The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Men…

023 Bar sign
I just love quirky signs!

Or should that be “Where Eagles Dare?”… Eagle Crag lies on the opposite end of the High Raise massif to the Langdale Pikes. Along the top of this high plateau all is fairly undramatic, but at Eagle Crag the high ground comes to a very abrupt end with this impressive buttress overlooking the village of Stonethwaite. Wainwright describes it as one of the steepest climbs in the Lake District and I was about to confirm – not for the first time – that he was right.

033 Eagle Crag
Eagle Crag

Taking the ‘route directe‘ up the north face, I was a little intimidated by the great vertical rock cliffs but thought I could see a way up which would be on grass all the way. Funny how things change when you get close up. I ended up being squeezed over to the left hand side all the time, where a wall prevented further circumnavigation, and had to resort to a little scrambling over some almost vertical, but sound, rocky bits. Having made it to the base of the final buttress I felt that there must be a path somewhere, but couldn’t see it, until I noticed a stile up and to my left, from which – when I drew level – I could see a very welcome path threading its way up towards the top.

070 V steep Eagle Crag
Steeper than it looks!

In a series of exaggerated hairpins this path avoided several rocky shelves (which could easily have been scrambled over) and eventually arrived at the solid rock outcrop of Eagle Crag’s summit, 1,709′ (521 m) above sea level.  My eyes were drawn south to the next big lump – Sergeant’s Crag (1,873′, 571 m) and I set off without much delay.

080 Eagle Crag summit to Sergeants
Looking towards Sergeant’s Crag from the summit of Eagle Crag

It was cloudy but the cloud base was high, so things were nice and clear as I crossed the sometimes boggy half-mile or so before the path started to climb once again. The top of Sergeant’s Crag is quite rocky, and sitting just behind the cairn was a fellow walker who was having a quick breather.

090 Sergeants Crag summit
The summit of Sergeant’s Crag. I would have included the fellow walker but when I saw the photo he was blowing his nose so it felt more decent to crop him off!

High Raise (already visited, in February) dominated the skyline to the south but I was looking for the next objective – Lining Crag – a seemingly unobtrusive projection well below the skyline across the valley. The easiest way was to work around the head of the Stonethwaite Valley, just under the rock scar of Long Crag, cross more boggy ground and pick up a well-cairned path.

100 Lining Crag distant
That’s Lining Crag, the insignificant rocky outcrop on the far side of the valley (but see later…)

I hadn’t realised that this path is actually the high-level section of Wainwright’s famous Coast-to-Coast walk. It leads down to Lining Crag, where I found the last thing I’d expected to see – a group of people. Two Australian couples in fact, who I recognised from breakfast at the Royal Oak Hotel, where they were also staying.

110 Lining Crag summit
Lining Crag summit, sans Antipodeans, looking down Greenup Gill

One of the two ladies was very pleased to see that I was wearing gloves (I suffer from cold hands and it really was not warm!) as she had put gloves on too and felt a bit silly – that is, until she saw me. It was they who explained that they were doing the Coast-to-Coast walk, heading for Grasmere, as was another little family group who I met further down the path a little later (and a very nice path it is too, winding down the valley back towards Stonethwaite). Looking back (something one should so more often, it’s surprising what you would otherwise miss) I realised that from below, Lining Crag looks very much more impressive.

120 Lining Crag from below
A picture’s worth a thousand words. Lining Crag from below

My plan was now to drop down almost to Stonethwaite before heading back UP to Grange Fell. The logic behind this was that although I could stay on high ground, thus avoiding a descent and subsequent ascent, I would end up visiting two or three summits (Ullscarf plus two on Coldbarrow Fell) twice, something I wasn’t keen on doing.

040 Stonethwaite
Stonethwaite (I made a quick detour for a spot of lunch (soup and a roll with extra bread)

Well, you shouldn’t always follow logic. It was a long, long descent, followed, inevitably, by a long ascent made more cruel by its steepness, albeit on a pitched path through the woods on the side of Stonethwaite Fell.  Cuckoos, Redstarts, Woodpeckers and Tree Pipits were all in evidence as well as the more common woodland birds, but I was still ruing the decision to put so much up and down into the day’s route!

