During the long pursuit of the Wainwrights, I made almost a fetish of not repeating myself. Walks were designed to be circular, to get me back to my car with a minimum of trodden ground, i.e., going over ground I’d already covered during the walk. The same went for new ascents. Due to my unplanned and largely erratic approach in the beginning, I found myself left with odd fells here and there whose collection involved returning to tops I’d already visited. Sometimes, such as Great End and Sail, this became the opportunity to repeat a superb walk. Elsewhere, I still tried to make each individual walk as fresh as possible, covering newer ground, exposing myself to even more of the Lake District every time. This was the case in respect of Knott, the great, grassy, sprawling fell that’s the highest point ‘Back O’Skiddaw’. It’s distance from approach points, and its sheer size made it something of a difficult prospect, especially as I anticipated a dull foreground. However, the obvious decision to incorporate Great Calva into the walk dictated the best starting point as being Orthwaite, or in actual fact a convenient roadside parking space short of the village, giving me a briefer roadwalk to access the start of the walk, on the north-west side of the Dash Valley. Wainwright indicated two possible paths, one of which, in 1960, had been fading into the grass. I can’t remember if any trace of it existed in 1992 but in any event I wanted to take the lower path, to see Brockle Crag, which turned out to be decidedly unimpressive. From there, I diverted alongside Hause Gill, crossing a low lip and dropping into a fascinating gap in the fells. It appeared to be wide and spacious, hemmed in on every side by steep and bare slopes, some kind of secret valley not quite of the Lakes. It made a massive impression on me. The plan was to cross this valley and go straight on, following the line of Hause Gill and swinging round to the summit from the south-south-west. But my eye was attracted by an unidentified track, bearing left, in the direction of a narrow ravine. There were two paths, in parallel, one aiming for the defile itself. Consumed by curiosity, I followed this. It led into the narrow confines of a rushing, surging, twisting gill, the path precariously following the north bank. It wasn’t quite a scramble, the gradient wasn’t enough for that, but it did often involve hands as well as feet, and it was enclosed, with no escape except forward or back. I followed it gleefully. I had no idea where this was going but I didn’t care. It could go on for hours as far as I was concerned. Another of those times when it just didn’t last long enough, though I’d lost all track of time before the torrent began to ease, the bordering slopes to expand, and there I was at the lawns just below Trusmadoor, for I had been following Burntod Gill. I took a breather, not because I needed to rest but because I’d enjoyed my diversion so much I wanted to bask in it a while. Nor had I compromised my ascent: across the beck was a zigzag path up the flanks of Burn Tod, that eased the angle of ascent until it faded into the grass. By then, the way to the top was easy to see, though wading through tussocky grass wasn’t fun. The final stretch took much longer than it looked from below but eventually I subsided by Knott’s cairn, tucking into my sandwiches and contemplating Wainwright’s suggestion that the top was ideal for an impromptu cricket sensation, though I suspected he wasn’t the cricket fanatic I was, because unless you carried a dozen balls or more and played ‘six-and-out’, it would have been a very short match when the first boundary would have seen the ball roll hundreds of feet down the surrounding slopes.
First thing, let me emphasize, there is absolutely no resemblance between Great Sca Fell of the Uldale fells, Back o’Skidda’, and any other Sca Fell of which you may have heard. You cannot confuse the two, not without a strong element of intentional cognitive dissonance. Great Sca Fell is the highest point of the Uldale fells but, other than in height or overall area, it is little different from any of the others. The natural route of approach, if you were to take it in isolation, might be from Fell Side on the road to Caldbeck, on the outskirts, or else by the upper valley of Burntod Gill, though any such attempt should be tempered by the recognition that this leaves quite a steep exit from the valley. Both ascents I made were by following the ridge from Meal Fell, on the valley’s northern flank, from where the ascent onto the top is minimised. The first time I visited, I left behind my camera, just as I did on Fellbarrow, and had to rush back for it, but there was precious little risk of anyone having come along in the interim to pick it up. No such issues second time.
