Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019

Sue and Martin in Mallorca 2019
On the Archduke's Path in Mallorca

Thursday 31 March 2011

18 to 20 March 2011 – Rentahostel in Eskdale

A Lake District panorama from Birker Fell

There were 37 names on this year’s spreadsheet, and Sue and I were doing the cooking for the weekend, so a bit of preparation was needed.

Anyway we deposited half the food with R&J and crammed the rest into the old Peugeot before setting off on a lovely Friday afternoon.

The Birker Fell road from Ulpha yielded some fine views (see above) that necessitated a pause, then it was down to Eskdale Youth Hostel to unload the motor and enjoy a pot of tea in the sunshine with Anne and Andrew, who had both also arrived early.

Sue, Andrew and Anne outside Eskdale Youth Hostel

All 37 gradually arrived, in dribs and drabs, and by 7.30 the majority were tucking into steak and Guinness stew, followed by the ‘whisky cake’ that Joshua liked so much, so here’s a link to the recipe.

37 is rather a large group for just one walk, so it was just as well that there were several separate agendas for Saturday’s perambulations.  Some headed quickly up Scafell and beyond; others were satisfied with Scafell on its own, and some small ‘splinters’ went cragging or on the narrow gauge railway.

I couldn’t recall having been up Hard Knott, so with a desire to get back at a reasonable time in order to resume our cooking duties, Sue and I decided on an easy round of 7 ‘Birketts’, including Hard Knott. 

[Birketts are the 541 Lakeland summits identified by Bill Birkett as being over 1000 feet in height.  He has written a superb guide, available here.]

We duly set off, fortified by the full breakfast produced by our able assistant, Ken, from the foot of Hard Knott pass.  Seven others had elected to join us on this low level circuit.

We soon came upon the magnificent and extensive site of Hardknott Roman Fort.  The Commandant enjoyed a fine view towards the Scafells from his sumptuous quarters.

The Commandant's House at Hard Knott Roman Fort

It looks as if the Fort was constructed with rather thick cavity walls.

The Roman Fort, with Harter Fell behind

We took lots of photos (see link to slideshow below) before heading on up the pleasant path that leads to the summit of the Hard Knott road pass.

Frogs had been busy hereabouts, with great pools full of fresh spawn.

Two cyclists were just about to set off towards Wrynose on a big 80 mile practice for a forthcoming endurance event.  We waved them off and headed up a grassy rake towards Border End, our first Birkett of the day and a spot that enjoys a fine view down Eskdale.

Sadly it was more overcast than expected – not quite the ‘blue-sky’ day we had anticipated, so not so many images.

A self-timed picture was however deemed appropriate at the next summit, our high point of the day, Hard Knott – 549 metres.

On the summit of Hard Knott - 19/3/11

The sun briefly illuminated our merry band as we descended towards Yew Bank, our third summit of the day.

Descending from Hard Knott, with Bowfell to the right

Cloud lurked on the arc of higher peaks, from Scafell to Crinkle Crags, that occupied our skyline to the north.  A rescue helicopter hovered over swarming humans on the summit of Scafell Pike.  We meandered over Yew Bank and down to Lingcove Beck, which was easily crossed.

Lunch was enjoyed in the lee of a huge slab of rock half way up our fourth summit, Throstlehow Crag, from where there was a fine view towards the slightly higher, at 439 metres, craggy summit of our next objective, Scar Lathing.  There was nobody else around.

There hadn’t been much rain in recent days, so crossing the River Esk didn’t present any insurmountable difficulties, though Phil’s ‘bouldering’ did produce some impressive splashes.

Crossing the River Esk

Andrew conked out and ambled off towards Scale Gill, but for the rest of us two more Birketts beckoned.  The sun was even shining as we reached the summit of High Scarth Crag.

Sue, Jenny and Sue on the summit of High Scarth

Phil’s boulder throwing had tired him out.

Phil has been taking lessons from Alan Sloman?