130 Tarn on Grange Fell
Dock Tarn on Stonethwaite Fell. Or Watendlath Fell, I can’t tell where one starts and the other finishes!
141 Great Crag summit Stonethwaite
The top (definitely) of Great Crag, (Stonethwaite)

Still, it’s a pleasant path through rocks and heather and past Dock Tarn once you’re on top, and I soon found myself at the summit of Great Crag (1,444′, 440 m), talking to a couple who were debating whether this, or the nearby top just to the north, was the correct fell top. I was happy to agree with AW and others that this was indeed the higher of the two, then set off on the 1.5 kilometre trek to the highest point on next-door Grange Fell – Brund Fell, at 1,363′ (415 m)

150 To Brund Fell
Brund Fell – skyline, far left

Navigation isn’t easy on Grange Fell – I remember having problems last time I was here, and resolved to take great care.  Finding the rocky outcrop of Brund Fell wasn’t too much of a challenge, but from here the paths on the map don’t seem to correspond to those on the ground, so things became a little trickier.

170 Kings How summit Derwentwater
Derwentwater from the summit of King’s How

I was heading for King’s How (1,286′, 392 m) – and now for a bit of history: Grange Fell is owned by the National Trust and was one of its first acquisitions in the Lake District in 1910; the fell was purchased by public subscription as a memorial to King Edward VII at the bequest of the King’s sister Princess Louise, who then was President of the Trust. The viewpoint of King’s How was named after the King as a memorial, and a commemorative slate plaque is situated just below the summit. Not having had time to do this research before I got there, I didn’t look for the plaque when I eventually reached the summit, and am grateful to Google Images for the photo shown here.

175 Kings How Plaque

After an easy descent and half-mile walk along the road I was back at the Royal Oak, more tired than I’d expected (too much up and down!) and ready for a shower and a pint. The Royal Oak is one of three very welcome supporters of this challenge – I can thoroughly recommend them so please stay there if you’re planning a sojourn to the Lake District.

Today’s statistics:

6 summits; 12.9 miles (20.8 km); 3,387′ (1,032 m) of ascent
Total now 177 summits, 245 miles (394 km); 74,103′  (22571 m).

Route day 26

Map 177

Day 25 (continued) – High Rigg and Castle Rock

Gorse across the valley on Clough Head

After climbing the six Birkett summits on Blencathra and a coffee at the pub in Scales, I drove the short distance to the Youth Centre at St Johns in the Vale, parked in the little church car park and trudged up the fell behind.

510 Youth Centre

The sun had disappeared, to be replaced by grey skies, and the wind was chilly. Things now get a little confusing: the first (Birkett) summit is also a Wainwright: AW calls it High Rigg, whilst BB calls it Naddle Fell. Whatever, it’s 1,171′ (357 m) high and I got to the top before carrying on towards…

520 Naddle Fell summit
Naddle Fell summit on High Rigg – Blencathra beyond

High Rigg (Birkett) as named by Bill Birkett, but not the same as AW’s.

540 High RIgg Thirlmere
High Rigg (Birkett) summit, looking to Thirlmere

Still confused? I don’t blame you. The grassy top with a tiny cairn at 1,125′ (343 m) was soon left behind as I headed down to a damp hollow and passed between higher ground and the rocky scar of Moss Crag.

550 Bog-bean

Past a small tarn full of Bog-bean, a lovely white flower whose petals seem to have frayed, and then along a long,  poorly-defined ridge to the lumpy knoll of Wren Crag, one of the lowest Birketts at 1,020′ (311 m). Once more I had to make my own little cairn in order to leave a summit card!

560 Wren Crag summit Blencathra
Wren Crag summit (+ Blencathra again)

Looking across the valley, I could see Castle Rock (or to give it its full name, Castle Rock of Triermain) – and it looked very steep and very rocky! Looking at the BMC website there are rock climbs there with names like Agony, Ecstasy, Green Eggs & Ham, and Rigor Mortis. I decided to steer well clear of such delights!

565 To Castle Rock
Castle Rock of Triermain

I found the little path which headed from the Legburthwaite car park and crossed the road, then headed over a stile, where there was a Public Notice, aimed, it must be said, mainly at rock climbers. It stated that a large crack had appeared in the Overhanging Buttress; that the crack is growing; and that it should not be climbed upon (I wasn’t planning to), nor should anyone walk under the north face. Thinking the worst, I wondered whether going anywhere near the rock would involve some life-threatening risk: it was only when I got back that I found that the problem has been there since 2011 (although, to be fair, the crack is still growing…)

570 Purple flowers
Purple Saxifrage? Or something else?

After crossing the ‘canaleta’ (see my report on the Dodds a few weeks ago) things got steep. Very steep. Breathlessly steep. I think the flowers here (see photo) are Purple Saxifrage – perhaps someone reading this can confirm one way or the other.  I walked (vertically crawled is a better description) up the SOUTH side and finally reached the rocky top at 1,112′ (339 m), which commanded a great view north, west and south.

