Expansive views, beautiful green rolling hills, a hidden waterfall, and a Wellington Bomber crash site; what more do you want from a walk? On a wet claggy day, the Uldale Fells can be a drab pointless slog, however, on a warm clear sunny day in summer, the ‘back o’ Skiddaw’ fells are a delightful experience. If you like walking on grass, then this route is perfect!
I make no apologies for including many quotes from Alfred Wainwright in this post, so I hope the reader doesn’t mind. While walking these fells I found myself chuckling away while reading some of his witty comments; this is, after all, the type of terrain you can walk upon while reading a book.
Route 17 - Back o' Skiddaw and the secrets of Frozen Fell - Map 1
Parking area at Longlands
There is a small parking area where Longlands Beck runs parallel with the road at the small hamlet of Longlands.
Longlands Fell from Longlands
Opposite the parking area, just over the bridge, a gate leads to the ‘old road’ which forms part of the Cumbria Way. There is parking here also, but we prefer the area on the road because it provides shade on the hotter days.
Looking across to the small hamlet of Longlands
“Longlands is a quiet and pretty hamlet nestling in a tranquil valley.” Longlands Fell 3
Looking back towards Skiddaw in the distance
The small valley of trees is where we will return back to Longlands at the end of the walk.
Turpin Hill from the ‘old road’
Turpin Hill is a tiny hump that has somehow found itself on the Ordnance Survey map.
Aughertree Hill over the ‘old road’
After walking along the ‘old road’ for a short distance, we now leave it and start the gentle ascent of Longlands Fell.
Ascending the north ridge of Longlands Fell
“Anyone who cannot manage this short and simple climb is advised to give up the idea of becoming a fellwalker.” Longlands Fell 3
Looking back to Aughertree Hill and Faulds Brow
“Let’s get the name right first. It is pronounced Affertree…..There is not enough of it to occupy more than a half-hour’s walking, but it has a special interest for the student of past civilisations.” Longlands Fell 6
“The Summit” Longlands Fell 4
The Sca Fells, Knott and Lowthwaite Fell, from Longlands Fell
“Skiddaw (over Great Cockup)” Longlands Fell 5
Lowthwaite Fell from the descent of Longlands Fell
A shortcut path skirts around Lowthwaite Fell and heads towards the tip of Charleton Gill, however, the visit to Lowthwaite Fell is easy and well worth it.
“The ridge of Longlands Fell is the watershed between the River Ellen (west) and the Eden catchment (east). This is worthy of comment, the fell being the lowest and smallest of three ridges jutting northwards from a central mass; the others are Brae Fell and High Pike.” Longlands Fell 2
Frozen Fell, Burn Tod, Meal Fell and Skiddaw, from Lowthwaite Fell
Binsey and Over Water from Lowthwaite Fell
The descent to Broad Moss from Lowthwaite Fell
While on Lowthwaite Fell, it’s worth having a gander at the OS map. From the summit you get a panoramic view of the whole route to be walked today.
Looking back to Lowthwaite Fell and Longlands Fell
Path leading to Brae Fell
A lovely path over Broad Moss now leads to the saddle between Brae Fell and Little Sca Fell.
Approaching the summit of Brae Fell
Looking north-west from the summit of Brae Fell
The views from the summit of Brae Fell are stunning.
“Nature left a scattering of stones on the highest part of Brae Fell and Man has tidied up the litter by piling it into a splendid cairn, a landmark for several miles.” Brae Fell 5
Heading towards the Sca Fells from Brae Fell
The route over the ‘saddle’ and the two summits of the Sca Fells, is pleasurable and much ground can be gained.
“Geographically, Brae Fell is really a buttress of the double-headed Sca Fell, to which it is joined by a high saddle.” Brae Fell 2
The Skiddaw Range from the summit of Little Sca Fell
“Little Sca Fell, which, with its prominent cairn and well built wind-shelter, is rather more interesting than that of its higher neighbour.” Brae Fell 5
High Pike and Carrock Fell from the summit of Great Sca Fell
“The top of the fell is as flat as a crown bowling green and several acres in extent. Despite the lack of stones in the area, a fine cairn sits precisely on the highest point, with paths radiating from it in all directions (it should also be pointed out that it often sits in a puddle).” Great Sca Fell 8
AW (revised by CJ)
There’s been much change since Alfred Wainwright illustrated this summit on page: Great Sca Fell 8, there was no cairn and the highest point seemed less obvious; there’s no puddle either since Clive Hutchby’s revised Walkers Edition! This is due to the extreme dry weather we’ve had so far in 2018; more to be explained later in this post.
Path leading to Knott
“Peat-hags in the depression are the only obstacle on this otherwise easy stroll.” Knott 12
AW (revised by CH)
Very dry today though!
Approaching the summit of Knott
The Summit – Looking east to the gap of Mosedale
“If the party consists of more than one person, and if, further, a bat, ball and wickets can be found in the depths of somebody’s rucksack, a cricket match can be played on turf that many a county ground might covet. Apart from this, no suggestions can be made for whiling away the time (unless the party be a mixed one), the smooth top being completely without anything worth investigating. The solitary walker, unable to indulge in communal games or pastimes, will find himself wondering who carried up the stones to make the cairn, and whence they came; must have been another lonely soul with nobody to play with!” Knott 10
The Skiddaw Range from Knott
From the cairn follow a path that heads west-southwest towards the Birkett fell of Burn Tod.
