WALK 206: Burnbank Fell (1558′ above sea level, number 309 of my second round). 7.5 miles, 1,730 feet of ascent. I haven’t been recording bagged Birketts on these blog posts yet, but probably should today as this walk was designed as much to pick up four previously unvisited ones: Loweswater End, Carling Knott, Sharp Knott [pictured] and Owsen Fell.

Sharp Knott and cottongrass
Sharp Knott, and a riot of cottongrass.

This walk brought to an end a rather sluggish period in my life; not only is it six weeks since I walked in the Lakes, but I didn’t even manage any County Tops in that time either. The weather was rather chilly for a while in late April and early May but this is not an excuse — I just didn’t get out. Time to change that, however, with the UK’s typical Late May Fine Period having definitely arrived this year. Not that it was sunny in the Loweswater region, with high, light cloud keeping the heat down: possibly the only part of England today that did not see clear blue skies. But I didn’t care. It remained pleasant conditions for a walk and I just didn’t need the sunscreen, that’s all.

Burnbank Fell is not an exciting Wainwright but the views are very good and the walking easy, dry underfoot and generally pleasant. Adding the four Birketts offers some variety, and it’s probably only a lack of space that resulted in Carling Knott, at least, not being included in Wainwright’s original guide. But I have to also report some significant damage done to the previously unspoilt Holme Wood: ‘forestry operations’, supposedly to treat some fungal pest, have wrecked a considerable chunk of the woodland and the paths through it. Most of my commentary on the walk 206 page is devoted to this issue — I’m sorry to say. Which is a shame because I otherwise enjoyed the day.

Loweswater sheep portrait
Loweswater, Mellbreak behind, and some local inhabitants.

As of today, then, I have bagged 309 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, and so have 21 to go. (And 127 Birketts, in case you were wondering.) I reckon these split into 11 walks, plus or minus one. I intend to be back in the Lakes around 9th or 10th June, having my eye on a two-day trip into the west — Scafell may fall, but no promises, as there are plenty of options so we’ll see what the weather (and the public transport) bring. Meanwhile, have a look at the additional detail and photos on the walk 206 page if you like. Happy walking…


On the way up Red Screes: Kirkstone Pass Inn below (see note)

WALK 205: Red Screes (2,541 feet above sea level, number 307 of my second round), Middle Dodd (2,106′, no. 308). 6 miles, 1,220 feet of ascent.

Since I last went to Cumbria, in February, it’s stopped being Cumbria: a wave of some administrative pen and we now have Cumberland Council in the north and west of the county, and Westmorland and Furness in the rest of it. Traditionalists may laud the return of Westmorland to the fold, back from the dead after abolition in 1974, but whatever the reasons for this I doubt it’ll make public transport any better overnight. A cancelled train this morning made my original planned destination of Great End too hard to reach in the time available, and while I might have gone up Helvellyn instead, there was enough snow and ice hanging around to make Swirral Edge look dubious. So once again I fail to pick up any of the really big fells still remaining on my second round.

Still, Red Screes, at 2,541 feet, is no dwarf. Yet it’s made a lot more accessible thanks to having the option, now that summer is here (at least in public transport terms) of getting a bus to Kirkstone Pass and starting from there, already 1,490 feet up. That turns it into a 40-minute ascent. Tack subsidiary Middle Dodd on then descend to Ambleside, and one has a fairly straightforward 6-mile walk with some very good views from the tops. Read all about it and see more photos on the walk 205 page.

View from the summit of Red Screes, showing there was enough snow around today to discourage any crag-hopping.

Incidentally, the Kirkstone Pass Inn has closed, which is a great shame: not just for this walk (a descent back to the inn being a possibility for ending it) but for Lakeland generally, as this was one of the most iconic and famous of hostelries. It doesn’t look like it’s going to open again any time soon, so for now this one has to be struck off the list, I’m afraid.

As of today, then, I have bagged 308 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 22 to go. I want to try to get back to Cumbria, sorry, Cumberland/Westmorland/Furness, before a month passes, so shall we say by mid-May?

WALK 204: Ard Crags (1906 feet above sea level, number 305 of my second round) and Knott Rigg (1824′, no. 306). 12.75 miles, 2,500 feet of ascent.

Ard Crags above Rigg Beck

It feels like a long time since I was in the Lakes, and this is because it is a long time, at least by my standards. Nearly three months have passed since walk 203 took me up Wetherlam in late November. I hadn’t missed out on a whole January, Lakeland-wise, since starting this blog in 2009, but in 2023 it didn’t happen, partly though not entirely due to my trip to St Helena in the second part of the month. Although my last walk was a chilly one, the glorious weather didn’t make it feel like winter and it certainly didn’t feel like it on 23rd February either, as the picture above suggests; so perhaps I have missed out on the whole winter season this time. Never mind.

