Mosedale Cottage

Mosedale Cottage, lunchtime, 31st August 2012 – me & some shepherds. The only time I was able to have lunch sat on a sofa.

At the end of each of his volumes, Wainwright included some ‘Personal Notes in Conclusion’. I’ve been rambling on about my opinions at the end of every single walk, so I’ll spare you more autobiography. What I will do, however, is put some lists of my own – in no particular order – based on my more limited experience of all the fells in his books.

Fells that are interesting for things other than being a mountain
Not particularly interesting as climbs, but with something else about them that makes them worth a visit.

Air crash memorial on Great Carrs summit

The air crash memorial on the summit of Great Carrs (see the fell’s page for the full text)

Fells that have a very low reward-to-effort ratio
More or less in order – lowest reward at the top. All are a long walk from anywhere, and not much once you’re there.

Wether Hill, from Lowther House

All that remains of Lowther House on Loadpot Hill. Wether Hill rises behind, but note it is the next, gentle rise on the ridge – the one behind that is Red Crag, and the skyline is formed by High Raise and Rampsgill Head.

Tough little buggers
All these fells are under 2,100 feet but are hard climbs by at least one popular route. They are more or less in order, and  Yewbarrow definitely wins this one hands down.

Underrated
Only diligent students of Wainwright are likely to have heard of them, but I really enjoyed climbing them

Half-day classics

If you’ve only got an afternoon, or want to fit something in the morning before coming home, consider the following — all quite doable (up and down) in two to three hours and reasonably easy to access.

Wettest walks
Walk 60b (Great Gable et al) definitely wins if the walk as a whole – and the general feelings of misery which came with it – are measured.

Walk 44 (Holme and Black Fell) had the most intense single downpour, but at least I was nearly in Ambleside at the time.

Heron Pike in snow

Heron Pike and Windermere, seen from Great Rigg. Walk 105 — definitely my snowiest.

Walk 8 (Loughrigg and Silver How); walk 125 (Derwentwater); Walk 67 (Mellbreak – the nearest I got to a thunderstorm); and Walk 64 (Crinkle Crags) – all also deserve dishonorable mention. The latter was also freezing cold, which would have been acceptable had it not been in August.

Walk 105 (pictured) was the snowiest, and by some distance too, with drifts of up to two feet deep around the summit of Great Rigg.

Walks with the best weather
I did have some good days – honest!

Walk 11 (Borrowdale – Thirlmere) was probably the best all round winner, with perfect blue skies, the most mirror-calm lakes I have ever seen, and all the more unexpected considering the time of year (March 2nd). Walk 101 (Devoke Water) and walk 121 (Bowfell) are the probably the runners-up. Walk 14 (High Street) was the hottest. Walk 24, walk 31, walk 48 & walk 49 (on consecutive days in January 2012), walk 80 and walk 107 deserve honorable mention.

Joe on the summit of Helm Crag

‘The Howitzer’ (a.k.a. The Lion Couchant) and Joe – Helm Crag summit

Top summits
Wainwright names Harter Fell (Eskdale), Helm Crag (pictured), Dow Crag, Slight Side, Eagle Crag and Steeple as his top 6 – ‘attributes: a small neat peak of naked rock, with a good view’.

I definitely agree with the first four. The other two, Eagle Crag and Steeple, are both good summits, yes, but I’d put them in a relegation play-off with Hopegill Head and Angletarn Pikes which I think also deserve consideration. From the Outlying Fells, Seat How (on the Devoke Water circuit) is probably the best summit, although it’s not comparable to the others mentioned here.

Number of intact sheep skulls found and brought home: Four (found on Low Pike on walk 5, near Crummock Water on walk 37, on Eagle Crag on walk 68, and at another unremembered location).

Pike O'Stickle

Pike O’Stickle, viewed from Thunacar Knott

Only walk that crossed the boundaries of two Wainwright volumes [not including the Outlying Fells in this case]: walk 38 (Mickleden) – one fell from the Central Fells (Pike O’Stickle, pictured), one from the Southern (Rossett Pike).

Withnail and I moments: The phone box (‘No I’m not in London. Penrith. PENRITH!!’); first spotted from the bus at the end of walk 14, then again on the way in to walk 35 (2/4/11), where it was photographed. It’s just outside the village of Bampton (as the sharp-eyed might spot in the movie: look at the notices on the board behind Paul McGann).

