It’s still Monday 10 October. Duncan and Emma headed for home, whilst I turned left at Newby Bridge and headed to the Gummer’s How car park, having in mind the two Birketts of Gummer’s How (a popular viewpoint) and Birch Fell.
My good friend Howard Blackburn had only a few days before sent me a message to say that he’d taken his new hip to the top of Gummer’s How, presumably to break it in, so to speak. I’d replied by asking him if he’d continued to the nearby top of Birch Fell, to which the answer was no. If I’d known what Birch Fell was like, I wouldn’t have bothered asking. All will become clear as you continue reading…
The path to the summit of Gummer’s How (1,054′, 321 m) is very popular and entirely straightforward. I guess hundreds of tourists do it every day, to be rewarded with an attractive view of Windermere when they reach the top.
There’s a stone trig point and a few cows thrown in to make it a very pleasant scene.
Looking to the north-east one I could see the adjacent Birch Fell less than half a mile away. The fact that there were trees all the way across the top didn’t register at that point…
After a short descent and negotiating a small marshy area, I started to climb back up by an old wall, to find that a lot of the larch trees had fallen, blocking the way. The next quarter of a mile may as well have been five miles! It was a case of trying to find a way through, past, over or under fallen trees, roots, branches and general detritus, whilst at the same time managing a generally upward direction.
My hair, down my back, inside my boots – everywhere – was getting filled with pine needles and twigs. Eventually I reached a grassy hummock next to yet another larch tree: I couldn’t see any higher ground and the GPS said I was at the top, at 1,043′ (318 m). No view, no sense of being on top of anything, just trees – upright and horizontal – all around.
I was quite ready to get away from this awful place, but I now realised how Hansel and Gretel felt, as the way back was anything but clear. I thought I was retracing my steps but clearly wasn’t, as yet again one obstruction after another barred the way. Finally, and with a great sense of relief, I reached open ground where I could head back, via Gummer’s How again, to the good path and the car park. If you’re in the vicinity by all means visit the charming top of Gummer’s How. Don’t bother with Birch Fell unless you absolutely must!
As promised, the statistics: 7 summits today, total now 529 (13 to go); mileage for the two walks, 8.34 (13.42 km); height climbed 2613′ (796 m). Total mileage for the Challenge 728 miles (1,171 km) and total ascent 217,900′ (66,375 m).
Next walk: Friday 21 October – 4 summits N of Wastwater (see elsewhere on the website for details).