580 Castle Rock summit
Castle Rock summit
590 Castle Rock look down
I told you it was steep!

And then, after descending to a ruined wall, I walked under the NORTH side, keeping a careful eye on the crag in the hope that some hundred-ton boulder would not at that moment break free and squish me (it didn’t). The descent was equally steep but I was soon back at the car park, from where it was a delightful two mile ramble back to the Youth Centre.

600 Castle Rock Overhanging Buttress
The big crack is at the top left somewhere – I didn’t stop to explore it…

The next two nights’ accommodation were provided for the 542in2016 Challenge by Nuala and Susan at the Royal Oak Hotel in Rosthwaite, Borrowdale, a really comfortable, traditional and welcoming hotel. Not for lovers of boutique hotels, big TVs etc, but cosy – with great food, and a wonderful bar which, not being big enough, is always conducive to conversation with the other guests. Nuala is a member of the Keswick Mountain Rescue Team.  A group of men from Hull was there on their annual foray to Lakeland: a little noisy, naturally, but very friendly and affable – they called themselves ‘The Hullingdon Club’ (which is where any likeness to David Cameron, George Osborne and Boris Johnson ended) and before I left they handed me a very generous donation for Cancer Research UK – thank you guys! (Who said Yorkshiremen were careful with their money?)

620 Royal Oak
The Royal Oak at Rosthwatie in Borrowdale

The day’s statistics then: 10 summits; 14.0 miles (22.5 km); 3,854′ (1,174 m) climbed. Total so far are now 171 summits; 232  miles walked (373 km) and 70,716′ climbed (21,539 m).  Total pledged / already donated for Cancer Research UK = £23,640.

Not far from that magic figure of £25,000 – if you can help by sharing this with friends and colleagues, please do – the more the merrier!

Map Blencathra

Map High Rigg

Big Beautiful Blencathra – Day 25

125 Blencathra sheep lamb

On Tuesday I headed for Blencathra, a mountain that’s recently been on the market for £1.75m: the owner, the Earl of Lonsdale, needed to sell something to pay inheritance tax. Apparently he’s ended up selling a few works of art instead as no-one could raise the funds. I think if I needed to cash something in for a few million, I’d rather sell art than a mountain. It’s all incredibly over-hyped, value-wise, and you can’t walk on a Rembrandt or a Picasso – not really.

005 Scales village
Scales Village

Another gorgeous morning with wall-to-wall blue skies. I parked just off the A66 in the tiny village of Scales, east of Keswick, and had only a few metres to walk along the roadside cycle track before heading away on a footpath up the fell side. During those few metres fellow Clitheronian and bike club member John Keighley passed by in his lorry – an amazing coincidence.

015 View from Scales Fell
Scafell Pike and Great Gable in the distance, under the larger fluffy cloud

The path wound quite steeply up through bracken and heather above Mousthwaite Comb, and after seeing a Slow Worm on Sunday I kept my eyes peeled for Adders, as the habitat and weather seemed just right – but I was out of luck. I still haven’t seen a live Adder in this country. I reached the path coming from Souther Fell (which I did back in mid-March) and continued up the shoulder of Blencathra, or Saddleback as it is sometimes known.

030 Scales Fell summit
Looking south from the summit of Scales Fell

Blencathra is a very fine mountain, well-proportioned and buttressed on its southern side by big, beefy, steep-sided fells. From right to left they are Scales Fell, Doddick Fell, Halls Fell, Gategill Fell and Blease Fell and together they create a quite beautiful aspect. Right to left (east to west) was the way I was going, so the first top, at 2,238′ (682 m) was that of Scales Fell. From here the highest point (Hallsfell Top) was in full view but still a long way off.

035 Scales Tarn
Scales Tarn, with the Sharp Edge ridge just showing on the left of the photo and Bannerdale Crags in the background

Doddick Fell Top (2,434, 742 m) was next, just a minor feature underfoot but more obvious from a distance, and next the path skirted the top of one of the finest corries, cirques, or cwms, around, that of Scales Tarn – a huge, deep bowl, carved by ice, bounded by the ridge I was on to the south and the notorious Sharp Edge to the north.

050 Halls Fell
Looking back to Doddick Fell Top
055 Blencathra summit - Halls Fell
Hallsfell Top, the highest point of Blencathra

A few other walkers were already around on the which path zigzags up to the highest point of the mountain, Hallsfell Top on Blencathra (2,847′, 868 m), where there is another odd OS trigpoint set in the ground, rather like the one on Knipe Scar.

