A Braithwaite Base Camp! (Vol. 1)

Distance: 9 miles

Wainwright count (round 2): 4

Wainwrights: Crag Hill, Sail, Outerside, Barrow

Who with: JP, Susie (The Patterdale Terrier)


It had been almost 12 months since I last ventured out into the fells with JP, what with life getting in the way, so we made the commitment to book a weekend in Braithwaite for early in 2019. We have had about four weekends planned in for 2018, but with one thing or another, it is easy for busy lives to take over, but not this time!

We are heading to Aviemore, for the second consecutive year, later in January for our annual winter mountaineering adventures, so we needed to get some miles in the legs. This couldn’t have been more needed, given the excesses of alcohol and mince pies at Christmas! 

We arrived at the Royal Oak pub, in Braithwaite, early evening on the Friday, after work, and retreated to the bar to ‘discuss our walk’. This took some time, and required a number of ales and a sample of the bar menu, which really did help us prepare for the next day’s wander. 

We set off from the pub, at around 9am, due to breakfast not being available until 8.30am, from which a short walk up the road towards Whinlatter, led us to the start of the path up the valley. The path which runs parallel to Coledale Beck for a couple of miles, then passes the old mine below Force Crag, before crossing the Beck and beginning to climb up towards Coledale Hause. 

JP is still chipping away at his Wainwright tally, which still has around 50 un-conquered fells. The completion of which has formed part of his 2019 New Year’s Resolution! I completed my first round a couple of years ago, but still enjoy any opportunity to venture up into the hills. I found the Wainwright walks a great way to explore Lakeland, and enjoyed the journey; and it is for this same reason that I am using the Munros to explore other parts of Scotland. Geography and a young family however, make the logistics of getting up the Munros slightly more complex than the one hour drive up the motorway towards Cumbria!

As we continued up towards the path to Coledale Hause, which soon passed when we were non-stop chatting and putting the world to rights, we took a few minutes to take in the vista, which had opened up. Straight down the valley, we had views over Braithwaite and the start of Keswick, which is overshadowed by the fells surrounding Skiddaw. It was a dull, but relatively clear day (for the Lake District) with the cloud clinging to the higher tops, but still very mild for this time of year.

We did this very same walk, on the same weekend last year (not that we are creatures of habit, or anything), when the thermometer on my tent at Scotgate campsite, in Briathwaiteread -5 degrees celcius in the morning, and it was even colderagain at the top of Grizedale Pike, with icy winds. Winter has most definitely not arrived in Cumbria in 2019….yet!

Once we had enjoyed the view (caught our breath), we followed the path up towards the cross-roads, and headed East up the climb towards Crag Hill. As we ascended, we headed into the cloud, which was clinging to the top of the fells – and didn’t dissipate throughout the day. We continued over the summit – the highest point of the walk at 839m, where we met a few dozen fellow walkers, heading in all different directions, but we followed the path down over relatively rough terrain towards the col, in between Crag Hill and Sail.

From here we dropped out of the cloud before re-gaining the height we had just lost, on the way up to Sail. It was here we stopped for some lunch, and a flask of coffee, in a sheltered spot behind some rocks. We stayed here for around 20 minutes when the cold started to bite a little, so we carried on over the summit, before taking the leisurely path down to the ‘cross-road’ in the col. 

It was here that we decided to head North West, heading down towards the lower fell of Outerside, which stands at 568m. We dropped around 120m below this on the path, before cutting over some boggy ground and re-climbing our lost height up to the top of the fell, which is a nice little walk – providing some good views over Braithwaite and beyond. 

With Braithwaite in sight, we descended back down to the path, which we left twenty minutes prior, crossed above Stile End and gently climbed up the final fell of the day, which was Barrow. Standing at 455m it is a nice little fell for an evening dog walk, and offers great views down the valley. 

It was here about 10-12 years ago that my wife sat downhalfway down Barrow in protest of tiredness, eating a cheese and onion pasty, as she was tired after walking the full round! She wouldn’t believe me that we were only a 15-minute downhill walk away from a drink and an evening meal at the very pub that JP and I were staying in this weekend!

So, in a similar fashion to all those years ago, we followed the path down, through the village and back to the inn, after a really enjoyable day on the fells. Our first port of call was a swift pint in the bar, before retiring to our room for a shower and a freshen up.

All in all – a cracking day out, which was followed by a few beers and a steak dinner…had worse Saturday’s!


Leave a Reply