Walk 204 is quite a long one, at 12.75 miles, but most of it is fairly easy going in beautiful surroundings. The two Wainwrights bagged, Ard Crags and Knott Rigg, are never going to be considered major players in the ensemble but they definitely play fine supporting roles, offering great views of nearby fells and of the valley of Newlands, all seen from narrow, heathery ridges which apart from steepness in parts, cause no difficulty. Read all the details and look at the usual crop of additional photos on the walk 204 page.

Looking down into Newlands from the descent off Knott Rigg.

As of today then, I have bagged 306 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, thus have 24 to go. After today, only one of these, Robinson, now remains from volume 6, The Northwestern Fells.

I know that I have made frequent promises to get on with rebagging Helvellyn, but here’s another one. This plan does depend on Trans Pennine Express deciding that it is, after all, going to run an 8am-ish service from Preston to Penrth — and in the UK rail network at the moment, nothing is certain. But as long as they do keep it, that’s currently my next target, for a walk in mid- to late March.

Great Stone Top, St Helena: 1,621 feet above sea level. 6.25 miles/10km, 1,400 feet of ascent.

Since I began this blog in 2009 I haven’t missed out on walking in the Lakes in any given January, but this year, 2023, is going to be an exception. I just haven’t been able to get up there since the turn of the year; firstly because of having to drive Joe up to Scotland in the first weekend (though I did get up West Lomond, one of the County Tops). And as of last week I’ve been away from Britain, having made a second trip out to the South Atlantic, and the island of St Helena.

Little (left) and Great Stone Tops.

However, in walking terms, this is no great hardship. There is some magnificent hiking to be had here, all over the island’s 47 square miles. Today, 25/1/23, saw me head out to the peak of Great Stone Top (on the right in the picture above), which perches proudly some 1,621 feet directly above the Atlantic Ocean below. Not to mention its (slightly) smaller brother, Little Stone Top (approximately 1,510 feet) and Boxwood Hill (1,424 feet). All three combined in an excellent walk, and it was about time I added another entry on my ‘international walks‘ guest appearance page. Read all about this one, and see the usual crop of additional photos, on its own walk page.

Looking down into Sharks Valley, from the summit of Great stone Top.

I’m back in the UK in a couple of weeks. No idea when I’ll get back to the Lakes but hopefully it won’t be too long. But that doesn’t mean I hope this is the last walk I’ll manage while here — we’ll see how the (unpredictable) weather pans out.

WALK 203: Wetherlam (2,503 feet above sea level, number 304 of my second round). 8.66 miles, 2,700 feet of ascent.

There are plenty of occasions where I am thankful for the fact that I have a flexible job and sometimes can just take advantage of a great weather forecast. Yesterday, 29th November, was certainly one of those days. A temperature inversion left the valleys of Lakeland clamped in cloud all day, but a few hundred feet up, everything was floating above this layer of mist, resulting in some spectacular views.

Wansfell Pike
A sample of the day’s conditions: the view is of Wansfell Pike.

In addition there was the chance to see atmospheric effects of the kind I had not seen before, like the Brocken Spectre for example (see the picture on the walk 203 page). In all these respects this was a magnificent walk, and far more uplifting for the soul than staying in and doing e-mail again, don’t you think? (I’ll make up the hours, I’m sure.)

Not only that but my target for the day, Wetherlam, is a fine fell with plenty of interest. I came up today from the Little Langdale side, which requires some stiff, scrambly climbing up Wetherlam Edge, making the route not one for beginners — but worth trying for those of us who don’t mind a little rock-handling. Read all about it and see plenty more photos like the ones here on the walk 203 page.

Wetherlam summit
Wetherlam summit, looking east.

As of today, then, I have bagged 304 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round and so have 26 to go. It may happen that I get another walk in before 2022 draws to a close: as is so often the case at this time of year, it depends on the weather. But if yesterday proves anything it’s that sometimes, ‘the weather’ is a game of chance that can certainly pay off. So let’s keep things flexible and see what can be done.

WALK 202: Top o’ Selside (1099 feet above sea level, number 300 of my second round), High Light Haw (860′, no. 301), Low Light Haw (810′, no. 302) and Brock Barrow (748′, no. 303). All these appear in the Top o’ Selside chapter in volume 8. 5 miles, 1,250 feet of ascent.

