Rosthwaite High Fell?
The Scafell massif sends two arthritic finger ridges north into Borrowdale: the stubby thumb of Sea-thwaite Fell - widely associated with its rain gauge recording it as the wettest ground in England; the high rolling Glaramara ridge ending in the knobby-knuckled Rosthwaite Fell, beginning from the false Esk Hause, the pass carrying the ancient high path from Great Langdale to Wasdale, ground swells onto Allen Crags then rocks and rolls north via Lincomb Tarn to culminate on Glaramara. Glaramara echoes of mysterious Irish origins, scrabbling through sources suggests it to be Irish Norse, though problematic perhaps it translates as ‘the shieling of the ravines’.
The ridge splits around Comb Gill with Thorneythwaite Fell falling swiftly towards Seatoller. From the craggy crest of Comb Head the two-part, triple-summited, Rosthwaite Fell runs on down to end abruptly above Stonethwaite. Rosthwaite Fell is a confusing ridge, problematic in mist and, as I found during my most recent visit, the ideal place to run a navigation course: a small party, led by Stuart Carter, proprietor of Climb365 based in Windermere, was using the northern sector of the fell as a challenging environment for training on a day of wintery squalls and swirling cloud.
An eagle's eye view of the walk
Traditionally, the summit of the fell is identified as the conical top known as Bessyboot. This is reas-onable in terms of its proximity to Rosthwaite, but most unsatifactory in terms of the whole mass of fell itself. For heading south from this lovely little summit, the ridge crosses the broad depression con-taining Tarn at Leaves then mounts robustly onto the great mass of rugged ground with two distinct high points.
Viewed from the Borrowdale road en route to Seatoller, and from Bessyboot, Rosthwaite Cam is the definite summit. However, even Alfred Wain-wright conceded that this characterful ‘lion without a lamb’ rock is dwarfed by a peak across Great Hollow. In hindsight, when I wrote my guide to the Mid Western Fells in the Lakeland Fellranger series, I should have identified this rock peak as Rosthwaite High Fell, but I chose a somewhat enigmatic name which distinguished it no less effectively.
To mark the first anniversary of Park and Stride I am inviting listeners to email me via:
with the name I gave to the summit in my guide. The first received will be rewarded with a signed copy of one of my guides, and, as a further instance of generosity a second signed guide will go to the first person to give the date on the 50p coin I inserted into a notch on that summit! (See photo 22 in the website gallery accompanying this feature which confirms where I left it: the coin will also contribute to your post-walk refreshment, unless, of course, someone else innocently makes the discovery first!)
Boot up for Bessyboot
Walk through the tiny community of Stonethwaite thereby sharing the progress of the ‘Cumbria Way’ and Wainwright’s ‘A Coast to Coast Walk’. The setting is sublimely Lakeland, the cottages authentically old and harmonious, however, Rosthwaite Fell casts its shadows all too soon across this community in winter months. Whilst at this time of year The Peathouse tearoom will be closed, the Langstrath Country Inn has the happy knack of being open all day hitting the mark at day’s end, pop a mental postit in your mind.
The tarmac ends on a ramp rise above The Keld cottage, advancing a little above the meadow level. For all the roughness of the track the potential for car encounters persists, this is also the access to the National Trust camp site. The site lives up to the hamlet-name, for it is indeed ‘a woodland sheltered stony clearing on the strath next to Stonethwaite Beck’. The camp site entrance is the key for the start of the Rosthwaite Fell ascent. Go through the green metal gate on the right directly facing the entrance. The path quickly enters the open wooded environs beside the excited waters of Stanger Gill, an impressive series of fuming cascades. The path was pitched some fifteen years ago but the ascent is not plain sailing, there are a few awkward moments, and in damp weather the roots and stones are slippery with the algae as slick as ice after rain, so watch how you go. Climb to a stile in a short wall projecting from Alisongrass Crag, the path hugging the undercliff to zig zag onto grass. Take your breath here and look back, it is a majestic scene: the craggy walls of Hanging Haystack framing the deep green vale of Stonethwaite, looking beyond the Jaws of Borrowdale to Skiddaw. The gill is renown as a place to spot ring ouzel, a declining species elsewhere, flourishing here.
This is an excerpt from Mark's original article. To see the full article, you will need to download the PDF using the link below
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© Mark Richards 2006