Another of those summits that I reached twice, each time by exactly the same route, the first fell on the same round, at two well-separated times. Great Cockup was a nothing fell, a shapeless, low, featureless top out there on the fringe, of interest, surely, only to collectors. There was a bunch of them, the Uldale Fells, five mostly grassy tops in awkward array, just asking to be disposed of in a single day’s walk – or perhaps half-day’s walking as the whole round, including sandwiches, took me almost exactly four hours both times, no matter how leisurely I moved. Great Cockup was the obvious first: parking in the little off-road inlet by Longlands Farm, crossing the bridge, following the reedy stream and coming out above the shallow valley of the infant River Ellen, flowing diagonally across a suddenly-broad vista towards the fell group ahead. Easy, negligible slopes down to and across from the river, a slightly tedious ascent to reach the natural cutting of the celebrated Trusmadoor (why no television production company has ever used this as the scene for an historical adventure bloodthirsty ambush is sheer mystery) and then down to the lawns by Burntod Gill just before it flows into the wonderful ravine, whose only crime is that it comes so early in the walk to picnic. Great Cockup is easily accessible by ascending a rock rib on the west side of Trusmadoor’s gateway above the lawns, leading up and back as a minor scramble until you reach the nearer corner of the flattish top, with the highest point diagonally opposite you and overlooking the plain. All you have to do, all you can do, is walk to it then walk back and descend the same route to go on to better things. It was the same, step for step, eight years later, except that I had The Distractions’ ‘(Stuck in a) Fantasy’ in my head after putting it on a tape for the car: the same walk, all but, and the same four hours. Why bother repeating it? It’s nice and quiet ‘Back o’Skidda’ and everybody enjoys an easy walk sometimes.
Once upon a time, I set out to collect a bunch of summits, the Uldale Fells, that form one half of that green and nebulous country known as ‘Back o’Skidda”. There’s nothing out there that’s exciting, just a group of five fells that require a little bit of back-and-forthing to include in a single walk, and which required no especial effort or skill to collect. The walk took four hours from start to finish at Longlands Farm.
Yet I enjoyed my little grassland odyssey enough that, in those few post-Wainright years, I repeated the exact same walk, and took the exact same four hours, from Longlands Farm and back. And whilst there were some other walkers out those days, on some or other parts of the fells, we were never close enough to exchange words, not even the conventional greetings in passing.
Which endeared the walk(s) to me.
Longlands Farm lies on the road round the back of the Skiddaw/ Blencathra massifs. One day when low cloud put the fells out of reach, I drove this road, starting from the Penrith end, through Mungrisedale towards Caldbeck. The cloud was so low that, for the major length of it, from just after Hesket Newmarket until the serious descent to cross the foot of the Dash Valley, I drove invisibly, foglamp on, in a grey corridor of silence and solitude. It felt as if I was crossing a high moor, on a raised causeway.
I came back through Longlands Farm, though I can’t remember whether it was visible to me then. Certainly, I didn’t recognise it for what it was, and I only came back, from the Keswick end, when I wanted to take this route. The Farm lies in a steep dip, where a nameless beck crosses the road, and I had to be abrupt in pulling up for the available parking, on the fell side of the road, is just before the bridge, flattish land that can accommodate three to four cars but which is hardly ever likely to turn anyone away.
Be warned that this is not an exciting walk, nor a demanding one, and there is precious little rock to be seen and almost none to be put underfoot. The path takes a narrow, reedy course alongside the beck for the first couple of hundred yards before emerging into the open and starting to veer towards the right, across a very low ridge separating the beck from the valley of the infant River Ellen.
This is the first vista of the day and the low line of fells above the valley are almost all of those that will be crossed in the next few hours. The Ellen crosses the way ahead at a diagonal, from left to right, and the way is a broad way, declining at a gentle angle to cross the river, and rising beyond, across the lowest flanks of Great Cockup, to enter the day’s first, and primary highlight, the ravine of Trusmadoor.
This early in the walk, I found it impossible to saunter, and there was nothing to hinder me from striding out, except perhaps for the slow rise towards the entrance to Trusmadoor, which was set at that tedious angle that lies half way between level and interesting.
Once Trusmadoor is reached, the walk (except for exercise) really begins. Wainwright describes this, accurately, as a great natural railway cutting, and it’s a deep, steep-sided channel through the hills that catches the eye and the imagination, but which suffers from being completely unnecessary: it lies between two insignificant hills and leads from nowhere to nowhere. Uproot, it, stick it in the Scafells, and it would be magnificent. It’s magnificent as it is, but with an overlooked, in-a-corner grandeur that receives only a fraction of the visitors it deserves.
I say Trusmadoor is the real highlight of the walk and most people would agree, but I have a soft spot for the lawns below, fringing Burntod Gill just before it narrows to progress through its long, serpentine ravine. This comes from a completely different walk carried out between these two rounds, when I set out to collect Knott and Great Calva, and found myself scrambling up the ravine of Burntod Gill, beside the rushing beck, and having a glorious time of it. This had been an impromptu variation on my planned route and I wasn’t completely oriented to where I would emerge until I got there, and if I hadn’t a long way to go, I’d have stretched out for a long relaxing stop here.
