Birker Moor Outlying Wainwrights & a Deadly Disease!

20 06 2016

Mon 9 May 2016
One of Richard and my favourite new places to stay in the Lake District is the Brook House at Boot in Eskdale. Eskdale is full of gorgeous walking of all types. On our first day we decided to bag some more of my outlying Wainwrights – I saw that my remaining ones in that area could all be done without taking the car out of the carpark at the hotel – always a good thing in my book…

(click on photos for full size/resolution – Richard’s digi photos as marked)

We headed briefly down the road past Dalegarth Station (Ravenglass and Eskdale miniature steam railway) and took the next left towards the Stanley Ghyll car parking. Ignoring the paths branching off to Stanley Ghyll, our landrover track headed up the fellside onto Birker Fell.

Hartley Crag from Birker Fell

We followed the track as far as Birkerthwaite Farm where we met the sheep farmer who was looking quite harrassed that day. We offered to shut his gates for him along the rest of the track to his farm and he was grateful and asked if we wanted to work for him for the day – as I love farm work I was quite tempted but my fell-bagging comes first I’m afraid.

Our first objective was Great Crag, an amazing-looking peak surrounded on the two nearer sides by large crags of around 30 feet – I knew there were easier sides though if we couldn’t find a way up through them.

Great Crag from Birker Fell Track

There was a plain but very squelchy fellside heading straight up for the western wall of crags and we found a stile over the fence crossing our path.

Great Crag

We then promenaded along the crags looking for ways up. I could see a few – broken grassy rakes or a couple of easy scrambling routes. I found a lovely scramble ridge which was exceedingly easy and could be left for a steep grassy rake on the right anywhere up it – such possible escape routes give me a lot of confidence and I romped happily up the rock ridge.

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Richard’s zoom of the crag – my rock ridge is directly to the left of the grassy rake up the middle

When I looked round at the top of the main crags I saw Richard was coming up the steep grass intead – strange as he likes a scramble – I put it down to the fact that he’s feeling much less supple nowadays. There were then very easy crags to play around on leading to the summit but no difficulties anywhere and I was soon up there.

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R Wood

It was ferociously windy at the summit and we both had to come back down from the summit and hide behind rocks to steady our cameras for photos of Green Crag which looks superb from there (we did that back in our Wainwrighting days).

Green Crag from Great

From the summit there are indeed very easy ways off – it’s almost flat grass heading off to the south-east, the direction of our next fells. We were heading for Great Worm Crag (which I always thought was Great Crag until I studied the map) – a grassy fell of no apparent interest but the highest thing immediately east of the Birker Fell road. To make the route more interesting we headed first for the minor rocky lump of White Crag on the way. It was pretty much pathless going all the way although there were some sheep tracks and there wasn’t really any interest all the way to Great Worm Crag which has no noticeable area of crag on it – a very grassy fell indeed!

Great Worm Crag
Great Worm Crag with the minor eminence of White Crag in front

The descent from here was straightforward but, at some point, had to cross the huge Sike Moss (bog) before we could reach the road. I looked for the least boggy area and we got across without flooding our boots and then we just had the tufty rise to the road. We were quite glad to reach the road which we then headed north along for half a mile to the Devoke Water track.

The Devoke Water track is a landrover track and very scenic and beautiful in both directions. I soon branched right off it for my next Outlying Wainwrights of Rough and Water Crags. Richard had decided not to bother with the fells and just walked off to Devoke Water to wait in the sun for me. There is a track turns off just after a gate for Rough Crag and it is easy going all the way to it.

Path to Rough Crag

Devoke Water from Rough Crag Ascent
Views across Devoke Water

I met a couple with a dog on Rough Crag where it was even windier than it had been on Great Crag so I didn’t linger.

Water Crag from Rough Crag
Looking to Water Crag from Rough Crag

The path continues along an easy ridge with great views to the lake and I was soon on Water Crag. I again hid down the side out of the wind briefly for a rest and an admire of the view back to Eskdale.

Rough Crag from Water Crag approach
Looking back to Rough Crag

Water Crag to Seat How
And past Devoke Water to my next summit

From there the path continued on south-west to return to the western end of the lake. There was a short boggy area to cross and the outlet of the lake where I found a poor dead fish lying on the grass by the stream. I felt awful that someone had pulled it out of the water and then left it on the bank so I put it back in the water – I know it doesn’t help but it seemed right somehow. At least the other fish could eat it there…

Devoke Water Outlet

Seat How Across Devoke Water
Seat How, my next peak, across Devoke Water

My path joined the main bridleway which runs south of Devoke Water and passes below the other Outlying Wainwrights of the Stainton Fell group which I’d already done years ago. The track was extremely wet and boggy and I had to leave it several times for diversions around the worst bits. As the track heads north-east by the eastern end of the lake, things became drier.

