Brock Barrow from the north

Brock Barrow, the first summit of the day, viewed from the north.

Date completed: 9th July 2015.

Weather conditions: Another pleasant and sunny day. I have picked my days well on recent walks.

Summits bagged: Five today, all new — thus, numbers 307-311 from the 330 Wainwrights. They were the four tops in the Top o’Selside chapter: Brock Barrow (748’ above sea level), Low Light Haw (810’), High Light Haw (860’) and Top o’Selside itself (1099’). Then the final summit of the day, in its own volume 8 chapter, was Carron Crag (1030’).

Sheep near High Bethecar

Sheep near High Bethecar farm. I think that is Tottlebank Height behind them, but could be wrong.

Start and end points: Started where the X6 bus (which links Kendal, Grange, Ulverstone and Barrow) dropped me, at a lay-by just past the Rusland Pool hotel on the A590, near Bouth (grid reference SD326841 approximately). Finished in Hawkshead, this being served by buses to Coniston, Ambleside, Windermere and the Bowness ferry.

I fitted the walk between when I was dropped off at about 9.50am (this being the 09.30 X6 departure from Grange-over-Sands railway station) and the 15.40 departure of the #505 bus from Hawkshead, though I was walking pretty fast, particularly in the second half. Aiming for the 16.40 departure from Hawkshead would make it more comfortable.

Logistically, there are other ways to bag these fells: for example, I considered starting at the Bowness ferry pier, doing the fells in the opposite order and finishing at Lowick Bridge, and the main reason I didn’t was that the pub there (the Red Lion) does not open until 5pm during the week, as I discovered back on walk 78. Finishing in Coniston would also have been an option.


Definitely foxglove season in Grizedale Forest…

Distance walked: 13.9 miles.

Total ascent: 2287 feet.

Pub at end: The Sun Inn, Hawkshead, where I (with Joe in tow) previously ended walk 76. Didn’t stay there that long today but the beer is good and it’s convenient for the bus stop.

Route: This is a decent walk — they all are — but no one is going to claim that it’s a classic. The best reason to do it is fine views of the Coniston district (lake and, particularly, fells). On the whole, paths are clear and dry, and the route I used, though it is undulating, has no steep climbs.

The first few miles of the walk, from the bus stop to the first summit (Brock Barrow), requires you to pick your way through the labyrinth of lanes, fields and sundry minor hills that lie between the valleys of the River Crake and Rusland Pool. I could give you every last detail of my route here but it would get rather tedious and you’d still need a map to hand to retrace my steps anyway. Suffice it to say that route-finding here is just a matter of common sense and keeping a close eye on both the map and the landscape around. (Then again it always is.)

View from Brock Barrow

The view of Coniston Water and the Coniston fells behind, from Brock Barrow.

Basically, from the Rusland Pool hotel I followed the path through the meadows beside the Rusland Pool to Bouth, then took the ‘Public Byway’ which starts to the north of that village and heads west, coming out at Colton’s secluded church. North from Colton, I stayed on the road (all these roads are largely traffic-free) and followed the sign to Bandrake Head — a short cut through the field is possible, to avoid the corner in the lane here — and then headed west along Bessy Bank Lane before turning up the lane to Hill Park Farm. Carrying on north, up the public footpath to Stock Farm, things got a little confusing, and it is important not to be tempted down the path to Nibthwaite Grange which will lose you a few hundred feet of climbing.

At Stock Farm (with probably the barkingest pack of all barking farm dog packs), take neither of the two lanes at the end of its drive, instead heading into the woods via the footpath, then turning right up the forest road which then heads through the fields to High Bethecar. Only at this point do you finally glimpse your first destination, though be aware that the rumpled fell ahead is Low Light Haw, not Brock Barrow, which is more to the left, and identifiable by its pillar of stones. So once through the gate and onto the fellside, you need to bear left for Brock Barrow, and once on its summit, sit down and enjoy both your lunch (I got here about 12.30) and the view of Coniston Water and the Coniston fells.

Arnsbarrow Hill

Arnsbarrow Hill, with its tarn in front, still wondering why Wainwright didn’t include it in the list

Reading Wainwright’s Top o’Selside chapter gives one the impression that the ridge route is a difficult one to follow. I have to say I didn’t find this to be the case. There’s some bracken to contend with, true, but otherwise no real problems and there’s a reasonably clear path most of the way to Top o’Selside.

