The Harry Griffin 2,000 footers Walk 4 -Seatallan and Outliers

21st March 2015

It's only been seven days since my last walk but it feels like a significant change has taken place in that the temperatures have risen, the days are slightly longer and even the birds are singing their morning chorus which could only mean that we are indeed on the brink of spring. It's fair to say that the higher fells are still clinging on to winter & rightly so as the season unforgivably puts up a last fight while the buds are springing in the valleys while the wind chill above the higher summits is still that of eight weeks ago.

I guess I could say that luck played a part in today's walk, more so with the forecast as the walks themselves aren't in any order at all, in fact I was walking where the forecast told me it was best but now things feel different which can only be a good thing for us fell walkers.

This walk amongst others struck out with the H.Griffin routes right from the start as it took in Caw Fell which is possibly one of Lakelands loneliest fells which appeals to me for so many reasons, it was only yesterday when in work did I think why was I so attracted to the loneliest of the fells and for just a moment I couldn't come up with an answer, but then it occurred to me that the loneliest fells of Lakeland are above all else, the place where I feel at one with Lakeland.

This is Seatallan and Outliers.

Freeman of the Hills

'Seatallan and Outliers'

On a perfect summers evening I came down to Wastwater to the sunshine lighting up the whole length of the The Screes and the grey cliffs of Pike's Crag. The lake was calm with hardly a ripple on the surface and there was one white sail on the water - a little yacht slowly gliding across the blue. It had been a lovely day in a lonely country with only the sheep and the ravens for company.

Harry Griffin

Ascent: 4,457 Feet - 1,359 Meters
Summits Over 2,000 Ft: Seatallan - Caw Fell - Iron Crag - Haycock - Scoat Fell
Weather: Overcast to start turning bright and sunny. Highs of 13°C, Lows of 3°C, Feels like -1°C across the summits.
Parking: Roadside Parking, Wast Water
Area: Western
Miles: 13.5
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 8 Hours
Route: Wast Water - Greendale - Greendale Gill - Middle Fell - Seatallan - Potts of Ashness - Stockdale Head - Caw Fell - Iron Crag - Caw Fell - Little Gowder Crag - Haycock - Scoat Fell - Scoat Tarn - Nether Beck - Netherbeck Bridge - Wast Water

Map and Photo Gallery


Yewbarrow, Great Gable, Lingmell & cloud topped Scafells from Wast Water, 08:10am 03°C

I had an earlier than usual start this morning leaving Wigan by 05:30am where I drove through what I could only describe as a rather murky sunrise which at least showed a hint of promise by the time I reached Wast Water close to three hours later. There was a definite mood about Wast Water this morning as a brisk wind blew off the lake which sent a cool chill down my back pre kit up. I managed to park easily close to Countess Beck which fitted perfectly as my walks starting point.

I quickly booted up noting the chill but still resisted the urge to adapt the hat and gloves, after all if the forecasters have predicted right we should see temperatures rise into double figures this afternoon.

After taking a few photos and with Wast Water to my back I returned to the junction and headed out towards Greendale billowing warm air into cupped hands along the way.

Buckbarrow on route to Greendale.

I didn't have to wait long until the sun rose predominantly behind The Screes leaving instant warmth across the back of my head & shoulders - although large shadows still left plenty of cold spots to walk through, the contrast of warmth between the shadows worked well as I had a fairly steep ascent to deal with before gaining Middle Fell summit.

# Footnote

It is not very often that I would go against the grain when following intended routes but here I feel it slightly necessary as H.Griffin admitted making a navigational error after mistaking Middle Fell for Seatallan after arriving on the ridge via the Nether Beck Valley, it was too late by the time he realized his error & continued with his Middle Fell ascent in full knowledge that Middle Fell falls short as a two thousander by a mere 92 Feet.

Now that's cleared up.

Here's Middle Fell from Greendale.

Whin Rigg over Greendale.
Instead of heading for Greendale Farm I left the road via a path that lead through the bracken before joining up with the main summit path seen in the right of the photo. A car is parked besides Greendale Farm which got me wondering had somebody beaten me to a summit already, or were they just ahead of me, neither, as it turned out the car belonged to a walker who was making his way down Middle Fell as I could only assume he had made his early morning summit in search of some sunrise photos as he seemed to be carrying quite a lot of equipment with him, nevertheless our paths cross as we share the word 'morning'.

