BB0801  Avoiding the Graupel:  
Benson Knott, Lambrigg Fell and Summerhouse Hill

Wednesday 16th January 2008

I have learnt a new word.

In a week when two people have been blown to their deaths from the Helvellyn ridges (one from Swirral, one from Striding Edge) I thought it would pay to keep a close watch on the Met Office Mountain Weather forecast.  After some dire warnings of extreme conditions and gusts approaching 100 mph (what were mature men doing on the ridges in such conditions?) things started to get better:

    Due to it raining at all levels and a summit temperature of +1.9 degrees the snow pack is very wet, with a base layer of graupel, this has made the snow pack unstable, extreme care should be taken on steep east facing aspects. The summit area is covered in melting ice. The cornice on the east side of Helvellyn is weakly bonded and has 2 large cracks running along the full length approx 1.5m from the edge with a depth of 50 - 60 cm this should be avoided. There has been an Avalanche approx 150m x 40m between Viking and Pear buttress. Full winter clothing, footwear and equipment, including ice axe and crampons are recommended for anybody venturing above the snowline, and are essential if on steep ground.

There was the word: Graupel.

I looked it up in the not always reliable Wikipaedia.  It seems Graupel is a sort of extremely iced up snow flake and “they really hurt if they fall on your head”.  

On the other hand, Encyclopeadia Metallum suggests that Graupel is the name of a German "Raw Black Metal" group with lyrical themes of hatred and darkness. I am sure they too would really hurt if they fell on your head.

Staying Alive in Avalanche Terrain advises that Graupel looks and behaves like a pile of ball bearings.

Which ever definition you prefer, Graupel is clearly best avoided.  

Indeed, Wise Tony suggested that sixty year old nutters who go anywhere near graupel should be put in a home or locked up for their own protection!!


So, to avoid the graupel, Philip scuttled off to London, Martin decided it would be more fun drawing pictures of buildings, Stan thought that another day in bed sipping whisky to overcome a cold was more productive and Notso-Wise Tony excused himself because he was snivelling a bit as a result of sitting in Killington Lake on Sunday for five hours in pouring driving rain, freezing his nuts off.

And he thinks that’s fun?  

Personally, I think that sixty year old nutters who sit in lakes for hours on end in the rain should be put in a home or locked up for their own protection!!

It was against this background that Bryan and I kicked off BOOTboy year with the ascent of Benson Knott, all 1,040 feet of it.

I don’t think I have been up Benson Knott since Saturday 27th January 1973.  

I remember it well because it had snowed and Dave Gray and I went up in the morning, returning to watch that unforgettable rugby match in which the Barbarians stuffed the hitherto invincible All Blacks 23-11.  

Click on Gareth Edwards to see his third minute try, rated by many as one of the best ever.

Last night I could hardly sleep.  Was it the excitement of the prospect of an equally thrilling day?  Even the 5:30 a.m. shipping forecast did not make me nod off.  So it was a somewhat bleary Don who picked up Bryan at 9 at the garage where he was having his MOT done and then headed over to Morrisons to park.

I had anticipated the direct line of ascent of Benson Knott but Bryan, for once, advised otherwise on the grounds that it was not permitted under the CROW regulations and the only legitimate way up was from the Appleby Road.  

Consequently we headed off up Shap Road to the raging River Mint, took its north bank until we crossed into the interesting hamlet of Meal Bank and then climbed up the steep incline to the Appleby Road.  

From there, the first part of the ascent was by farm track but eventually we reached the fell proper and the twin peaks of Benson Knott.

Benson Knott from across a raging River Mint

Team picture with Kendal in the background

The twin peaks of Benson Knott

After the mandatory team picture, we backtracked a little then went down by the edge of the copse until eagle-eyed Bryan spotted in the wall the waymarker that had escaped me.  We made our way across fell and field past The Slough and Haygarth and up the bridle path onto Docker Fell and then Lambrigg Fell where our objective was the summit cairn, a new conquest for us both.  It was surprisingly wild up there, near the source of St Sunday’s Beck, with lots of heather tufts to be negotiated (quite tiring, lifting the feet so high) and then, worse, the burnt heather that tried continually to trip us up.  At the summit we had a good view down St Sunday’s Beck to the estuary.  We could also see the tips of the wind farm arms rotating and the tops of the Howgills and the lake district hills clearing, revealing the snow line.