The lawns lie off the line of ascent but demand a visit anyway, before returning to the near lip of Trusmadoor and starting the first serious climbing of the day.
Great Cockup, a name that makes 93 percent of adult male walkers snigger, is a low and unlovely lump forming the western wall of Trusmadoor, which is accessed along the stony, narrow ridge on the edge of the channel that is its best feature. The top is mostly grassy and the cairn is quite a distance from the corner at which the ridge debouches. When you get there, it offers no spectacular views over the North Cumberland plain, and there is nothing to do but to walk back the way you came.
At the bottom, it was only necessary to walk straight across and start up a similar narrow ridge on the opposite side, which was the key to the ascent of Meal Fell, which has one of the tiniest geographical footprints of the whole Wainwright guides.
There is a big difference between the two ribs: that on Meal Fell doesn’t rise to the summit, but instead levels out to contour across the back of the fell. I abandoned the path once this became plain, and worked my way up onto the summit, which has three individual ridges, elevated like causeways, one after another, with a near ninety degree zig-zag between each one, at the end of which the summit cairn arrives.
This offers an informative view of the ridge from here to Great Sca Fell, the highest point of this walk, a grassy ridge of increasing elevation to a summit hidden by the top itself, with Burntod Gill offering an interesting line in parallel, suggesting another route of approach, albeit with what looked like a very wearing ascent out of the upper Gill.
I descended the east ridge of Meal Fell onto that easy and broad grassy route towards Great Sca Fell, marching out unrestrictedly. The slope up to the invisible summit was straightforward, but being on grass it was not very interesting and was more tiring than a route on rock at the same angle or even steeper would have been. I settled at the cairn to eat my lunch, facing north, for there was nothing but higher fells and mountains crowding the near skyline in every other direction.
The first time I was here, I set off walking northwards, over the broad edge of the summit, and down across the sprawling Little Sca Fell (nothing around here is remotely reminiscent of any other Scafells). I’d got down about a hundred feet when I realised I’d left my camera behind and had to go charging back: there was no-one about and I found it at the foot of the cairn, where I’d left it.
The two remaining fells of the day lie north of Great Sca Fell, but at the end of different ridges. I’d chosen the furthest first, Brae Fell, alone at the end of a long, placid grassy ridge in a grassy nowhere devoid of people. The path, which surprised by being even one person wide, led directly to its little summit, overlooking the plain and distant Carlisle.
There was little to stay for, and nowhere to sit except on the grass. I turned on my heel and headed back into the grassy plain. On neither of my visits was there any sign of a track in this emptiness, other than the one underfoot, so I relied upon my judgement as to when to start veering over toward the half-concealed but surprisingly fast-running Longlands Gill. I was looking for somewhere to cross safely that didn’t involve me going too far back out of my way because as soon as I was across the beck, I was turning back north again, on a distinct path along the base of the ridge.
Oddly enough, it was in this widespread grassy bowl that I have one of my most vivid mental images, from that second round, when the weather was a little warmer and the skies a little brighter. I was heading inwards again, towards the fells, and there was a silence in the long grasses, and where there had been no markings all those years before there were faint tracks that suggested people came here, but not today, and the surrounding fells were grassy hills only and I might have been anywhere, but I was in tried, tested and true country of which I felt a part. I was alone but not lonely, and relaxed on my own two legs.
The first time round, I stayed by the beck until turning up onto the col behind Longlands Fell, but second time I was marginally more adventurous, and gained the ridge at its first col, going up and over the rather broad-beamed Lowthwaite Fell, which is higher than Longlands but doesn’t count as an independent summit for Wainwright.
I crossed it nonchalantly, re-ascended Longlands and then carried on down its long ridge to gain the low country less than a quarter mile from Longlands Farm. There was nothing but a short stroll, and I was back at the car in pretty much exactly four hours on both occasions.
It was peaceful and quiet, and the walking was unstrenuous except in very short sections around Trusmadoor, and although the scenery deteriorates rapidly once you leave it and the lawns around Burntod Gill, that silent grassy plain at the back of Brae Fell, with its sense of exposure and its lonely country made an impression I’ll be long in forgetting.
And all to be had in half a day without even working up a sweat. Now I’m old, and arthritic, I could probably still get round the whole walk, and I wouldn’t like to bet that it would take me significantly longer than it did in my prime. It’s that sort of place, and I’ll bet it would still be empty like twice upon a time.