Kirk Fell, Great Gable & Yewbarrow from Middle Fell summit (1,901 ft)

Even though I needn't have climbed Middle Fell this morning & despite its hazy views it was still wonderful to be here with panoramic views opening up all around me.

Today I shall be collecting five two thousanders' and I have to say, it was here on Middle Fell which was the coldest, brrr best move on.

Seatallan, Pots of Ashness & Haycock.
I diverted off the summit path slightly if only to take in Greendale Tarn which had a strong reflection from the sun making it was almost impossible to photograph, well that was a shame but I'm sure I'll get a photo later. It was here I plot my route up Seatallan no matter which angle I look at that ascent by, it will always look steep.

Views east over Haycock, Nether Beck, Scoat Fell & Red Pike (Wasdale)

Here, looking back over Pots of Ashness, Middle Fell & Greendale Tarn.

I had plenty of time to plot my route to gain Seatallan by, one thing that first concerned me was that would I spot the narrow path that had been picked into the flank of the fell, my concerns were quickly laid to rest during my Middle Fell descent as I easily spotted the path that rose onto the steep fell side of Seatallan east flank, the path although mighty steep is narrow but worn well once upon it, the type of path that suits an ascent rather than descent and not so shockingly the type of path that will see your walking poles hilt up to your shoulders

As with most long walks & arduous routes I have split today's walk into threes sections, gaining Seatallan will see section one complete.

Airy views all the way towards Seatallan summit.

Seatallan summit cairn & Trig Point with views towards the Cumbrian Coast.

Seatallan is my first two thousander of the day & what a day it was turning out to be, the haze had almost gone, the temperatures were very spring like & oddly, the wind had dropped too, there was no need to down pack as I still had a full days walking in front of me but I did anyway, taking a seat on one of Lakelands earliest known Stone Cairns thought to be many thousands of years old.

Unlike Middle Fell there isn't a breath of wind as I take my place perched upon the stone heap while all around me vistas open out towards the coast & the mighty Scafell range. Great Gable is now cloud free as is Englands highest, I could have dropped tissue paper here & watched it drift to the summit plateau, a truly remarkable few added moments spent which were over too soon.

Great End, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Sca Fell & Slight Side from the summit of Seatallan.

Haycock & Caw Fell seen over Pots of Ashness & Stockdale Head.

Today's plans will see me flank the valley of Blengdale before summating Caw Fell seen far left, then I will continue the two miles there & back to Iron Crag before a return to Caw Fell & a then a summit of Haycock seen right. phewww...just saying it makes me feel tired, best press on.

But what's all that barking?

Views over Nether Beck towards Red Pike (Wasdale)
It was here I would plot my route through Nether Beck via Scroat Tarn, sadly unseen in the upper centre of the photo.

I chance upon a pack of Hounds.

Well, I guess that was my question answered, during my Seatallan descent the sound of barking got louder & louder as a pack of hounds rounded Pots of Ashness from Nether Beck followed by three Huntsman dressed from tip to toe in Tweed, amongst them a young boy, a teenager & what I would only assume to be was their father. I don't think there was no other motive than a run out for the hounds as they seemed to be in a playful state rather than anything else, all three Huntsman crossed my path without so much as a good morning.

I press on.

Looking back on Seatallan over Pots of Ashness.
The Hounds continue around the Blengdale flank of Seatallan & can still be heard during my traverse of Stockdale Head.

Traverse of Stockdale Head.

I've traversed Stockdale Head many times but I could count on one hand how many of my routes were the same. My rule of thumb here is to always maintain height & not to be fooled into following sheep tracks that lose height unknowingly, this may mean the traverse at times will be pathless, frustrating & at times tiring.

My plan is to lurk below the scree over Stockdale Head before a sudden ascent which should spit me out close to Little Gowder Crag which is out of shot but close to where a depression can be seen going from right to left.

The wonderful valley of Blengdale from Stockdale Head.

Seatallan from my Stockdale Head traverse.

