Expeditions, Navigation, Guided Walks and Trekking
We were staying at the wonderful Cottage in the Woods just below the top of Whinlatter Pass. Alison and I wanted a not too strenuous walk that didn’t go too far up-hill (Alison) and collected a few more Wainwright summits (me). From the doorstep of the cottage we could take in three summits and be back for afternoon tea, perfect.
It was a short walk to the Visitors Centre where we checked out which of the many waymarked route through the forest took us out onto the open fell (green posts if you wish to retrace our steps!). On our way up through the trees we met the Gruffalo, who has apparently taken up residence in Whinlatter for the summer. I missed doing the selfie, so here’s the standard pose: –
Leaving the monster behind us we headed out onto the open fell, finding the true summit of Whinlatter Fell above all the trees with a clear view across to the back of Grisedale Pike. This fell is not known to many, being hidden from view even while driving up the pass, where its steep edge above the road is overlooked in favour of the views to Grisedale Pike. I left Alison on the summit while I skipped across to the Wainwright summit at Brown How half a km to the west. It’s not often Wainwright gets things wrong, in this case describing the highest point as the western point. He was misled by an inaccurate map and despite spending a paragraph in his Whinlatter chapter arguing that the map is wrong, his list kept the wrong summit. So for the sake of completeness, one has to be there!
This lonely summit is surrounded by forestry on three sides, with no clear path anywhere, except between the two tops. Without an obvious route across to Lards Seat, which we could see rising to the north above the trees, this was time for some detailed map reading. Careful scrutiny of the map does reveal a forestry track close to the fence which joins up with the main track.
Setting off towards the fence we picked up a faint path across the fell which took us to a stile over the fence and into the forest! Clearly, my idea had been copied before and even helped by the Forestry Commission. It wasn’t too much of a fight, and we soon picked up the forestry track. After a clean up, removing stray bits of forest from our clothing, we resumed our “Green Trail” to the thinned out forest edge and opening views across to Grisedale Pike, Keswick and the Newlands Round.
Lords Seat has a commanding position and sits above the surrounding areas and forest. The best view is looking east across Barf and the Vale of Keswick towards Skiddaw, which today still had a cap of cloud. Lovely lunch spot, if too many midges in the warm humidity on our day there.
Our route took us down the side of the summit, across the depression towards Barf. One cannot wonder at the origin of this name, particularity as it now has a more urban meaning, just google for images of Barf….
I do like the description that Wainwright gives to this fell….“There are few fells, large or small, of such hostile and aggressive character, for unrelenting steepness is allied to unstable runs of scree and outcrops… passers-by look up at Barf with no thought of climbing it.”
He refers to the north face seen from the main road winding around its base. But looking down from the top one can see what he means. The couple that arrived, red faced, at the summit did appear to attest to the hostile route up the north face! There was also the amusing report of an 81 year-old woman who last week got cragfast about two-thirds of the way up here. She called out the mountain rescue who helped her back onto the path. The rescue team were impressed when she decided to make her way up to the summit, instead to heading for home.
For us, a steep drop from the summit to the south led to a stile back onto the forest track.
The open forest track was a delight, with dense trees closing in on our right, opposing the open and cleared fell to our left, giving us views over to Bassenthwaite and Keswick.
Soon we were back at the pass, taking a detour avoiding the busy car park and visitors centre coming out on the road just below the Cottage. Time for tea on the patio while enjoying the busy bird-feeder.