Whinlatter Wainwrights

Last weekend we made a break for the Lakes while there was a good weather window – we were going to try and get a bit closer to finishing off the northern fells. Unfortunately, when we arrived in the car park a warning light came on in the car telling us to check the tyre pressure – so we had to give up the last space in the car park in order to put some air in the tyres, just in case they were about to go flat! With time ticking on we decided to head to Whinlatter Forest in the hope that the large car park would mean we weren’t too late to get a space. Happily, there were still some spaces left when we got there, and we set off with a spring in our step to tick off some more Wainwrights.

The route we ended up following was a circular of about 10 miles from our Walking the Wainwrights book, starting from the Forestry Commission car park at Whinlatter (pay when you leave). We ended up ticking off 5 new Wainwrights – bumping our total up to 47/214! There’s a similar route online on The Walking Diary.

Starting from the car park, we headed steadily uphill to pick up the route, then continued to climb until we reached the summit of Lord’s Seat. The views at the top were lovely, looking over the surrounding fells and over to Barf, our next summit and definitely the Wainwright which gets the accolade for having the weirdest name!

Aside from having an odd name, Barf is best known for the luminously white pillar of rock on its lower slops, known as ‘the Bishop of Barf’ after the Bishop of Derry who supposedly tried to ride up the hill on horseback for a bet (please don’t try this at home). The Bishop and his horse are said to have perished on the slopes – a sad tale, although according to the historical record, said Bishop actually died 20 years later, so take the story with a pinch of salt.

Ascending from Lord’s Seat we sadly didn’t see the Bishop, but the views were nevertheless cracking, and we spent five minutes at the top soaking them in before retracing our steps back up to the summit of Lord’s Seat. For an out and back detour, this wasn’t too strenuous at all and was a nice easy tick off the list. There was a slightly boggy patch in between Lord’s Seat and Barf but this was easy enough to walk around.

From the summit of Lord’s Seat, it’s a lovely easy walk along a grassy ridge to reach the summit of Broom Fell – Wainwright number 3 of the day. The wind was picking up at this point so we didn’t stop, carrying on to descend gradually before a steep climb up Graystones (Wainwright number 4). This was the quietest fell of the day and we had the summit entirely to ourselves. After a quick stop for lunch, we had a bit of a walk to reach the foot of Whinlatter, our fifth and final Wainwright of the day.

Sam was navigating and at this point added in a ‘short cut’ directly up the side of Whinlatter with no path – it was nothing short of horrific, a hellishly steep climb and I was seriously considering crawling up on my hands and knees for a lot of it. Note to self – don’t let Sam navigate unsupervised.

By the time we got to the summit of Whinlatter, I was pretty knackered and not really in the right frame of mind to enjoy the view! For anyone ticking off Wainwrights, it’s worth noting that the ‘Wainwright summit’ of Whinlatter isn’t actually the highest point, so we did both just to be thorough.

From the top of Whinlatter, it was an easy descent, mostly on good paths. And best of all, when we got back to the car park, there were actual clean toilets! The benefit of parking next to a visitor centre. There’s also a lovely shop which I spent a few minutes browsing (and trying very hard to resist spending money, made easier by my car insurance being due).

Dog friendly rating – 4/5. The start and end of this walk passes through Whinlatter Forest (at least it does if you start in the Forestry car park), which was great for letting the dogs have a good run off the lead. There were a few stiles along the route, most of which had dog gates, although there was one where the fence was in a bit of a mess, which made crossing it a bit tricky. There were very few sheep around too which was great, but be aware that this might not always be the case and be prepared to keep your dog on a lead if there is livestock around. This is quite a long walk without many water spots, so take some along for your dog – we also had plenty of treat stops too which ours appreciated!

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