Bryan at Lambrigg Fell Summit

Lambrigg windfarm with snowy Howgills

Our next objective was lunch, about which we were getting almost Tony-like obsessive but we wanted to get out of the wind.  Consequently we made our way past the wind farm, across the A684 Sedbergh Road, up a lane and onto a bridle path around the Roan Edge quarry where we found somewhere to sit, eat and enjoy the view (as long as one did not concentrate on the foreground)!  

Ignore the foreground!

Roan Edge Quarry

Killington Lake

The bridle path then takes you up a hill that is not named on the OS map except that the southern end is called Summerhouse Hill.  

Perhaps the whole fell is?  

Whatever, the view from the cairn on top near Killington Lake (which seemed to have recovered from having had Tony sat in it for five hours) is one of the great secrets of the district.

Neither of us had been here before and we were astounded.

There is an uninterrupted and absolutely superb 360 degree panorama.

Coniston Old Man and Wetherlam to the west

Howgills to the north

Helm to the South West

By this time, we needed to return to Kendal so at the southern end of Summerhouse Hill we headed east, past Hall Brink (where we saw a hare skipping across the field), Millrigg, and New Hutton where a brummy proudly told us the story of the greyhound statues on the churchgate, the stolen greyhound statue on the school gate and the fact that Lord Sleddale, whose family symbol is the greyhound, had intended to build alms houses in New Hutton but having found the vicar drunk one day, built them on Aynam Road in Kendal instead.

New Hutton Church with Sleddale Greyhounds

Holme Park

I was particularly interested in the next section of the route as one of my old pals from school in Manchester discovered that some of his ancestors lived on Hayfell (where we were heading) but attended church at New Hutton.  There is no direct road route these days but there is a well marked direct path via Hawkrigg, Hill Top, Holme Park (ex school, soon to be apartments) and Windy Hill Farm.

By this time we were finding the climbs between properties a little wearing.  We made our way along Paddy Lane, accompanied by a sturdy chocolate Labrador who seemed to want to adopt us until collected by his master in a van after a couple of miles.  

There was a good view of the twin peaks of Benson Knott in the evening sun.

We turned into Fowl Ing Lane which took us down past the Garden House Hotel and back to the Appleby Road and the short return to Morrisons. 

The twin peaks of Benson Knott

Legs were tired but still working reasonably well considering we had done over 16 miles at an average speed, when moving, of 2.7 miles per hour.

The secret reason for having chosen this route (apart from avoiding the graupels) can now be admitted. We have entered a 23.5 mile organised walk on 27th January into the Lyth Valley and back and we needed to get some training in.  We have 9 hours to complete the That’s Lyth walk to get our badge and on this showing, even if we manage the extra distance without problem, it is going to be very tight on time.  Bryan, however, remains confident.  But then last time he did it, he ran all the way round!

 Don, 16th January 2008

Distance: 16.8 miles  (Garmin/ Memory Map)

Height climbed: 2,690 feet (estimated- Anquet)

Wainwrights:  None!

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!



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2008 Outings

BB0801 : Avoiding the Graupel;  
16 January

BB0802 : Lyth in the Old Dogs; 22 January

BB0803 : That's Lyth;
27 January

BB0804 : Tony's Memory Lane;
30th January

BB0805 : Fell's Belles!  Thank You Mells?  
6th February

BB0806 : The Langdale Skyline and a Fell Race!
13th February

BB0807a: An Outbreak of Common Sense;
21st February 2008

BB0807b: Askham Fell and  the Lowther Estate;   
13th March 2008

BB0808 : Thanks to the MWIS
19th March 2008

BB0809 :  High Street and Kidsty Pike but no Fairy
28th March 2008

BB0810 :  Prelude to Spring
2nd April 2008

BB0811 :  Spring in Lakeland
6th April 2008

BB0812 :  Wet, Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
Thursday 10th April 2008 

BB0813 :  What's It All About, Tony?
Thursday 17th April 2008 

BB0814 :  The Hidden Mountain
Tuesday 22nd April 2008 

BB0815 :  The Bowland CROW
Thursday 1st May 2008

BB0816 :  High Cup Nick:
The Gurt La'al Canyon
Wednesday 7th May 2008

BB0817 :  Travelling Light
Wednesday 14th May 2008


BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda  
23rd February - 1st March


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



Bryan has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which Bootboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of Bootboys.  

To download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.  

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


BOOT boys

This page describes an 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!

If you want to contact us, click on