After strolling through a deep and spongy bog to our final summit, the rocky knoll of Silverybield, there was a boot inspection.  Spot the new ones?

The descent to Eskdale, via Scale Gill, was easy, with Harter Fell beckoning us on.

Descending into Eskdale

That got us back to the cars around 4 pm, in plenty of time to get to the hostel for tea and cake (and a shower) before cooking duties commenced.

The day had been most enjoyable, covering 15 km, with just 850 metres of ascent, in a bit more than 6 hours.  Here’s the route, with the Birketts duly waymarked.

Saturday's route - 15km, 850 metres ascent, 6.25 hours, 7 Birketts (marked 2-8)

The meal went well.  Here, for record purposes, is the menu.  I’ll do a separate post with the recipe for the Baked Lemon Pudding that went down so well.  For anyone wishing to feed a party of this size, we can commend this menu – everything worked, and most of it could be prepared in advance.

Ken’s invaluable assistance with breakfast (Ken spent many years as a Youth Hostel warden, so he can cook breakfast for 40 with his eyes shut) fuelled us up for a wet Sunday.  Some people went home, but at least 20 of us (I don’t think anyone was counting) set off from Eskdale Green to conquer the 231 metre summit of Muncaster Fell.  As this substantial hill is neither a ‘Birkett’ nor a ‘Wainwright’, the ‘tickers’ in the group had to content themselves with a ‘Marilyn’.

It was a wet day.

Our group on Muncaster Fell

But we made it to the summit.

On the summit of Muncaster Fell on a rainy day

All apart from Melinda, who felt poorly, made it down, and the ‘New Ownership’ at the King George IV pub didn’t baulk at serving pots of tea and plates of chips.

King George IV - Eskdale Green

Here’s our route – 11 km, 400 metres ascent, taking a shade less than 4 hours.

Our route over Muncaster Fell - 11 km, 400 metres ascent, 3.8 hours

Then we went home.

A great weekend, as always, with better weather than Sue W usually conjures up.  Thank you, Sue, for organising it, and thanks also to Tom, who has provided some of the images in the (click here) slideshow, especially the huge moon over Harter Fell.


_ said...

Nice write-up Martin. I'd have sent you some pics to add to your slide show, but the pace on Saturday precluded any photo faffing :-)

Fantastic job with the catering too. I eagerly await the Baked Lemon Pudding recipe -- on of the highlights of the w/e for me.

Managed to get a nice walk down Chee Dale in on the Sunday afternoon -- in the dry :-)

Sir Hugh said...

Sounds like a fun packed outing.

Are you ticking The Birketts, and if so how many have you done?

It seems strange that Muncaster Fell doesn’t feature on that list, and neither is it a Wainwright. It does feature on a list devised by me involving visiting all the trig points on various OS sheets, and I have been there. I have completed Sheet 98 (Wensleydale and Upper Wharfedale), and Sheet 97 (Kendal to Morecambe).

Muncaster Fell is on Sheet 96 most of which I have done, but it was then left in abeyance as more long distance projects seem to have taken over. Visiting trig points can take you to strange places that you might not have otherwise thought of visiting.

Jamie Bassnett said...

Nice stuff! Really need to join you on a walk this year! Missing the hills at the moment as broke my toe a few weeks ago at footy :-(

Phreerunner said...

Thanks Paul. A good choice for Sunday, though our walk was very sociable. I may put up the pudding recipe today...

Conrad, I'm not really a 'bagger' but have spent much time with folk who have been baggers. I bought Bill's book last June and have only been noting Birketts climbed since then - around 60. I haven't done all the Wainwrights either, but noting the ones done can lead to different walks next time, so to speak. Despite having a friend who collects trig point numbers, I don't 'collect' those! Muncaster Fell isn't high enough to be a Birkett, but it is a Marilyn, as I'm sure you are aware, and it's one of Wainwright's 'outlying fells'.

Jamie - sorry to hear about your toe, I thought you'd been quiet recently. We look forward to you joining us 'soon'. There was a good turnout for last night's stroll in the Wirral.