Whitbarrow-the-awkward

15 07 2018

Richard and I have been having a bit of a campaign on Whitbarrow on the south Lakes road. We’ve generally started from Beck Head but, while on one of the walks, we found another carpark near a farm halfway along the fell – depends on which paths you want to use…

Photos a mix of my manual film camera and Richard’s digi point-and-shoot (labelled)

Richard had never done Whitbarrow before but my Mum and I used to do it a lot, always from Beck Head. I was determined to show him the delights of this easy small limestone fell. However, each time we’ve tackled it, things haven’t altogether gone to plan…

The first walk was from Beck Head where there is parking at a crossroads coming into the village. I was determined to take Richard up the glorious and easy path up the nose of the fell through the woods. We set off towards the village and then, just before it, along a footpath through a farm to the woods.

As we reached the woodland path contouring the fell, I saw a raking path straight opposite. It had been a very long time since I’d been on the fell and I thought that was our path – it certainly looked like it… After a short rise, the path reached a water tank… and stopped!

I fished around for a while looking in the opposite direction as I remembered the path had zig-zags – perhaps this was one. There was nothing obvious and we ended up clambering down the steep hillside below the tank to the contouring path again. The map showed an ascending path further round the fell – maybe that was it? I knew it should be very soon though and this path looked a fair way off.

As we walked further round the contouring path (admittedly beautiful), we were losing a lot of height and I started to get pretty grumpy. I moaned and moaned at Richard and, in the end, he let me storm off ahead – anything for some peace eh? He snapped a couple of cheeky photos of me stomping along though…


mutter, mutter… grumph, grumph… stomp, stomp etc.

Amazingly, while I was so grumpy, I was walking really fast and my leg was going very well indeed – might have been the soft, leafy surface though – either that or my anger was tensing the right muscles!


R Wood

We came out of the wood by the afore-mentioned farm carpark but still no upward path – in fact, you couldn’t get up just here at all!


both R Wood

Eventually, we reached the upward path which was one I’d never done before. It was an easy path up the middle of the fell and I started to come out of my mood somewhat. We easily reached the long ridge where it wasn’t very obvious where the summit would be – I remembered it had a beehive cairn and plaque… The scenery is superb along the ridge and a great place to spend half a day exploring with a camera – Richard’s photos first…


Moody light over the estuary


The superb windswept tree

My photos for a while…

We saw what might be a summit above us – it had a cairn at least… As we arrived at it though, I saw it wasn’t a plaqued well-built cairn – obviously not the summit yet then. I looked around us in all directions and eventually saw it in the distance – it looked a long way off!


The summit from the wall crossing between the peaks

We had a brief chat with two guys arriving and continuing in the direction of the nose path we should have found but didn’t. Did it still exist I asked? Yes it did and they were taking it for their descent. I was a bit tempted to do the same but really wanted Richard to see the ‘exciting’ rake path down the western crags.


An old photo on a day with very strange light (still the Zenith film camera) from when I used to walk with my mother


Final rise to the summit

Richard’s photo of the summit beehive cairn which has a memorial plaque to Lord Hervey on it – the summit is called “Lord’s Seat”. Wiki actually says he was Canon A K Hervey (but I’m assuming he must also have been a Lord?) and was a founder of Cumbria Wildlife Trust – his cairn is within their nature reserve there…

This particular time, we were very strapped for time as I had an appointment so we had to immediately set off for the rake back down the crags. A path leaves the summit heading straight for the edge… I don’t have any photos of this route – for some reason I never took any while out with my mother and, on this occasion, I wasn’t in a fit state due to my hip.

We found the start of the rake and set off steeply down. The drop off to the right is fairly fatal I think and the path is quite large steps for a knackered hip and quite loose. I had all on to stay upright and not topple over the edge every time I had to use my knackered leg – this was despite using a pole for a change!

This put me in another bad mood that I can’t even descend a steep path down a cliff edge nowadays – it was pretty dangerous too. I’ve decided I’m only going to do this route in ascent until I’m more steady on my feet.

At the foot of the rake, you enter a school playing fields – the guys on the first summit called it “The Naughty Boys School” – they were out playing football so that would no doubt calm them down a bit!

I was okay with my leg again across the soft fields until we reached the road where we had a couple of miles of hard surface back to Beck Head (some of it vehicle track rather than road but just as hard). My leg progressively seized up and became hugely painful and I literally had to drag it along with my poor abused good leg.

By the time I reached the car I was in agony and didn’t notice the beauty of the village unfortunately. Here are some photos from walks with my Mum…


Beck Head itself – a very miniature Malham Cove (about 10 feet high) where the beck comes out from under the escarpment

Richard took photos of the West side of Whitbarrow (the side the path descended) and the nose – the light was pretty horrid though…


This was Richard’s digi-camera but I took it from the road

We both took photos of this lovely double tree but Richard’s photo won…

A month or so later, we were back in the area and it was a lovely day. I said we should try Whitbarrow again and try to find the nose path – I said we’d descend it this time as I knew I could find it from above…

This time I wanted to go up a nice-looking path from a village at the far end of the fell. We parked up at the farm carpark mid-fell and set off along the vehicle lane to find a path across the fields marked on the map. When we started out on the path across the fields, we soon saw the farmer really didn’t want you to go this way as the gates became more and more ‘fastened’. We got to one where you’d need to climb over and I would have done just that but Richard refused.