The path to Burn Tod
The grassy mound ahead is not Burn Tod, but is part of the ridge leading down to it. Before reaching the mound, just after passing the cairn, head west till you reach the source of Burntod Beck; this is a pathless route over grass and moss.
Looking down Burntod Gill towards Great Cockup and Trusmadoor
Vickers Wellington Mk.IC T2714 – No.22 OTU, RAF
On 8th February 1942, while on a navigation training flight from RAF Wellesbourne, near Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire, the Vickers Wellington crashed on Frozen Fell just above Burntod Gill. Five crew members were killed in the crash, however, Sgt Rutherford, even though injured, managed to walk all the way to Longlands where he summoned help.
Sadly on 31st March 1943, while being stationed at RAF St Eval, Cornwall, Sgt Rutherford was killed during an anti-submarine patrol; the aircraft disappeared and all crew were lost while searching the south-west approaches.
The three Canadian crew members, P/O Richardson, Sgt Jenner and Sgt Bechard, were buried at Silloth Cemetery, while the two British pilots, Sgt Mizen and Sgt Hardie were buried at Heston Churchyard in West London, and in Birkenhead respectively. Sgt Rutherford is commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial.
Leslie George John Mizen – Sergeant RAFVR – Pilot – Killed
James Graham Hardie – Sergeant RAF – Co-pilot – Killed
Denis John Richardson – Pilot Officer RCAF – Observer – Killed
Edward George Jenner – Flight Sergeant RCAF – Wireless Operator/Air gunner – Killed
Louis Joseph Raymond Bechard – Flight Sergeant RCAF – Wireless Operator/Air gunner – Killed
Stuart John Gascoyne Rutherford – Sergeant – Air gunner – Injured
Crash site above Burntod Gill
A small impact scar reveals the location of the crash site, where a few stones protect what few fragments remain.
Fragments beneath the stones
Some of the small fragments include a bullet casing, a remembrance cross and a few melted bits of metal and plastic. Without these stones in place, these pieces would be washed down Burntod Gill, as must have happened to the rest of the remnants, so please return the stones as you found them.
Longlands Fell, Brae Fell, and the Sca Fells, from the top of Frozen Fell
From Burntod Gill head towards the top of Frozen Fell (Birkett); there are no paths on Frozen Fell, or cairn for that matter.
Great Cockup and Meal Fell from Frozen Fell
We now follow the north ridge down to Frozenfell Gill. Please note that this is a pathless route and very steep; microspikes are very handy on this section!
Little Sca Fell and Great Sca Fell over Frozenfell Gill
“….smooth rounded slopes seamed with deeply-cut watercourses in eroded ravines as one climbs gradually above rich valley pastures into the lonely fastnesses of the hills.” Great Sca Fell 6
Waterfall in Frozenfell Gill
Well, not exactly a dramatic waterfall. With all the dry weather we’ve had up to writing this post (09/07/18), it’s ruined the surprise! This little hidden gem is usual a great place for a natural shower, and in the buff if you wish. The summer of 2018 will certainly be remembered more for the heatwave than us winning the world cup! (note that I wrote this before the semi-finals!)
Btw, check out the amazing v-shaped embankment in the ravine. I love this place 🙂
Meal Fell from Frozenfell Gill
We now ascend to the saddle between Meal Fell and Great Sca Fell. It is pathless, but requires little effort.
Looking back to Frozenfell Gill from the ascent of Meal Fell
From this shoulder of Meal Fell you gain a better view of the v-shaped embankment in Frozenfell Gill, and our route down the ridge on the right.
Looking back to Little Sca Fell and Great Sca Fell
Left – The source of River Ellen joins the sea at Maryport.
Right – The source of Frozenfell Beck, after flowing onto Bassenthwaite Lake, joins the sea at Workington.
“The Summit” Meal Fell 5
Meal Fell is one of my favourites, even though superior fells in height look down on it.
“A surprise awaits the visitor, for the summit cairn turns out to be not a cairn at all but a circular wall shelter, like a shooting butt, a ring of loose stones having been superimposed on outcropping rocks at the highest point.” Meal Fell 5
Descent to Trusmadoor with Great Cockup (right)
Walking through Trusmadoor
“Nobody ever sung the praises of Trusmadoor, and it’s time someone did. This lonely passage between the hills, an obvious and easy way for man and beast and beloved by wheeling buzzards and hawks, has a strange nostalgic charm. Its neat and regular proportions are remarkable – a natural ‘railway cutting’! What a place for an ambush and a massacre! Knott 6
Looking back to Meal Fell and Trusmadoor from Ellen Valley
Heilan coo in Ellen Valley
I let Jaclyn walk in front!
The small valley of Longlands Beck
This valley is lovely to walk along after a long hot day on the fells; the hamlet of Longlands is not far now!
Arriving back at Longlands