Thursday, 18 April 2013


Each time I drive over Shap summit on the M6 I glance to the side to look for the small pyramidal summit of Kidsty Pike.  It’s a striking view amongst the rounded summits of the far-eastern fells and one that’s not overly familiar to those bagging the Wainwrights.

My goal for the day was to tick the Outlying Fells of the Seat Robert and Howes chapters in Wainwright’s book 8, and possibly the Nuttall of Branstree NE top.  It was yet another excursion into the Shap fells but probably my last for quite some time.

Seat Robert summit

The walk was one of solitude although the summits thereabouts are easily won and are pleasant places to be, despite the boggy nature of the terrain.  Seat Robert is a place to linger, with superb views of Cross Fell to the east and the High Street fells to the west.  Fewling Stones is an equally relaxing spot.  And both have a good view of the outstanding Kidsty Pike.

Haskew Tarn

Haskew Tarn was a worthwhile distraction from the summits, although as it was a day following a recent cold spell, the ground was easier to walk on than I suspect it would be once it had thawed.

Brunt Tongue

I descended to Mosedale Beck bridge where I rested for a while and enjoyed the view of the Brunt Tongue ridge, before taking in the ascent to the Howes ridge.  The walk had taken longer than expected so I was in two minds about ticking the Branstree top, but as it was the only Nuttall in the far-eastern fells that I hadn’t ticked, I decided to go for it as I didn’t want to return just for that summit.  There was quite a bit more snow at this height, but a fellrunner had left some convenient footprints for me to follow, making the walk just a bit easier.

High Street

There was an excellent view of the east face of High Street from the small summit cairn, but there wasn’t much else to recommend staying here for any longer.  I retraced my steps and easily reached the top of Howes before descending some well-consolidated neve on the way to Nabs Moor.  This afforded a nice view of Swindale before heading for home via the Mosedale Beck bridge and the boggy track back towards Tailbert.

This 10-hour day allowed me to tick 7 Outlying Fells, leaving only 7 to do.  Unfortunately, they’re spread out over the national park from far west to south-east but I’m sure that one or two will surprise me with some unusual views.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

A New English Mountain

While browsing on Twitter this morning I came across a tweet posted by Grough announcing a “new” mountain had been found in England – Thack Moor.

Of course, the summit in question has always been there and its height has been constant – no tectonic upheaval has caused the mountain to rise – but recent surveys have determined that its summit height exceeded the 2000 feet required for “mountain” status.  And the margin by which it exceeded the benchmark height ?  2 centimetres !

By all accounts Thack Moor is one of a number of otherwise unremarkable northern Pennine moorland summits with its appeal being the quiet afforded by its relatively remote location – just north of the Hartside Pass summit on the A686.

The article on Grough’s website has significance for those hillwalkers who bag either HEWITTS or Nuttalls as Thack Moor has now been added to both of these hill lists.

There are usually grumblings within the bagging community when a mountain is promoted with some debate about whether those who have previously completed a list need to visit the “new” summit.  I take the view that if somebody has completed a list as it stood on the date of completion, they can retain “completer” status.  But I’d head out and tick it if I hadn’t already done so !

As many hill lists are specifically defined by summit height and prominence, I welcome these surveys as I am always keen to see accurate data – it’s a characteristic of my job !  Some say that the lists should be left alone – a view taken by many Munro enthusiasts – but I disagree.  If a definition is based only on measurable criteria then the classification will always be subject to change resulting from increasingly accurate surveys.

The Nuttalls is a list that I’m slowly working my way through so Thack Moor has now been added to my “To Do” list – I’m looking forward to visiting an area of the country that I’ve not been to before.

G & J Surveys (a team whose members are Graham Jackson, John Barnard and Myrddyn Phillips) carried out the survey with the results being confirmed by the Ordnance Survey.  This is the team whose previous surveys have resulted in the “demotion” of a Munro or two over the past couple of years.  I’m sure they’ll provide a few more reclassifications in months and years to come !