Devoke Water Southern Track

I admired the boathouse on its rocky promontory and assumed Richard would be sitting around there somewhere – I soon saw him sat amongst the rocks by the shore in a lovely spot. I joined him and had a break for coffee and shortcake before heading off for my final hill of the day – Seat How.

Devoke Water Boathouse

Richard’s photos below…

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Seat How is a steep peak defended almost all the way around by steep rocks and looked fairly inaccessible – as with all Lakeland Fells though, I knew there would be a way. I found an easy grass rake up the eastern side and was very soon on the summit. As there are large crags on the north-western side I had to initially head north-east down the end of the fell to leave it but soon cut back under the crags as I wanted to do as much of the Devoke Water track as I could.

Seat How from Devoke Track

Looking back at Seat How and Devoke Water

Devoke Water from Seat How Descent

I soon caught Richard up again and we headed back along the track together.

Eskdale Fells from Devoke Track

We crossed straight over the Birker Fell road on a track for the farm of ‘High Ground’. Another vehicle track goes through the farmyard still heading north-east to take us back to our original track near Ellerbeck Bridge.

On reaching our original track we decided we didn’t want to re-descend the same way to Eskdale so headed off right for Whincop Bridge and farm. The path continued downhill to the west side of Hartley Crag where it apparently headed off under the wall of crag of the valleyside.

Hartley Crag End

(changed to an Agfa film here – what a difference from the washed out Kodak ones!)

Hartley Crag & Fell Wall

Hartley Crag

This wasn’t the path we wanted as we wanted to head back down to the east side of Stanley Ghyll – Richard eventually found a sketchy path either side of a wall heading down that way. It was initially very wet but soon dried out into quite good paths and we were soon down at valley level.

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R Wood

From near the Stanley Ghyll carpark we decided to head alongside the river to the stepping stones where a bridleway heads past the church straight back to Brooke House. When we were last here one of the huge stepping stones had washed away a few feet down the river – it has now been dragged back into place.

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R Wood

On reaching the hotel and getting showered, I noticed I’d picked up a couple of ticks – one on my thigh – I removed them both. Over the next three days the thigh bite ominously started to swell and redden until I had the dreaded ‘bullseye’ – the sign of Lymes Disease – a serious disease which can sometimes prove fatal. Of course, this spoiled my whole trip and I had to get an emergency appointment back home and spent the next two weeks on Doxycycline anti-biotic. This had the unfortunate side-effect (as it says it will on the packet) of making me extremely sun-sensitive – I’ve never been sensitive to the sun in my life! 😦

At first I didn’t believe I’d have problems as I’m normally so immune to sun, never even wearing sun cream in Britain at all, but after a week the prophecy came true and I got extremely badly burnt hands on Skye. I’d say it wasn’t really sunburn but actual burns and it blistered badly and took about three weeks to get better. My burning and painful hands kept me awake for the next few weeks but the worst thing was having to cover up completely on the hill – I hill-walk with as little clothing as possible usually as I’m a very hot walker. Not fun! 😦

Stats: 10 miles, 6 hours

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33 responses

15 07 2016
surfnslide

I’ve been up by Green Crag before but never these, they look very fine for easy stroll with some scrambling. Bad luck with the evil ticks. I’ve only ever had one and it really creeped me out!

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16 07 2016
mountaincoward

Great Crag is ace – loads of routes on it from easy to hard I’d say.

I get loads of ticks all the time, especially in Scotland (not many in the Lakes) and it was only a matter of time really before I got a bite from an infected one…

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24 06 2016
jamesmichaelforrest

Great photos 🙂

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26 06 2016
mountaincoward

Thanks James – it’s a fun area if you’re ever around that way

Liked by 1 person

26 06 2016
jamesmichaelforrest

By the way I’ve changed my blog url to jamesmforrest.com and switched to WordPress.org – do you still receive notifications? Found the whole changeover a bit complicated and I’m not that technical with these things – haha

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26 06 2016
mountaincoward

I just read one of your posts when I logged in tonight – the one about the direction you’re planning to take with the blog. Couldn’t find how to comment though…

Liked by 1 person

24 06 2016
Blue Sky Scotland

An area of the Lakes I’m not that familiar with but it looks delightful. Ticks are a real hazard now on the hills, particularly as summer walking calls out for shorts and tee shirts rather than long trousers tucked into socks and wearing long shirt sleeves in heatwave conditions is not fun. Puts me right off as I get dozens of ticks on me every season going up pathless Corbetts, Marilyns… etc….. only a matter of time these days…

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26 06 2016
mountaincoward

Yeah 😦 it was only a matter of time for me too as I get loads of them.

