Walking the Wainwrights in 30 Walks - Walk 2 The Lord's Seat and Wythop Fells

30th January 2016

At the start of each week I like to plan a walk for the forth coming weekend which as of late, never really materialises due to a poor forecast, this subject was touched upon today resulting in some very short term planned walks over winter because lets face it, it's been a wash out. Todays walk; is Walk Two of my Walking the Wainwrights in 30 Walks Project which despite its route being planned for well over a month it only got the green light less than twelve hours previous due to a clear, but stormy day forecasted.

Todays route collects seven Wainwright summits which include five amongst the Lord's Seat Fells and also Ling and Sale Fell found within the Wythop Valley, to collect all seven summits as efficiently as possible would mean the route would have to be planned using two cars one of which would be left on the Whinlatter side and the other, the Wythop. Joining me today is David who throughout this project has offered his company and his car on around half a dozen walks within the campaign.

I realise that to undertake such a route in the midst of winter might raise some eyebrows but, the route is very do-able in reality when presented with a day of dry weather as we had today despite the brutally cold wind chill I couldn't have been more pleased how todays walk turned out.
Wainwright Guide Book Six
The North Western Fells

-Wythop Moss

North is the open valley of Wythop, a place of farms and green pastures, but before the descending slopes reach cultivable levels they are halted at a morass, the remarkable mile-wide Wythop Moss a hopeless, lifeless swamp that can be traversed conveniently only at one place.

Ascent: 3,200 Feet - 976 Meters
Wainwrights: 7, Whinlatter - Barf - Lord's Seat - Broom Fell - Graystones - Ling Fell - Sale Fell
Weather: Feeling Very Wintery, Some Sunny Spells, Strong Winds Across The Summits Highs of 4°C Lows of 3°C Feels Like -10°C
Parking: Using x2 Cars, Wythop Mill and Darling How, Whinlatter
Area: North Western
Miles: 11.6
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 5 Hours 55 Minutes
Route: Darling How - Aiken Plantation - Brown How - Whinlatter - Tarbarrel Moss - Barf - Lord's Seat - Broom Fell - Widow Hause - Graystones - Wythop Moss - Brumston Bridge - Ling Fell - Kelswick Farm - Sale Fell - Wythop Church

Map and Photo Gallery


Looking ahead towards Broom Fell from Darling How 08:30am 4°C

Due to todays walk being a liner we had arranged to meet at 07:45am at Wythop Church, I officially arrived first but due to it still being dark I drove past the Church after realising that I had gone too far, by which time I had no-where to turn the car around other than the junction at Wythop Mill, by the time I arrived back at Wythop Church David had arrived and was kitting up besides his car. We greet as usual with a hand shake noting almost instantly the cold chill brought on more apparent by the wind which howled through the tree tops above our heads, during kit up we decided that should the weather go against us we would end the walk on Graystones and return for the car at Wythop thereafter, a decision that I hoped we wouldn't have to make.

Kitted up I throw my gear into the back of Davids car as we head out towards Wythop Mill picking up the Whinlatter Pass thereafter. By the time we hit the Pass dawn had broke opening up views over Ladyside Pike and Hopegill Head which had a dusting of snow the previous night. We were the first car on the car park as David swung his car in boot facing out so we could collect our gear, with our boots already on all that was left was to shoulder up and add extra layers in the form of hats and gloves which would stay on for the duration of the walk, before leaving another car had pulled up, it was two lads in their twenties who nodded on their 'mornings' as they get one in return.

We strode out leaving the young lads kitting up as the track rounds passing the familiar Darling How Farm where we stopped to read a notice titled 'Stormy Weather' it went onto warn walkers about the possibility of felled trees and their ability to right themselves which came as a surprise! the sign was basically warning people away from any trees that had fallen during the storms although I doubt there wasn't any need for the sign, it's common sense really.

Pausing to look back along the forestry track towards Broom Fell.

Picking our way onto Brown How.
It's only been two years since both myself and David were last here but in that time the young saplings have grown considerably. There are various routes in order to gain Brown How already passing two narrow tracks on route towards the start of a stone wall which as you can imagine, was difficult to spot between the trees and undergrowth. Soon however the wall is spotted as we begin the steep ascent through the woodland.

Looking down on ground gained.
The stone wall helped heaps where at times we could pick our way over any stone that had fallen from the wall, we were now in the snow line which had a majority of hail mixed into it which didn't hinder any progress. We were protected from the wind and with this things started to heat up quite quickly, here zips are zipped down and in Davids case layers are taken away. Despite this being a steep climb we soon approached a distinct null in the fell side which seemed to bottom out slightly, here the wall veers off right as we decided not to follow, instead opting to gain the ridge directly through snow covered heather and gorse bush.

Views over Ullister Hill and the Aiken Plantation from our ascent on Brown How.

In the other direction we find the snow covered summit of Lord's Seat.

Looking back on Graystones and Kirk Fell from Brown How.