Ever since I broke free from the confines of the family, fellwalking for me has revolved around summits. The long years of collecting the Wainwrights came with an emphasis on always having a felltop as a destination, and on those few occasions when I have set out with no more than the exercise as the point have always seemed to me to be lacking in something, no matter how enjoyable they have been.
Sometimes, though, the best part of a walk, it’s most enjoyable experience, has had nothing to do with any of the summits reached during the course of the expedition, has indeed been far superior to the tops collected en route.
I’m almost inclined to say that about the Corridor Route, on Scafell Pike, but even the exhilaration of that walk across the flank of the massif can’t override the fact that this is Scafell Pike we’re talking about. On the other hand, Lord’s Rake, on Scafell, was my true destination the day I went by that route, having already climbed the fell,
But one day does stand out in memory for having as it’s most enjoyable time an unplanned, and very low-level spell of walking that came unpredictably soon in the day.
My wanderings in the Northern Fells had left me with just a handful of tops in that book. Blencathra would be an expedition in itself, and Mungrisedale Common an unlovely outlier tacked on, just to say that I had been there. But this left Knott and Great Calva: two contrasting fells, linked by a common ridge, but hardly what you’d choose for a walk that has to find its way back to where the car is parked in the morning. But it can be done.
The most convenient base for the walk was the Orthwaite road, verge parking beyond the gate for the farm road into the Dash valley. A path doubles back into the valley on its northern side, offering a choice of routes, high and low, depending whether or not you want to see Brockle Crag on the way. This is not as spectacular as it may be, being more a steep bank of quartz outcrops than a crag in its own right, but my preference for this path led directly to the highlight of the walk.
The lower route is supposed to be difficult to trace now, though there were no such issue the day I came this way. Whilst the Dash bears rightwards towards its spectacular falls, the path wound away left towards the foot of Burn Tod, the immense shoulder of Knott directly ahead.
It opened into an empty, impressive amphitheatre, a place where, if scaled up sufficiently and laden with CGI, it would not be difficult to imagine an army of Orcs marching to lay siege to the Hornburg.
My Wainwright route lay to the right of Burn Tod, closing off this empty bowl, scaling beside Hause Gill to reach the saddle between Knott and Great Calva, but there was an intriguing path not actually marked in the Northern Fells, heading distinctly half-left to where another gill emerged from a narrow defile lying between the bare, steep sides of Burn Tod and Great Cockup. Curiosity drew me along until I reached the bank of the gill, and could see the path snaking along the western bank, into the winding ravine through which the gill bubbled fiercely. A path not noted by Wainwright? I couldn’t resist.
There followed one of those wonderfully absorbing spells where time disappeared out of the window. The path clung to the bank, within the spray of the water at certain points, twisting and turning. There was no crossing the gill, and no escape up either side of this steep-sided course but to follow the gill, upstream or down. And there was no risk that I would turn round and start downstream, not now I had started on this route.
The way twisted and turned, back and forth, allowing me to see no more than ten to fifteen yards ahead at any one time. I was lost without knowledge of how far or short the walk in this gill would be, stepping lively and eagerly all the way. I was enclosed, but felt nothing of that faint claustrophobia from which I sometimes suffer. For the duration, time and the outside world were suspended.
Having not previously connected the dots of the geography between various chapters of the Northern Fells, I had no idea where I might emerge, so it came as a pleasant surprise when the gates of the gill opened out onto broad, wide lawns, directly below the mouth of Trusmadoor, for this was Burntod Gill, and this was a spot I had visited before, when strolling round the Uldale Fells.
I had only to change pages in the chapter on Knott to continue my walk to a summit that could not hope to live up to that exhilarating passage, but there would be no further difficulties in the day, save perhaps a certain dullness.
Across the gill, and onto a long, rising series of well-graded zig-zag sweeps, eating up height on the flank of Burn Tod, until these abruptly levelled out and disappeared underfoot when nearly at the level of the flat top. Knott lay half left, a broad, rounded dome across a sea of thick, tussocky grass, pathless and dragging at your feet as you wade onwards and upwards. There’s an unusual little parapet midway which provides easier walking if you make for it, the grass growing a little less thick and cloying, until beyond, all there is is an uphill walk onto Knott’s broad and flat summit.
All about is level, sheep-shorn grass. Wainwright suggests that if someone happens to be carrying stumps, bat and ball, the surface would be suited to an impromptu game of cricket, but that suggests he had little feeling for the game, as opposed to his beloved Blackburn Rovers, as any firmly struck shot would have overshot some tightly drawn boundaries and sent the ball unacceptably downhill to allow for the over to be completed.
