Lakelands Straightest Mile & More…

15th September 2011

This walk was something straight out of the hat, something during the week that I spied a weather window with my name written all over it, it was debateable early on during the week that which day was going to be the best? Wednesday or Thursday? I finally decide on Thursday & I couldn’t of picked a more clearer day If I had tried.

I  knew my next walk was going to be Bessyboot, ask me how I know? I don’t, it just comes to me just like the next one will & at this rate I am fast running out of fells, after today I will have only ten new Wainwright’s then I start all over again… hold that thought, while writing this sentence I have just chosen my next walk…but I’m keeping it to myself.

The last two weeks; as regular visitors to my blog you may know that  I’ve kind of hammered the fells, It started in Troutbeck & ended in Wasdale, within four days I had climbed 7,324 Feet in ascent, this as I now know is going to pull me up & within a few days, that it did.

Two to Three days later & I now find myself with a spongy right knee cap, the sponge effect of course came from the fluid that encircled my right inner knee  & no-matter how much I cursed it, for the fore see-able it was going no-where. Doing day to day stuff I was fine with, work was fine, although driving was a little issue after pro-longed periods. So last weekend my only week off until early October I sat it out, I sulk, I play on the Xbox, I take the our Westie Lucy out for long walks & last but not least I take enough Ibuprofen to knock out a baby elephant. This I thought worked wonders & although the swelling had subsided I had that little voice in my head telling me ‘Paul, that knee is not

ready yet’ .

Walk One: Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot) From Stonethwaite.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Southern Fells

Rosthwaite Fell is flanked by the Langstrath and Seathwaite extensions of Borrowdale, to both of which, and Stonethwaite, it presents a rim of crags. The top has two sections, distinctly divided by the hollow at Tarn At Leaves; the highest point of the northern half is Bessyboot (treated in this chapter as the summit of the fell), the southern rising in greater steps until at Comb Door, it emerges into Glaramara. Of special interest are Comb Gill, the rock summit of Rosthwaite Cam, and Doves Nest Caves. Tarn At Leaves has a lovely name but no other appeal.


Ascent: 1,771 Feet, 540 Meters

1, Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot)


Beautiful Clear Sky’s, Little To No Wind, Highs Of 16° Lows Of 6°


Stonethwaite, (Next To Phone Box)

Area: Southern
Miles: 2.8
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  

Map and Photo Gallery



Skiddaw reflections.

As I drove along the lake road of Dewent Water I couldn’t help but notice through the trees just how calm Dewent looked this morning, this was a fine photo opportunity taken from Kettlewell Car Park on Dewent’s east bank.


With no trouble whatsoever parking in the middle of Stonethwaite I shoulder pack & head through the sunlit narrow lanes & pick up the flow of the Langstrath Beck to my left. Here I had to have my wits about me as It was only a few weeks ago I took this path on an ascent Of Eagle Crag, that day, what I didn’t remember was walking past a sty or gate for Big Stranger Gill & the footpath that will lead me onto Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot).


No glamour shot I’m afraid, after a ten minute walk out of Stonthwaite this is just what I was looking for, right opposite the Campsite. This path isn’t on the 1:50 nor the 1:25 scale Ordinance Survey Maps so be sure to look out for this gate on making an ascent on Bessyboot


With Big Stranger Gill (I love that name) to my right I make my ascent through the woods until the path opens up a little to reveal the top of Bull Crag, the path here is steep, I knew this as I’d read about it before hand, no steeper I thought to myself as the identical path on the opposite side of the valley where I was ascending Great Crag just a few weeks ago, the geology here is almost identical & so it should be I thought, this valley was cut with the same ice-sheet.

I loved this path, I really did, there’s nothing better than to take the steepness out of a climb than a  carefully placed stone, which indeed, was just what this path is, except today & while on the lower slopes of the path these rocks had morning dew on them, I kid you not it was like walking over Ice, with no sun at the lower levels this was a moss & dew paradise, I lost count of the amount of times I slipped & slide while on the path, I deemed it safer to stick to the sides which is just what I did, why walk on the pavement when you can walk in the gutter came to mind!

To take my mind of the slippery ascent I play a guessing game, this I enjoyed immensely, still being boy like & coming from the motor industry I try to pick up the sound of motor I hear-it dominates my ascent, throughout the lower part of the walk this sounds like a moped, a moped? its definitely two stroke-or could it be one? I’m not to sure… anyway who in there right mind would ride a moped on those tracks down there? I keep guessing… I know! its a hedge trimmer- that’s what it is, all I can here is this rev-rev revving.