Sleddale Hall

Sleddale Hall, a.k.a ‘Crow Crag’. Under new ownership and being redecorated…

Sleddale Hall (pictured), the movie’s ‘Crow Crag’ – passed and photographed on walk 65.

The fellside where W. does his ‘I’m going to be a star!!’ cry must (considering the view in the background) be on the west slopes of Branstree, but I didn’t climb it from that side so didn’t hit the exact spot.

The field in which “I” faces off with the buill (“Run at it, shouting!” “That’s can’t be right! Bastard’s about to run at ME!!”) must, again going on the view glimpsed briefly in the background, be very close to where I came off Knipescar Common on walk 88.

‘Penrith’ in the movie isn’t actually filmed in the Lakes at all, but somewhere in the Home Counties.

Fells that lived up to their name on the day I climbed them:

White Side, from Helvellyn Lower Man

White Side – living up to its name – as seen from Helvellyn Lower Man

Cold Pike (freezing (in August))
Grey Crag (misty)
White Side (snowy – pictured)

Volume by volume summary
EASTERN FELLS: First fell: Red Screes. Last fell of first round: Birkhouse Moor. The second round started with Stone Arthur.
Highlights: East ridge of Nethermost Pike; doing almost the whole Helvellyn range in the snow.
Lowlights: Dehydration on walk 5.
The most elevated volume, on average.

FAR EASTERN: First fell: Sallows. Last fell of first round: Caudale Moor . Second round start: Bonscale Pike.
Highlights: Swindale; Kentmere; the Ill Bell ridge; the golden eagle on Caudale Moor.
Lowlights: The boggy wastes atop Grey Crag.
Probably the most surprising volume – many things to discover, the best wildlife and a great sense of remoteness. Also the volume with the longest walks on average.

Walla Crag summit

Tom, Joe, Daisy, Vicki and me on Walla Crag summit. Pete took the photo.

CENTRAL: First fell: Walla Crag (pictured the second time I climbed it). Last fell of first round:High Seat. Second round start: also Walla Crag.
Highlights: Helm Crag; Eagle Crag.
Lowlights: General levels of swampiness are high.
The most accessible volume, by public transport.

SOUTHERN : First fell: Swirl How. Last fell of first round: Pike o’Blisco . Secnd round start: Illgill Head.
Highlights: Dow Crag; the Whin Rigg – Illgill Head ridge; Upper Eskdale.
Lowlights: Green Crag (or at least, the approach to it).
The most exciting volume. Very few dull moments.

Criffell, from High Pike

Criffell, the southernmost Scottish mountain, from High Pike. Best shot I could get that encapsulated High Pike’s magnificent view.

NORTHERN: First fell: Ullock Pike . Last fell of first round: Latrigg . Second round start: Souther Fell.
Highlights: Blencathra; the view from High Pike (pictured); Bowscale Tarn.
Lowlights: Brae Fell, and (probably predictable, but it was very dull) Mungrisdale Common.
The volume with the best views. It does lack truly exciting walking, but it does have Blencathra.

NORTH-WESTERN: First fell: Whiteless Pike . Last fell of first round: Ard Crags . Second round start: Ling Fell.
Highlights: Causey Pike; Hopegill Head
Lowlights: Broom Fell; Grasmoor (a surprisingly underwhelming fell)
The most compact volume, with the most fells packed into a small space and thus the shortest average distance between summits (I think)

WESTERN: First fell: Fleetwith Pike . Last fell: Hen Comb . Second round start: Base Brown.

The Black Sail hut

Exterior of the Black Sail hut (note YHA sign).

Highlights: Pillar (or rather, Pillar Rock); Fleetwith Pike/Haystacks (as a pair); staying at the Black Sail YHA (pictured).
Lowlights: Lank Rigg; Seatallan; the weather on Great Gable.
Definitely the volume with the hardest walking, both because of terrain, and remoteness. Although it should be said – hard, but good.

OUTLYING: First fell: Orrest Head . Last fell of first round: Dent. Second round start: also Orrest Head.

Highlights: Stickle Pike, and certain views like the ones from Latterbarrow, Black Combe and Hugill Fell. Lowlights: Several areas manage to combine dullness, toughness (through lack of paths) and remoteness: the Wet Sleddale Horseshoe particularly.