I manage to maintain height all the while keeping below the scree run, somewhere close to the centre of Stockdale Head sits a large boulder on which smaller stones have been placed to make a makeshift cairn by, this acts as a great navigational tool & is something to steer too & from (depending on way of travel) it only so happens I stumbled upon it without aiming for it all which at least told me I had my calculations right.

After passing the boulder I steadily start to climb fixing my eyes on another pointed boulder which follows my route towards the ridge, this was just a personal route as I'm sure others will differ, once the boulder had been reached I was now well within the scree run, however grassy side chutes ran vertical towards the ridge top which I used to gain the ridge after a steep heave.

Caw Fell from Little Gowder Crag.
Little Cowder Crag is now on my right as I make the short trek across the ridge to where I spot an obvious gap in the stone wall.

Caw Fell ahead.

As you can see there are two paths either side of the stone wall, I guess it's up to the individual which path is used depending if you want a view of the south western fells, or, the north western fells.

Incidently, a wooden sty is situated close to the summit so no need to worry about scurrying over the wall.

Little Gowder Crag, Haycock, Steeple & Scoat Fell seen from lonley Caw Fell.

Today's walk claims Caw Fell as my second two thousander summit of the day, however no matter my fondness for Caw Fell my personal view of this much loved summit is that it is best gained at the end of a long day when legs are battle weary, Caw Fell invites such a welcome after such days unlike today when I am all but half way through my walk.

Until next time my friend.

Descending Caw Fell for Iron Crag.
It's exactly a mile from Caw Fell to Iron Crag & of course a further mile back to Caw Fell. After leaving Caw Fell summit I try to shorten this by taking the narrow path on the right hand side of the wall rather than the one on the left which I will use to gain Caw Fell by on the next ascent. A little odd I agree but there is method in my madness.


Here, looing back on Caw Fell from my descent.
I had just passed the walker you see in the photo, an elderly chap with three small terriers who laughed and asked 'have yer got a cup o' tea in that rucksack!' we shared a laugh as we then went on to talk about the fine weather 'too cold tek yer jacket of though' aye ah says.

Pillar, Steeple, Scoat Fell & Haycock seen from Iron Crag summit.

Iron Crag summit was soon reached fittingly timed with midday which saw me down pack & break the sandwiches out. The elderly gent I had just passed had just gained the steep fell side onto the Call Fell ridge, I had been tracking his progress if only to time my own, as this was one of those ascents you never really give much thought to until your at the bottom of it when by which time you think...cricky, that's much steeper than I remembered!

Anyway, all that is in a while, lets just watch the wind blow through the grass as I eat my sandwiches.

Time to head back.

Caw Fell lies just ahead.

This I guess is where my madness comes in to take a hand, my descent was done from the left side of the wall, however my ascent will be gained via the right, my reason for this was the path on the right although direct & steeper is of better pitch where unlike the left side of the wall where the path ran through ruts, the right path should have been easier on the mind, but not the legs...

Can someone get this guy a straight jacket, think hes lost it!

Views over Ennerdale towards the High Stile Ridge from my Caw Fell ascent.

Lonley Caw Fell.
During my second ascent on Caw Fell I followed the stone wall you see in the photo from the col seen in the previous but two photo, I wasn't wrong the ascent was steep which at times stopped me dead in my tracks before words of encouragement somehow propelled me forward, with no false summit I soon crested the summit plateau & followed the wall where I crossed paths with the summit cairn once more.

Little Gowder Crag & Haycock.
I keep with the left hand side of the wall for now before crossing it in the exact same place that I had previously where I will flank Little Gowder Crag before taking on my fourth two thousander of the day.

Here, Looking back on Little Gowder Crag, Caw Fell, Iron Crag & Ennerdale.

The Scafells seen from Haycock summit.

I pick my way over path & boulder towards the summit of Haycock where I pass two guys who greet me 'al reet bud' surely they are from Lancashire as it's a term I commonly use myself. Ahead three walkers make their own summit, to noisily for my liking as I don't see an excuse for over exaggerating the word whoooaa hoooooo when the summit of Haycock is reached...

K2 or Kilimanjaro, but not the summit of Haycock.

Scoat Tarn is seen as I prepare for my Haycock Descent.
Besides the highly impressive cloud free Scafells Scoat Tarn is viewed from my Haycock descent, it was the first time I had seen it over the course of the walk as again I plotted my route from the Tarn into Nether Beck.

