View towards the Irish Sea, from Buckbarrow

View towards the Irish Sea, from Buckbarrow. Irton Pike and behind it, Muncaster Fell are the summits in view. The estuary at Ravenglass is clearly seen.

Date completed: 20th August 2012.

Weather conditions:  We were forecast ‘sunshine and showers’. I got neither, just another grey, dull day with low cloud above 2,000 feet all day and intermittently above 1,500. Only in the very last hour of the walk did the sun break through. At least it didn’t rain, making this the first completely dry walk since late May (walk 57).

Wastwater and the crags of Buckbarrow

Wastwater and the crags of Buckbarrow

Fells climbedBuckbarrow (1410 feet above sea level, no. 197), Seatallan (2266’, no. 198), Middle Fell (1908‘, no. 199).

Distance:  14.25 miles approximately.

Total ascent:  3550 feet approx.

Start and end points: Started in Gosforth, at the bus stop for service #6 which links Muncaster Castle, Seascale rail station (where I alighted), Egremont and Whitehaven. [Note: this bus no longer exists and Gosforth is now without any public transport links. One must therefore walk in from Seascale to complete this walk, adding another three miles or so and making it a very long walk indeed as it stands: but see the advice that is to come.]

Finished at the King George IV pub near Eskdale Green station on the Ravenglass & Eskdale railway. This was because we were staying in a B&B not far away, but while it is a public-transport-accessible stop, it’s also a rather illogical place to end to the walk. See the Route notes below.

Cottage in Eskdale Green

Cottage in Eskdale Green, towards the end of the walk

Pub at end:  As noted above. In fact I’m sat in their beer garden typing this. Enjoying it so far. I’ll let you know if it changes.

Route: To be brutally honest, if you want to bag the three fells on this walk, the easiest way to do it is to drive to Greendale and do them in a round from there. But of course I never said that.

The next easiest, and more ideologically sound way, is to walk from Gosforth as I did, but then finish at Nether Wasdale, have a pint in each of its two pubs, and then get a taxi back to Seascale to catch a train home. You’re allowed to do that – I won’t tell anyone. In this case I don’t think it counts as cheating. It would make it, roughly, an 11-mile walk [but note that in 2020 one must also walk in from Seascale in the first place; probably it would be about 14 miles in all].

Irton Pike

Irton Pike and the Irish Sea

However, I couldn’t let myself take the easy way out and so I extended the walk to Eskdale Green as noted above. That’s where our B&B was, as I said. But the problem with this is that when you come off Middle Fell, you’re not in Eskdale, you’re in Wasdale. Different valley. And the thing about valleys is, they tend to be separated by hills. In this case, the hill called Irton Pike (pictured – it’s one of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells). So although it is not a high-altitude crossing, it does mean a further bout of climbing (770 feet of ascent) at the end of what has already been a relatively easy but also fairly long walk.

Leave Gosforth by the road to Wellington and continue following the signs to Nether Wasdale until you reach the top of the first substantial hill, where look on the left for an obvious lane, signposted ‘Guards Lonning’, and take that. This leads up over the hills for 2 or more miles, becoming a grassy track, but you won’t lose it. Buckbarrow rises obviously ahead and you have plenty of time to survey the ascent.

Rock tower on Middle Fell

Rock tower on Middle Fell.

After crossing a footbridge at Kid Beck, loop up to the left, round the top end of the enclosures. You could take the path back to the road but this will lose you a few hundred feet which you’re only going to have to make up again immediately by climbing Buckbarrow, so I just stuck to the same contour line; there is no real path, and it’s a bit boggy, but it’ll get you there, through a bracken-filled bowl of land.

Visit the prominent spur on the right of the bowl, which is the point from which Wainwright describes the summit view (worth seeing), before heading up to the summit itself. Then, look for the large cairn on the top of Glade How, find the sketchy path heading there, and thereby begin your climb of Seatallan. You will have had more exciting half-hours than you are about to have.

I arrived at the summit in misty conditions, and it’s not easy to offer concrete advice on the subsequent route to Middle Fell – I kind of depended on the mist to clear, and by the time it did, I got the impression I had headed too far north-east, as opposed to due east which looks as if it might have got me a bit more quickly to the ‘saddle’ of land between the two fells. Anyway, there is not much of a path on the back side of Middle Fell, but past the summit one does materialise and this is easy to follow down to the road at Greendale (a wonderfully idyllic looking place of the kind I am sure we have all decided at some point we would live).

View from Seatallan towards Haycock

View north from Seatallan, looking up towards Haycock (hidden in the mist)

Even if you take my advice above about ending the walk at Nether Wasdale, you still need to get back there, and this is done by following the path signposted Galesyke that leaves the road just over the bridge. Ignore all paths branching off left and right and you will be back on a road after about 1.5 miles; turn right once there. Nether Wasdale is then a few minutes’ walk away.

However, should you have a pressing need to follow my exact route, eschew the smart village and its two pubs and bear left at the road junction, following the signs to Santon Bridge then, once over the River Irt (the outlet for Wast Water), take the second (not first) path on the left, over the field and past the little puddle of Flass Tarn then through the woods, following the signs for Eskdale.

View west from Buckbarrow

View west from Buckbarrow.

Up you go again, over Irton Fell, not a long climb but it will feel tough at this point. Once you reach the top of the ‘pass’ you are back on paths that I last negotiated way back on walk 20a; since then, the forest ahead has been (untidily) felled, but the path is still open and leads you back down through Miterdale Forest; ignore all forest roads branching off the track (some of which are signposted as closed to the public anyway).