Clare’s award for top sheep picture

Clare has demanded a picture of sheep on every walk and on most of them (though not all) I delivered. Here are her top three, in reverse order starting with number 3 (taken on walk 14):

Sheep at Measand

Sheep watching me at Measand: scenes from an Alfred Hitchcock movie involving birds do spring mind

Second place, taken on walk 17:

Wythop Valley

Wythop Valley

And the winner, taken on walk 62:

View over to Yewbarrow

View over to Yewbarrow, from Middle Fell. Picture taken on walk 62.

Walking companions:

I don’t really do other people….. But some of my walks have involved company.

Clare has also done: Walla Crag, Ullock Pike, Long Side, Skiddaw, Skiddaw Little Man, Castle Crag, Sale Fell, Ling Fell, Blencathra, Mungrisdale Common, Wansfell, Harter Fell (Eskdale), Lonscale Fell, Latrigg, Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell. (She also claims to have done Black Fell as a solo walk. And I do believe her, honest.)

Hugill Fell summit

Joe on Hugill Fell’s summit, looking towards Potter Fell

Joe has also done: Castle Crag, Whinlatter, Nab Scar, Heron Pike, Gibson Knott, Helm Crag, Bleaberry Fell, Walla Crag, Blencathra, Mungrisdale Common, Wansfell, Harter Fell (Eskdale), Lonscale Fell, Latrigg, Finsthwaite Heights, Latterbarrow, Claife Heights, Orrest Head, School Knott (3 summits), Brant Fell, Reston Scar, Hugill Fell [pictured], Silver How,  Loughrigg Fell, Whitbarrow, Newton Fell (South), Scout Scar (2 summits), Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell, Yew Bank (Woodland Fell), Beacon Fell. [34 in total so far.]

Other fells done with companions (not all mentioned in the original commentaries, for various reasons I am not getting into here): Whiteside, Hopegill Head, Grisedale Pike, Catbells, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Esk Pike, Bowfell. All companions did, of course, use public transport as well.

Upper Eskdale

The surreal landscape of Upper Eskdale, viewed from the approach.

Earliest start and latest finish

The record for earliest start to a whole walk came at 6.45 am on walk 64 (starting from Stanley House, Eskdale). Being literally the only person in the whole of Upper Eskdale (pictured) that morning made the early start worth it – even if the weather didn’t (see above). Technically this start has recently been beaten by the 6.35am start I managed from Mosedale Cottage on day 2 of walk 117, but being strict about it that wasn’t the start of a walk (as it was a 2-day hike).

Latest finish was just after 7pm, at the Wasdale Head Inn, on walk 43a.

Accessibility

I think the Wainwright furthest from a public transport terminus is Caw Fell – certainly that took a very long time to reach (from Cleator Moor), holding the record for the latest first fell reached on a walk (3pm approx, on walk 43a). Haycock , the next fell along on the same walk (pictured below), probably also has a case. In the far east of the Outlying Fells, the Crookdale Horseshoe can’t be much less far away, in this case from Burneside station.

Haycock from Cold Fell

Haycock from Cold Fell.

The fell nearest to a public transport terminus in the main 214 is probably Glenridding Dodd, where I did summit to pub in 15 minutes on walk 48, and the bus stop is 5 minutes further on.

If the Outlying Fells are included, the winner is probably Dunmallet, where you could probably get from summit to bus stop (in Pooley Bridge) in 15 minutes total if you really had to. I haven’t timed the direct walk down from Orrest Head to Windermere station, but it can’t take much longer, and that is definitely the fell closest to a railway station.

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4 Responses to “Personal Notes in Conclusion”

  1. beatingthebounds said

    Kudos to you for both polishing them all off and for doing it all by public transport. A friend sent me a link to your blog, thinking I would like it (he was right). I’m only sad that I seem to have arrived as the last guest turns out the lights.

    • Drew Whitworth said

      Maybe the Wainwrights are done – but I’ll keep adding walks elsewhere to the blog as they’re done – going to New Zealand in February so plenty to see and explore 🙂

  2. Congrats on your achievement! If you ever want to revisit some of the Western Fells (without a car!) I have a cottage in Wasdale and you can do around a dozen Wainwrights by walking from the door. Gosforth Taxis run a “shuttle” from Seascale Station up Wasdale – this is the “taxi-bus” you mentioned in one of your blogs, though in reality it’s a taxi service, pure and simple. I’ll give you a discount and donate the difference to the MRT by way of sponsorship – details at http://www.cherrybankcottages.co.uk. Regards, Hugh

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