View from the ascent route; the Coniston fells are somewhere over there in the cloud.

Having been frustrated throughout October by a failure of a) good weather and b) potential days off work to coincide, I missed out on that month entirely. And with little flexibility in November either (with the weekend closure of the Hebden Bridge – Preston line to also contend with), I was very keen to get a walk in yesterday, 2nd November. But the weather forecast was on the barest limits of tolerability, promising grey, cool weather for the morning, and rain and high winds for after lunch.

Time to find a walk that could be done just in the morning, then, and Top o’ Selside duly obliged. I started and finished at High Nibthwaite at the foot of Coniston Water, a place to treasure for all fans of “Swallows and Amazons” as this, apparently, was where Arthur Ransome spent his summer holidays and was inspired. Although the weather could certainly have been better, there were plenty of golden autumn colours about, and the walk as a whole was reasonably straightforward. Two Birketts bagged too (Arnsbarrow Hill and Stang Hill), so that’s six summits altogether in just five miles, and two hours and fifteen minutes of walking. Not bad at all. Read all about it and check out the (rather gloomy, today) photos on the walk 202 page.

View over Allan Tarn, known as ‘Octopus Lagoon’ in Ransome’s books.

Top o’ Selside itself has the honour of becoming number 300 on my second round. As of today, I have bagged 303 of the 330 Wainwrights a second time, and so have 27 to go. Several of them are big ones — Helvellyn, Scafell and Great End particularly — and might have to wait until the spring, although I note that I did Helvellyn for the first time in December (walk 47). It will be the end of November, early December before I get the chance to return to the Lakes, so at that point, let’s just see where the feet take me.

Great Calva from Glenderaterra
View up the Glenderaterra valley to Great Calva, the volcano of Lakeland.

WALK 201: Knott (2,329 feet above sea level, number 298 of my second round) and Great Calva (2,265′, no, 299). 16.6 miles, 3,150 feet of ascent.

Back in January 2013, on walk 70, I attained the top of Latrigg and, thus, the 214 ‘main’ Wainwrights were completed, for the first time. That means it was Wainwright’s volume 5, The Northern Fells, which I completed last out of those seven volumes. However, with the bagging of Great Calva at about a quarter to three on 21/9/22, this is the volume that I have completed first, this time round. And it covers a magnificent part of the world: hidden away relative to some parts of the Lake District, perhaps, but it’s being discovered I think; on most visits now I see other walkers around. The fells described within the volume score over all others in one way, for certain: the magnificence of the views, in all directions.

Walk 201 was an easy one, throughout — but it was long, at 16.6 miles it comes into the top five of all my Lakeland walks in fact. But the miles are worth putting in for the chance to explore Skiddaw Forest, a lonely, stark but beautiful upland basin with high fells all around — and no trees, in case you were wondering.

The River Caldew, deep in Skiddaw Forest.

And though Knott is the highest point of the walk, visually, Great Calva dominates: I can’t think of another peak in Lakeland that looks more, what’s the word, vulcanian? See the picture at the top of the page and judge for yourself. It would thereby be a terrible shame if my completing the volume again meant this was to be my last trip to the region, but there are plenty of unbagged Birketts in the area — I did bag one of these today as well, Coomb Height. It’s a place worth making time for, as I hope the photos and text on the walk 201 page reveal.

As of today, I have bagged 299 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 31 to go. Whichever fell falls next will be number 300, but I’ve given up making predictions as to what it will be, or even when. Train strikes recur and (while I support them) are making advance planning a treacherous task at the moment, so let’s just see how it goes.

High Pike from Knott
Walkers on Knott‘s summit, with High Pike behind.

WALK 200: Eel Crag (2,749 feet above sea level, number 296 of my second round) and Grasmoor (2,791′, no. 297). 9.5 miles, 3,000 feet of ascent.

Eel Crag
Eel Crag, viewed from the approach up Coledale.

On 29th July 2012, on walk 60b from Black Sail up Great Gable, I experienced what remains the worst weather on any of my Lakeland walks. On the tenth anniversary of that drenching it was good to be back in the Lakes on a pleasant, warm July morning, walking up Coledale and having plenty of time to inspect the route up Eel Crag ahead — as seen in this picture. That and Grasmoor, the two highest fells in Wainwright’s volume 6 (the Northwestern Fells) were the ones bagged on my walk today. This involved an interesting climb up Eel Crag’s “Shelf Route”, which is obvious on the picture (it slants up the fellside in parallel, visually, to the bank of green vegetation above the walkers’ heads).

