I’ve never heard of Birketts before now. What random set of rules are there for Birketts, Mark?
The Birketts are listed in the book ‘Complete Lakeland Fells’ by Bill Birkett. Not to be confused with Marilyns, Nutalls, Hewitts or Wainwrights alternative hill lists covering the same or a greater area. The ‘random rules’ are indeed arbitrary, or at least unclear:
In deciding just what to classify as a top I have applied various criteria both to the 1:25000 OS maps and to the actual physical form on the ground.
So secret criteria then. One overt criteria is that the fells must be over 1000 feet high. Another is that they must lie within the national park. So Benson Knot above Kendal, and further east Lambrigg Fell, Docker Fell and Roan Edge are all out. These four are only just over a thousand feet and the last three are all hard by the M6, but to my mind at least, it’s logical to include all as Lakeland Fells and they can be strung together to make a very pleasant walk.
I seem to have somehow managed to bag 17 Birketts so far this year, and I’m not really supposed to be bagging Birketts. Funny little blighters aren’t they? – some real gems and some where the only question can be “why?”
I would like to bag 17 all year. Mike lives a charmed life.
After this exchange in comments on a previous post, and a sudden rush of blood to the head, I decided to take the latter as personal challenge and resolve to climb at least 17 Birketts this year. I was thinking that since I had already ticked off 3 on Sunday, this was a manageable total to aim for. Repenting at leisure, I realised that in January I had actually walked over another 5 Birketts, namely Tarn Crag, Sergeant Man, High Raise, Calf Crag and Gibson Knot. What’s more if we hadn’t skirted around the top of Codale Head, dropped off the ridge just short of High White Stones and left Helm Crag for another day due to failing light we would have had 8 that day. So with 8 down and only 9 to go perhaps 17 is not much of a challenge after all. Never mind – I shall stick with it, 17 is a satisfyingly arbitrary total to aim for, and as I have said elsewhere, I like targets which I’m confident I can meet or maybe exceed.
There are 541 canonical Birketts in total. If we allow my suggestions of the 4 above we could extend the list to 545. The problem with that would probably be deciding where the borders of Lakeland are, particularly in the east, if the National park boundaries are not used. So 541 then. Except that looking at the section of the book that deals with the Birketts around the Kentmere valley I found some other omissions. The description of the route over Brunt Knott above Staveley begins:
Unfortunately Potter Fell and its three tops, including that of Ulgraves, have had to be excluded from this walk because of access problems.
They are also excluded from the alphabetical and height order lists in the appendices. But because of the right to roam legislation, two of those three tops now fall within access land. Ulgraves still lies just outside. So – any Birketts completists reading: pull on your boots, there’s two more to bag (or three depending on your attitude to a little harmless trespass).
So 544, excluding tops beyond the National Park (I notice that there are several more potential tops between the A6 and the M6 which are excluded, above the Lune Gorge, around the ‘other’ Borrowdale if you know it). At a rate of 17 a year that’s exactly 32 years. (There’s clearly some kind of magic at work here, can it be just coincidence that 544 is a multiple of 17?). Of course, I have climbed a lot of them before, but it seems somehow ethical to make a clean start and blog them all. Hang on though – I’ve already blogged two last year – Scafell and Slight Side. 10 down and 534 to go. It’s a doddle this armchair bagging.