I stop like a hunter gatherer; sniff the air & say, it could well be a petrol chainsaw…

This is the cause of walking with ones self for to long…stimulating conversation to myself about two-stroke engines…jeez


Big views over Stonthwaite & Borrowdale.

Looking (L) to (R) we have High Spy, Maiden Moor & Catbells, the small tree lined fell you see centre is Castle Crag, further to the right we have Kings How & Grange Fell, closer to the right we have the tree lined slopes of Great Crag.


From Rosthwaite’’s Fell (Bessyboot) here, looking towards the mass of Skiddaw, Carl Side, Dodd & Ullcock Pike, further to the right we have Latrigg, its small summit of which, I deem a personal best viewing platform of Lakeland.


Tarn At Leaves & Rosthwaite Cam.

Although within this beautiful setting my mind set slowly but surely is questioning the fitness of my right knee, it feels fine, or does it? yeah it does, it feels sturdy but all the while I feel the fluid that I had fought with Ibuprofen & Voltarol Gel during the last week reappear, I place two fingers together on the top & inside of my knee over my trousers & yes, I definitely feel fluid. But I am fine & I press on towards the summit.


A close up of Fleetwith Pike & High Crag.

This view changes my whole day, My plan for today was to claim Bessyboot & then make my way south west & take in the summit of Glaramara, a summit I have been many times before, but this was within my route, then a return over Combe Head & then back to Stonthwaite, all within my means & most certainly my right knee.

Mmm, what if I don’t head for Glaramara? what If Paul, you make your way down Bessyboot’s western flanks thus cutting short the walk & head for the Honister Pass?

This got the butterflies in my belly going & when this happens there’s very little I can do to stop them, I make with my plan &  head down the rock & grass strewn flanks of Bessyboot trying my best to pick out a path, any path, I take out my GPS from my pack & find that I am about 40yards of a supposed path so with this I make my way over & find nothing, this is a little frustrating, over the years I have been walking I find I am at least good at two things, One; Leaving my sunglasses on summits & two; Finding path’s.

The western flanks of Bessyboot aren’t steep at all so I make my own way down somewhere in between Rottenstone Gill & Dry Gill, it was here I pass another walker & the topic of first conversation was of: where’s the path? well I said, my GPS tells me we are exactly upon it but I see nothing except strewn boulders & grass, not to bother, he replies there’s only one way I’m heading & that’s up, he asked about Tarn At Leaves & how did it look, I replied if your lucky like me you’ll have it all to yourself, its still, calm & without a breath of wind with views all around, I say Farwell to my fellow walker as I am reminded of how Wainwright described Tarn At Leaves as it has ‘no appeal’ & thought to myself I actually liked it.


My intended return route of Combe Head & Raven Crag from my descent.


Looking over Rosthwaite & Borrowdale.

Talking of great viewing platforms, here’s two in one day.


After a short descent I now find myself at the lower flanks of Bessyboot which by now is nicely filling up with visitors, I head for the wall just off centre right & through the swamped fields of Chapel House Farm.


St Andrews Church Stonethwaite, Circa 1685.


Heading into Stonethwaite with Eagle Crag ahead & my route up to Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot) in between the two crags you see (R)

Although the temperature is rapidly rising, the ground underfoot for most of my mornings walk was extremely wet, leaving me with damp boots & trousers, I now look like I’ve trekked through the Amazon in the rainy season, my looks do not phase me as I walk through a now bustling Stonethwaite in eagerness to get to Honister & Fleetwith Pike bound.

Walk Two: Fleetwith Pike From Honister Slate Mine

Honister Slate Mine.

After leaving a rather quiet Stonethwaite I am a little set back at just how busy the Mine is today, although I am not surprised by the weather I didn’t really think a Thursday afternoon would attract so many visitors to Lakeland but I guess like me they spied the good weather window.

It takes over five minutes to find a parking space & before I did I had four cars in tow trying to find themselves a space also, with my pack in the passenger foot well  of the car I hustle away towards the mine souvenir shop to pay for my ticket, as I open the door there is a queue all the way back to the door, me & me alone is the only person in the shop who wishes at this present moment in time to buy a car parking ticket…the rest are paying for there trinkets and souvenirs, I do something rather unlike me & rush to the front of the queue, I interrupt the shop keeper & her customer & ask? where do I pay for my car parking ticket please? oh’ you go through the door, turn left & into another shop, ok cheers, thank you I replied.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Southern Fells

There is no beauty in despoliation and devastation but there can be dramatic effect and interest, and so it is here.