075 Atkinson Pike Cross
Perhaps Mr Atkinson built this cross…

On the short detour north to Atkinson Pike (the top of Foule Crag above Sharp Edge, 2,772′ (845 m) there is an unusual cross laid out on the turf, about 5 or 6 metres long and formed out of large white stones. A great spot for the air ambulance to land I would guess – unmissable from the air! Wainwright says that a Mr Robinson carried all the stones up on many many visits to the top, over 50 years ago.

085 To Gategill Fell Top
Looking to Gategill Fell Top

I contoured back just below the main summit and rejoined the ridge path which rises after a col to Gategill Fell Top (2,792′, 851 m). The views looking south down the steep fell sides were as breathtaking here as they’d been since the top of Scales Fell. There’s a real sense of being on a big mountain. I was going to say a big brute of a mountain but really, Blencathra is so elegant that brute is completely the wrong word!

095 Derwentwater from Gategill
At the summit of Gategill Fell Top with Derwentwater beyond

The last of six summits was Knowe Crags at the top of Blease Fell, 2,638′ (804 m) above sea level. From here the path descended quite steeply, continuing west at first. I met a couple on their way up who asked if they had much further to go. I suggested they look out for one of my summit cards and later in the day was very pleased to receive a photo of them both at the top of Gategill Fell, card in hand – so thank you Hannah and Ash (and the dog!)

115 Blease Fell summit to Derwentwater
Derwentwater, getting closer, from the top of Blease Fell

Eventually the path swings south, then joins another running east along the base of the fell, just above the intake wall for much of the way, crossing the streams which come off the mountain and divide the separate fells so decisively. There’s still a lot of evidence of the winter floods, in the form of huge fans of rocks and boulders – a reminder that will last for years, I’m sure.

140 Doddick Gill
Doddick Gill
130 Stile
This stile can’t have been designed to stop the sheep climbing over, because they can simply go through the hole in the wall (when the mesh isn’t there…)

At Gategill the farmer was gathering his sheep, blocking the path. I checked that I was OK to skirt around to one side and admired his two dogs as they kept the ewes and their lambs just where he wanted them. The path takes a cruel twist after crossing Doddick Beck, with a really steep rise over a shoulder – a far from welcome climb when your legs are ready for a nice rest!

145 Scaley Beck
Scaley Beck

I was back at the car just after 1.00, so looked at the map and decided to head for the nearby St John’s in the Vale and walk the ridge south to Legburthwaite, ‘bagging’ three more summits on the ridge and a fourth, the strangely-named Castle Rock of Triermain (a rock-climbers’ playground) on the way back. But I’ll leave the afternoon’s walk for the next chapter of this blog – I’ll add the summary details, route map etc, to that blog when it’s done.

By the way, the number of pledges are getting close to my target of £25,000. If you can persuade a friend, relative or colleague to offer their support too, we could reach that target – and then keep going!

Reaching New Heights on Helvellyn


190 Lower Man.03
Thirlmere from Lower Man on Helvellyn

Sunday saw the first summit over 3,000′ (two Birketts over 3,000′ in fact) and eleven new tops overall. For company I had my frequent companion Ian Hardy, together with Meg, who is definitely a Flat Coat Retriever (I think I’ve got it right at last!). Glenridding village saw some of the worst winter flooding in the entire Lake District, and remedial work is still continuing.  Glenridding Beck looks a bit like a bomb site, but the village itself is otherwise back to normal and certainly open for business.

020 Ullswater from Glenridding Dodd.34
Ullswater from Glenridding Dodd. I think the trees have grown since I was last here seven years ago!

Our first summit, Glenridding Dodd (1,450′, 442 m), was reached after a steep climb of 1,000′ and enjoys a great view of nearby Ullswater from its heather-clad summit. After descending back to the unnamed col, we climbed a very pleasant rocky path south of the crags which form Heron Pike (2,008′, 612 m), where I was surprised to find a heavy steel bar, bearing the capital letter ‘M’ which was presumably once concreted in to the stone but is now loose – no-one has walked off with it (though its weight would make it a bit of an encumbrance!)

030 Heron Pike Ullswater.52
Heron Pike – not the vertical steel bar in the distance

It was an easier walk to the slightly higher summit of Sheffield Pike (2,215′, 675 m), this time with a stone inscribed with original initials plus later graffiti. All three summits so far enjoy magnificent views to Ullswater, the district’s second-largest lake.

