BB1033 : A Surplus of Sheepfolds

Thursday 2nd September 2010

The green bulk of Barbon Low Fell stood on the eastern skyline like an invitation, and I couldn’t resist its summons.

So wrote Christopher Summerville in the Times on 24th July and John, knowing that the two slave drivers were away, suggested we follow suit as an easier day out.

What was surprising about the Times article was that Summerville totally failed to mention the Andy Goldsworthy sculptures that he passed on his return to Barbon..  

Perhaps he was just totally unimpressed by the seemingly purposeless Millennium sheepfolds with no entrances?  

Or maybe he was focussed on an interesting companion and just didn't notice them?  

Or had he not actually been there since the Millennium?

I had intended to start the walk from Casterton but John persuaded me to press on up Barbondale to park at Blind Beck Bridge.  

This meant we could inspect Goldworthy’s Jack’s Fold, which Summerville could be excused for not seeing as he would have been in the woods on the other side of the valley.

Technically, I think this is a bield, not a fold, as it is a shelter with no means of enclosure (see BB0823) but we won't worry too much about that!

Jack's Fold

On setting off, we noticed a couple sat by the side of their road, picnic gear at the ready, obviously on grandparent duty for the day.

They noticed four old men raggedly preparing themselves for a walk.  Then we realised that the grandfather was occasional BOOTboy Stuart H and he realised that the four old men were his occasional colleagues!  Small world.

Pleasantries exchanged, we set off up the bridle path to Bullpot Farm, which, as reported in BB0714, is now a caving centre.  The day was warmer than expected and we were soon stripping off layers.  

Looking across Barbondale to Thorn Moor

The sign to Bullpot

Bullpot Farm

From Bullpot, there was a bit of a road slog before we turned onto a trail gently climbing the hill.  The Summerville route dropped back to the road but it was such a short and inviting detour to Brownthwaite Pike that we could not resist the temptation to climb it. At the summit is a huge cairn and one of the bigger wind shelters; not that we needed it today.

 Looking across Gale Garth to Crag Hill

Comitibus: Brownthwaite Pike

We shocked Tony.  You may recall that his regime is that he must eat at twelve noon and our normal practice is to torture him by forcing him to wait until we have summated before eating, often long after one o’clock.  Well, today, we had summited and could think of no reason to delay eating so we thoroughly confused him because it was only eleven thirty!

Hazy view of Kirkby Lonsdale and Casterton

After lunch, we dropped back down to the track, which rejoined the road we had left earlier.  Here we lost Philip.  The hedgerows were full of brambles and he was determined to take the best of them home with him.

Philip brambling

A real sheepfold

We regrouped at the Fellfoot Road crossing.  This unsurfaced lane is where there are sixteen of the Goldsworthy sheepfolds, all with a large stone block in the middle, starting with one at the left hand far corner.  




Admittedly two of them are off to the left but in the next 1.2 miles we would encounter thirteen more of them, plus a few more conventional ones.  




Not all of them are obvious, but it would be surprising to miss all fourteen.  And the question that springs to mind is why such tiny sheepfolds, most having no apparent way in for sheep, would ever have been built around such large, flat-topped stones?




Other than a bit of fun for children and old fools to climb into and onto, what is their purpose?  

And more importantly, who paid?  

Did the money come out of our taxes?  

If so, letter to George Osborne with suggestion of a good place to start with spending cuts.




At the eleventh, the central stone was particularly large, big enough for four old fools to climb onto and have a team picture so I set the camera up precariously on the wall on the opposite side of the lane whilst the other three climbed into the fold.  Tony made it up onto the rock but John and Philip thought better of it and just stood to the side.  My goal was to carefully trigger the camera, making sure it did not fall off into the brambles in the process, rush across the lane, climb the stone stile, go round to the side of the stone, use a small ledge as a launching pad onto the top and stand before the ten seconds delay was up.

Attempt number one went very smoothly and I achieved the standing position but unfortunately was about a second too late.

Attempt number two flopped when my foot slipped off the ledge and I failed to make it onto the stone.

Attempt number three got off to a flying start and I hurled myself onto the stile only to give my knee a great whack on the wall in the process. Despite this, I did manage to limp onto the stone on time in an almost standing position but, for some strange reason, the camera over-exposed the photo and the great effort was to no avail.