In fact, the more confusing factor here comes with the peak of Arnsbarrow Hill, which stands to the right of Top o’Selside, is more prominent than it, but is neither included on the walking route nor even mapped by Wainwright, despite seeming to have a clear case for inclusion in the canon. Let it nurse its hurt pride alone; your route instead lies straight over Top o’Selside and down to the track that leads past Low Parkamoor.

Flooded track

The flooded track between Top o’Selside (visible behind) and Grizedale Forest.

The track heading into Grizedale Forest from here is clear, but it is also largely flooded, to the extent that at times it looks more like a canal (see picture). It gets better once in the forest. The path leads round to a complex road junction, at which you need to bear left at first then take the forest road curving round to the right. (Again, get the map out of your bag and keep it to hand.) Take the next right — cross over the first forest road you come to — then turn left at the second and almost immediately left, following the posts with the green and red bands on them. This path will take you up to the top of Carron Crag, past a prominent ‘ring’ sculpture (a series of sculptures are permanent feature of the Grizedale Forest park).

Bear in mind that though there used to be buses to Grizedale, there are none at present. Hawkshead and Coniston are roughly equidistant from Carron Crag so could both serve as terminus for the walk. In the summer you could drop down to Brantwood (John Ruskin’s home) and take the ferry from there to Coniston, or walk round the head of the lake.  I chose Hawkshead, and to reach it, keep following the green/red posts back to a forest road, where turn left and, again, just follow the map to attain the path heading north-east to the Moor Top car park. Turn left and Hawkshead is about a mile away.

Ring sculpture, Grizedale Forest

The sculpture near the summit of Carron Crag.

“In training” commentary: I did not mean to leave it nearly seven weeks after walk 97 to undertake my next one, but that is how long it has been since Joe and I came off Reston Scar on 23rd May. Quite a few work trips in June, and then on one weekend which I had earmarked for a walk, 19th/20th June, poor weather.

I’ve lived with this hiatus but needed to get going again, partly to get back to my schedule for completion, and partly to get some miles under my belt — specifically, in my knees — before my imminent hike up Kilimanjaro. I start that in two and a half weeks, beginning the walk on July 28th and I’m due to reach the summit on 2nd August. I am doing this to raise money for my local search and rescue team, Calder Valley Search and Rescue, and hope to raise at least £1,500 to help them replace one of their off-road ambulances. If you would like to help me meet this target then please visit my fundraising page at — thank you!

Grizedale Forest

In one of the darker patches of Grizedale Forest

Although this was a decent walk, on a day of great weather for being out in the country, as I say above it was never going to be a classic. It takes quite a long time to get to the fells and once there, there’s not a great deal to excite except the view of the Coniston fells. However, the travails of the Top o’Selside ridge are greatly exaggerated by Wainwright, in my opinion — perhaps he caught it on a bad day — I found the area fairly straightforward and the southern section, Brock Barrow and the two Light Haws, was the walk’s highlight.

The five summits bagged today leave me with 19 to do, and for those who are interested, these fall into the following groups:
* the three summits in the Caw chapter, which I have decided will be my last walk;
* Flat Fell, Dent, Cold Fell and Ponsonby Fell over in the west, which I should be able to do in one walk;

Moorland on Top o'Selside

Moorland on Top o’Selside.

* White Pike, Woodend Height and Yoadcastle, the three unbagged fells from the Devoke Water chapter and The Knott (Stainton Pike) — another single walk;
* the three summits in the Crookdale Horseshoe;
* five summits in the Seat Robert chapter.

These last two combine into what looks like a feasible (though rather lonely) two-day hike, broken at Mosedale Cottage. Good training for Kilimanjaro then as it’s about time I manned up a bit with regard to camping. So that’s to be done next week.


2 Responses to “Walk 98: Grizedale Forest”

  1. […] didn’t mean to leave a gap of nearly seven weeks between my last walk on 23rd May and walk 98, but that’s what has happened. Never mind — the break is over. Walk 98 saw me bag five […]

  2. […] on the heels of my last walk a week ago, walk 98, I headed for Coniston again and this time took in the three new summits of Caw as well as a […]

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