040 Sheffield Pike Ullswater.47
More summit-cairn furniture on Sheffield Pike and another cracking view of Ullswater
050 Greenside Mine.54
Strange patterns at the old Greenside Mine

Just before setting off again, we were passed by a runner. By the time we’d reached Nick Head, a descent of some 300′, he was but a tiny figure in the distance. The disused Greenside quarry looks strangely patterned from here, almost like the Palm Islands of Dubai, but not quite as warm. The green path headed straight up the shoulder in front of us, close to a disused quarry to its left.  We skirted the crags above Glencoynedale (another fine view here) and headed for the distant, appropriately-named Birkett Fell (2,378′, 725 m).

060 Glencoynedale.56
070 Birkett Fell summit.00
The plaque reads ‘Birkett Fell’

The cairn on Birkett Fell is a long way from the highest point, and has a stone plaque set in it. Perhaps someone can explain the history of who this particular Birkett was, and why the cairn is where it is.

090 Hart side summits.51
Hart Side – but which cairn is higher?

Easy strolls to Hart Side (2,481′, 756 m) and White Stones on Green Side (2,608, 795 m) followed, each top having a confusing array of cairns with the remarkable optical effect that whichever one you were standing by, the others looked higher. It could be my eyesight, of course.

100 White Stones Ian Meg.34
Ian and Meg at the top of White Stones on Green Side

It was now a quarter of a mile to Sticks Pass, where I had last been when I climbed the Dodds. On that day I approached from the West and turned left, whilst today I approached from the East and turned left, both paths not quite crossing! As we climbed towards Raise (2,897′, 883 m) we felt we’d joined a motorway, with large numbers of walkers and not a few mountain bikers, with whom we stopped to discuss their bikes. They didn’t look cheap.

120 Raise summit.12

Raise has quite a rocky top and a fine cairn of rough stone. The views in all directions were good, and about to get better as we dropped down slightly and then headed up the good wide path to White Side (2,832′, 863 m) where the summit cairn resembles the remains of an old stone wall. Meg was enjoying herself, making the acquaintance of several dogs who seemed equally pleased to meet her.  Views opened up of Bassenthwaite and Thirlmere as well as Ullswater and the hills we’d just climbed.

140 White Side summit Bassenthwaite.16
White Side. Skiddaw and Bassenthwaite beyond
160 To Lower Man.24
The climb ahead to Helvellyn Lower Man

A big climb followed to Lower Man on Helvellyn (3,033′, 925 m) the first foray above 3,000′ on this year’s challenge. The remaining stretch to the summit of Helvellyn itself (3,118′, 950 m) was an easy promenade with great views down to Swirral Edge and Red Tarn. And it felt like a promenade too, with dozens of Sunday hikers out on the fell, enjoying the fine weather. One party included several members wearing hi-viz yellow jackets, which seemed a bit TOO bright!

210 Sunday crowds on Helvellyn.42
Sunday crowds on Helvellyn
230 Helvellyn shelter.33
The famous summit wind shelter

Swirral Edge can be a dangerous place in icy and (or) windy conditions, and there had been a couple of serious accidents earlier in the year, but today it really held no threat – some books suggest that the exposure calls for a head for heights, making me wonder if the authors have actually been there. The worst problem was oncoming traffic!

270 Swirral Edge.16
Looking down Swirral Edge. The sharp top of Catsty Cam ahead, Red Tarn on the right

At the slight col where the path splits – one going down to Red Tarn, the other up to Catsty Cam, I could hear a Whitethroat singing somewhere below, even though I could only spot one or two gorse bushes that were likely to be its home. The easy climb to the day’s last summit at 2,919′ (890 m) led us to a neat little rocky top – number 11 for today – with a stony descent down the East nose to a path which descended steadily to Glenridding.

300 Helvellyn from Catstycam.20
Looking back to Red Tarn, Helvellyn and Swirral Edge from the top of Catsty Cam

It was Ian who spotted the Slow Worm on the concrete track just after Bell Cottage and the old mine working buildings, some of which have now been converted to hostel accommodation. Basking in the warm sunshine, it didn’t seem too concerned as I prodded it ever-so-gently – more to check that it was alive than anything.

320 Slow Worm.43
A photo for the herpetologists to enjoy

Back at Glenridding I popped in to the village store for a refreshing pint of milk and couldn’t help noticing the irony of a young boy, out with his mum, wearing a No 7 Ronaldo football shirt. A sporting type, you might think, but at around 5’2″ the lad must have been at least 10 stone, and would definitely have benefitted from a decent walk rather than the large ice cream he was demolishing.