You reach tarmac again at a little lane which goes along Miterdale; cross straight over it, go up one final, little hill past the buildings of Low Holme, and eventually you come out into Eskdale Green. Turn left, past, first, the R&ER station, then a couple of minutes further on, there is the King George IV pub.

View over to Yewbarrow

View over to Yewbarrow, from Middle Fell.

Trudge to the tumulus commentary: Since my last walk that nice young man, George Osborne, has already announced that train fares will rise 6.2% in January. This isn’t a tax increase, this is our George merely setting the level to which the private companies that run this ‘public’ service can hike fares. This is what is now known as ‘governmental oversight of the private sector’. Osborne, trust-funded little idiot that he is (who, like his boss David Cameron, was born into an inheritance of millions of pounds, and seems to think this gives him some kind of moral authority to direct funds away from public services and towards bombs and wars) cares nothing for public transport because it is not a very effective way of raising tax, unlike the private car, which is probably the most efficient way yet designed to siphon money out of the pockets of householders into the very kinds of funds that allow the Osbornes and Camerons of this world to buy power.

The 'faery cottage' near Galesyke

The ‘faery cottage’ near Galesyke. Whether it’ll still be there when you pass, I cannot be sure.

I was hoping to invite a reasonably large party of people on my final walk in January but the problem is that if I ask them to simply accompany me on my normal train/bus journey then each of them may have to shell out the same £55 it now costs me, and many of them won’t be able to afford that. I hope to be able to negotiate some kind of group discount but I’m not wholly confident, because of the 4 different companies I need to deal with (Northern, Virgin, Transpennine Express, Stagecoach). We’ll see. I’ll keep you posted.

It would be so typical, however, if on the final walk I have to bend the rules and call a private coach hire ‘public transport’ because I simply can’t ask people to pay what it costs to do a big day trip from home. And therein lies the rub – the free market will speak, and I’ll be doing that final journey in some other mode, because ‘public transport’ is too expensive!

View from Middle Fell summit

View from Middle Fell summit – about the only kind of summit view I seem to be allowed at the moment.

There are still walks to do before we get there, of course, but today’s walk was the first of a hoped-for trilogy this week, around Eskdale, and after that there’ll only be one particularly awkward walk left then all the rest are easy.  I feel confident now that I will do all this by my January 2013 deadline. We’re staying this week in Stanley House, a large, and comfortable, hotel right opposite Beckfoot station on the R&ER. Clare and Joe made their own way there by an easier route, but I had to bag three fells and then tack another four miles and a few hundred feet of climbing onto the end in order to get there.

Highlights? Buckbarrow was pretty cute, a little craggy beast crouched at the foot of its parent fell; the views of Wastwater Screes felt like the first proper ones I’ve had, and Yewbarrow also looked good; and the blackberries have emerged (yum). There was also this remarkable little cottage, which just seemingly appeared by the side of the path in a little grove of trees, if there’s a place which looks more like the place where Red Riding Hood’s grandmother lives then I’d like to see it. (It’s at NY134043 – at least, it was today, I am sure it actually appears and disappears randomly.)

Whin Rigg, from Middle Fell

Whin Rigg, from Middle Fell

Seatallan, however, leapt straight towards the top of the ‘low-reward-to-effort’ chart. Like several others on the western fringe of the district (Lank Rigg, Caw Fell, Green Crag) it takes a long time to get there from a public transport terminus and there’s not much there once you do. The trudge up the slope from Cat Bields was done in the mist, which didn’t help, but I doubt it’s much better in clear weather – Wainwright doesn’t exactly enthuse about the views. This might explain why I only saw one other party of walkers all day (a family of five on Middle Fell) plus this solitary, fell-runner type who loomed up out of the mist as I sat having a rest on Seatallan’s summit, and looked at me like I had really offended him by being there.

Also, this felt like a long walk, and it took willpower to stop myself finishing at Nether Wasdale and just getting a taxi. For once I’d probably say that was the way to do this one. Nevertheless, I didn’t, and reached the hotel with a clear conscience. Two more walks to do this week, I hope – pray, if you like – for some clearer skies. Doing these in the cloud is becoming such a drag.

Oh, and one other thing – dear Forestry Commission, did you really need to leave the land on top of Irton Fell in such a state after felling the plantation? There is so much wasted wood up there.  If anyone in the west of Cumbria needs some free firewood, however, take a foraging party with some big bags and you can get loads at the moment.

2 Responses to “Walk 62: Seatallan and satellites”

  1. […] it has to if I am to finish this by the necessary deadline. Walked yesterday (Monday) to complete walk 62, over the fell of Seatallan and its satellites, and intend to do two more walks this week, though I […]

  2. […] Seeing as there isn’t much else to do at the moment, particularly when it comes to walking, I have spent the last few days of lockdown doing some jobs on the blog that have been pending for a while. Small as these changes are, hopefully they tidy up a few inconsistencies and improve the quality of earlier walk descriptions. I’ve renumbered most of the first round fells, to allow for the fact that a few Outliers (such as Orrest Head — pictured) were bagged within the main 214 first time round. All mileage and feet ascended figures have been made approximate (but more realistic: their apparent precision beforehand was always an illusion), and more links put in walk pages to fell pages. In a few cases I have updated travel information about older walks, where it is no longer possible to do them by public transport in quite the way that I did (e.g. walk 62). […]

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