Date - 15th June 2010 Distance - 7 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL4 Start point - Stoneycroft Bridge (NY 232212)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Rowling End 1421 433 NY 2293 2069
Causey Pike 2090 637 NY 2187 2085
Scar Crags 2205 672 NY 2085 2066
Sail 2536 773 NY 1982 2028
Crag Hill 2751 839 NY 1926 2036
Eel Crag 2649 807 NY 1902 2068



Apart from Grizzly, who was watching a television programme with some of his other pals, the rest of us were discussing the possibilities of future walks.

"Last time we were out with Uncle Eric, he mentioned to Dad that he would really like to climb Causey Pike", said Shaun.

"Apart from Little Eric, we have all climbed it before, back in 2005", replied Tetley.

"That's right", agreed Shaun. "However Dad took us up the path via Sleet Hause, missing out Rowling End. It did not matter then, but now we are doing the Birkett tops, Rowling End needs to be climbed."

"Dad said as much to Uncle Eric, and he is happy to go up by that route", rejoined Tetley.

All the while Allen had been studying the map.

"From Causey Pike, the path continues over Scar Crags and then down to Sail Pass", he said. "The tops beyond, Sail and Crag Hill, are on my list of Wainwrights to do. I wonder if I will be able to tick them off, as well?"

"It all depends on whether Uncle Eric feels able to climb that far. You must remember he is not a young as Dad", chided Tetley mildly.

Shaun piped up, "there is a bonus if we get to Crag Hill, as then just a little way along is Eel Crag, another of our outstanding Birketts."

Excitedly Allen interjected, "looking at the map the difference in height is about 100ft, and there and back it is just over half a mile."

"Well even if Uncle Eric did not want to walk there, it would not take Dad very long and it would be great to get it out of the way", said Tetley.

Little Eric had been sitting very quietly, taking all this in. "Well, it will be a great walk for me as I will bag every one. However all this talk is for naught until we know whether this will be our next adventure."

Looking out of the door, Shaun said, "here comes Grizzly and he looks excited."

"Hi pals", he said cheerily. "After we had watched the programme with Dad, he rang Uncle Eric to discuss walking tomorrow, and they have decided that we will be climbing Causey Pike and Scar Crags at least. Dad mentioned the possibility of going further, even as far as Eel Crag. While Uncle Eric did not rule it out, we will just have to see how he feels on the day."

"I will keep my paws crossed then", said Allen excitedly.


The Walk

Up early we all lent a paw to get our picnic ready, and safely stowed in Allen's rucksack. The weather was sunny as we set off to drive to Uncle Eric's and indeed we were to enjoy a glorious day with sunny periods and hardly any wind. The visibility too was excellent and all the fells viewable from the summits could be seen, if slightly hazy at times.

Uncle Eric took the route via the A591 to Keswick. Fells tower on either side and we recalled our many adventures climbing them. Below the Helvellyn Ridge, we passed by Thirlmere Reservoir.

"It's getting even lower, and there is not an end in sight to the dry weather", remarked Allen.

"There will be a hosepipe ban for sure", replied Tetley.

He was right too, as it was imposed about three weeks later.

As we neared Keswick, mighty Skiddaw and its acolytes came into view.

"How majestic it looks", cried Grizzly. "That was some walk when we climbed it last September. The summit count was 12 that day."

From Keswick, we joined the A66, turning off at Braithwaite, then along the road signed Newlands Pass. This is very narrow, along under the slopes of Barrow, which we had climbed nearly two years ago, to Stoneycroft Bridge. This was our start point and parking was available on the roadside verge.

Immediately in front was Rowling End with its heathery slopes hiding the path we were to take, while to its right was the first main objective Causey Pike.

Eager to be off, we jumped into Dad's rucksack and got settled. Immediately opposite a signpost, obviously intended for bears and sheep, indicated our path.

At first through grass and bracken the path headed steeply towards Elias Crag.

"What a magnificent view of Skiddaw", called out Allen.

"It just cries out to be photographed", added Little Eric.

Dad and Uncle Eric were ready to pause and catch their breath, so did not need a second asking to get the camera out.

From the left - Ullock Pike, Long Side (with Dodd in front), Carl Side, Skiddaw, Skiddaw Lower Man, Skiddaw Lesser Man. Notice the car and man in the bottom left. This was an elderly gentleman from Ayr in Scotland who did the same walk, and at different times we chatted during the day.

The path rough and stoney with bare rock too (hands needed at times), wound its way steeply over Elias Crag, then on through the heathery slopes above, this lonely tree standing lout like a sentinel. In fact from the road this tree can be clearly seen on the skyline.

Suddenly the gradient eased and we topped out at Rowling End.

We deliberately sat facing this way as we wanted to get that magnificent backdrop behind us. On the left is the Newlands Valley, the dominant fell behind being Dale Head. To the right of the valley is the ridge of Scope End & High Crags rising to Hindscarth. Robinson is the mountain to the right with the valley of Little Dale between. We recalled that wonderful day when we walked those fells in in July last year. Hindscarth

Ahead now was Causey Pike rearing up to its impressive rocky summit dome.

We made easy progress along the shoulder of Sleet Hause, to follow the clear path on the steep climb to the summit. Although easy, it was necessary to use hands on the last rocky scramble. To quote Wainwright, "the 'top' is quite unlike any other, its narrow crest undulating over five distinct bumps. The most prominent being the one terminating so abruptly the eastern end of the crest". This is considered to be the highest point, which is where Dad took our picture. Looking west the succeeding summits we were to climb today were laid out before us.