So, today’s walk was 12.6 miles (20.3 km) with 4,064′ (1,238 m) of climbing. Total so far 218 miles (350 km) and 66,862′ (20.365 m) of climbing. 161 summits climbed, leaving 381 to go. I’m hoping to spend three days in the Lake District this week, so that by July I’ll start to get ahead of the calendar. I hope!

Helvellyn Route

Map 161

Please comment if you have anything you want to say about this blog, and feel free to share with friends. Let’s not forget that our aim is to help Cancer Research UK so that together we will beat cancer sooner.


Heading through the Coniston clouds to 150

070 Goats Water.23
Goat’s Water, below Dow Crag (on the R)

After yet another break I’ve only got one free day this week (well, I could perhaps have had two, but yesterday I was full of a cold so stayed at home instead). So it was off to Coniston, to drive up the very steep and narrow Walna Scar Road, park in the old quarry, and head up to Dow Crag.

050 Walna Scar .02
The Walna Scar Road

Despite the good forecast there was a lot of low cloud, covering the tops of Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag, which loomed ominously above Goat’s Water, reached after a straightforward climb up a pleasant pitched path.

060 Goats Water Dow Crag.27
Looking towards the top of Dow Crag (with Easy Gully and Great Gully creating huge defiles in the rock buttress)

The last quarter of a mile from Goat’s Hause was in cloud with very little visibility, but there were no problems route-finding. The summit of Dow Crag (2,554′, 778 m) is a rather satisfactory big rock outcrop, overlooking a sheer drop to Goat’s Water 250 metres below – at least the restricted visibility reduced the chances of acrophobia!

080 Dow Crag summit.20
The summit of Dow Crag is a big rocky outcrop

I made my way to the next two summits – Buck Pike (2,441′, 744 m) and Brown Pike (2,237′, 682 m) more by feel than sight. They’re quite obvious, separate tops, especially when viewed from Coniston Old Man.

090 Dow Crag Gully.29
Don’t look down! The top of Easy Gully (I think it’s Easy Gully…)

The top of Brown Pike isn’t far from Walna Scar Road (don’t let the word ‘road’ fool you – erosion over the years means that there are places which no vehicle can possibly negotiate). The SW side of the ‘road’ is very different in nature – you suddenly go from rocky, craggy mountains and stone paths to gentle slopes and grass.

100 Walna Crag.19
All it needs is a roundabout. Or at least a signpost! Walna Scar beyond

The summit of Walna Scar isn’t much lower than Brown Pike, at 2,037′ (621 m) and has a poor effort for a cairn at the top. I heard a Cuckoo in the distance, another reminder of Spring after all the Wheatears and singing Meadow Pipits.

120 Dotterel.44
A female Dotterel – intermediate in size between a Blackbird and a Collared Dove, related to the Lapwing. Apologies for the poor photo quality.

Still in cloud I found the summit of White Pike (1,962′, 598 m) and headed back on myself to reach White Maiden (1,995′, 608 m) which I’d deliberately by-passed, when I saw a bird fly and land a few yards in front of me. Thinking it was a Golden Plover I thought I’d try to get nearer, and found it was a Dotterel! They’re much less common relatives of the Plover, summer visitors which stop off on grassy fell-tops on their way North from Africa to the Highlands and Scandinavia. Unusually, the plumage of the female is gaudier than the male, and the male incubates the eggs too. A kind of ornithological women’s lib. I couldn’t get a good photo but at least I got something.

140 High Pike Haw.12
High Pike Haw

From White Maiden the paths disappeared and it was a question of making my own way over sometimes rough ground to High Pike Haw, a much lower top than the rest at 1,161′ (354 m) but quite a distinctive knobbly-rocky protuberance.

150 Slate works.18

The path back to the car (if you could call it a path) took me past an old slate quarry and over Torver Beck, where I met the first human being I’d seen all day – a gentleman from Southport by the name of Martin Connard, who gave me a fiver for Cancer Research – very welcome as he’d never met me before.

Quite an early finish. 8.48 miles (13.64 km) and 2,200′ (670 m) of climbing. 150 summits now in the bag. Now for another busy week elsewhere (four! speaking engagements and a car rally) after which, even with the demands of the Ribble Valley Ride cycle sportive, I should start to have more time to tramp the fells. And after 12 June, LOTS more time. Better get some 10p’s ready!

Dow Crag Route

150 Map