Ironically, his other suggestion for beguiling the time, for mixed parties only, was also called to mind a few moments later, by the arrival from the north of a young couple. Given that my presence constituted something of a gooseberry, I ought to have packed up and moved on, to allow them their privacy – on a flat, open top a hundred yards wide? – but this was lunch and I wasn’t shifting until I had fed and watered.
There are plenty of ways off Knott, which is rather the hub of the Northern Fells, and it’s a fair stretch to Great Calva, and an ascent of almost 500′ to the latter summit. That kind of height loss is never recommended on a ridge route, where anything much above 350′ of additional climbing becomes more like a new ascent to me. But the ground in grassy and easy, with no undue gradients, and on a walk taking in only two fells, not too burdensome.
The col lies a long way west, requiring a roundabout approach. Knott’s thick grass is easier to tread downhill and I was able to stride out. My memory is a bit hazy on the subject of the weather, for I remember it being dry and exposed on Knott, but I have the distinct impression of thin, enveloping cloud as I reached the boggy bit, just below the summit, suggesting a change in weather on the crossing.
This would account for my lack of memories of the view from Great Calva, a neater top by far, and its unique view along the great Central Rift of Lakeland over which Wainwright enthuses.
I was, by now, some distance from the car, with no obvious or direct route back that did not require retracing my steps over trodden ground. Long and roundabout though it may be, there was a straightforward solution, which was to follow the summit ridge over the south cairn, descend below the cloud-line, and make for Skiddaw Forest below.
The direct line aimed more or less for Skiddaw House, but this would bring me down unnecessarily far from the head of the Dash valley, so as soon as the slope permitted I angled away to my right, fixing upon a point on the Skiddaw House road just this side of Dead Beck, and picking my best way through the thick, purple, grasping heather that decorates this side of the fell. It made for slow-going, which tends to frustrate me, but the slope was steady, the Road wasn’t going anywhere, and this was the last of the serious walking of the day.
I’ve always maintain that the worst part of any walk is coming back down the road at the end, and any walk that demands more than a mile of tarmac is a badly-planned walk, but there is no tarmac up here in the hills, just the remarkable emptiness of Skiddaw Forest, broken only by the wind and the scrunch of your boots. The road rose to the lip of the Dash valley before descending in tight zig-zags beside Whitewater Dash, levelling out beneath Dead Crags.
In the bottom of the valley, a convenient farm road enabled me to cross to the north side of the valley and regain my route back to the car.
Not a particularly exciting day, and perhaps best thought of as a perfect example of a contrived pairing of two fells that had not fitted into other, more natural expeditions. Two more of the increasingly shorter lists of Wainwrights. But the day had been made for me by that impromptu diversion into Burntod Gill, by that near-scramble along its bank, the twisting and turning, rising and falling, the gushing waters frantic at my side throughout. Good, hard walking in conditions that others may have shied away from, but for which I was fully prepared, a test to pass with flying colours, a half hour – if it was that – of sheer delight.
There’s an argument that everything Back o’Skidda’ is an Obscure Corner, for this is indeed a little world of its own, shielded from the rest of the high ground of the Lake District – indeed, from the rest of the Lake District period – by the backs of Skiddaw and Blencathra and their respective massifs.
It’s quiet back there, green and grassy and smooth for the most part, less busy than the rest of the fell country. Indeed, there are few viewpoints Back o’Skidda’ from where anything but Back o’Skidda’ can be seen. The fells here look north, to the Cumberland plain and the Burghers of Carlisle.
The greatest concentration of fells is in the north-western quarter, the Uldale fells, which lie directly behind Skiddaw itself. With a little contrivance, there are five summits that can be easily linked in a gentle walk that, despite my best efforts in two visits, I have been unable to extend beyond four hours.
The outing, appropriately, begins in pastoral circumstances. Leave Keswick on the Carlisle road, bear right as signposted for Orthwaite following the eastern shore of Bass Lake, as far as Longlands Farm, which occupies the narrow valley of a stream. There is room for three cars to park just before the bridge.
The walk is better defined if done anti-clockwise, though this does bring the day’s highlight underfoot first, before any summits have been traversed. which rises steadily on grass for about fifty feet, before levelling out. This stream is the key to the approach, but its purpose is to lead you to the valley of the River Ellen.
