Wainwright walks 62: a Cockup (but no mishaps) in the Northern Fells

Hills: Brae Fell, Great Sca Fell, Knott, Meal Fell, Great Cockup
Classification: Wainwrights (123 – 127)
When: Thursday 6 June
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: I forgot to check. Would guess around 7 or 8 miles.
Time: About 5 hours, including breaks
Weather: Glorious sunshine! Quite windy higher up.
Post walk drink: A local pale ale though I can’t remember what it was. Later various ales at the beer festival
Post walk watering hole: The Magnolia, Keswick; later on, Keswick Beer Festival sponsors party
Uses of the arse crampon: Still missing in action…
Mishaps: None as such, unless having to be off the hill for a certain time in case some work needed to be done counts.

After the pleasant toddle up Binsey and the otherwise relaxing day on the 5th June, for once the weather forecast for the following day was actually pretty good with the weather due to be sunny and any early cloud lifting off the summits. It was a day where it was time to think about something a little bit more ambitious than a short blast – a decent length of walk with the opportunity to pick off several different hills was very doable. The only caveat was that yet again there was a chance I might need to do some work in the afternoon so I had to try and be off the hill by around 3 at the latest.

This kicked out one possible idea which was to do the Buttermere round of High Stile etc as I want to do that by bus and having a time constraint didn’t really fit with the bus logistics, plus it looks to be quite a tough walk and one I will need to take my time over. Plan B – and the actual plan as it turned out – was to pick off some more of the Northern Fells which would enable me to string a few together and still get back in time to do some work if I needed to. An early (ish) alarm call saw me parked up at the bottom of Longlands Fell for the second Thursday in a row, although the weather couldn’t have been more different! I don’t really like the single track road though, it is very narrow at times and several awkward reversing manoeuvres were required before I parked up – once again the only person there at 9.30 when I set out, and still the only person there when I finished shortly after 2. I’d managed to get most of the faffing out of the way before leaving the cottage but inevitably there was still some i.e. check I had got everything, check I’d locked the car, check I’d locked it again, then check where I had put the car keys etc… (I always worry about losing the car keys although it hasn’t happened so far – that really would be a mishap!)

As with the walk the previous week, I took the track which heads up to then round the base of Longlands Fell, though rather than climbing that hill again I picked up another track which angles gently round the side of it and up a rather nice valley which I inexplicably didn’t take many photos of. The track rises up at a gentle angle and I decided that rather than drop into the valley then haul myself straight up Brae Fell I would continue on the track and double back for the first hill. The angle was pretty much perfect for a walk in although the path was a bit soggy at times and once at the top of the valley I cut across towards Brae Fell which I reached about an hour and 15 minutes after leaving the car. The views were good and it was nice to have some blue sky in the summit selfie for once!

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After leaving the summit I picked up the obvious path which continues on to Great Sca Fell. This involves one of only a couple of steep bits on the whole walk (up to Little Sca Fell). Little Sca Fell has a good cairn and a rather better view than its parent hill so there were plenty of photo opportunities!

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I rolled over the summit of Great Sca Fell (which has an obvious cairn at a junction of several paths) and pressed on towards the summit of Knott which is only about half a mile further on. By the time I hit the top it was still only about 11.15, I had plenty of energy and was thoroughly enjoying the day. The key question: what next?

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I did wonder given the possible work situation whether to head back to the car and leave any more hills for another day but that seemed daft given how nice a day it was. Great Calva could have been an option but to be frank was too far in the wrong direction. The obvious option was to retrace my steps over Great Sca Fell, then drop down steeply to Meal Fell which would leave me the option of adding on Great Cockup, before heading back to the car via the path from the pass of Trusmadoor. The drop to Meal Fell was pretty steep but fine and then there was an easy ascent to reach the twin tops of Meal Fell, again with some great views.

