Or My Favourite Christmas Present VI
Another box-ticking exercise, once more in the company of X-Ray. This was my June Christmas present walk, but happened in May, because June is panning out to be a busy month at weekends. X-Ray has an often expressed wish to bag all of the Wainwrights with the minimum of effort. In which case walking with me is contrary to his interests, since I’m keen to add in detours to include any extra tops in the Birkett list. One such detour took us to our first top of the day, Arnison Crag. Now, even I have to admit, despite my growing monomania, that many Birketts are insignificant and a bit pointless, but it’s often not the little ones – Arnison Crag is a cracker: nice rocky summit and a terrific view down Ulswater. On Sunday it also had a sheltered spot just off the top where we could get out of the very fierce wind and take a cup of tea from our flasks.
The down side of including Arnison Crag was the fairly steep climb from there to Birks. Several rest stops were required:
Taking a gander at the map could provide an excuse. Or stopping to photograph insects…
…not very competently as it turns out. I think this is the click beetle Ctenicera cuprea, which is found on ‘rough grassland, especially in upland areas, where the larvae eat roots and various soil-dwelling animals.’ We saw quite a few of these and a dor beetle nearby too.
Birks is a pretty unprepossessing summit.
Gavel Pike and St. Sunday Crag from the ridge beyond Birks.
From there another detour took the sting out of the climb to St. Sunday Crag by taking a gently rising line to Gavel Pike. Not really a summit this one, but we did find a relatively sheltered spot for more teas and some lunch. It was cold though despite the shelter. Perversely, much colder than when X-Ray and I were out walking in the snow in February. I regretted the lack of hat and gloves in my pack.
Gavel Pike from our lunch stop.
We watched Cross Fell in the Pennines, which still has some patches of snow, disappear and reappear as showers tracked across between us and it. Now the sky began to darken and the first of several showers began to fall. None of them amounted to much but, with the strong and cold wind they made us less inclined to linger.
Cofa Pike maintained the ratio of two ticks for me for every one for X-Ray. Admittedly it also has a bit of a ‘so what’ factor. But it is sportingly rocky and I managed to daydream for a while that I was on the Horns of Alligin instead.
X-Ray on Cofa Pike.
We took the easiest line from there to the plateau summit of Fairfield, from where it was mostly downhill with increasingly short reascents to Hart Crag, Hartsop above How and Gale Crag.
Towards the end of the day it brightened again…
Patterdale with Arnison Crag (left of centre) and Place Fell (right of centre).
The final part of our descent was through fairly open woodland. In an open boggy area we saw several of these tiny pink-flowering plants…
…which I’m pretty sure is lousewort.
Because this route is cribbed entirely from the Birkett book and I don’t have to figure them out for myself, I’m able to give some stats for this walk: 9.5 miles 3495 feet of ascent (or 15km and 1065m in new money). I’ve been wanting to try something a little more testing than other recent walks and I’m happy to report that I felt absolutely fine and really relished the uphill (which hasn’t always been the case). We did take nearly 9 hours to do that though, including many tea stops. Probably some sort of record….
Nine more Birketts ticked, taking this year’s total to 22.