. We should follow the path left, just above the lake."

After this the view opened out to the right and High Crag dominated the scene. Between High Crag and High Stile is Burtness Comb from which issues Comb Beck, that on the lower slopes has this waterfall.

Looking back Southey called out, "there are more superb reflections."

"Oh yes!", exclaimed Little Eric. "Photo please Dad."

"High Snockrigg is to the right then in the centre Grasmoor with running left Rannerdale Knotts", said Grizzly.

By now were were nearing the end of the lake, Dad pausing to take this shot of Fleetwith Pike. "We climbed it with Uncle Eric in 2016, from Honister and then went on to Haystacks", said Tetley. Prior to that in 2006 we started at Gatesgarth, first climbing via Scarth Gap to Haystacks then across to Honister Crag & Fleetwith Pike. That day the descent was down the steep nose of the fell."

Shortly we came to the junction where the path right goes to Scarth Gap, the ascent route we took in 2017 when doing the ridge of High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike.

Here there were Belted Galloways...

...and cattle with very large horns.

Southey said laughingly, "I bet they are thinking, not another person taking our picture. We'll be glad when they have all gone home and we can be left in peace."

Through the gate left the track led over Peggy's Bridge to Gatesgarth Farm. Seeing the refreshment cabin, which was not open today, Dad remarked, "I had a very welcome mug of tea at the end the end of that ridge walk. I remarked to the gentleman how tasty it was. He replied, 'it's the water, it comes straight off the fell opposite'."

About to go right along the road, Little Eric stopped progress by calling out, "please take a picture of the post box."

Striding out we followed the road, with fine views across the lake to the mountains of the ridge. First High Crag....

...and then High Stile with Burtness Comb in shadow below the ridge.

At a corner there is superb view along the lake to Mellbreak with Scale Knott, and to the left the rounded summit of Hen Comb.

"It's time we had our picture taken for the story", said Southey. "This will be a good spot."

At the next bend, the path leaves the road to continue by the lake, first being flat and smooth... then becomes narrow and rocky as it clings to the fellside on the very edge of the lake. This presented no problem as our sure-footed Dad is well used to such terrain.

Dad stopped to take this shot of the lake through the overhanging trees. Rather artistic we think.

"We will soon be coming to the tunnel literally cut through the rock", said Shaun.

Beyond the path was level and wide once more. Looking across the lake, Allen pointed, "there's Red Pike with the Buttermere Dodd, to its right. We can just about see the very eroded path that was the initial descent from Red Pike."

The path crossed a grassy area, Grizzly saying, "that old building might make a nice shot."

The path then became narrower again as it ran on the edge above the lake along Pike Rigg.

At the junction, Shaun instructed, "we keep ahead."

The clear path then wound its way into Wilkinsyke Farm and through the yard, to the road.

"Look", called out Tetley. "There's a cafe. If you take us back to the car where we can have our picnic, you can then have a snack, Dad."

"Good idea, lad. That will put me on until dinner at Deborah and Paul's this evening."

As Dad strode up the hill, Grizzly asked, "can we visit the church and see the Wainwright memorial again."

"Sure lad. I'll take a picture first."

As we stood outside, Grizzly told us, "this is the Church of St James. The original chapel was consecrated in 1507. The present building dates from 1840, and was restored in 1930. The Wainwright memorial we will see is on the sill of the left window."

Entering Dad then kindly took this of the interior.

Grizzly further informed us. "The east window we can see, is by Henry Holiday, and is dated 1893. It has Mary, Martha and a cherub in the top centre."

Letting out a chuckle, Allen pointed to the sign on the inside of the entry door. "I can just imagine sheep wandering around and perhaps chewing on the hymn books."

"Where's the Wainwright memorial?", asked Southey.

"In the window to the right", pointed Grizzly.

"Ahh", said Shaun. "He was our inspiration to go walking. Hard to believe it's 21 years since he died. His guide books are unique and must have inspired so many people to venture onto the fells and mountains and maybe complete the challenge."

We then as asked lifted our eyes to see Haystacks.

"Thank you for that Dad, and thank you for such a super walk to celebrate my birthday", said Little Eric. "We'll get settled in the car now and have our picnic."

Dad then wandered down and sat outside at Syke Farm cafe. Here he had a lovely pork and black pudding sausage roll and a delicious piece of tiffin and washed down with a pot of tea. "A great way to round off the walk", Dad said after.

In the evening we relaxed in the room, while Dad went to Aunt Deborah's and Uncle Paul's for a lovely dinner to round off his special day.

For some time we have been worried about Allen's jumper that was coming apart at the neck and fraying on the sleeves. So he went along and Dad asked Aunt Deborah if she could do anything to repair it. So after dinner Allen went upstairs to her craft room, and she did a wonderful job stitching all round the neck and also the sleeves and the seams at the bottom. We were overjoyed, none more so than Allen, who said a big thank you to Aunt Deborah. Also a big thank you from Dad.


shopify analytics