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After Meal Fell the path drops pretty steeply to the odd feature of Trusmadoor – after which there is a steepish pull up again for about 5 minutes before the path flattens out leaving an easy angled ascent to the summit of Great Cockup. I’ve wanted to do that hill for ages because of the daft name and although the summit itself is pretty uninspiring the views over to Skiddaw were pretty good. It was quite windy though, so rather than have my lunch there I dropped back down to Trusmadoor and a scenic lunch spot by the river. I had a nice long break and enjoyed the sunshine before heading back to the car via a path that was seriously boggy at times – well I am the bogfinder general so there had to be some!

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I was back at the car shortly after 2 and drove back to the cottage before heading to meet Stuart (who had had to work that morning) in the Magnolia – where I had a work phone call which was (a) quick and (b) informed me I wouldn’t need to do any work that day after all. Hoorah! The rest of the afternoon was spent chilling out before heading to the sponsors party at Keswick Beer Festival – we were sponsoring a barrel to celebrate our birthdays. Some great beers on offer but I think my favourites are still Lonesome Pine (Ulverston Brewery) and Loweswater Gold. The one we sponsored wasn’t bad either (Windermere Pale).

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Overall an excellent walk over some nice rolling hills and this leaves me with only 4 of the Northern Fells still to do (I have only 4 North-Western ones left as well, though I’ve a lot more left of the other ones). It was the last walk of the holiday – I did have to do some work on Friday morning and the afternoon/ evening we went to the beer festival with Stuart’s parents who were down for one day to see us. On Saturday we went to the beer festival (again) with Jo and Steve and although Sunday was a nice day and (amazingly) nobody was hung over, my back was playing up (it had been since Friday) and I was conscious of not wanting to make it any worse given the long drive home the day after, so Stuart and I opted for a flat walk on the shores of Derwentwater which was very pleasant before spending the rest of the day pottering about.

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All in all an excellent holiday despite a fair amount of iffy weather and work getting in the way at times. And a low mishap quotient – regardless of Cockups!

5 thoughts on “Wainwright walks 62: a Cockup (but no mishaps) in the Northern Fells

  1. R and I climbed Great Cockup all by itself (that is the extent of his knee damage) . Later a friend with epilepsy asked me to go to “Any Questions” with her as there was a question she wanted to put to one of the panelists AND SHE WORRIED SHE MIGHT HAVE A FIT.. They gave us all a paper for our questions, so I scribbled down ““I am a hill walker. On March 29th , I intend to climb a hill called Great Cockup. How and where do the panelists intend to mark the day?” and got called. The panel ‘s answers were rubbish, but Hilary Benn did say that he would be celebrating us NOT leaving with a cup of tea and some toast (NOT in the Maalbec crowd I suspect)

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  2. Wonderful. How you managed to avoid a mishap on Great Cockup is mind boggling!

    I must try Lonesome Pine. I’m a huge fan of both Loweswater Gold and Windermere Pale (their Lakeland Gold is very good too).

    The High Stile Range is one of my faves, but I don’t think you can do it by bus—it would never get up the gradient. I think the nearest you could get is Buttermere or Gatesgarth and you’d have to walk from there 🙂

    Glad to see your faffing so closely resembles mine. I have now acquired a car where the wing mirrors fold in automatically when you lock it. This sounds like a singularly useless feature, but it is in fact brilliant, because when I’m 500m away, I no longer have to return to check the door—I just look at the mirrors.

    Glad you had a great holiday and good weather.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of my favourite walks there – although I always miss out Knott as I find it too boggy and always start off up Longlands/Lowthwaite Fells. I’m often sat at the top of Brae Fell in the sun looking at the view 🙂

    You got a lot done that week. I always worry I’ll lose my car keys one day!

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  4. Such a good area, love the walking back there. Just 4 left of the northerns is good going and you’ve made the best of having a car this time. Think I have 6 with Blencathra, Mungrisdale, High Pike, Carrock, Bakestall and Great Calva

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