Lake District Walks
Arnison Crag & Birks
Date: 19th November 2006
Distance: 3.8 miles
Ascent: 1781 feet
Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY395159
After visiting Arnison Crag and Birks are attempt to climb St Sunday Crag was cut short by a dramatic change in conditions.
Route Summary: Patterdale - Arnison Crag - Trough Head - Birks - Black Crag - Thornhow End - Patterdale.
1. Birks from the route on to Arnison Crag
2. Lisa climbing Arnison Crag
3. On the top of Arnison Crag
4. The fells above Hartsop
5. Looking back at Arnison Crag and Place Fell
6. Lisa climbing Birks from Trough Head
7. The weather front appears over the Eastern Fells
8. Within moments the sky looked very dramatic
9. The sky above St Sunday Crag was almost black
10. On the top of Birks with blue sky still over Ullswater
11. Looking across the valley to Striding Edge
12. Dollywaggon Pike
Walk Detail: It was a beautiful morning as we began the climb up to Arnison Crag from Glenamara Park. It was quite steep, though there were some great retrospective views of Ullswater, Place Fell etc while Birks loomed impressively over to our right.
The views were even better from the small rocky summit of Arnison Crag which, while dwarfed by many of its near neighbours, is a decent little fell. Due to some recent cold weather there was a fair bit of snow on the higher fells, the first I had seen this autumn and this added to the dramatic look of the Eastern Fells.
The walk onwards to Trough Head was very pleasant and we traversed at least one nameless top which was actually higher than Arnison Crag before arriving at Trough Head. It was at this point that the weather began to turn, though this did not affect us immediately. This change came in the form of a front of dark ominous clouds materialising over the Fairfield range. The unusual thing was that the cloud was so well defined and lighter patches of sky and sun still came through to create some of the most dramatic looking conditions I have come across.
It was a steep haul up to Birks from Trough Head and half way up we stopped in a little sheltered spot for our lunch before continuing up the hill. The higher we got the stronger the winds picked up and we were awed to see snow being blown off the top of Gavel Pike and St Sunday Crag.
The original plan had been to go over St Sunday Crag and return via Deepdale. After initially deciding to go for it we did set off but within 30 metres I’d turned us back as the wind was becoming increasingly ferocious and the sky was getting darker and darker.
Leaving St Sunday Crag for another day we returned to Patterdale via Thornhow End after a brief diversion on to the top of Black Crag. It was a nice descent and we finished our lunch just below Thornhow End. For once I did not feel disappointed about cutting a walk short because we had enjoyed ourselves so much and because the conditions had been so dramatic. I felt even more justified in my decision when the local news later said that a walker had been injured after being blown off Striding Edge that same day just across the valley from us.