Buck Barrow summit rocks

Summit rocks of Buck Barrow, Duddon Estuary in the background.

Date completed: 7th August 2014.

Weather conditions: There was occasional cloud cover, but the fundamental weather today was sunny and warm. Not the hottest walk I’ve done, but up there.

Sheep on Stainton Pike

Sheep on Stainton Pike. They know something about me, I’m telling you.

Summits bagged: Five, viz, Stainton Pike (1632’ above sea level), which is in a separate volume 8 chapter, and then the four fells in the Whit Fell chapter in this order: Whit Fell (1881’), Burn Moor (1780’), Buck Barrow (1799’) and Kinmont Buck Barrow (1754’).  These become numbers 263-267 of the 330.

Start and end points: Started and finished at Bootle rail station. This is on the Cumbrian Coast line, the stop before Ravenglass if coming in from Barrow. Note that it’s 1.5 miles from Bootle village.

I fitted the walk into the gap between the arrival of the 0947 into Bootle (departed Barrow 0908) and the departure of the 1611 back to Barrow (arrives 1700) — though only just, arriving at the station with 8 minutes to spare. There is a 1700 departure from Bootle as well, which goes all the way through to Preston.

Incidentally, Bootle station has a pretty old-school level crossing, as you can see here.

Level crossing at Bootle

Old school level crossing gates at Bootle station

Distance walked: 15.1 miles

Total ascent: 2619 feet.

Pub at end: At first, none — a 15-mile walk with no pub at the end, how depressing. There’s nothing at Bootle station and I didn’t pass a pub in Bootle village; there may be one around a corner somewhere as it’s a reasonably sizeable place, but I had no time to look for it.

However, today I did discover the Duke of Edinburgh Hotel just outside the entrance to Barrow station, and there is time to go there and get a pint between the arrival of the 1700 train and the departure of the 1720 on to Lancaster. The DoE has a huge bar, with several real ales on it.

Route: This is a decent walk, but I found it long, and very tiring. There may be other reasons for this — I was carrying more weight on my back than was normal, it was a warm day, and I didn’t get much sleep the night before — but it does take a while to get onto the fells, and it took 90 minutes to get back to the station off the last fell of the day, as well.

View towards Isle of Man

View on the descent to Bootle. That’s the Isle of Man on the horizon.

Being more positive: there are good views, and (apart from Burn Moor) each summit is rocky and distinctive. Rowantree Force is another highlight. But though the walking is not difficult, paths are intermittent at best, and in mist, route finding would be tough.

The walk proper starts with the ascent of Stainton Pike. But in Wainwright’s chapter this begins near Waberthwaite which cannot be reached by public transport. One could come in from Ravenglass rail station, but I got off the train at Bootle instead, and there are various ways to proceed from there. The route I took is just one option, it worked out OK though there was a mile of road walking along the way.

I stayed on the side of the railway that the train left me at (the coastal, west side), headed along the road for about 400 yards then turned right down the lane. This went over the railway, past the farm of Ford House (with inevitable barking dogs), then cross the main road to head for Seaton Hall.

Cartmel Sands

As you know by now I’m a big fan of the Cumbrian Coast rail line. This is not the first picture I’ve taken of Cartmel Sands, near Ulverston, and I doubt it’ll be the last.

Just before reaching the farm buildings, turn left following a yellow footpath arrow, through a field filthy with cow crap and up to its top corner before going through two more fields to reach a lane that leads to the farm of Corney Hall. Once into its yard, bear left through a gate and then stick on the same side of the beck to go through another gate that takes the path into a wood. It becomes a bit overgrown at this point but eventually you come out onto tarmac again at point SD 113912 (what’s this?).

Here it is probably easiest just to consult the map. You want to end up heading north, along the road that eventually joins the A595. There was a noticeable amount of traffic on it, unfortunately, but there doesn’t really seem to be a non-road alternative.

Finally you reach the end of ‘Fell Lane’ which also marks the beginning of the route description on page 153 of Wainwright’s volume 8 (with the map on pages 154-5). From here to the summit of Stainton Pike, you may as well consult those pages, though this doesn’t mean that you will then be led unerringly upwards. Nor does the apparent depiction of a wide pedestrian highway on the OS map at this point bear any resemblance to reality.

Hesk Fell

Hesk Fell (as yet unbagged by me), with the Coniston Fells behind it.

The best thing to do — as it is from this point on — is to identify your next objective fell visually, and then just head for it. So here, your best bet is just to head for Stainton Pike. I had issues identifying this fell at first, but the confusion comes about because Whit Fell is actually not seen from this point. Look at the picture on the Stainton Pike page and you’ll identify it easily enough. Eventually you will hit Samgarth Beck, which enters the ravine of Rowantree Force, a spot worth finding — I had lunch here (reaching it about 12.10).

