Today I persuaded Julie to accompany me. The prospect of a decent forecast and some Spring snow perhaps swung it. Jet did not need any persuasion. The plan was for two quick(ish) walks followed by a longer circuit in the northern Lakes.
First up was Binsey, a detached Fell at 447m (1,467ft) that lies a little to the north east of Cockermouth. Because it is detached it has great all round views. It is another one of those hills were a great return in views is achieved for modest effort in the climb. On this occasion the sprinkling of snow added a certain grandeur to the views though, as you will see from the progression of the photos, the snow was gradually beaten by the sun.
There is room to park four or five cars at the start of the track on the south east side of the hill. The starting point of around 260m (853ft) gives a helpful uplift as well. It is really a green way all the way to the top.
The views south were dominated by Skiddaw and the less exciting side of Blencathra. The top was reached in around 35 minutes. It was chilly on top but the air was relatively still.
After a brief stop there looking at the grand views to the Irish Sea, the Solway Firth and Scotland and to the fells behind Skiddaw and Blencathra we romped back down to the car in 15 minutes for the short drive to Watch Hill which rises above Cockermouth itself.
We started our ascent from the north, starting along the bridleway at point 102 (on the 1:25000 OS map – NY162329) from where there was a good view back to Binsey.
Watch Hill is lower at 253m (833ft) but somewhat more complicated to navigate. There was ample parking at the start.
We first followed the obvious track (which is also a bridleway) and in just over a kilometre took the second forest track back into the forest as the bridleway emerged from the forest (the first track would have been better and was our return route). We found a circuitous way to the southern edge of the forest about 500m to the west of the summit. There we followed the wall and popped up to the top of the ground within the first 250m contour ring.
From here Skiddaw was looking positively alpine.
We then continued to the high point just outside the forest. Here we had a bite to eat by the stile into the forest and then bashed about in some woodland to find some equally high ground there (GPS showed 259m in both places).
Descending we went due north following a wet mountain bike trail to the forest road, went east for a couple of 100m and, as the trees were well spaced, then took a bee line north to cut out the road loop. We then went west to the junction with the bridleway and the outward route. It sounds complicated but wasn’t really.
Finally, there was a short drive back along the A66 towards Keswick alongside Bassenthwaite Lake (that was looking very blue) to Braithwaite and then over the Whinlatter Pass to the parking at Darling How. Here the principal objective was Lord’s Seat but a circuit could be made to include Barf, Broom Fell and Graystones.
Barf has a nice view over Bassenthwaite Lake.
So we started along the private road, initially missed the turn off of the public footpath towards Lord’s Seat (my excuse being that I was using a 30 year old map and the outline of the forestry had changed!), retraced our steps, then climbed steeply up often wet ground behind the trees crossing over two stiles.
Julie was starting to toil at this point so Jet and I went on ahead with a view to meeting her on Lord’s Seat (the Marilyn on the circuit – 552m/1,811ft). In the meantime, Jet and I skirted about 20m below the top of Lord’s Seat and descended down to the col with Barf. Flippers would have been appropriate footwear for this section as it was so wet. From the col there is just a 40m (125ft) ascent to the top which is at 469m (1,539ft).
Indeed the views down to Bassenthwaite Lake and over to Keswick were good. Skiddaw had now lost much of its snow.
Now I had to retrace my steps back up to Lord’s Seat from where I had lost a lot of height. I had a quick bite to eat to give me some energy for the climb ahead (just shy of 150m/500ft).
I was up in no time having navigated the soggy route. Julie was trying unsuccessfully to shelter from the cool wind that had developed. A couple took our photo with Skiddaw behind.
It was not really a place to hang around despite the sunshine. Julie would return the way we had ascended and I would continue with the round.
It only took 15 minutes to reach Broom Fell. I passed father and son who were going the other way and who ignored my cheery “hello”. I looked down to my left to see if I could spot Julie but could not (though she told me later that she could see Jet and me on the skyline).
This is the view from Broom Fell toward Helvellyn.
It took a bit longer to reach Graystones (35 minutes). Here it is from the upper slopes of Broom Fell.
There was a drop of over 100m/330ft to the interestingly named Widow Hause before a short but initially steep climb up to Graystones. Graystones has two tops – one is the Wainwright at 452m/1,483m and the other at 456m/1,496ft is a couple of hundred metres to the south east and is the true top.
Here is a view from the Wainwright (with Skiddaw in the distance).
And another looking towards Grisedale Pike.
And here is one from the “true” top looking back to the Wainwright (and a distant Solway Firth).
From here there was a short steep drop down the southern nose of Graystones. I took a left turn into the forest – probably too high up, but there was an inviting stile – and ended up battling my way through some trees before emerging back on the Darling How road 400m from the car. I arrived about 20 minutes after Julie.
This was a good walk where I passed just 5 people in total – so quiet in Lake District terms! That just leaves three Lake District Marilyns for me to do.