I was pretty annoyed as we could only reach our path by now taking a mile-long diversion up a forest path halfway up the side of the fell. The extra hard-path walking and ascent/descent wasn’t really what my bad hip would need for a full traverse of the fell. Back to being grumpy yet again…

I grumped all the way around the diversion and, as expected, by the end of it, my leg had already started to deteriorate markedly. We pressed on however with a walk for a mile along a little road to the village under the fell end.

It was a steep climb up through the village but the onward path up on to the fell was a delight just as I knew it would be. It was very easy-graded too. I again cheered up again in time to reach the ridge in much better mood.

It’s a long way along the full length of the fell and I had quite a bit of pain and trouble but my leg would sometimes go right again for a while. After the summit and our original first summit from the last walk, we continued on along the fell. I took this photo back to the summit from near the far end.

We soon reached the end of the fell and followed the path onwards… I soon recognised the entry into the woodland of the ‘nose path’. It was pretty sunny just outside the wood and I wanted to rest my leg before the descent so we had a little sunbathe and a coffee and biscuit.

The zig-zag path down is short and sweet – very easily graded, pretty firm, and you’re soon down to the contouring woodland path below.


My photo from an earlier visit with my Mum

Now, where had we gone wrong before? Well, on the map it’s hard to say exactly where the path sets off up but it looks like just opposite the path up from the farm. It’s actually about 20 feet to the left! we’d only looked straight across and to the right on our initial visit. So near but so far!

Those are the four main basic routes up and down Whitbarrow but there was another one between the two eastern paths we took – didn’t look very good from the road though. I think we’ll have to do the fell regularly on our trips to Kendal so I don’t forget where the paths are again!

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14 responses

25 07 2018
Simon Howlett

A lovely walk Carol, nice that you walked it with your Mum during earlier visits. I look forward to walking this when I start on the outlying fells. Thinking of exploring the Howgills in the near future.

Can meet up on the 31 July or 1 August for Branstree and Selside Pike.

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25 07 2018
mountaincoward

I’ve only been in the Howgills twice (once in a thick mist so we treated it as a navigation exercise) – but I loved them. They’re great. I’ve got my eye on one by the bend in the M6 – I see it every time I drive past and it ‘calls’ to me!

I’ll have to get back to you on those dates as it’s Richard who’s doing the walk with you (although I might set off as well)

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26 07 2018
Simon Howlett

Hi Carol. Can only make it on Tuesday 31st now, hopefully that’s a good day for you and Richard.

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26 07 2018
mountaincoward

I’ll be ringing him shortly to check

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16 07 2018
Blue Sky Scotland

Love these limestone escarpments and rugged gems. A lovely hill.

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17 07 2018
mountaincoward

I’m very partial to limestone countryside – always interesting and always looks nice. Very well drained too!

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16 07 2018
John Bainbridge

Quite a place.

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16 07 2018
mountaincoward

It’s a great hill – I’ve been trying to drag Richard up it for years – every time we’ve driven past it in fact!

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16 07 2018
George

Love Whitbarrow. It’s magical up there—the limestone pavements jutting our like ancient fortifications and an amazing 360 degree panaorama of Morecambe Bay, Lakeland fells and Yorkshire fells.

I’ve done it a couple of times taking the route up the nose, over the top to the Lord’s Seat and down the rake. I’ve always started from Mill Side, taking the right hand fork in the road by the post box that leads on to a track running right towards the head of the escarpment. There’s a path that leads off left around the nose. It comes to a bench with a great view out to the bay. Another path leads left up through the woods to the top from there.

This is the route:
https://www.walklakes.co.uk/walk_202.html

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16 07 2018
mountaincoward

It will probably be winter now before I’m back in that area – Kendal area is our winter walking area nowadays as we love the hotel we stay at there – cosy and warm!

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16 07 2018
George

Sounds lovely! Hampsfell is worth a visit too – the next hill round from Whitbarrow. This is my blog about it (and the Bay), if you’re interested, There’s a much shorter approach from Grange.

http://www.lakelandwalkingtales.co.uk/morecambe-bay-hampsfell-cartmel/

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16 07 2018
mountaincoward

if that’s the fell not far from Cartmell, we did that a while back. Isn’t there some kind of structure or monument on the summit?

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16 07 2018
George

That’s right. The hospice, with a view finder on the roof.

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16 07 2018
mountaincoward

I’m hoping to revisit Cartmel sometime soon – we loved the area

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