We were soon out of the shelter that the trees had been providing and by now were taking on the full extent of the wind chill helped along by strong winds and sudden gust which at times was enough to knock me sideways. From the west the first of many snow and hail showers is about to hit us which causes us to batten up and tie down, the hail that had been lying on the ground was now airborne and hitting us face on at which point the thoughts of being able to finish this walk was rapidly deteriorating and for me, was a low point so soon into the day.

We had no choice other than to perservere towards Brown How summit as gear and clothing flapped violently against the prevailing winds which were blowing in straight off the Irish Sea. We progressed towards the stone shelter found on Brown How summit where thankfully the winds had eased enough so we could at least talk over them, Davids first words as he cracked a smile are 'I think it's managable'

That'll do for me...the last thing I wanted to do was to force someone around a walk in such conditions, Davids enthusiasm was just the thing I needed to hear.

Whinlatter from Brown How.
Despite the wind blowing uncomfortably strong at least now we were able to collect ourselves and even join in some conversation between Brown How and Whinlatter, the topic of conversation to start with was just how brutal it was gaining Brown How, for now however the worst of the wind seems to concentrating on the more exposed areas of the fell, here it's comfortable and the thoughts that had previously entered my head about not being able to complete todays walk are quickly forgotten.

Views over Hobcarton End, Ladyside Pike, Grisedale Pike, Eel Crag, Hopegill Head and Ladyside Pike.

Here pausing to look back on Brown How.
With a little promise in the clouds above.

Grisedale Pike and Hobcarton End seen from Whinlatter summit cairn.
It was noted despite out complaints that it looked much colder over towards the Coledale Fells, we press on.

Crossing the top of Drycloff Gill.
There are many options in order to reach Lord's Seat or Barf summits from Whinlatter, today we chose to cross the top of Drycloff Gill as illustrated in the photo then to pass through the forest which will then lead us onto a wide forestry track before picking up the path towards Lord's Seat, but all that is in a while, first we have to try and stop getting our feet wet during the process.

Passing through the woodland below Ullister Hill.
Despite the top of Drycloff Gill being as boggy and wet as expected we were lucky to keep our feet dry. Once we had passed the top of Drycloff Gill our path rose steadily towards a wooden sty which was layered in ice, after carefully negotiating the sty we strike out through the woodland as the wind rattled through the tree tops above our heads.

Back on the forestry track.
After passing through the woods we opened out onto this forestry track which incidently, is the same track we had left to climb Brown How earlier. We descend slightly towards the bend in the road before picking up the path you see that heads off into the trees.

Looking back up the track.

Familiar territory.
We soon leave the forestry track behind and strike out over a steady ascent which included negotiating a couple of wet areas, one of which wasn't really a bog more of a pool which in some places was a couple of feet deep, David skims round best he can as I opt to cross via a log which had been left, it was only a few inches wide but strong enough to hold my weight, talk about a tight rope crossing it turned into some sort of circus act with me balancing my way over, nevertheless, I managed to keep dry.

Barf comes into view ones the Pined track is left behind.

It made sense to summit Barf first then come back and summit Lord's Seat afterwards which is just over my left shoulder. There was definitely a hint of blue in the skies above but we had to be quick if we wanted to photograph a rare glimpse of the sun as by the time the cameras had been taken out the sun had been obscured by passing cloud again, but when it was out, the sunlight illuminated the snow against the heather just beautifully and at times boosted moral after long periods in the biting winds.

Angels torches over Newlands from Barf summit cairn.

Like most of the summits we would encounter on todays walk summit time was kept to an absolute minimum due to how severe the windchill felt, come on sunshine where are you when we need you!


Lord's Seat from from Barf.
You can just about make out the path we had used after emerging from the woods earlier highlighted by a dusting of snow. I had wondered about the crossing from Barf to Lord's Seat on the account of how boggy it usually is, so much so the walk feels like it can drop a gear, but thankfully most of the boggy areas had semi frozen over and the ones that hadn't, were mostly unavoidable.

Looking back on Barf and a cloud topped Skiddaw during a sunny spell

Lord's Seat summit.

The crossing from Barf went well noting that we hadn't seen anybody since leaving the cars this morning but that was about to change. By the time we reached Lord's Seat summit it had greyed over and we were fully exposed to the strong winds once again, from the wooded area below two walkers approach as David gets out his weather device which monitored a -10°C Wind Chill helped along by 40mph winds, the two walkers were interested in the readings as we strike up conversation on routes, it would seem that they have come up from Whinlatter Visitor Centre and were heading for Barf before returning to Whinlatter, they then ask what's that called? pointing at Broom Fell, we help as much as we can but it was difficult to talk over the wind, they head down towards Barf and that's the last we saw of them.

Please excuse my ignorance but why head out on a walk without knowing your surroundings first? Of course everyone must learn and I'm not expecting anyone to point out Catstye Cam from here but Broom Fell?