And this was walk 200: and there’s a milestone worth recording. It’s taken thirteen years and ten days, since walk 1 kicked all this off on 19th July 2009. During that time, British politics has kind of spasmed shambolically forward in a series of progressively more insane steps, but the fells remain much the same. Read all about the latest expedition, with the usual crop of pictures, on the walk 200 page.

A view over to the summit of Wandope, from Eel Crag.

As of today, I have bagged 297 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, thus have 33 to go — meaning Grasmoor marks the point at which there is 10% of the second round remaining, or 5% of my double round of 660. Fell 300 approaches too, and I might engineer it so that milestone is reached on Helvellyn, but I doubt I’ll get this done in August due to other commitments. Most likely I will be back to pick this one up in early September.

WALK 199: Caw (1,735 feet above sea level, number 293 of my second round), Pikes (1,539′, no. 294) and Green Pikes (1,350′, no. 295). 5.2 miles, 1,675 feet of ascent.

Two months since my last visit to Lakeland. Other interests have been occupying me, some voluntary, others not. I grow tired of battling with the Oxenholme Connection and with other walking choices available, Cumbria has just been featuring less as a destination recently.

View of the upper Duddon Valley, from the descent off Caw.

But it’s not a place I feel like staying away from for too long. Although, as is usually the case, early June has brought cloud and chill (but not, yet, too much rain), I had a weekend put aside for a visit. On Saturday, high winds were a deterrent, but yesterday, Sunday 12th June, saw me in the upper reaches of the Duddon Valley, a part of the Lakes that I had only briefly passed through before.

5.2 miles round from Seathwaite bagged me the pointy Outlying Fell of Caw, and its two satellites, Pikes and Green Pikes; it was a little chilly, and paths are not always what they might be, but on the whole this is a fine walk, with excellent views. Read all about it, and see the usual outcrop of additional photos (not that there was much good light today) on the walk 199 page.

Caw, the day’s principal target, seen from the west.

As I’m also now Birkett-bagging let’s record that the walk also collected two more of those: Brock Barrow and Fox Haw. With 137 of the 541 Birketts still unbagged I will have plenty of reasons to keep coming back to the Lakes in future years, believe me.

Either way, as of today I have bagged 295 of the 330 Wainwrights in my second round, and so have 35 to go. Next time will see me reach the milestone of the 200th Lakeland walk on this blog, and also, as long as I bag two summits on it, the point at which I have only 10% of my second round to go (and 5% of the double round).

Rest Dodd summit
The summit cairn of Rest Dodd, third and highest fell bagged today.

WALK 198: Brock Crags (1842 feet above sea level, number 290 of my second round), The Nab (1887’, no. 291), Rest Dodd (2283’, no. 292). 8.25 miles, 2,450 feet of ascent.

15th April 2022 was Good Friday. On the day before this holiday in 2021, Joe (on his last Wainwright walk so far) and I wandered around Fusedale and Martindale on walk 187. This was done in the throes of lockdown, that arbitrary and pointless measure (we all got it anyway, didn’t we) that resulted in every pub, campsite and hotel in Lakeland being closed last Easter and the economy of this vulnerable area taking yet another hit.

Fortunately there has been none of the same this year, so I took advantage of the public holiday to head for much the same area of the world, only this time coming in from Hartsop and bagging three summits on walk 198. Not a spectacular walk in itself but the views of the local area are good and the descent, surprisingly agreeable — these things matter more and more as I age.

Angle Tarn and tent
Angle Tarn. In the background, Place Fell — now the only fell I have left in volume 2.

Read all about today’s walk, and see more pictures, on the walk 198 page. Rest Dodd, the third and highest fell bagged today, becomes the penultimate fell rebagged out of Wainwright’s volume 2, The Far Eastern Fells. All I have left now is Place Fell (pictured, above Angle Tarn). This is the nearest I am to completing one of the eight volumes a second time. All told I have now bagged 292 of the 330 Wainwrights on my second round, so have 38 to go.

The 8:05 service from Preston to Penrith was so useful that the moronocracy have cut it again, so doing any Lakeland walks by public transport (at least, if I want to get home at a reasonable hour) now once again depends, almost entirely, on The Oxenholme Connection — the five-minute dash across the station in order to catch the 8:27 to Windermere. Backup plans need putting in place for every walk, particularly any in Coniston, Langdale, Borrowdale or any further afield. So I don’t know even when setting out on a given day exactly what my walk will be: only that, looking at the map, I have at least 14 walks to go, and maybe a couple more. Plenty of exploring to do yet, therefore. The next walk should be some time in May.