From here the summit of Stainton Pike is visible and I just headed for it, straddling the fence which surrounds the fell. And much the same was true for each of the remaining legs of the journey — from Stainton Pike to Whit Fell I just made a beeline, similarly with Whit Fell to Burn Moor and then on to the two Buck Barrows. It’s all easy enough when the weather is clear but I wouldn’t try this in poor visibility. Note that any paths you’ll find are as likely to have been made by sheep as people, so won’t necessarily lead you up to a summit. Burn Moor is tedious, but compensation is found in the views of the Duddon Estuary from here, and the next highest ground east is in the Pennines, so one can see across all of South Cumbria.

Barn in Bootle

Barn architecture in Bootle, near the end of the walk.

I ended up doing Buck Barrow first, then Kinmont Buck Barrow after — it may have been quicker descending had I done it the other way round, although the difference is probably not that significant. Both have good summits, with Buck Barrow allowing for some mild scrambling.

After you’ve done both, head now for the top of the Fell Road, which may have cars parked there to give you direction: either way, stick to the left (east) side of the fence that heads down to the road. Then turn right for a couple of hundred yards, count the number of discarded drinks cans and cigarette cartons beside the road, and then bear left down the lane marked ‘no motor vehicles’.

This provides an easy, but longer-than-expected, descent to Bootle village. If you’ve got more time than I had, you could hunt for a pub, but if there really isn’t one, just follow the signs to the station — but it’s still another 1.5 miles away yet. You need at least 20 minutes to walk to the station from Bootle so keep an eye on the time if you have a train to catch.

Yoadcastle range

Views from the walk. North, to the Yoadcastle range…

Pooped, thoroughly Pooped commentary: The weather this summer has been good, on the whole, but I don’t feel I’ve made the most of it. I regretted having to cancel the ‘5th anniversary walk’ that I had planned for the 19th July but thunderstorms were forecast (and did arrive, though not in much force on the day). But that means nearly six weeks have passed since I was last in the Lakes and I’d started to miss it.

Today offered a chance for a walk though, because of having been in Morecambe this week which means I could get round to the harder-to-reach Western side of the District. Still had to get up at 6am though, and then managed not to have a good night’s sleep at all. On top of this — or rather, on the back of this — I then loaded myself up with rather more luggage than I normally do on one of these hikes. And it was a warm, sunny day. And I write this before having measured the walk properly but I’m certain it was at least 13 miles and possibly up to 15. My most significant physical exertion since the Heaphy Track in February 2013, anyway. [It was 15.1 miles, as it happens.]

Black Combe

… and south to Black Combe.

And I’m knackered! OK!

Is there anything else to add? Well… a little, maybe.

I haven’t really done a bad walk yet, but I have had a couple of disappointing ones, and one of these was walk 40 when I trudged over 13 miles to pick up two fairly inconsequential fells (Green Crag and Great Worm Crag). The main problem with that walk was not the summits, but the approach to them, across a wasteland of bracken and bog between Barnscar and Muncaster Bridge. Paths, or at least, rights-of-way, were indicated on the map but either untraceable on the ground, or pure swamps. The 90 minutes I spent going between the two locations just mentioned was probably the worst walking I’ve had in all the 5+ years so far on this project.

And here I am back in the vicinity, for the first time since that day just over 3 years ago. There are quite a few Outlying Fells round here, none of which I have done yet. They spread across four chapters (Stainton Pike, Whit Fell, Hesk Fell and Devoke Water) and none of them are particularly easy to get to by public transport — to the extent that I think I am going to have to sort out another two-day hike to do at least some of them (Hesk Fell particularly). And I’m very keen to avoid that path through the mire — but it turns up in the Stainton Pike chapter for certain, and with the public transport rule it’s not going to be easy to avoid it on the Devoke Water chapter either.

Buck Barrow

Looking back to Buck Barrow from its sibling, Kinmont Buck Barrow

Anyway, all this forms the logistical challenge in this project, which I face head-on — indeed it’s part of the appeal. The result is this walk, one planned out on a map and then realised on the ground in the face of the lack of paths (despite their looking prominent on the map, but I should have read Wainwright/Jesty more diligently beforehand), the fact I had too much luggage, it was hot… hang on, I’m repeating myself.  So I’ll stop.

Another walk next week, hopefully. Stay in touch…

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4 Responses to “Walk 85: Whit Fell”

  1. […] amount of luggage around 15.1 miles of terrain in the south-west of the District, thus completing walk 85. The five summits bagged came from two of the chapters in Wainwright’s Outlying Fells, namely […]

  2. Hazel Edwards said

    Love the commentary Drew, keep pushing on… xx

  3. u003f said

    Just moved house, and rediscovered your old calendar hidden in a box. Do you have any plans to make another one?

    • Drew Whitworth said

      Maybe…. The thing is I didn’t sell all the ones I printed last time; I just about met the costs but didn’t really raise any money. I could learn the lesson and print fewer of course. I do want to raise some money again (for next year I am going up Kilimanjaro — of which more on here later, when the dates are confirmed), so could do one for 2015 I guess.

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