A Greendale Round

22nd April 2011

April for me is a bad month, I dread looking at the calendar knowing I have plans for most of its weekends & deep down there’s  a kick back in my heart knowing for most of its weekends year on year I am otherwise engaged.

This is not all as bad as it sounds, I had one important game to attend being Blackpool V Wigan at Bloomfield Road, we got the much needed & much deserved points we had hoped for & for at least one more weekend Wigan Athletic were staying in the Prem, my other weekends were spent toasting (did I just say toasting) what I really meant was drinking ones  self to oblivion on the expense of a good friends 37th birthday knowing that now, me myself is closing in on 37 and that  my heart is in the fells and not twentieth in the queue for a fat busting kebab & a taxi at nought a clock just because I cant keep up with the rest of them.

All month my head has been in the fells, yet I have been elsewhere,

Now it is again, Paul’s time.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Western Fells

When the organisers of a recent mountain race selected the top of Seatallan as a check-point, some of the contestants confessed that they had never before heard of the fell, and it is probably true to say that the name in not generally known to walkers who have not yet based there activities on Wasdale Head.

Seatallan, formally known as Seat Allan, forms a steep western wall to the quite valley of Nether Beck for much its length, exhibiting there to a rocky slope above which the summit rises in easier gradients to a graceful cone. Northwards, the curve of the skyline, after a sharp initial  fall,  sweeps up to the more bulky Haycock; southwards are the two subsidiary heights of Middle Fell and Buckbarrow, both craggy, arresting of the decline of the ground to Wastwater.



Ascent: 2,500 Feet, 747 Meters
Wainwrights: 5, Buckbarrow, Seatallan, Haycock, Caw Fell & Middle Fell.
Weather: Sunshine & Blue Skies, Very Gusty On Tops, Highs Of 24° Lows Of 19°
Parking: Road Side Parking Nether Wasdale
Area: Western
Miles: 10.7
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Most definitely Britain’s favourite view.

LtoR  Yewbarrow, Kirk Fell, Great Gable & Lingmell taken from the shoreline of Wastwater.

Today me & my walking pal Tim had teamed up for this Good Friday walk as always – it had been arranged a good few weeks in advance. The Western Fells for me are just a small stretch away from being completed in that out of the 33 Wainwright  Fells I have only 7 yet to summit, this is not the case for Tim as he practically cut his teeth on these fells as a teenager. With the weather being so dry & humid as of late hydration was a major concern, carrying 4 Ltr’s each in my case & keeping my pack to a minimum weight in that nothing was packed unless absolute necessary just to ease the weight situation, we left Wigan at a dazed sleep deprived 5:30 am, stopping only as we arrived at the shores of Wastwater to get a few snaps before the crowds arrived, What happened next as we drove the mile or so into Nether Wasdale to our starting point practically changed my life in a mere few moments.


Joss Naylor MBE

We had the honour & privilege of meeting one of England’s greatest fell runner’s of all time out for a morning stroll with his dogs.

His accolade proceeds any sportsman of his era and that are my only words: If you are unaware of Joss Naylors  achievements  please take the time to read below:

  • 1971: 61 peaks in 23h37m
  • 1972: 63 peaks in 23h35m
  • 1975: 72 peaks, claimed to involve over 100 miles and about 38,000 feet of ascent in 23h20m

His other fell running achievements include:

  • 1973: The Welsh 3OO0s – the 14 peaks of Snowdonia in 4h46m
  • 1974: The Pennine Way: 3 days and 4 hours
  • 1983: The Lakes, Meres and Waters circuit of 105 miles in 19h20m
  • 1986: (age 50) completed the Wainwrights in 7 days
  • 1997: (age 60) ran 60 Lakeland fell tops in 36 hours
  • 2006: (age 70) ran 70 Lakeland fell tops, covering more than 50 miles and ascending more than 25,000 feet, in under 21 hours.



Now aged 75 years & still living in the Nether Wasdale where he was born this humble sheep farmer took the time to have a photograph taken with us & shared some Smalltalk with of whom he revered to us as  ‘southerners’ Where are you from Joss asked? I replied Wigan- Wigan? he said oh I like Billy Boston (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Billy_Boston) I guess living so far up north everyone is a southerner, so many questions & with fear of looking stupid which one do I ask?

I didn’t ask much, I was still taken back: I asked how he was & he replied he was fine except for the bike accident, lifting his elbow to show us the lack of skin still left there, Mountain Bike I asked? no-no road bike I came off & damaged my hand elbow & face, he was on the mend indeed, I spent time patting one of Joss’s sheep dogs ‘chance’ I remember this particular dog  when she was a pup from an old photo, It wasn’t long before we got on the subject of Joss’s stone walls, he pointed at one & said ‘see the moss about two layers down’ I’ve built them up another two layers’ why is that we asked? because, just to get rid of all the stone, no wonder Joss is also revered to as Iron Man.


