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About Summiteer

~In Wainwright's Footsteps~

22nd February 2010

I honestly felt that I was in AW's footsteps on this walk. Armboth Fell was slated in his Book 3 and I read the chapter many moons ago and made my mind up not to bother with it. However, my ambitions have changed and Armboth Fell needed to be climbed, I walked with Book 3 in my hand almost all the way round.....

Thirlmere Dam

Thirlmere Dam ~ The Credits

Scroll down for photos and a description of the walk

Thirlmere Forzen

Frozen Thirlmere

Quite a sight! I left Burnley at about 10.20, arrived in Keswick at 12:10, parked near the B&B on Blencathra Street and went to catch the bus from the nearest bus stop. But the buses are being re-routed and I had to get to the bus station. I got there with 2 minutes to spare, not enough time to buy a sandwich from Booths's and the 12:25 to Lancaster left on time. Soon enough I was walking on the dam. I thought I would be on the 13:25, so the start one hour earlier was appreciated and the benefits were enjoyed later.

Frozen Thirlmere

Frozen Thirlmere (again)

Well, it's a rare sight, so lets have another look. I had to walk along the road for a mile and a half to the start of the climb at Fisher Gill.

Armboth Fell

Start of the Climb

So, this is the start of a walk into the unknown. AW: "It can be said of very few fells that they are not really worth climbing; Armboth Fell is one of the few." Gosh, what am I doing? He calls "the flat desolate top", "little better than a quagmire".

Wainwright Boulder

"A balanced boulder 12 feet high alongside the footpath from Armboth"

Wainwright Book 3, Armboth Fell 2

Armboth Fell Helvellyn

Looking Back towards Helvellyn

Helvellyn from Armboth Fell

Helvellyn from Armboth Fell

Of course there was method in my madness. All the bogs and waterlogged sections were frozen. This fell has merits in such circumstances, mainly by virtue of the views, but also it's a place for those who are not comfortable in crowds.

Fence on High Tove

The Central Fence on High Tove

The "Ridge Route" to High Tove was a trudge across snow and heather; "dreariness and desolation".

High Tove Summit

High Tove Summit

"It is hard to imagine that anybody feels any affection at all for High Tove ... it is without any redeeming feature except as a viewpoint .... <the summit> is a dreary place with no feature of interest." Well here I might argue the case for the defence. The piece of fence protruding from the cairn does seem quite interesting, a classic piece of 4" x 1" (or thereabouts), cut cleanly and, I reckon, treated for protection against premature rotting.

Me on High Tove

Me on High Tove

There I am, ready for the walk to High Seat (behind); my guidebook tells: "Minor Depressions ....it is 1 mile away and the first half-mile is all swamps and peat-hags."

High Seat Summit

High Seat Summit

Does anyone else suffer from "High" disorientation? I get my "Seats" "Toves" "Raises" Streets" "Riggs" "Stiles" etc. a bit mixed up at times. This is my highest point today at 1995ft and if I'd stood on that column, my head would have attained 2000ft. But I didn't.

High Seat Summit

The Summit from The Man

Another of those fells with two competing summits. This view shows us some North Western Fells, can you name them? (Save me a job)

Catstycam and Helvellyn

Catstycam (l) and Helvellyn

Snowy out East. This is the same day as the avalanche on St.Sunday Crag.

Snow shower on the Dodds

Snow Shower on The Dodds

A light flurry reached me as I prepared for the ridge route to Bleaberry Fell; this really caught my imagination: " This is a walk to wish on one's worst enemy, especially after rain." Hmmm, I hope it stays frozen. Well, it did and the route was not too difficult across the hard surfaces of ice, snow and bog.


Blencathra from Bleaberry Fell

If you look carefully, somebody's left a pair of quavers on Blease Fell, proving that the hills may well be alive with the sound of music.

Skiddaw from Bleaberry Fell

Skiddaw from Bleaberry Fell

At last, AW finds something to cheer about on the Central Ridge: "it is a superb viewpoint, ideally situated for a long and lazy contemplation of a beautiful panorama. What is more, and here it scores heavily over other fells along the ridge, it can be climbed dryshod and the short springy heather of the top is a joy to tread."


A Wider View

Walla Crag route

The Route to Walla Crag

Here's the benefit of the earlier bus, time for a longer walk. Fortunately, I keep a Mars Bar in my rucksac and so, at this point, I took a late lunch. The descent to the path shown is very steep, but once on the path, I could safely stow my compass and map away as the path was quite clear.

Sheepfold to Bleaberry Fell Graffiti
Sheepfold and Bleaberry Fell
Hmmmm, what's this then?

Sheepfold on the way to Walla Crag

Walla Crag

Walla Crag

Keswick from Walla Crag

Keswick from Walla Crag

It was here that I found my voice and greeted four other walkers. The first folk I'd seen over the last four hours of walking.

I descended down from Walla Crag and made my way back to Keswick. High Tove comes back to mind, it's the only one of the five summits visited today, that I'd visited previously; so four new tops for me. On the way through Keswick, I came across this roadsign:

Ratcliffe Roadsign

That's more like it!

So, an afternoon with Wainwright comes to a close. The early shot of the boulder was enhanced in Photoshop (really?), to try and make it look as close to the one in the book as possible. The graffiti in the sheepfold is also a product of my devious mind and I apologise to Derek Hatton, or anyone else with those initials, for any offence caused.

Walkers: Just Me

Time taken: 5hrs 20mins over a distance of approx 10 miles

Route: Thirlmere Dam, Armboth, Fisher Gill, Armboth Fell, High Tove, High Wotsit, Bleaberry Fell, Walla Crag, Borrowdale Road, Keswick - Blencathra Street.

Weather and conditions: Sunny spells and increasing late afternoon cloud.

Greetings Count: Wonderfully Low.

Richard's Refreshment Review: The Bank Tavern. Pub in Keswick. When you're on your own, you need a fairly busy pub to blend into, so-to-speak. I found one and the food was OK, nothing more. In order to make myself look less like Billy No-Mates, I texted a few folk whilst waiting for the meal and that way it looked as though I had some friends.

Comments can be passed to me via the contact link at the foot of the "About Me" page or via the "Comments" facility at the bottom of this page.

Dam Sign

That Dam Sign!

All photos copyright Richard Ratcliffe 2010 ©

Take me back to the start ....

Take me home....