: The Nine Standards
or The Battle Of Birkett Hills
30th September 2010
on a Pennine ridge overlooking Kirkby Stephen stand
the Nine Standards: strange, man-made structures, rather
like the Men of Gragareth (BB1025)
but more of them. Other than by folk undertaking
the Coast to Coast Walk, they are seldom visited. However,
I wanted to see them without the encumbrance of a twelve
day, 200 mile trek.
alternative was for us to finish the Wainwrights but
the weather forecast was better for the east and that
plus time constraints settled the matter.
over to the Lune Gorge, it seemed that a day in bed
would have been a more sensible decision. The
cloud was low and it was pouring down. However,
once we turned east round the top of the Howgills, it
suddenly cleared and Kirkby Stephen was in bright sunshine.
Lack of sun cream was suddenly a concern!
parked the car in the (South Lakeland District Council
please note) FREE car park. I suppose the difference
in policy is that Eden needs to welcome visitors whereas
SLDC feels it does not need to attract them and can
just in effect levy taxes!
route took us through this nice old town, down and across
the river and out up by the Hartley Quarry.
seemed a much longer road slog than expected from the
map. Eventually we reached the open fell and a
convenient two-man, high backed seat. Stan chose
to stand, commenting that the seat was wet. Bryan
was still feeling the after-effects of his epic and
had no such qualms.
seat being put to good use
up the Pennine edge
the distance we could see the Nine Standards looking
like tiny figures on the horizon.
Nine Standards seen between two outlying guardians
Nine Standards with some serfs
When you reach
them, you find that they are well constructed and of
varying shapes and sizes, leaving you wondering the
what, whys and whens.
Or alternatively, stopping
for lunch, which we took using one of the larger standards
as a now much needed windbreak.
the actual summit is a view point with a fine engraving
showing the names of the distant hills and their bearings.
It seemed overcast around Scafell Pike which reconfirmed
our destination decision.
original plan had been next to strike out in a north-easterly
direction over path free moorland ridge to pick up a
distant track and return anti-clockwise. I had
to agree that it looked unappealing so, instead, we
accepted Bryan’s recommendation of continuing along
the C2C route before dropping down to the B6670 and
path was well trodden and, in parts, extremely boggy.
We reached a sign post that perplexed us. Two
C2C directions were shown, one for May to July, the other
for August to November. Our route was the one for the wrong
period and we wondered why it was seemingly forbidden?
Was it the danger of being mistaken for grouse
(of which there were quite a few) and thereby being
shot? We had heard no guns and anyway, we weren’t
doing the C2C so the prohibition didn’t apply to us,
gets that sinking feeling
than many more bogs, we encountered no difficulties
and eventually dropped down to the road. Here the mystery
of the different routes was solved. A notice board
explained that there were in fact three routes from
Kirkby Stephen to Keld to be followed at different times
of the year in order to reduce the impact of erosion-
a sign of how popular the Coast to Coast walk has become.
could have followed the road all the way to Kirkby Stephen
but chose instead to cut back across the lower moor,
over a limestone pavement to pass
above the head of an interesting valley- High Dukerdale
which is a bit like a smaller version of High Cup Nick
We followed a wall round and reached
the previously mentioned two man seat. Shortly
afterwards, rather than road-slog past the quarry, we
turned left to find an alternative route back. The
path didn’t quite seem to correspond with the map, which
is why the Battle of Birkett Hill erupted.
and I were stood side by side, each examining our own
map and surveying the view.
Birkett Hill directly behind us,” said Bryan, emphatically.
said I. “That’s Birkett Hill directly ahead.
that one over there behind us,” insisted Bryan pointing.
is not.” I contradicted, “It’s that one in front of
it’s right here on the map!” we both insisted, silently
mouthing things like “dumb cluck” or worse.
we were both right. Bizarrely, there are two Birkett
Hills, both marked on the map and less than a mile apart.
One directly in front and the other directly behind.
resolved and mutual confidence restored, we headed for
Ladthwaite and made a surprising discovery. First,
we spotted a red flag, then a parked aeroplane and finally
a hay-meadow runway.
The red flag was a windsock
for Ladthwaite International Airport! We stopped
to plane-spot for a while whilst enjoying a coffee but
all we saw on the runway were cows.
followed Ladthwaite Beck as it meandered across a meadow,
reminiscent of parts of the Dales Way.
it dropped into a wood, there
was yet another discovery to be made. Through a clearing we could see
that we were walking parallel with a huge limestone
cliff, Ewbank Scar, and that the beck was not running down what at
one time must have been the river bed. Instead,
it was hurtling down a narrow and perfectly straight
cleft in the rock, looking just like a natural mill
race or, perhaps, a Disney World log flume.
Ladthwaite Beck mill race ......
or log flume!
to Kirkby Stephen
I-Spy fans, there was one more treat in store.
in Kirkby Stephen was a signpost with the distances
marked in furlongs.
you remember Big Chief Odhu Nutingo?
If my memory serves me well,
he would have
awarded 50 points for such a rare sight!
30th September 2010
climbed in feet:
& Stan: 2 (unchanged) Bryan:
on the map for an enlargement.
you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow
the route in detail by downloading BB1036
see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing
For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.
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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
If you want to join
let us know and
of new BOOTboys reports.
Thursday 14th January
A Snowy Equipment Test
Thursday 21st January
Leave It To The Professionals
Thursday 28th January
That's A Lyth Record
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February
In Memory Of
Almost a Mountaineer!
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March
The Free Men on Tuesday
We'll Get Them In Singles,
The Fools on the Hill
The Windmills on the Moor
By Lake, Ridge and Wainwright
The Ten Lake Tour (+5Ws)
The Kentmere Challenge
Saturday 24th April
Winter in Springtime
Thursday 14th May
Red Screes and Sausages
The Mile High Club
What A Difference A Day Makes
Rendezvous on Haycock
The Men of Gragareth
The Smardale Round
Don't Shun The Shunner!
All Around the Edge
The Return of
Nick by Haggis
And Then There
A Surplus of Sheepfolds
A Good One For
The Wainwright Triathlon
21st - Thursday
The Nine Standards
or The Battle Of Birkett Hills
This Is The Way
A Return To Sanity?
A Succesion of
Saturday 30th January
Click on the photos
for an enlargement
or related large
see which Wainwright top was visited on which
outing see Which
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
anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know
and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!