Two Berks on Birks and Arnison Crag, two wet and windy Wainwrights

Lakes on Sunday again, and this time a rare short walk of 4.5 miles due to the inclement weather. I’m not entirely sure what inclement means so the term ‘shite’ would also be applicable here! We used the opportunity to pick off a couple of low Wainwrights that had been missed on previous trips. An unexpected advantage of this walk is that it left plenty time for tea shops & pubs🙂

  • Distance = 4.5 miles (7.3 km)
  • Duration = 3 hours 30 mins
  • Total Ascent = 1,840 ft (560 m)
  • Start/Finish = Car park over road from Patterdale Hotel on A592, ÂŁ4.50
  • Wainwrights = Birks & Arnison Crag
  • Date = Sun 15th December 2013, start 10.35 am, finish 2.05 pm
  • Click on Route Map below to zoom in/out
Birks & Arnison Crag route from Paterdale Hotel

Birks & Arnison Crag route from Patterdale Hotel

Sunday morning’s trusty Met Office Mountain Weather Forecast didn’t bring much joy, so we reckoned by keeping north & low we could still get a decent day. Plan A was for Birks and Arnison Crag followed by a drive to Gowbarrow Fell, thereby ticking off 3 missing Wainwrights before the rain came.

Morning weather forecast

Morning weather forecast

The weather actually looked surprisingly ok as we arrived in the Lakes, so we headed for the highest first, Birks. We also formulated a Plan B to maybe carry on up to St Sunday Crag and extend the walk. Driving round Ullswater we met a LOT of water on the roads then after unsuccessfully trying to find some free parking we reluctantly parked opposite the Patterdale Hotel. There was a charge of ÂŁ4.50 here which produced only a minor shriek from Alan, as compared to the louder high pitched one 2 weeks earlier when faced with ÂŁ6.90 at Whinlatter. Outside the hotel we saw a group of young attractive nuns. We thought this strange until we saw Superman got out of a car. Assuming this was unlikely to be the real Superman we also concluded the Nuns were unlikely to be authentic. The reasons behind all this was never established but given the high winds we wouldn’t have been surprised to see Superman flying by at any time.

I engaged fellow walkers in conversation

Parking at the Patterdale Hotel – I engaged some fellow walkers in hearty conversation

They were suitably riveted

The fellow walkers were suitably riveted

We crossed the road past the front of the hotel looking for young nuns as you do, then went through the rear gate & up onto the fells following a clear rising path. We soon met 4 guys who were off to do St Sunday Crag but were interested to hear there was a Wainwright called Birks on the way. We left them behind studying a map & started up for Birks.

Alan ascending. Birks

Alan ascending, the Berk, I mean Birks

On the way up Birks, Ullswater behind

On the way up Birks, Ullswater behind

Last year somehow we managed to miss the top of Birks whilst descending over St Sunday Crag in fading light. So rather than take the same path up the side we went straight along the top even though this meant meeting the weather full on. At one point the wind was so strong I was struggling for breath. It was a bit rough and a few extra layers were needed.

Meeting the wind on the final pull to the top of Birks

Meeting the wind on the final pull to the top of Birks

The innocuous cairn on Birks with St Sunday Crag

The innocuous cairn on Birks with St Sunday Crag behind

There’s no cover up here so we dropped down the west side to shelter and admire the views.

Enjoying the weather & views. Really I am.

Enjoying the weather & views. Really I am.

Getting a bit nippy, Place Fell & Ullswater

Getting a bit nippy, views to Place Fell & Ullswater, not much further.

As we couldn’t tell for sure which bit was the Birks Wainwright top we carried on to the other two bumps then stopped to discuss options. Weather had already deteriorated and St Sunday Crag looked more & more uninviting. At that point the 4 guys from before arrived and said they were still intent on carrying on up, we wished them well, I said it looked fun 🙂 We had already decided to forget that and head back round to Arnison Crag keeping below the cloud. This decision got better with every step as within minutes the rain arrived earlier than forecast, much earlier. One consolation was we that were now heading north east with the wind behind us, whereas the route up St Sunday would have been straight in our faces.

Arnison Crag ahead

Arnison Crag ahead in the rain

On way to Arnison

On way to Arnison, top right

Weather closing in

Alan going grey

Oh and last year I finally bought some waterproof trousers, and this day this year I finally put them on. Berghaus Deluges, on sale at Go Outdoors, not the lightest but recommendations on Twitter suggested they’d do the job. Must admit they seemed good.

Waterproof trouser time

Waterproof trouser time

Arnison Crag summit & Ullswater

Arnison Crag summit & Ullswater

Arnison summit back to Birks

Arnison summit back to Birks

We were glad of the shelter offered by the rocks up on top of Arnison. The rain eased temporarily allowing some grey photos before starting down to the sanctuary of the car.

An Alan on Arnison, don't be alarmed, he's harmless

An Alan on Arnison, don’t be alarmed people, he’s harmless

On Arnison Crag again

On Arnison Crag wrapped up

On Arnison Crag

On Arnison Crag – note technique for taking a photo in wind & rain 🙂

Ullswater & a glimpse of Meall Fell

Ullswater and just a hint of Meal Fell

Descending Arnison

Descending Arnison

Paterdale & Hotel to the right

Patterdale & Hotel to the right

Manly pose above the Paterdale Hotel

A manly pose above the Patterdale Hotel

Cars still there then

Well at least the car’s still there then.

Back down at the car for 2pm which was far too early for us, oh for the longer days of September! Trying to fit in Gowbarrow Fell was definitely not worth the misery now so we drove to Keswick in the rain for a cuppa at George Fishers, followed by a quick pint at the Dog & Gun. This quick pint turned out to be Loweswater Gold, so 3 hours, some soup & Hungarian Goulash later we eventually left the Dog & Gun and finally drove home.

Dog & Gunn, trying to read a menu - and yes that cap's welded to my head :-)

Keswick’s Dog & Gunn, trying to read a menu – and yep that cap’s welded to my head 🙂

So 3.5 hours on the hills yet 4.5 hours in tearooms & pubs, surely a step towards old age and chronic tannin & alcohol addiction. Thanks for reading 🙂

Christmas Keswick (courtesy of Alan Images, Hexham ie Alans camera)

Christmas Keswick – courtesy of Alan Images, ie Alan’s camera:-)


Hillwalker with dodgy knees and dodgier sense of humour. Lover of the outdoors, Lakes, Highlands, Cheviots, nature, good food, real ale and leaf tea.
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5 Responses to Two Berks on Birks and Arnison Crag, two wet and windy Wainwrights

  1. Paul Byrne says:

    Lowswater Gold and goulash in the Dog & Gun is about as good as post walk refreshments go!

  2. Jane Clarke says:

    I think you got the walking versus refreshment ratio just right Mart. I love your snow effect too. X

    • Mart Lawton says:

      Thanks Jane, you see the main problem is that days just aren’t long enough, I’d prefer a nice weekend lie-in too but the short daylight stops that. Still the teashop, pub thing is a decent consolation.
      Changing the subject, after a great start troubled times at Spurs, bring back Arry!
      Good luck with the book, must be very exciting & it makes up for footy woes 🙂

  3. Beautiful! I would love to visit this area. This first photo resembles a hike that I did here in the states at Grayson Highlands, Virginia.

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