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23 06 2016
underswansea

Very fine post, Carol. Lots of places to linger along the way. Too bad about the tick and the burns. We are lucky here as ticks are only around for a month or so. Great photos. Looks like the Agfa film is more sensitive at capturing the sky. Take care. Bob

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23 06 2016
mountaincoward

I think the whole colour saturation is better with the Agfa and I’ve ordered more. The Kodak ones are looking almost see-through! I’m not the only film user who’s said so either…

Our ticks are more or less all year now – they were even around in winter!

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23 06 2016
underswansea

Film can expire. I could imagine there is plenty of expired film being sold. Sometimes the results from expired film can be surprising, both in good and bad ways.

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23 06 2016
mountaincoward

The Kodak ones have been consistently bad for a few years now though

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23 06 2016
underswansea

It could even be the processing. A lot of variables to take into account. And Kodak, being bankrupt, probably don’t produce it to the same standards as they once did.

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23 06 2016
mountaincoward

didn’t know Kodak were bankrupt? I know the processing counts too but I use the same processor all the time and they use the same guy. When I was scanning my last films and switched from the Kodak to the Agfa, I was surprised how strong the difference was.

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23 06 2016
underswansea

Kodak filed for bankruptcy a few year ago, however they still run somehow. I never could understand big business. They do still have many technologies and patents licensed to other companies, including digital technology. Kodak, for instance was the first company to produce a digital camera. I would stick to the Agfa film. When I shot B/W film I used Kodak almost exclusively, but every now and again I would put in Ilford and be happy with the results.

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23 06 2016
mountaincoward

I always used Agfa until they went bust. It was only a chance google search the other day made me realise they’d started up again 🙂

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25 06 2016
underswansea

I bet you got the same news wherever you looked this morning.

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26 06 2016
mountaincoward

I’ve been away and haven’t seen the news – I got the good news about the referendum off Richard by phone though but now, unfortunately, it looks like we might not get out of Europe after all – apparently it needs an ‘Act of Parliament’ and most of our politicians are pro-EU unfortunately 😦

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26 06 2016
underswansea

So the sky isn’t falling over there like we are hearing on the news.

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26 06 2016
mountaincoward

LOL – well lots of water is falling out of it – maybe it’s crying!

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22 06 2016
45degreesmc

Strange how ticks are more attracted to some people than others – I don’t think they like me very much. Hope you are fully recovered.

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22 06 2016
mountaincoward

Richard’s only ever had about one I think – he does cover up more than me though and uses a sit mat while I just sprawl on the heather/bracken/grass or whatever else. But I honestly think it’s our blood which is different – mine is probably really sweet as I eat tons of puds/cakes etc while he eats nothing sweet at all apart from apples and grapes.

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21 06 2016
fedup

Some great pics Carol 🙂 Eskdale is a lovely place, quite tranquil when you get away from the hustle and bustle. hope you are feeling better

cheers Simon

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21 06 2016
mountaincoward

I THINK I’m better – hope so anyway

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21 06 2016
rrogerson2014

Is there some harder scrambles up that? It looks fun

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21 06 2016
mountaincoward

Yes definitely – it is fun – I reckon you could while away an hour or so there.

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21 06 2016
Jim Ruebush

A nice set of photos and description. Watch out for the Lyme disease. My daughter had(s) a bad case of it that was untreated for too long. It has been a difficult slog for her.

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21 06 2016
mountaincoward

I know the dangers of it being left untreated – of course, the problem is spotting it in time. I hope she’s getting better and the prognosis is good.
Carol.

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21 06 2016
Jim Ruebush

She is improving. It has been a slow, expensive, and difficult journey. But, we do see progress. Thank you.

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21 06 2016
tessapark1969

Nice report – never been to Eskdale except en route to Wasdale. I love the name Great Worm Crag 😆

Bad luck re the Lyme Disease though, hope you are ok now.

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21 06 2016
mountaincoward

I’m assuming I’m okay now – I’m very tired all the time but I think I was anyway before the tick bite! Just work really 😦

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20 06 2016
chrissiedixie

I have to say I do rather like it around that area, but I don’t know it that well – we’ve only spent a couple of weekends there over the years. It always seems an awful long way to drive from here!
Back luck with the Lyme Disease – Geoff had it about 18 months ago and he was really upset as you can’t drink alcohol with doxycycline and he was taking it over the Christmas fortnight! However, as I pointed out to him, he had it easy. When I had Lyme Disease about 8 years ago, the thinking then wasn’t Doxycycline for a fortnight, but for three months! Didn’t bother me mind as I don’t drink and it didn’t do the sun sensitive thing with me either…..

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20 06 2016
mountaincoward

I remember you saying now about Geoff not being able to drink at Christmas! Luckily, as I don’t anyway, that bit didn’t bother me. Richard’s had a couple of doses of Doxy recently though and he’s a real ale fan and was very upset!

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