Ascent: 1,200 Feet, 367 Meters
Wainwrights: 1, Fleetwith Pike
Weather: Beautiful Clear Sky’s, Little To No Wind, Highs Of 16° Lows Of 6°
Parking: Honister Slate Mine (Over Spill CP £3.50 all day charge)
Area: Western
Miles: 3
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL7
Time Taken:  




I did as  was told hurriedly & find the next souvenir shop, I daren’t interrupt the shop assistant again so while I wait second in queue I take a look at the displays & one in-particular a Honister Slate key ring stand with the alphabet letters stamped in to each key ring, I twirl the stand & find P, Christ-there heavy I say to myself, at this point my work mode ‘kicks in’ If I was to put this key ring on the car keys with that kind of weight, the weight pulling on the tumblers will eventually for want of word put it ‘****’ the ignition barrel.

I am such a geek at times.


The Yew Crag Incline from the Honister Memorial.

I have many other reasons for that butterfly effect that graced my belly not an hour ago & they are the history, & more to the point the men & the mining that over the past millennia-that  have dug the many shafts with-in the honister area. I will not pretend to know the ins & outs of Honister but that doesn’t stop me being flawed by what went on here day in day out for 365 days a year, Fleetwith Pike for me does not feel like a mountain, it feels like a work place of which many a man perished to put food on his own table just so us ordinary folk could have the likes of bloody good roof over our heads way back in the nineteenth & twentieth century’s.


A close up view of the Yew Crag Incline on Dale Head.

It is hear I swore to myself that the next time I summit Dale Head it will be via this incline.



Looking back down the quarry path towards the Honister Sheds.


Just a few feet off the track lays this old Winding Drum, once used & I think if I’m correct fed by gravity to pull the slate trucks.


Looking back at the southern fells from the quarry track, Rosthwaite Fell (Bessyboot) being the fell in the middle of the picture.



Now on the summit plateau with just a couple of hundred feet to go I somehow felt at this time that this was not how I imagined the summit to look like, either way I press on with the knee now feeling a little more sturdy given the fact that the swelling has not increased this gives me comfort for the descent.


From the summit you get wonderful views over towards Grey Knotts, Brandreth, Green Gable , Great Gable & the ‘back of’ of Kirk Fell (R)


From the top of Burnt Scarth all the way down to the Honister Pass & Gatesgarthdale Beck.


The High Stile Ridge, Mellbreak, Buttermere & Crummock Water from the summit cairn on Fleetwith Pike. I must admit; today I have been lucky with the views. again Fleetwith Pike is a wonderful platform.


Although you cant see it the summit is awash with walkers, dotted here, there & everywhere, I get talking to two walkers up from the Midlands that same day, Impressive I thought, we chat on how good the weather is & as are the views, then the mortal sentence came out of one of the walkers, of whom I had just taken a photo of him with a Buttermere backdrop ‘ Fleetwith Pike is my fourth Wainwright’ as proud as punch, he then went on to name all the fells pointing at Grasmoor & re-naming it Grisedale Pike, well, today mate, this fell I am on now is my 204th Wainwright, it felt bloody good I tell you.

Ten Hail Marys for the sarcasticness in my voice that day but I just couldn’t help it!


Lunch with a view over Haystacks & Pillar.


Quite a few fells to mention in this photo, centre (R) we have the huge mass of Robinson, Whiteless Pike, Wandope & Eal Crag (Crag Hill) to the far left is Rannerdale Knotts & the fell in the background is Grasmoor.


Dubs Bottom.

Leaving Fleetwith Pike’s summit in search of Lakelands Straightest Mile.


Dubs Hut, with remarkable views over towards Haystacks, High Crag & finally Pillar.


The disused Dubs Quarry.


Alfred Wainwright described this old Tramway as the Straightest Mile in Lakeland.

Used to carry the trucks containing the stone from Dubs Quarry to the sheds at Honister, the sleepers are long gone, it is now used as a popular path for the surrounding fells & Dubs Bottom.


The stone foundations are all that remains of an old Drum House, used to pull the laden trucks from Dubs Quarry to Honister.



Nearing the end of the walk as the view of Honister Slate Mine comes into view.


Its difficult to imagine going to work as a pit mon on Fleetwith Pike & Yew Crags every day, my butterflies have long since faded to an incredible awe of how good life is now, how we moan about the mundane of everyday life, just thank your cotton socks & our HD Televisions we didn’t have to do this & risk life & limb everyday just to put clothes on our backs & food on the table.


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