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The Screes and Miterdale Valley

Date & start time: Thursday 8th April 2010, 11.25 am start.

Location of Start : Porterthwaite road end, Miterdale, Eskdale, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 146 011 )

Places visited : Miterdale Forest, Irton Fell, Whin Rigg, Illgill Head, Burnmoor Tarn and back down the Miterdale Valley.

Walk details : 8.8 mls, 2060 ft, 6 hrs 20 mins including lunch.

Highest point : Illgill Head 1,998ft ( 609m)

Walked with : Ian & Megan, Simon & Beth, Neil, Jo, John, Ann and the dogs, Jodie, Amber, Polly, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Inclement . . . i.e. overcast with cloud down on the high fells . . . much as forecasted.


The Screes and Miterdale Valley

Map your trip with EveryTrail

( Clear the slide show to see and expand the map )


An unofficial OFC outing found nine of us in Eskdale on a day when the weather was less than clement.

After an eventful start the walk progressed normally apart from one or two more unusual events.

This was the first unusual event . . . As we drove up to the start of the walk

we saw a car parked rather awkwardly off the road, so we stopped to help.

It turned out to be our friends and walking companions for today, Ian and and his daughter Megan,

who had kindly reversed to let someone past, only to find the front of the car sliding sideways down the roadside verge.

Still with the help of a friendly local farmer Ian arranged a tow . . .

. . . and he was soon back and on his way.

A short time later and a littler muddier than when we left home

we all arrived at Porterthwaite road end car park.

Today's group . . .

(l to r) John, Jo, myself, Megan, Ian, Simon, Beth, Neil with Ann as photographer.

Slightly later than planned we're underway

heading up the forest tracks towards Irton Fell.

The crags of Green Bank stand out amongst the forestry.
The trees have re-grown since our last visit in 2007.

Above the pool in the photo is Muncaster Fell, but poor visibility meant we had virtually no views of the sea at Ravenglass.

Working our way up through the mature forest towards the open fell.

Ian leads with Neil, John and Jo close behind.

Beth and Megan were delighted to meet up on a walk again.
Onward and upward.

Suddenly the trees ended and we reached the fell gate leading out onto Irton Fell .

With the heavy winter snows and recent rains the ground was officially declared 'heavy' . . .

In real terms that means soft, muddy and wet in places.

The granite boulders gives a different type of stone wall here compared to the flat slates of the North Western fells.

Simon reaches the gate to the next section of moorland.

Ah . . . time for an important conference - a serious 'man talk' !

The last full view we had before we climbed into the mist.

Harry is looking down Great Hall Gill towards Woodhow Farm and the Wasdale Youth Hostel far below.

The summit shelter on Whin Rigg

but in fact the highest rocky outcrop of Whin Rigg summit is off to the side of the path some 50 yards or so.

" Off into the great unknown "

Plenty of navigation skills abound but in actual fact we just followed the wide path across the top of the fell

reaching the small tarns between Whin Rigg and Illgill Head just as planned.

( Neil's Gps was handy as it showed our position on the map but it was hardly used for specific navigation today)

(The one I carried doesn't have a map but did provide the basis of the tracklog shown on the Every Trail map at the head of this page.)

" Anyone else fancy a swim ? "

or perhaps he's saying " Isn't anyone going to throw me a stick ? "

Not a lot of point but we did divert off to the side of the fell to get what view we could

down the crags of the Wasdale Screes to the (hidden) lake below.

Then came another surprise . . .

. . . a large patch of snow and a "Base Jumping" snowman . . .

ready to leap of the precipitous cliff and free glide down to the valley below,

opening his parachute on the way down to allow himself a safe landing.

Base Jumping  . . . eat your heart out !

If you don't believe me . . . hold your cursor over the photo !

While we watched the aerial display we met up with

and chatted to a family from Fylde near Blackpool who were up here on holiday.

Onward and upward again,

this time it was the last rise to the top of Illgill Head.

A photo near the summit

Click here or on the photo above for a wider annotated panorama.

We stopped for a bite to eat and Simon and Beth have a secret . . .

Those look like ice cream boxes . . . how come they kept that a secret !

( Ed note: they were just being recycled and used as sandwich boxes it turned out )

After our lunch amongst the shelter of the summit rocks

we gathered our belongings, our children and our dogs and headed off on the next leg of our walk.

Nice hats fellas !

Neil looking down on our route to Burnmoor Tarn.
Leaving the mist behind we reach the lower ground.

Below us and in view for the first time today . . . Burnmoor Tarn.

On the other side of the lake is Burnmoor Lodge, originally a game keepers lodge and in use when the moors were stocked with Grouse.

It has been owned by a Nottingham gentleman and used as a hostel for a Christian Youth organisation.

I believe it is currently maintained as a private bunkhouse. (click here for the extent of my limited knowledge)

We drop down from the side of Illgill Head to the top of Miterdale Valley.

This is a surprising valley

having a large back cliff and wide profile

despite the small stream and waterfall that flows into it.


My guess is that the valley was formed by the Burnmoor River

flowing out of Burnmoor Tarn in post glacial times.


When the Willans Beck (draining Scafell and Slightside)

diverted it's course south to Boot it robbed the headwaters

of Burnmoor leaving a virtually dry valley

to be drained by the infant River Mite you can see here.


(You see, I was paying attention in Geography lessons !)

Crowd scene at the head of Miterdale.

To enjoy the valley to the full, we took the track down to the stream.

The high level path, which we used last time, cuts down to the valley by the distant trees.

Over the ladder stile in the fell wall, the gate having been bolted to keep it shut.

A delightful and small packhorse bridge (no parapets) near the old Miterdale Head farm.

Simon checks out the old ruins of this once extensive property.

The next house down is the Bakerstead Barn, outdoor pursuits centre . . . but all is not well.

The house, usually well maintained by Wyndham School in Egremont seems abandoned now

and is fast falling into disrepair.

Details of Bakerstead Barn

This was in fact a typical cumbrian farm. People living above animals.

I worked on the renovation of the building in the 1960's.  We (a small group of one teacher and some pupils) worked every Sunday morning, wall building, installing toilets etc. The left most side was roofless when I stopped working there.

The buildings you called the ruins of bakerstead farm are in fact the ruins of bakerstead Hamlet - which included a brewery at one point.

Geoff Marshall, pupil at Wyndham school 1965 to 72.

Thanks Geoff . . . there's more to life than meets the eye. I'm pleased to record the information for people to see . . . RmH.


Low Place Farm is mentioned in some guide books due to this (now renovated) signpost instructing you to,

in broad Cumbrian, "Hold or head right for Eskdale"

Their Farm yard however is just as muddy as ever and hasn't changed in years.

It was just a short walk down the valley on their farm road and we were back at the car.

- - - o o o - - -


Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Canon 75 or my Canon G10 digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a map and a good eye for the path up there in the mist.

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Previous walk - 7th April 2010 A Nanny Catch Valley walk

A previous time up here (Summer on a clearer day) - 20th July 2007 Miterdale and the Wasdale Screes