Published 3 January 2021.

The summit of Whiteside

It’s September 2020 and after a year full of lockdowns, cancelled holidays and just general chaos, I unexpectedly found myself in the Lake District for a week. Day one was spent near Borrowdale, the second in the wonderful Newlands. For the third, I had a lovely horseshoe walk around Grasmoor lined up, starting with Whiteside.

I’d camped the night at Buttermere, waking up to the sound of birdsong as daylight made its way through the valley.

I lay, snuggled in my sleeping bag. Warm. Cozy. Rather reluctant to leave its warm embrace. As the birds began to wind down their morning chorus, my attention turned to the sound of water flowing down the stream near where I’d pitched my tent. Reluctantly, I dragged myself up.

As I brewed up and made breakfast, the sun came out. It looked like it was going to be another glorious day. Great weather for tackling some fine Lakeland Fells.

I couldn’t wait.

Crummock Water seen just outside Buttermere.

It was only several hours later that I realised there was a flaw in my planning. If I’d visited Rannerdale Crags first, not last, I could have saved myself from a good chunk of roadwalking between Buttermere and Lanthwaite. And reduced the amount I’d need to walk by at least a mile.

But I hadn’t thought of that. So instead I spent a good amount of time pounding the tarmac of the B5289, doing my best not to get hit by any speeding motorists.

Lanthwaite was where my walk proper could begin. The previous three miles from my tent counting for little when all was said and done.

Whiteside – aglow in the morning sun.

My first fell was Whiteside. From the road it looked like some sort of impregnable fortress of doom, towering over the valley. A fell you’d never get up. Not without crampons and axes anyway.

Thankfully there is a way up, else this piece would be rather short. Although it is possible you’d prefer it that way. Anyway, a narrow path snakes its way steeply through the heather and rock to an area called Whin Ben. From the valley it doesn’t look particularly hospitable. But it’s climbable. Just.

The first step is to climb the nobble in the middle – Whin Ben.

It definitely wasn’t the easiest walk. Steep, rocky, and with a requirement to get both your hands and feet involved. So to say I felt rather down-heartened when I was overtaken by a small terrier, was rather than understatement. Then it went back in the opposite direction, before returning about ten minutes later, overtaking me for a second time, as I puffed and wheezed my way uphill.

Then, abruptly, the rocks and scrambling ceased. The path began to level off. The stones and rocks replaced by bouncy heather. And then finally I reached the top.

Nearly at the top of Whiteside

Whiteside isn’t one of those fells that gets you to a plateau and makes you walk on for another half on hour to get to the highest point. Nope. Whiteside doesn’t go in for messing about. If it looks like you’re near the top, you’re actually near the top.

Knackered, I sat down, happy to finally relax and take in the view. And it was a good view, especially looking towards the coast. It was marvellous.

As I sat there, I realised I’d reached my 107th fell. Whiteside was my half way point. I’d now done half the Wainwrights. 107 down, 107 to go. And that put an even bigger smile on my face as I stared out to sea.

“Perfect, isn’t it?” declared a fellow walker I’d passed on the way up, who had now caught up with me. “Perfect.”

“It is indeed,” I agreed. And it was. right there and then, I couldn’t think of anywhere else I’d rather be.

Whiteside had some cracking views

Your Comments