Immediately ahead is Scar Crags, then rising behind is Sail, over topped by Crag Hill. Eel Crag is the slightly lower height on Crag Hill to the right.

"It looks a long way", said Little Eric.

"Yes and there is lots of descent and ascent in between each", said Tetley.

"I only have little legs, so I am glad to be carried in Dad's rucksack", he sighed

Making our way over the bumps of the cockscomb crest, it was about 150ft down the shoulder, followed by a 320ft ascent to Scar Crags. Despite impressions from the previous picture the summit is unexpectedly flat.

A steepish descent led down to Sail Pass at 2046ft. Ahead was the long 500ft of ascent on a wide rather eroded gash of a path. Here we hoped that Uncle Eric would agree to go on and after a short consideration and a rest too, he agreed.

Allen quietly said to himself, "great", as this and Crag Hill beyond were the Wainwrights he needed to bag.

Climbing steadily, resting now and then, the gradient finally eased and the wide flat top was reached. The actual summit is a small boggy patch and pool to the right of the path.

"There was a cairn in the centre, when I climbed it with you in 2004", said Dad. "The stones seem to have been scattered all over, which is a shame"

This is clear to see in this shot of the summit, with Hobcarton Head and the higher top of Grisedale Pike behind. This latter was to prove to be Allen's last Wainwright summit.

Ahead was Crag Hill, and having come so far Uncle Eric agreed to go on. This brought a big smile to Allen's face. The path from Sail descends about 100ft to the connecting depression, followed by an exhilarating climb of about 300ft up the narrow crest, with two rocky rises to its broad top, where a cairn marks the easing of the gradient. The summit marked by a trig point is just a short walk bearing half right. This fell appears in A. Wainwright's. North Western Fells, under the title Eel Crag. He acknowledges however that the name is inaccurate, as Eel Crag is properly the rocky buttress above Coledale Hause. An outstanding Birkett summit, we were to walk on to this before finally turning for home.

"Great", called out Allen. "Now I have just four summits to reach, to finish the Wainwrights."

As we all settled on the trig point, Little Eric, who had bagged the top too, said, "thanks as always for taking our picture."

We then settled ourselves in the rucksack, by which time Uncle Eric had arrived at the summit. Here is a picture of Uncle Eric taking a picture of the trig point.

Here too, is perhaps a good point to say what a social walk this was for Uncle Eric and Dad. We have already mentioned the elderly gentleman from Ayr, who we chatted to a number of times over the day. Uncle Eric had chatted to some people from Wiltshire, and on the ascent of Crag Hill to a gentleman from Devon, while at that time Dad was chatting a gentleman from Blackburn, the town where Alfred Wainwright was born. He had been to an excellent and entertaining meeting of the town's Wainwright Society, where the speaker had acted being the great man. At the summit of Crag Hill we met a couple who like Dad, Shaun, Tetley and Grizzly had done all the 214 Wainwrights and were now repeating their favourite tops.

Then Jonathon & Margaret Nason with their son Robert, who were holidaying here from Staffordshire arrived. During the lively chat that followed, we were suddenly noticed, and Dad went on to explain about our walking and about our website, which they took a note of.

We then heard Jonathon say "my best friend".

Dad looked a little quizzical, so he went on the explain. In the village where they live there is in July an annual photographic competition, and that 'my best friend', was this years' subject.

"Can I take a picture with you and one of the Lads", he asked.

"Fine" replied Dad.

We all jumped out hoping to be the lucky one, Tetley being selected. Here is the result. We hope he wins too!!

Photograph courtesy Jonathon Nason

Jonathon then kindly helped to settle us all into the rucksack once again. Saying goodbyes they headed down towards Sail. That was soon to be our route too, but before that we made the short walk across the fell to the separate top of Eel Crag, a gentle descent of 100ft. There is much loose stone here and the cairn at what we were all sure was the highest point had collapsed, but Uncle Eric kindly built a small one for our sake.

As well as being another Birkett summit bagged, Eel Crag provides a superb place to view the whole length of the Coledale Valley.

On the left side the ridge rises over Kinn towards Grisedale Pike. To the right the summit in view is Sail. The whole is backed by the Skiddaw group, with Blencathra behind on the right.

So that was all the objectives of the day achieved. Returning to Crag Hill we reversed our route down towards Sail, finding some convenient rock seats where we sat and had a late lunch. Then on over Sail and down to Sail Pass. Now leaving the outward route, we went left to descend below Scar Crags, crossing High Moss, then along the path in Stoneycroft Gill. Here Uncle Eric strides purposefully along.

In this picture the hill immediately ahead is Barrow, which we climbed in July 2008, and behind that distantly Blencathra. To the right is Clough Head and in the distance Great Mell Fell. The path passing below the right side of Barrow led unerringly to Stoneycroft Bridge. An excellent day!!! Our thanks to Dad as always for carrying us, and to Uncle Eric for agreeing to go all the way to Eel Crag.

As we sat in the car for the journey home, Little Eric asked, "what's the summit count today",

Allen was quick to reply. "Shaun Tetley, Grizzly & Dad bagged the Birketts - Rowling End and Eel Crag. I in addition bagged Sail & Crag Hill, while you and Uncle Eric, bagged all 6.

"What a wonderful day I have had", he replied.

"So say we all", cried Shaun, with feeling.


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