Wetherlam by the Edges

17th February 2024

I worked last weekend, which kinda worked out as both Saturday and Sunday were washouts. That didn't stop me from taking a local walk up Winter Hill on what could only be described as a very windy, cloudy day. It's not very often that I find myself in the clouds on Winter Hill at just 1,400 ABSL, but I did that day.

While my wife Paula is away with friends in New York, Brad, Holly, Vinnie and me are left to fend for ourselves and up to now the house is still standing and... wait, let me track back a bit. Who's Vinnie? I hear you ask, well, Vinnie is my wife's best friend's Cavapoo, whom I'm minding. 

Rod and I were meant to walk Hopegill Head and Whiteside from Hope Gill yesterday, but the forecast deteriorated, leaving fog and mist over the Lakeland Fells almost down to ground level, and it stayed that way all day. Sunday's forecast was marginally better, with the best of the weather from midday onwards in the east of the park, but I had a hankering for Wetherlam in the south, which, as it turns out, also enjoyed some sunshine.

Wainwright Guide Book Four
The Southern Fells
This fine hill, however, is too vast and sturdy to be disfigured and weakend by mans feeble scratchings.

Ascent: 2,472 Feet - 753 Metres
Wainwrights: Wetherlam
Visiting: Birk Fell Man
Weather: A Mix of Cloud, Sunshine & Light Rain, Feeling Spring Like. Windy Where Exposed. Highs of 11°C Lows of 9°C Feels Like -1°C
Parking: Car Park, Tilberthwaite
Area: Southern
Miles: 4.7
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 3 Hours 15 Minutes
Route: Tilberthwaite - Tilberthwaite Gill - Dry Cove Bottom - Birk Fell Man - Birk Fell Hawse - Wetherlam Edge - Wetherlam - Steel Edge - Tilberthwaite Gill - Tilberthwaite

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: LA21 8DG
Grid Reference: NY 306 100
Notes: Nestled within the Yewdale fells Tilberthwaite car park is perfect for taking on Wetherlam and the Yewdale Fells. The car park is spacious but during peak season can fill up quite quickly, late arrivals maybe disappointed. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Views towards Steel Edge from Tilberthwaite Gill. 10:45am 9°C
I wanted to leave home later and time my arrival for around midday but as I had chores to do later I arrived at a busy Tilberthwaite around 10:30am only just managing to secure a parking spot below the old quarry. It was a mild morning but the amount of rainfall that Lakeland had experienced over the last week was evident from flooded roads to the roar of Yewdale Beck just beyond the car park, Lakeland it would seem, is licking its wounds again. In the distance a large group of walkers who I'd slowed down for minutes earlier approached the car park and if I get a shufty on I should be able to get a head start on them. Looking around the car park was rammed and I wondered if this would be reflected on the hill, there was only one way to find out.

The new footbridge over Yewdale Beck.
I wasn't sure if the bridge had been replaced since my last visit after the last bridge was washed away during flood, further back on the path I looked for the 'bridge out' sign but it was nowhere to be seen so I thought I'd head down into the gill to investigate which was when I spotted the new bridge. I couldn't help but be impressed by the three single spans of deck each made from one solid length of timber.

Steel Edge and Hen Crag and Hen Tor from Tilberthwaite Gill.
After crossing the new footbridge I climbed steeply out of the gill and joined the footpath towards Dry Cove Bottom.

Steel Edge.
Today I'll be descending by Steel Edge which can be a tad tricky more so at this time of year when the rock is slippery. The large crag at the head of the ridge supports two rock gullies. In descent the upper narrower gully is the trickiest with rock steps a plenty; the second is much wider and almost stair like, I'm hoping by the time I'm in descent the rock will have had time to dry out a bit.

Wetherlam Edge beyond Birk Fell Hawse.
I left Tilberthwaite Gill behind and began the slow steady rise on Birk Fell Hawse while flanking Dry Cove Bottom to my left. Steel Edge was confined to my rear as I pass below the flank of Hawk Rigg where the path steepens towards Birk Fell Hawse arriving at the same time as the sun came out.

Beyond Dry Cove Bottom.
From here, Steel Edge appears steeper than it actually is.

I look back on Holme Fell, Hawk Rigg and Blake Rigg.
Loving the sunshine now.

Wetherlam Edge from Birk Fell Hawse.
Despite the sunshine here on Birk Fell Hawse it was blowing a right hooley so much so within minutes of arriving my eyes were streaming and my nose snurching like a good'un. Blimey, where did this wind come from! Before heading for Wetherlam Edge I turn right to pay a visit to Birk Fell Man summit just over my shoulder.

Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Cold Pike, Pike O'Blisco, Wrynose Fell, Blake Rigg, Wet Side Edge and the Langdale Pikes from Birk Fell Man.

Looking Northwards...
...I take in the view across Little Langdale towards Blake Rigg, Lingmoor Fell, Blea Tarn, the Langdale Pikes, Sergeant Man and Tarn Crag (Easedale)

Impressive views of Wetherlam Edge.
With the wind directly in my face I crossed Birk Fell Hawse and began my ascent on Wetherlam Edge, it was important to me that given the conditions I keep to the centre of the ridge and don't stray too far left (path optional) which can lead over moss covered stone slabs, keeping centralised will avoid the slabs.

Another grand view of The Crinkles, Bow Fell, Great Knott, Cold Pike and Pike O'Blisco.
I must have spoken too soon after it dawned on me that I hadn't passed anyone all morning only to look back to find three separate couples heading over Birk Fell Hawse who must have ascended from Little Langdale.

Almost at the top of the ridge when the final rock gully is reached.
I'd avoided the stone slabs and was lost in thought as the final rock gully was reached, in ascent this is a fun scramble but care must be taken during descent as the pitch is steep, loose and wet.

Views down Wetherlam Edge and Birk Fell Man towards Lingmoor Fell, Little Langdale Tarn and a distant Loughrigg Fell.
So much for the eastern fells having the best of the sunshine which have been below cloud all morning! East 0 South 1

Did I speak too soon!

After I had climbed the final rock gully there is still a good 100ft over grass shoulder to scale before the summit is reached which is where I bumped into a solo chap and his dog heading down Wetherlam Edge. After a 'you alright' I continued towards the summit only to look back to find the chap straying a wide right, this was a big no-no as he was heading towards the cliffs above Glassy Crag and I hoped he would find his way back towards the path before he committed.

The summit cairn was soon reached and once again I felt like I was inside a tumble drier as the wind took my walking poles so they were almost horizontal. It was funny as didn't remember reading how the strong the wind might get, perhaps 20-30mph and it certainly felt the high end of the latter. Not wanting to be bowled over I tapped the cairn with the tip of walking pole and began to head south towards Lad Stones and the top of Steel Edge thereafter,

Heading South in the sunshine.

Looking back towards the summit.
It looks like one of the couples who'd been tailing me up Wetherlam Edge has just reached the summit. I'm also a little concious of the build up of cloud despite present sunshine.

The view over Red Dell Head.
Towards Black Sails, Swirl How and Great Carrs.

Further South.
The Black Sails Ridge with a very menacing Coniston Old Man, Brim Fell and Raven Tor.

I soon reach the three tarns at Lad Stones.
Where I head left towards the top of Steel Edge.

Looking down on Steel Edge from the top of the upper gully.
With no other option that to descend the gully I began my descent often exchanging hand to rock in favour of my walking poles which I'd thrown down until the base of the gully was reached.

Steel Edge from Yewdale Beck.

In the lee of the second gully I'd stopped to eat lunch now protected from the wind by crag I was soon caught up by the couple I'd spotted back on the summit who turned out to be a mother and son with a miniature Irish Jack Russell with them as we swapped pleasantries they passed before I wrapped up and continued my descent. Away from crag I was back in the winds firing as it howled around me back came the snurching nose and watery eyes. It began to rain for the final descent of the ridge but thankfully it never amounted to much as I crossed Yewdale Beck by the wooden footbridge. It was now starting to brighten up just as the eastern fells scored a late equalizer.

Tilberthwaite bound I joined the path flanked by Tilberthwaite Gill below, Christ there were some steep drops as I looked down on top of the tree canopy with cascades of white water in between. The rain stopped and with it the wind dropped as Low Tilberthwaite came into view as did the car park below where folk crisscrossed its tarmac most of whom I suspect, were heading for the Cathedral Cave or Slaters Bridge. Almost down to tarmac myself when the solo walker and his dog I'd seen at the head of Wetherlam Edge came into view descending the old quarry track that links Tilberthwaite with Little Langdale, I did a quick recce of his route in my head and we nodded as I crossed Birk Fell Gill arriving at the gate almost at the same time. I twist my final descent passing Tilberthwaite Cottages and a lovely looking wicker owl which I didn't appreciate half as much as I did after viewing the photo when I got home. Tarmac now and people, lots of them marching to and throw as I reached my car, unlocked the boot and turned my back on the crowds whilst kitting down to roar of Yewdale Beck just over the wall.



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