BB0814 :  The Hidden Mountain

Tuesday 22nd April 2008

In my experience (long and hard earned) there are three types of hangover:  

  • First, there is the eleven o’clock variety (the time by which it clears); these are actually quite useful if you have a difficult morning meeting as they enable you to be even more grumpy than normal.
  • Next, there is the two o’clock type where it is better to lie low through the morning in the sincere hope and belief that all will be well after some food inside you at lunch.
  • Finally, there is the all-day-oh-god-I’m-never-going-to-touch-another-drop sort about which nothing more needs to be said.

The advantage, or so it seemed, of this week’s outing having an afternoon start was that I could indulge in a bit of Tony-type training the previous evening and, provided things didn’t get out of hand, recover from an eleven o’clocker in time to set off.  So, Jamie (who is home for a few days from Crete) and I settled down to a convivial evening of bottles of Stella Artois chased by fingers of Laphroaig.

At seven-thirty this morning when the alarm went off for me to inject the cat (Bob is diabetic and needs twice daily shots of insulin) I was pleasantly surprised not to have incurred any of the above states from the Stella and ‘Froggy session, just a general slowness, although that itself was a bit worrying.  Slowness can linger on, especially when exercise is involved and today there would be some exercise.

With Tony away on one of his continental biking jaunts (of which no doubt we will hear more) and Stan on his knees praying to the bathroom tiling god, there was an opportunity for me to pull back the deficit on the Wainwright count.  Along with Bryan, they had visited Grey Friar, Great Carrs and Swirl How on BB0721 (and had extended to Wetherlam).  This was my opportunity not only to put my ticks alongside theirs but also to draw level with Stan at 68 remaining.  Not that we are competitive about these things, of course!  At first, I thought I would overtake him but detailed scrutiny showed that I had wrongly attributed one W to me that was really his and I would never have got that past the scrutineers!

Looking at the Harveys map, I was surprised at the height of Swirl How.  At 2,638 feet it is higher than all the surrounding peaks including Wetherlam and Coniston Old Man (just). OS and Wainwright disagree and put Swirl How at 2,630 feet, three foot lower than the Old Man.  I suppose it depends whether you measure to the top or bottom of the cairn as it certainly has a big one!  Anyway, the point is that I could not recall seeing it.  And that is exactly why- it is surrounded by hills of about the same height.  It is a hidden mountain.

We had our guide for the afternoon as Bryan wisely thought that an opportunity to get out into the hills was better than painting his hallway.  Especially as it was, in Kendal at least, a bright warm almost summerish day, although still rather cool for Jamie- he is used to Cretan temperatures; in Heraklion today it was 36 degrees Celsius!

The path to Levers Water

As we set off, my main concern was not of the self-inflicted slowness but the fact that I had spent a large part of the morning crouched planting onions and my leg hurt.  Would I be able to walk it off?  Fortunately I did and we reached Levers Water at what Bryan called Challenge Pace.

Levers Water, Swirl How still hidden

Cclimbing up to Levers Hawse was a different matter.  Jamie romped up, showing the advantage of legs that are almost exactly half the age of mine.  However, the slowness I had feared started to set in.  I kept thinking of an old Donovan song, “Hey Gyp, dig the slowness” but that was all I could remember of it!  No tune, no words, so I mentally switched on my normal climbing song that has got me up many a steep hill:

    Guide me O Thou Great Redeemer.  

At a very slow speed.  

    Pil - grim -  through -  this -  bar - ren -  land.

Bryan was very good and tried to keep me motivated with talk about Ann Bowker’s website Mad About Mountains (see BB0813) .....

    I - am -  weak - but - Thou - art - might - y.

..... and how that had kept him from going mad during his latter days at work- he would turn to her almost daily photo postings to remind him of that to which he could look forward after retirement.   

    Hold - me - with -  thy - pow - erful - hand.

And he reminded me that last time I had gone up Levers Hawse I had attempted to reel in a group of kids.

    Bread - of - He - a - ven. 

I checked the BB0607 write-up later; Bryan was right of course.

    Bread - of -  He - a - ven.

But I had found it hard work.

    Feed - me - till - I - want - no - more.

And that was when I was younger.

    .... want - no - more.

I’m an old man now.

    Feed - me - till - I - want - no - more.

Seathwaite Tarn and Grey Friar from Levers Hawse

Once on the shoulder, things started to improve and it was a pleasant curve round to climb the remaining bit to Grey Friar.  It was still a nice day but rather windy so we got down between some rocks for afternoon tea plus a navigation lesson from Bryan for Jamie.  This was needed as he is taking a party round the 3 Yorkshire peaks on Saturday and it might be a little misty!


Afternoon Tea Team  Picture on Grey Friar


The Navigation Lesson

The panoramic views were spectacular.

Scafells in the distance with Crinkles in the foreground

Jamie navigated us successfully across to Great Carrs and then around the curved ridge with its killer steep drop should he get it wrong, to Swirl How, both of which we could see perfectly but that is not the point.  


Swirl How from Great Carrs


Great Carrs from Swirl How

Our route had taken us past the crashed plane memorial where we paid our respects to the eight Canadians who died in 1944 when their Halifax failed to clear the Great Carrs summit.


The 1944 Crashed Plane on Great Carrs


Looking past the plane back to Grey Friar

After Swirl How, from which there are scant views to the east and south beyond Wetherlam, Brim Fell, Coniston Old Man and Dow Crag, thereby confirming its hidden status, we dropped down Prison Band (how did it get that name?) and took the track to Levers Water where we had another drink stop.  We then crossed the dam and had a look at the fenced-off old mine workings.  From there, it was a simple trail back to the car and a pleasant drive home in the evening sunshine.


Levers Water with The Old Man from  Prison Band


Old mine workings

What a special place the Lake District is. It is so accessible.  Big enough for variety and challenge, small enough that anywhere can be done in the day and lots of truly rewarding expeditions in an afternoon.  Even on a slow one!

And I got my three ticks!


Levers Water looking across to Levers Hawse

Open now the crystal fountain

Whence the healing stream doth flow;

Let the fire and cloudy pillar

Lead me all my journey through:

Strong deliverer, strong deliverer;

Be thou still my strength and shield;

Be - thou - still -
                  my - strength - and - shield.

Talking of songs, did the Happy Hippo in BB0813 sing for you?  
If not, have another go!

Don, 22nd April 2008


Regarding Swirl How, there is discussion concerning doubt about its height at Wikipedia.  These two 360 degree panorama photo links showing the size of the cairn and limited view are worth looking at:

Ann Bowker's  Mad About Mountains and Andrew Leaney's Lakeland Fells


Regarding BB0813 and Tony's completion of the Far Eastern Fells, a special edition of the book has just appeared to celebrate his achievements:





8.5 miles

Height climbed:

2,756 feet


Grey Friar, Great Carrs, Swirl How


If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB0814 tracklog.

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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BOOT boys


Home Page








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