BB0934 : Unlocking the Whinlatters

Largely unnoticed due to the grandeur of the peaks around them, in the north west of the Lake District is a group of hills to the north of the Whinlatter Pass.  Paradoxically, the most prominent is also the smallest- Barf, which is recognised as the towering cliff above the old Swan Hotel at the south east corner of Bassenthwaite Lake.

This group comprises five Wainwrights that superficially look as if they can be accommodated in one easy round.  Until, that is, you realise that the area is heavily forested and access may be challenging.  It is Whinlatter itself that presents the problem- the other four are in a convenient and not impeded line.

When Bryan did the group, he concocted a rather convoluted route to get in and out of Whinlatter before escaping to tackle the remaining four.  I was even contemplating abandoning Whinlatter for another day and just doing the four as an out and back from the Swan.  Stan, however, had different ideas and insisted that there must be a way through the forest so I promised to do more research.  I found the solution thanks to Sean McMahon's Striding Edge website on which he recorded his successful circuit.  He obviously went round on a somewhat better day than that which we enjoyed and his photos are so good that it is tempting to cease this report here and just direct readers to his excellent photo diary!

We parked at the Spout Force Car Park and set off up the Forestry commission track up the little known Aiken Valley.  The weather was unexpectedly dry, albeit becoming grey, which didnít detract from the autumn colourings visually but sadly this is not carried through to the photographs.

Setting off up the Aiken Valley- Graystones on the left

Stan and I were marching on rather too vigorously and we had to be called back by Bryan who questioned when we intended to actually climb the fell.  We couldnít initially identify the point at which Sean had branched off, partly because what we saw on the map didnít translate to what we saw on the ground due to the extent of tree felling that has taken place over the years.  With a bit of to-ing and fro-ing and a rare check of the gps we realised that we had gone a little too far and should have climbed at the point at which the trees ceased and the felling had started- rather obvious really in hindsight.  We decided therefore on the direttissimo approach.  It was hard work.  

The line of the ascent- Graystones behind

The ground was not just steep but complicated with lots of tree stumps to be negotiated between the clumps of heather.  Fortunately the hill is not huge and the pain was soon behind us.

The Aiken Valley, with Pete on the ascent.  Broom Fell and Lord's Seat behind

Just before Brown How summit, we discovered a well-trodden path that had come up from somewhere in the direction of the car.  Clearly there is a better way up than our brutal route!

Whinlatter from Brown How

After the Whinlatter Top the choice was whether to take the direct route to the forest corner, where we were confident would lie a path through the dense plantation, or the indirect route.  Stan chose the former which meant some descent and wading through bog.  The rest of us chose the longer route, which maintained height and solid ground.  It was a close call.

Meanwhile, I discovered that my Garmin gps had switched itself off, something it is prone to do. Thinking that batteries were the problem, I was using a brand new set of the finest rechargeable batteries fired up by a brand new top of the range charger.  But it still did it. Was it because I had put it in the same pocket as my mobile phone and they had interfered with each other?  More research needed but I switched it back on.

On entering the forest, there was a path but, boy, was it dark!  Somehow, digital cameras are able to see through the gloom and the photograph doesnít convey the blackness into which we plunged to the accompaniment of Stan singing the Teddy Bearís Picnic.

If you go down to the woods today....

Skiddaw with Barf trying to hide in front

This phase didnít last long and we soon reached a fairly open trail.  We had intended to take Barf before Lordís Seat but missed the traverse due to the clarity of the path we were on- judging by the volume of people, it was part of the Whinlatter Visitor Centre Experience!  In hindsight, I think we made a better route this way round.

On the way down to Barf, Stan and I were again called to order by Bryan.  Pete, who had left Cheshire very early to join us, was by now desperately hungry and threatening to rebel so we sheltered out of a very cold wind to take lunch.

Approaching Barf, Skiddaw behind

Comitibus: Barf

Barf is an interesting little top with magnificent views over Bassenthwaite Lake and, to a lesser extent, Derwent Water.  

Skiddaw across Bassenthwaite Lake from Barf

Unfortunately however, we were unable to see the Bishop of Bath or his Clerk, which is a shame as I had planned to relate the story.  Well, why not!

The Bishop of Barf is clearly visible from the A591.  It is a seven foot high, white painted stone.  The story is that in 1783, the Bishop of Derry drunkenly waged that he could ride up the hill.  However the rock is as far as he got before falling from his horse to his death. The Clerk is a smaller stone at the base of the hill where reputedly, the Bishop and his horse are buried.

If you want to see photos- Sean can oblige!

Lord's Seat from Barf

Binsey across Bassenthwaite Lakef

From Barf we contoured round Lordís Seat to Todd Fell and Broom Fell and then along the broad ridge down to Widow Hause and up to Graystones.  

Looking down the Aiken Valley from Todd Fell

Broom Fell cairn, solarized!

Graystones cairn, solarized!