The geography of the walk is not apparent until this little stroll crosses the tiny watershed and the Ellen comes into view. Great Cockup provides the further flank, little Meal Fell an upthrust in the centre and the green ridge of Lowthwaite Fell and Longlands Fell the eastern wall. The Skiddaw massif, looking completely unfamiliar from this angle, forms the highest skyline and remains in clear view throughout.
Trusmadoor on the approach from the Ellen
The path, broad among the bracken, dips gently towards the Ellen (which is easy to cross) and rises towards the distinctive trench lying west of Meal Fell. This is Trusmadoor, a natural railway cutting, wide and straight, with steep, high sides, crowned by small rocky parapets. Some fairly gently uphill work is needed as the path, developing a few stony trends underfoot, rises to enter the cutting.
Despite its lack of geographical significance, Trusmadoor is utterly fascinating, and the imaginative will walk through it planning ambushes. It debouches above Burntod Gill, at that part when the gill proffers lush lawns purpose made for picnics. Above this spot, the gill rises to its source on the slopes of Great Sca Fell in complete solitude, below it enters a twisting, turning ravine from which there is no escape but to follow it to its end. I’ve heard that parts of the path through the ravine have been washed away which would be terrible: the walk, especially uphill, is a wonderful experience, enclosed and lively.
The ‘lawns’ are an ideal place for a break, though the flesh should be hardly tried thus far. Parties including both genders that feel inclined towards any form of extreme canoodling should bear in mind that this is one of the few places en route where other people may arrive, and there is no concealment.
Great Cockup lies west of the route, and its ascent is something of a necessary diversion, and not the most compelling of one. A narrow path starts up a rocky rib at this end of Trusmadoor, giving a momentary gentle exhilaration to the day. This is Great Cockup’s most interesting feature on this side, as the broad, flat summit is soon reached and is wide and uninteresting. The highest point lies towards the furthest north west ‘corner’, requiring a longish stroll there and back.
Return to Trusmadoor, cross the floor like a Conservative MP ratting out to UKIP, and take a similar path on rock, ascending towards Meal Fell. This path doesn’t actually go to the summit but levels out to flank the fell: leave it once it stops gaining height and cut uphill. Meal Fell offers the only rock on any of today’s summits, as well as an unusual arrangement of short, barrow-like ridges, at more or less right angles to one another, forming an intriguing zigzag.
From here, Burntod Gill can be seen below in its upper valley. A long, grassy, pathless ridge stretches from Meal Fell towards the slow-swelling Great Sca Fell, the highest point of the walk: make a bee-line for it and haul yourself up over the brow.
There is no comparison between Great Sca Fell and any other fell of that name of which you may have heard. It boasts a Little Sca Fell, though that indicates only the bulge of land to the north of the summit, to be crossed when leaving. To the east, the fell is dominated by the bulk of Knott, and there’s an obvious option to extend the walk by trudging in that direction, but it would be a two-way trudge, with little distinction, and there is a much better walk to be devised that has Knott as its principal aim.
Approaching Brae Fell
The two remaining fells both lie north of Great Sca Fell, separated by the surprisingly deep channel of Charleton Gill. A little to-ing and fro-ing is needed, but the grasslands are quiet and empty and time is not at a premium. Brae Fell, betraying an unusual element of Scottish influence, is the easterly of the pair and a gentle path of no great gradient leads in an almost straight line to reach its modest top from behind. Again, there’s little or nothing to detain a walker, the views being outwards not inwards, and most walkers will about turn fairly quickly and head back towards Great Sca Fell, or at least as far as is necessary to find a convenient place at which to cross Charleton Gill.
Indeed, Chris Jesty reports that there are the makings of a path in this lonely place, leading the walker’s feet where before there was the fun of decision. It seems strange to think that enough people have now trodden here to create a route where none was ever actually needed.
An old bridle road accompanies the further bank of Charleton Gill, which can be left to proceed uphill onto the low saddle behind Longlands Fell’s summit, but a little more energy can be burned up by making immediately for the ridge and crossing the slightly indefinite Lowthwaite Fell en route. Lowthwaite is actually higher than Longlands Fell, but is merely a declining ridge dependant upon Great Sca Fell.
Either way, Longlands Fell’s summit is fine and neat, offering a wide vista over the North Cumberland plain, though little dramatic to speak of in its views south towards Lakeland.
Leave it by the north ridge, descending easily as the ground broadens. This brings you down to an old, grassy road which takes you back to Longlands. From here, it is merely a step over the bridge to the car, by which time four hours, and only four, will have elapsed.