I guess we do need those signs we saw earlier after all.

Heading out towards Broom Fell.

We are left exposed once again as we take in the ridge towards Broom Fell as we both remember our last visit here during heavy rain and high winds. I note to David that although my feet are dry they are frozen and starting to feel a tad uncomfortable as I do my best to wiggle my toes around whilst making star shapes with my hands.

I can tell you it was bloody cold but enjoyable all the same as David quite rightly pointed out.

Views back over the ridge towards Lord's Seat.

Broom Fell summit.

Graystones from Broom Fell.
Too cold to stand around, best keep moving if we want to stay warm I guess.

Pausing to look back on Broom Fell before we descend to Widow Hause.

Graystones over Widow Hause.

Broom Fell is descended towards Widow Hause under sunnier skies despite the temperature still well below zero we were both thankful of the protection that the plantation ahead would provide. With Broom Fell behind us we cross Widow Hause passing a large number of sheep no doubt seeking the same protection from the wind as we are.

Once over Widow Hause we start our ascent on Graystones sticking close to the stone wall until we could go no further, we track over heather towards the summit feeling very raw and exposed in the winds once again.

Graystones summit cairn.

Looking back on Lord's Seat and Broom Fell from Graystones.
We had made great time despite the conditions summiting all five Lord's Seat summits in four hours, it was now midday and we were both getting hungry as it was decided that we would eat before crossing Wythop Moss, by doing this we could plot the driest way across right about the same time the sun decided to come out.

Lunch time with views over Wythop Moss, Ling Fell, Burthwaite Heights and Sale Fell.

We descend Graystones via a different route than we had ascended soon finding ourselves looking over a sun soaked Wythop Moss, although, still bone chillingly cold in the shade we set up lunch perched around a large boulder large enough for us to rest against. A stone wall over on the left looks the best option and from there we will pick out any high ground highlighted under the afternoon sun.

With lunch over we strike out alongside the stone wall, it's pretty wet but firm underfoot as we tramp out in search of the 'green bits' these were stretches of grass which offered firm footings. We had first made a 'crows eye' for the stone wall on the flank of Ling Fell but our crossing sent us too far right, in order to retrace we would have to negotiate numerous becks and natural culverts embedded into the moss.

Instead we go with the flow opting to make a diagonal ascent through the heather from right to left of the hill side, all the while avoiding the gorse bushes, soon after we emerge below the summit plateau alongside a narrow path.

If any ascent was going to be on my mind today the ascent on Ling Fell was it, having already collected five summits this ascent was going to pull at tiring muscles yet it couldn't have been further from the truth.

Views over Wythop Moss towards Burnthwaite Heights and Lord's Seat.
David lead the ascent with me close on his boot heels, only stopping once to take this photo we made the summit of Ling Fell in what felt like record time, having looked back at the times of the photos I had taken from the base to summit took just eighteen minutes, no wonder I was out of breath by the time I reached the summit!

Sale Fell from Ling Fell summit trig point.

Ling Fell summit trig point.
Despite the wind still howling across the summit understandably the windchill wasn't as harsh which was more than welcome and of course a talking point. From the summit we decide to make a direct descent which in some places was steep to say the least, it's quite easy on a dry day to forget just how much rain has fallen here over the last two months which explains why the ground underfoot gave away so easily, it certainly was careful footings all the way.

Views over Sale Fell with Binsey in the distance.

Heading for Kelswick Farm.
We could have made a direct ascent on Sale Fell straight from Brumstone Bridge but opted for a more milder ascent that would take us along this narrow lane towards Kelswick Farm.

Kelswick Farm.
I have fond memories of my last visit here oddly enough at this time last year when I seem to remember that the copse of trees had a blanket of Snow Drops and Daffodils growing in it.

The route ahead.
We track alongside the stone wall all the way to the horizon where the path heads left before one final pull towards the summit.

Lord's Seat and Broom Fell as the sun came out.

Distant views over the Ullock Ridge revealing Dodd and Skiddaw from Sale Fell summit.
Feeling pretty battered our summit time was brief due to being exposed to strong winds once again, after a few photos we gave each other 'the look' come on, lets start making our way down.

Views over Embleton from our descent.

On route back to the car with views over the northern tip of Bassenthwaite and Binsey.

Once again we had chosen to make a direct descent, this time however we track through Bracken making the steep descent much more manageable, we speak of how well the day has gone, in particular how things slotted nicely into one another like the crossing of Wythop Moss and how quickly Ling Fell was gained, both of which had been on my mind.

The sun was out for much of the descent and despite the walk being almost over the wind never let us forget just how cold it was, my car is reached and gear is packed into the back as we take the same drive back through Wythop Mill and the Whinlatter Pass exactly as we did this morning this time however both complaining of the tingling feeling in our faces as the heat from the car heater starts to kick in, there is a real feeling of accomplishment here today, after all it's not very often you can take on a route such as this in these conditions and still come away smiling.


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