Across Widow Hause to Graystones

Scawgill Bridge

The final descent is very steep but it was turning into a lovely late afternoon so half way down we stopped for a brew and to admire the view.  A book has just been published about the bridges of Cumbria.  It must surely include Scawgill Bridge.

The view from  the Graystones descent across to Whinlatter and beyond to Grisedale Pike

Spout Force

Stan's cousin's Jacuzzi!

Finally, we detoured to see Spout Force.

This is a quite impressive waterfall but not sufficiently so to light up the face of the guy carrying a guitar- seemingly his minstrel ways had not impressed his lady.

I have commented ad nauseum in previous reports about the beauty of the A591 and it lived up to its reputation on the way home.

Autumnal splendour exemplified.

Which leaves me with just two things to say.

Firstly, Thank You Sean for providing the key to unlocking the Whinlatters.  As he subsequently said to me in an e-mail, "It's a nice little round, that one."

And secondly, to breath a sigh of relief that what I came home to was rather less of a shock than that of Stanís cousin when he saw what was to be found in his Jacuzzi!  

But then he does live in the U.S.A.!


Don, 22nd October 2009

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Thursday 22nd October 2009


9.2 miles

Height climbed:

2,608 feet


Whinlatter, Lord's Seat, Barf,
Broom Fell, Graystones

Other Features:

Aiken Valley


Bryan, Don, Pete, Stan




If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB0934.

Steve G advises: "For those who like to look at your meanderings but use Tracklogs or other software then your logs can be converted using the freeware utility GPS Babel."

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

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, and certainly not from any skin head associations or other
type of social group,
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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2009 Outings

  • BB0901 : A Gordon Day Out
    Thursday 8th January
  • BB0902 : Thank You,
    Aunty Ethel!
    Wednesday 14th January 
  • BB0903 : A Wicked Hike???
    Wednesday 21st January
  • BB0904 : Take a Mug With You
    Sunday 25th January
  • BB0905 : Down in the Forest
    Thursday 29th January
  • BB0906 : Not How But Where?
    Thursday 5th February
  • BB0907 : Binsey Can Wait
    (but Uncle Monty Can Not)
    Thursday 12th February
  • BB0908 : Badgers on the Line
    Thursday 5th March
  • BB0909 : It's not a W!
    Thursday 12th March
  • BB0910 : Up on the Roof
    Thursday 26th March
  • BB0911 : Not the Blisco Dashers
    Thursday 2nd April
  • BB0912 : John's Comeback
    Monday 6th April
  • BB0913 : Two Churches, a Pulpit and a Cherry Picker
    Thursday, 23rd April
  • BB0914 : Companions of the BOOT
    Thursday 30th April
  • BB0915 : The Gale Force Choice
    Thursday 7th May
  • BB0916 : The Comeback Continues
    Thursday 21st May
  • BB0917 : BOOTboys Encore !
    28th May - 2nd June
  • BB0918 : Hello Dollywagon
    Thursday 11th June
  • BB0919 : Has Anyone Seen Lily?
    Thursday 18th June
  • BB0920 : Ancient Feet on the Greenburn Horseshoe
    Thursday 25th June
  • BB0921 : The Tebay Fell Race Walk
    Thursday 2nd July
  • BB0922 : For England and St George 
    Thursday 9th July
  • BB0923 : The Coniston Outliers
    Friday 31st July
  • BB0924 : Little To Be Said In Favour?
    Thursday 6th August
  • BB0925 : The Third Night of the Rescue 
    Thursday 13th August
  • BB0926 : Long Wet Windy Monty Bothy Fun?
    Thursday 20th August
  • BB0927 : Dear Mrs Scroggins
    Friday 11th September
  • BB0928 : An Ard Day's Hike
    Thursday 17th September
  • BB0929 : A Canter of Convalescents?
    Thursday 24th September
  • BB0930 : BOOTboys International Autumnal Expedition
    Wednesday 23rd to
    Sunday 27th September
  • BB0931 : A Bit of an Adventure
    Thursday 1st October
  • BB0932 : Paths of Glory?
    Thursday 8th October
  • BB0933 : When Yorkshire Was Welsh
    Wednesday 14th October
  • BB0934 : Unlocking the Whinlatters
    Thursday 22nd October
  • BB0935 : A Tale of Crinkley Bottoms
    hursday 5th November
  • BB0936 : Aye Up What?
    hursday 12th November
  • BB0937 : Where Eagles Wade
    Tuesday 17th November
  • BB0938 : After the Floods
    Thursday 26th November
  • BB0939 : The Mystery of the Missing Glove
    Thursday 10th December
  • BB0940 : A Too Short Walk
    Thursday 17th December
  • BB0941 : One Hundred and Onesfell
    Tuesday 29th December



  • BH0901 : Back to the Beginning 
    Thursday 13th August
  • BSKIB09 : BOOTskiboys in Saalbach
    14th - 21st March
  • BB09XX : Los Chicos y las Chicas de la Bota
    11th - 14th May
  • BB09Bav01 : Peaked Too Soon
    1st September



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



To download a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys 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