By this time the others had had enough, and so had I.  So the photo used is the first where I can be seen one second before being where I should have been!

The ill-fated #11

#14 and last

The lane met the road, which doubles as the Cumbria Cycleway.  John’s knee, which has been re-engineered twice, was troubling him so we decided to take the short cut back to the car.  

Brownthwaite Pike from the Cumbria Cycleway

We continued along the lane, past the rather fine house, Whelprigg and with the rather fine Barbon Manor in view (availalble to rent if you have a spare £40k per annum), back to the Barbondale road and Blind Beck Bridge.  Stuart and grandchildren had moved on. Probably not to Barbon Manor.


Barbon Manor

It had been good walk on a beautiful if somewhat hazy day.  We are grateful to Christopher Summerville for bringing it to our attention but are still surprised that no comment was made about the sheepfolds.  So, if he, or anyone else, wants to know more about the Goldsworthy sheepfolds, have a look at Sheepfolds Cumbria.

 Don, 2nd September 2010


I subsequently visited Christopher's Summerville's website and found a page where visitors could leave comments.  On it was a posting from a lady who had enjoyed his walk but had been intrigued the sheepfolds and wondered if he had any information about them.  I entered a comment that we had also enjoyed the walk and had wondered why they had not been mentioned.  I added a link to this BOOTboys page as a place where information about the Goldsworthys could be found.

This led to the following response from Christopher Summerville:

Thank you for getting in touch. I'm not sure I care for your insinuation in your online Bootboys page that I would use a walk I'd done ten years ago as one of my Times 'A Good Walk's, without rewalking it. Hopefully it was made with tongue firmly in cheek!

I did in fact do this walk in early July this year. Not everyone who does the same walk notices or comments on the same thing, you know! The walk I wrote about was the one that I personally did, enjoyed and noted. That's the beauty of walking - we all make something different of it. Next time I pass that way, thanks to you, I'll notice and appreciate the Goldsworthy sheepfolds

I would be grateful if, in the interests of balance, you would post this on your Bootboys page, so that anyone who reads your assertions can also read mine!

Happy walking, and good wishes,

Christopher Somerville





2nd Septembert 2010

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Other Features:

Brownthwaite Pike,
Goldsworthy Sheepfolds

Wainwright Countdown:

Don & Stan: 2, Bryan: 7 (all unchanged)


Don, John, Philip, Tony


If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow our route in detail by downloading BB1033.

To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.



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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 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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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January 

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February

BB1008 :
In Memory Of
Thomas Williamson
Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Thursday 25th March

BB1013 :
The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April

BB1014 :
The Windmills on the Moor
Wednesday 7th April

BB1015 :
By Lake, Ridge and Wainwright
Sunday 11th April

BB1016 :
The Ten Lake Tour (+5Ws)
Thursday 15th April

BB1017 :
The BessyBOOT
Thursday 22nd April

BB1018 :
The Kentmere Challenge
Saturday 24th April

BB1019 :
Winter in Springtime
Thursday 14th May

BB1020 :
Red Screes and Sausages
Thursday 20th May

BB1021 :
The Mile High Club
Thursday 27th May

BB1022 :
What A Difference A Day Makes
Thursday 3rd June

BB1023 :
Something Brutal
Thursday 10th June

BB1024 :
Rendezvous on Haycock
Thursday 17th June

BB1025 :
The Men of Gragareth
Thursday 24th June

BB1026 :
The Smardale Round
Thursday 1st July

BB1027 :
Don't Shun The Shunner!
Thursday 8th July

BB1028 :
All Around the Edge
Thursday 29th July

BB1029 :
The Return of Uncle Jamie
Thursday 5th August

BB1030 :
The Examination Results
Thursday 12h August

BB1031 :
Nick by Haggis
Thursday 19th August

BB1032 :
And Then There Were Two
Thursday 26th August

BB1033 :
A Surplus of Sheepfolds
Thursday 2nd September

BB1034 :
A Good One For Tony
Thursday 23rd September


BSB2010 :
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February

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To see which Wainwright top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys
click on BB Log.

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