There were 37 names on this year’s spreadsheet, and Sue and I were doing the cooking for the weekend, so a bit of preparation was needed.
Anyway we deposited half the food with R&J and crammed the rest into the old Peugeot before setting off on a lovely Friday afternoon.
The Birker Fell road from Ulpha yielded some fine views (see above) that necessitated a pause, then it was down to Eskdale Youth Hostel to unload the motor and enjoy a pot of tea in the sunshine with Anne and Andrew, who had both also arrived early.
All 37 gradually arrived, in dribs and drabs, and by 7.30 the majority were tucking into steak and Guinness stew, followed by the ‘whisky cake’ that Joshua liked so much, so here’s a link to the recipe.
37 is rather a large group for just one walk, so it was just as well that there were several separate agendas for Saturday’s perambulations. Some headed quickly up Scafell and beyond; others were satisfied with Scafell on its own, and some small ‘splinters’ went cragging or on the narrow gauge railway.
I couldn’t recall having been up Hard Knott, so with a desire to get back at a reasonable time in order to resume our cooking duties, Sue and I decided on an easy round of 7 ‘Birketts’, including Hard Knott.
[Birketts are the 541 Lakeland summits identified by Bill Birkett as being over 1000 feet in height. He has written a superb guide, available here.]
We duly set off, fortified by the full breakfast produced by our able assistant, Ken, from the foot of Hard Knott pass. Seven others had elected to join us on this low level circuit.
We soon came upon the magnificent and extensive site of Hardknott Roman Fort. The Commandant enjoyed a fine view towards the Scafells from his sumptuous quarters.
It looks as if the Fort was constructed with rather thick cavity walls.
We took lots of photos (see link to slideshow below) before heading on up the pleasant path that leads to the summit of the Hard Knott road pass.
Frogs had been busy hereabouts, with great pools full of fresh spawn.
Two cyclists were just about to set off towards Wrynose on a big 80 mile practice for a forthcoming endurance event. We waved them off and headed up a grassy rake towards Border End, our first Birkett of the day and a spot that enjoys a fine view down Eskdale.
Sadly it was more overcast than expected – not quite the ‘blue-sky’ day we had anticipated, so not so many images.
A self-timed picture was however deemed appropriate at the next summit, our high point of the day, Hard Knott – 549 metres.
The sun briefly illuminated our merry band as we descended towards Yew Bank, our third summit of the day.
Cloud lurked on the arc of higher peaks, from Scafell to Crinkle Crags, that occupied our skyline to the north. A rescue helicopter hovered over swarming humans on the summit of Scafell Pike. We meandered over Yew Bank and down to Lingcove Beck, which was easily crossed.
Lunch was enjoyed in the lee of a huge slab of rock half way up our fourth summit, Throstlehow Crag, from where there was a fine view towards the slightly higher, at 439 metres, craggy summit of our next objective, Scar Lathing. There was nobody else around.
There hadn’t been much rain in recent days, so crossing the River Esk didn’t present any insurmountable difficulties, though Phil’s ‘bouldering’ did produce some impressive splashes.
Andrew conked out and ambled off towards Scale Gill, but for the rest of us two more Birketts beckoned. The sun was even shining as we reached the summit of High Scarth Crag.
Phil’s boulder throwing had tired him out.
After strolling through a deep and spongy bog to our final summit, the rocky knoll of Silverybield, there was a boot inspection. Spot the new ones?
That got us back to the cars around 4 pm, in plenty of time to get to the hostel for tea and cake (and a shower) before cooking duties commenced.
The day had been most enjoyable, covering 15 km, with just 850 metres of ascent, in a bit more than 6 hours. Here’s the route, with the Birketts duly waymarked.
The meal went well. Here, for record purposes, is the menu. I’ll do a separate post with the recipe for the Baked Lemon Pudding that went down so well. For anyone wishing to feed a party of this size, we can commend this menu – everything worked, and most of it could be prepared in advance.
Ken’s invaluable assistance with breakfast (Ken spent many years as a Youth Hostel warden, so he can cook breakfast for 40 with his eyes shut) fuelled us up for a wet Sunday. Some people went home, but at least 20 of us (I don’t think anyone was counting) set off from Eskdale Green to conquer the 231 metre summit of Muncaster Fell. As this substantial hill is neither a ‘Birkett’ nor a ‘Wainwright’, the ‘tickers’ in the group had to content themselves with a ‘Marilyn’.
It was a wet day.
But we made it to the summit.
All apart from Melinda, who felt poorly, made it down, and the ‘New Ownership’ at the King George IV pub didn’t baulk at serving pots of tea and plates of chips.
Here’s our route – 11 km, 400 metres ascent, taking a shade less than 4 hours.
Then we went home.
A great weekend, as always, with better weather than Sue W usually conjures up. Thank you, Sue, for organising it, and thanks also to Tom, who has provided some of the images in the (click here) slideshow, especially the huge moon over Harter Fell.