We then got onto the subject of why we was here & Buckbarrow & our intended route for the day, well Joss said: You can leave your car at the side of my farm on the grass there, follow Greendale Gill: the path bends right & then left taking you to the summit, then Cat Bields & Seatallan, don’t head up Haycock, flank it & head for Caw Fell & then on your return summit Haycock then Middle Fell.

We parted with a joke on our behalf, Joss asked us bluntly, Wainwrights? yes we replied, I did them in 7 days one book at a time.. that is one book per day! words cannot describe the way I felt when he uttered those 11 words. We of course knew this but to meet the man in person left me speechless.

Thank you Joss for your time & advice I said, it was so nice to meet you (knees still wobbling) me & Tim then headed for the path alongside Greendale Gill not believing this Lakeland Legend had just been before our eyes.



Buckbarrow from the start of the walk.


Looking deep into Greendale Gill & Middle Fell our ascent route.


Buckbarrow’s summit cairn with a hazy view towards the Scafells in the distance, the haze would continue for much throughout the day cancelling out any long distant photography.


Leaving Buckbarrow we make for a small diversion in the form of the Joss Naylor cairn, nothing to do with the chance meeting we had just had, something planned in the walk from the start.


The Joss Naylor cairn (NY13852 06549)

Built by Joss Naylor on the site of an older ancient cairn.


We had lost quite a bit  of ascent getting to the Joss Naylor cairn & now it was time to make it back up as we climbed the grassy slopes of Seatallan.


Seatallans table top summit almost in sight.


Seatallan summit trig point with the Scafell range in the distance.


Looking over Pots Of Ashes & Haycock, a particular period of the walk I had looked forward to.

From here we contemplated Joss’s advice: do we snake left & flank Haycock for a return summit & head for Caw Fell? or do we head straight for Haycock & flank its bulk on the return?


Looking back at Seatallan & Middle Fell as we decided to head straight for a Haycock summit.


A small stop if not just to take in the views.



A close up of Scoat Tarn & Red Pike (Wasdale)


Haycock summit cairn with Scoat Fell & Steeple in the distance.


Time for a rest stop & something to eat & maybe a respite out of the wind, in our case the full force of the northward wind was blowing straight into the shelter so we took refuge behind & admired the views into Ennerdale & the Buttermere Fells.


Views over the Ennerdale Valley & the High Stile Ridge, incorporating High Stile to the right & Red Pike (Buttermere) Centre, the fells you see behind are Grasmore & Whiteless Pike.


After leaving Haycock behind we head for our fourth fell of the day Caw Fell, its just a case of following this stone wall all the way to the summit making sure you veer left at the Crag ahead named as Little Gowder Crag.


Caw Fell bound & bliss underfoot.


Caw Fell’s rocky strewn summit  & cairn.


The glacial cut valley of Stockdale, notice the huge east facing slopes of Seatallan descending all the way to the valley floor.


It was time to put our thinking caps on & decide how & which way we are going to undertake the flanking of Haycock seen left: Follow the lay of the natural curve of the valley rim looked the simplest but on second glance this would of only lead us into a nasty scree section, so we kept height as much as we could around the valley head & descended sharply (not without avoiding some scree) back onto Pots Of Ashes.


Looking back at Haycock from what can only be described as a lucky escape over Winscale Hows, with no rainfall in the past 3/4 weeks this trail would of been neon impossible to pass, with the lack of rainfall however this boggy section almost felt scorched under foot.

On the approach to Middle Fell the midday heat was at the most uncomfortable of all the day, the haze had slightly burnt away leaving the suns rays to  burn panda eyes around my sunglasses, fun for everyone except yours truly


Kirk Fell & Great Gable with Yewbarrow in the foreground.


Views down to Greendale Tarn from the ascent up Middle Fell.


The grassy plateau of Middle Fell & summit bound.


Middle Fell summit cairn with Yewbarrow in the background.


Wasdale Head & the Scafell Range with Lingmell, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Sca Fell & Slight Side.


Alfred Wainwright described Yewbarrow as ‘The hull of an up turned boat’ you cant help to agree.


Illgill Head & a close up of the Wastwater Screes.


And back where we we started looking up at Buckbarrow’s Crags.

Heat has played a major part in today’s walk, I drank 3 Litres without thinking, with the heat of the midday sun slowly sapping away at your energy levels, keeping hydrated above all else while walking in these conditions is a major planning factor, remember  you can live for 40 days without food but only 3 without water.

Hydration is key.

If for some obscure reason at the start of this walk I was unable to climb any Mountain today, at 8:04 am on  22nd April 2011 I met a true gentleman,.. A Lakeland Legend, A true Sportsman who ran not for sponsorship, nor gain or wealth, not to place himself on some glossy magazine front cover but just for the love of it.


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