A Burst of Birketts

Borrowdale. Castle Crag poking its head from the trees on the left. Skiddaw in the distance. King’s How on Grange Fell prominent in the centre.

I had slept on CJ’s sofa in Keswick, chiefly so that we could make an early start: in which aim we were partly thwarted by the bus timetable. The 9.25 from Keswick left us at Mountain View near to Seatoller in Borrowdale. Even at ten to ten the air was still cold and sharp and in the late autumn shadows the frost was lingering. Our climb was steady and the clear skies encouraged regular stops to look back and admire the view.

Thornythwaite Fell, the first Birkett of the day, passed by unnoticed (several cairns but no real summit). CJ would tick off his hundredth Wainwright in the course of the day’s walk, but humoured me and consented to frequent diversions to minor knolls to assuage my growing obsession with Birkett bagging. The first such diversion was to Combe Head, which was actually well worth the extra effort.

The same view from Combe Head.

Beyond Skiddaw we could see the hills of Galloway across the Solway Firth. The sun was pleasant but the wind was bitter and so this stop was short and sweet, which would become standard for the day.

CJ on Combe Head.

Glaramara.

The ridge from Glaramara to Allen Crags yielded a total of five Birketts, the middle three of which were pretty non-descript.

Great Gable and Green Gable.

Langdale Pikes seen over Lingcomb tarns.

Looking back to Glaramara.

Allen Crags summit cairn.  Ill Crag and Great End behind.

Langdale Pikes. Lingmoor. Pike o’Blisco. Coniston Old Man (?). Bowfell.

Allen Crags was particularly cold. By the time we had climbed over shattered boulders to Great End the weather was decidedly changing. To the North there was still plenty of blue sky on show…

  …but to the South the sky was filling with cloud…

Ill Crag, Broad Crag and Scafell Pike from Great End.

Scafell Pike and Broad Crag from Ill Crag.

Upper Eskdale from Ill Crag. Harter Fell prominent in the background. The airy knobble in the centre which looks to be a perfect site for an Inca ruin or somesuch is, I think, Pen – a Birkett.

We had had fabulous views all day – as well as the Galloway Hills to the North we could pick out the hills of the Isle of Mann very clearly – now as we approached Scafell Pike…

…the cloud dropped. It’s 10 years since I last climbed Scafell Pike – I can date it easily because I proposed to TBH whilst we were there. Before that I climbed it with my Mum and Dad and my brother to celebrate my Dad’s sixtieth birthday. Many years ago I climbed it on a glorious day after a high camp on the slopes of Pike O’ Blisco. I’ve seen the view before – but it was still frustrating to miss it when the weather had been so fine.

We followed a bearing from the top – I surprised myself by being quite anxious about my own navigation.

Coming down – note the heavy frost still in the late afternoon. Elsewhere there were large icicles.

My caution was probably completely unnecessary given that there were huge cairns every five yards (or less). When the cloud started to lift again…

  Is that?

We were bang on course.

 

Lingmell!

Great Gable unveiling.

The cloud continued to clear and most peaks reappeared, although I’m not sure that Scafell Pike ever completely cleared.

Lingmell again.

Tiredness was definitely beginning to take hold, but CJ found an energy store for a burst of speed as we climbed Lingmell, a twelfth Birkett and fifth Wainwright of the day.

Lingmell yet again.

I judged that we had enough light to get us through the complex terrain of the Corridor Route so we set off that way.

The top of Piers Gill.

A (frozen) Corridor Route tarn.

We finally arrived at the Wasdale Head Inn shortly after seven and quite some time after dark. In Will Ritson’s bar there were six different real ales on offer – so after our marathon session on the hills would we have the stamina for a marathon session on the ale?

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A Burst of Birketts

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