BB0718 Oh No!  Not Steel Fell Again?

Wednesday 27th June 2007

First things first.  Let’s get the key question out of the way for the benefit of Tony (who is concerned that the stitching in his boots will have rotted before he next gets out on the fells!)  What time did we take lunch?  Answer- 14:40 ! !! !!!

“What!”  I hear Tony cry.  “Glad I wasn’t there”.  

No Tony- wrong reason for not being there.  We had lunch at 14:40 because at 10:40 we were holed up in Grasmere Garden Centre downing cappuccino and shortbread, waiting for the rain to clear mid-morning as MWIS had promised.  And when exactly is "mid-morning” anyway?

Grasmere Garden Centre

A wet but clearing Dunmail Raise

We were on the verge of an embarrassing wimp-out.  But we gave the weather once last chance.  We decided to drive to the top of Dunmail Raise and if it stopped raining we would walk and if it did not……  Academic.  It stopped.  And two fighter planes flew over in celebration, rather lower than the 250 feet alleged minimum.  So low in fact that Stan had to take evasive action and in so doing banged his head on the tailgate roof and twisted a muscle.

So what is the correct reason for Tony being glad he was not with us?  Certainly not the fact that he was sadly burying one of his biker friends today.  It’s because we were going up Steel Fell again.

You may recall in BB0705 that I foolishly made reference to “On a clear day I imagine this must be a very attractive route.” So when Stan suggested Ullscarf it seemed to me to be a route that was calling like unfinished business.

The truth is that, if I found it hard when I could not see where we were going, I found it every bit as hard and then some when I could.  To be fair we took a slightly different route. Rather than hugging the fence we took the more open route up what might loosely be described as a path somewhat to the left.

When directly below Stan, I was in receipt of bits of rock and bits of soil and at one stage almost a bit of Stan.  I was reminded of a line from Bob Dylan’s “It’s all over now Baby Blue”- “The ground too is moving under you”.  It was.

Stan shouted helpful things like “Don’t go up the rocks- they are steep and very slippery.” But the grass, in comparison, was slippery and very steep.  Actually I preferred the rocks so I disobeyed instructions.  I think it is something to do with having short legs and long arms that when things get difficult, adopting the chimpanzee position comes naturally and a bit of rock on to which to cling is most welcome.

In the unlikely event that anyone ever reads this report for directions, my advice is unequivocal.  Keep to the fence.

It might be equally steep but at least you have something to grip on and by which to haul yourself up.

And suddenly we were at the top and although grey, it was clear and there were extensive and impressive views.  Steel Fell summit and then Calf Crag quickly succumbed.  

The view north from Steel Fell

The view south from Calf Crag

It was a bit of a haul up to Sergeant Man.  We were overtaken en-route by a young lady running up the hill.  Stan explained that she was probably in training for the Bob Graham around which only seven ladies had succeeded.  This put a bit of a spring in his step and for ten seconds I thought that he was going to try and reel her in.  No doubt that in his pomp he would have done so but today he was guiding another sexagenarian around the fells so quickly realised his responsibility and held off.

We were a little unsure as to which was the actual top of Sergeant Man so knocked off the second top just in case.  A wise precaution as it later transpired the second was the real Sergeant- a very upright citizen when viewed from the East.

Then on to High Raise and the aforementioned late lunch (or afternoon tea) in the very welcome shelter as the wind was bitterly cold.  

Splendid views all round but too cold to linger out of the shelter.  

Down over Lower White Stones and the long haul to Ullscarf, touching on route BB0711.  

After several false summits and a real summit that just happened without drama, we had the dilemma of how to get down.

Team picture on High Raise

Ullscarf from High Raiser

There is no established path back to where we needed to go.  Retreating to Wythburn was an option but we did that on BB0705.  After consulting the map we decided to pioneer a new route.  Provided we picked up Ullscarf Gill, it seemed we would avoid the cliffs to both sides and as long as we kept out of the gully bit we should get down unscathed.  Stan did tempt fate when crossing the gill and secured a minor drenching but that apart the descent was fortunately incident free.  When well down, we spotted a little hillock with what looked like cairn so, still having a modicum of enthusiasm left in the legs we climbed up to investigate.  It turned out to be no more than six foot (length) of wall with no apparent purpose.

It is very rare to be on a descent to Thirlmere with Helvellyn in front and we spotted a tarn, Harrop Tarn, low down that was a complete surprise to me.  So was the cramp that was starting to grip my legs!

Thirlmere and Harrop Tarn

Steel Fell from Steel End

We made our way down to Steel End and then prepared for the ascent of Dunmail Raise.  “From Steel End farm it was an easy stroll back to the top of Dunmail Raise and the car.”  So says BB0705 but we were not convinced that would be the case today with the extra climbing and mileage we had put in but fortunately, in what was by now excellent weather, the comment held true.  

Don,  27th June 2007

Distance: 10.3 Miles (Anquet / Harveys)

Height climbed: 3,022 feet (Anquet / Harveys)

Wainwrights:  Steel Fell, Calf Crag, Sergeant Man, High Raise, Ullscarf



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Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.

This page describes a 2007 adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

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