Ahead, views of Steeple & Scoat Fell from the steep descent from Haycock.
Pockets of snow still line much of the summit but should the temperatures continue I don't think they will be here much longer as the snow was wet & not compact at all.

A deep blue Ennerdale appears over Haycock's north west ridge with Crag Fell seen to the left, and, Great Borne to the right.

Views back towards Haycock, taken from the col between Scoat Fell and Haycock.

It was time to dig deep and find that 'second wind' more so for my final two thousander of Scoat Fell. I arrive at the col at the same time as the walker you see heading away from the stone wall, another elderly gent who I get chatting too 'I'm not the man I used to be' as he wipes the sweat away from his forehead with his hanky, this gent demands instant respect as I gaze through his eyes from which I can see he has walked all his life, he picks out the summits along the High Stile ridge before saying 'see that path down there' pointing into Mirkiln Cove, I could barely pick out a path but he was right, there was something there, I used that route to summit Steeple by, right from the bottom of the ridge all the way to the summit, in my days there wasn't a path of sort, you had to make your own way. I could only look on in wonder & amazement to a by gone era before the popularity of Lakeland as we all know it today, to a time when men were men and they certainly didn't do things by halves.

'it's taken me three and a half hours to get here' I best head back down, well I may well meet up with you again as after my summit of Scoat I'll be dropping by Scoat Fell Tarn & into Nether Beck myself, If I don't see you have a safe trip back to Wasdale.

My next half hour was filled with thoughts of 'what ifs' mainly on I hope when I'm into my eighties I am still able enough to walk one of Wasdales longest valleys via one heck of a stubborn path where I can look upon summits once trampled.


Pillar beyond Black Crag.

Scoat Fell was dually reached, the smooth summit plateau giving respite from my last push up the mountain & my final two thousander of the day. At the summit I meet up with a walker taking photos from a DCLR Camera, in a thick southern ascent he greets me in a friendly fashion before proceeding to click away in almost every direction.

# Footnote

Steeple, Pillar & Red Pike (Wasdale) will be included on the A.Griffin 'Mosedale Horseshoe'

I take one photo of my last two thousander of the day, Scoat Fell.

I should have spent more time on Scoat Fell than I actually did, it was here that the air clarity was at its best met with the slightest of hazes towards the Isle of Man which then tethered into the deep blue of the Irish Sea.

An altogether surreal summit time, un-captured because, time itself, was now running against me.

Steeple, seen over Mirk Cove from Scoat Fell summit.
I leave Scoat Fell summit steering myself in the direction of Red Pike (Wasdale)

Kirk Fell, Great Gable, Broad Crag, Lingmell & the Scafells seen beyond Red Pike.

Red Pike (Wasdale)

I soon start my descent over rough boulder towards the grassy col where Scoat Tarn falls away steeply from Red Pike's summit plateau, I steer myself right although the urge to spend time peering over into the Mosedale valley over to my left nearly gets the better of me. With my last summit behind me all I want to do is enjoy the descent into Wasdale that only Nether Beck can provide.

I locate the cairn from the col then follow a steep narrow path which twists and turns around awkward fixed boulders, nonetheless my view over Scoat Tarn was simply breath taking.

Scoat Tarn.

Below me a couple also take on the twisting path and opt to have a rest stop on a large boulder, I would soon catch them up. 'Not what was forecasted the guy says' your not wrong there, I've been walking in this since leaving Wast Water myself I return as I down pack to take off my jacket before stuffing it beneath the lid of my pack, 'it's just so dry too' the guys wife says, it is, it's a fine spring day and hopefully things from here can only get better.

'My bloody garden is wetter than this' the woman laughed! but as I am about to find out, is it really as wet?

I continue down the narrow path all the while the glint of the sun as it catches the water memories my descent as I ponder could walking days get any better.

A narrow path navigates the right hand side of the Scoat Tarn which even in good conditions such as today was sometimes was, easy to lose, more so when the path passes through bog, my boots up until now had gathered a brushed dust affect upon them something of which I hadn't seen since last summer when walking those dry paths, but, all this was about to change as I walked myself into a bog where I sank beyond the tops of both boots in bog water, a slow exit from each foot ensured I was not about to lose both boots, dear god how could this happen!

I press on.

Middle Fell & Seatallan over the Nether Beck valley.

The path follows Nether Beck for much of the way on this, the long outward bound leg of the walk. Nether Beck just doesn't look like Wasdale's longest valley, it feels it too.

I spot movement halfway along the valley floor, I wondered could it be the elderly gent who I had been talking to at the col between Haycock & Scoat Fell, I move quick when walking alone but probably not quick enough to catch the gent up, we should have to see.

Nether Beck.
I keep with the narrow path which sees me flank the heights of Great Lad Crag over my right shoulder before arriving at Nether Beck itself, here the water is crystal clear as I cup a few hand fulls into my mouth, yet again I find myself in a time & place which deserves more time than I have free, sadly with stride I pick up the path as a cool wind catches the water that I hadn't wiped from my chin, nor hands.

Looking back up towards Haycock from Nether Beck.

I surprise myself by catching the old gent up, he is only a hundred or so meters away & he is moving at good pace. Inevitably I am going to have to over take him, not before another good chat no doubt.

We both arrive at Langcrag Beck, a Beck which has descended from Pots of Ashness high above out flanks, he hears me scuttle over boulder, turns around a says, oh it's you 'Scoat Fell' I hadn't told him my name but he had remembered my route, we laugh as I ask him you ok?

'it's slow torturous valley' you just cant rush through here, from the sensation in my knees I would have to agree with him, Nether Beck is hard underfoot & progress is slow no matter how old your knees are.

Ahead of me the shadow of Middle Fell now descends over the last part of the valley.

I am all but over whelmed by the pure site of The Screes in all thier glory.

I can only mirror H.Griffins own words when greeted with the same sight on a similar day back in late June 77

'On a perfect summers evening I came down to Wast Water to the sunshine lighting up the whole length of the The Screes and the grey cliffs of Pike's Crag'


Very fitting indeed.

But my walk was not yet over. I had walked in the shadow of Middle Fell in what felt like hours but was nothing more than twenty minutes or so, I glance back to see my fellow walker, he is about half a mile away but moving & keeping good pace. My left knee has taken a knock and has been jolted causing a pain up the inside of the cap, I try not to let it worry me as I utter what I always say 'just walk it off thee'l be fine' the pain did eventually fade away thankfully but for a minute I was worried.

Now I could concentrate on my last few miles as I continue to walk in shadow, the temperature has notably dropped as I find myself doing star fist with my hands, the transition once again between sun & shadow is going be remarkable and great highlight that I took from the Nether Beck valley.

Yewbarrow & Great Gable seen from the Lake Road.

From the last few hundred meters I spot cars moving to and fro from Wasdale Head, cars pass over the cattle grid which is loud & leaves a stark reminder that I am indeed, back in civilization. There is a small car park close to Netherbeck Bridge where a couple picnic, I get a cheery hi from them as I pass by. I have just under half a mile to walk before I reach my car, all of which is done under glorious afternoon sun.

The tarmac is dry other than the spill from the fell side which drains away to my right, although I am close to the car my ascent is not over as little ascents are needed along the Lake Road where my poles, especially, take a 'last push' hammering. Wast Water is deep in blue, the Gorse are deep in yellow and the Bracken still remains a deep red, not for long though...

Lingmell & the Scafells domineering Englands deepest lake.

'That view' Yewbarrow, Great Gable & Lingmell seen over Wast Water.

The car park is soon reached although it is looking rather more full than when I left it eight hours earlier, Families sit in cars sipping tea, dogs chase stones into the water and like me, there's a few people out with cameras too, I mean, who could blame them...

I open my boot to the site of my coffee flask, on any other previous walk I would now be twisting off the lid & pouring luke warm coffee down my throat, but not today. It's quarter past four and the sun is still high, by eck I mutter, there's another few hours walking to be had, but not for me, as I grab a warm bottle of Diet Coke which will accompany me on my drive back home.

It'll be gone seven PM by the time I arrive home, a long day has been had followed by a long drive to boot, but with views such as this, in conditions that I have had today, I'm sure I can forgive the fells for my tea being a little later than normal.


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