The Odd Man: Binsey

For our final day of this particular holiday in the Lake District, my dad and I awoke to some very sore legs. Our shortcut down Blencathra had taken its toll. Thick cloud also now encased the fells, but we were still determined to get one last walk in before we left.

The largest fells were off the table as we were far too knackered to even attempt any of them. My dad suggested Cat Bells, but even that sounded to much of a walk for me. It was then that my eyes were drawn to the far north of the fells, the furthest north you could go. There was a little, unassuming hill called Binsey, the northernmost Wainwright.

On our way to Binsey,we first stopped off at Dodds Wood, which overlooks the huge expanse of water known as Bassenthwaite Lake. The woods now serve as a nature reserve for several rare species. Most notably it is home to ospreys, of which only a few still reside in England, and also to red squirrels, of which Dodd Wood is one of its last diminishing strongholds. We were lucky enough to catch sight of an osprey but it was to far to make out with camera, however, much to my excitement, we did catch sight of some red squirrels which were scuttling about around the bird feeders (this was in fact the first time I’d seen red squirrels as this trip was from before a went to Anglesey where there is a much large red squirrel population).

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Bassenthwaite Lake
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A red squirrel takes a drink

We briefly considered climbing the nearby fell of Little Dodd, but I was set on Binsey, though in hindsight it might have been easier to just go up Little Dodd. Regardless we headed northwards to Binsey and pulled up at a farm just outside the hamlet of Uldale.

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Looking back to Derwent Water from the Dodds Wood viewpoint

We approached Binsey from the south side, however after the first set of pasture fields we found ourselves in maze of thick heather and bracken. The path listed on our OS map had vanished, consumed by the summer undergrowth. With little options we battled on, struggling through bracken that came up to our waist. After a while, the steep gradient and the endless wrestling with undergrowth started to take its toll on us, but by now all the pain in our legs had faded, replaced instead by a solid determination to reach the top.

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Bassenthwaite from the base of Binsey
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Skiddaw

After an hour of climbing some 1000 feet of or so, we finally broke out of our bushy confides onto the summit plateau of Binsey. Here we were exposed to the full force of the northern wind which was baring down from the border with Scotland. Form here though it was only a short walk to the summit of Binsey. At only some 1400ft, Binsey is one of the smaller Wainwrights, buts its northerly position and separation from the other northern fells gives it a much more commanding view of the surrounding countryside. On clear days the view can stretch to Scotland, the Isle of Man and Northern Ireland, but today the cloud was much too low to garner any such sights. Perhaps a testament to its all encompassing viewpoint is the remains of a Roman fort which lies at the foot of Binsey northern base.

“Binsey is the odd man out.. detached and solitary.. generally of benign appearance. Yet it is much too good to be omitted from these pages. For one thing it is a most excellent station for appraising the Northern Fells as a preliminary for their exploration. For another, it is a viewpoint of outstanding merit. For another, it possesses a grand little summit.’- Alfred Wainwright

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Binsey’s summit: 1, 467ft
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The countryside of north England encased in cloud

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After some time huddled in the wind shelter we headed back down, only to find a lovely and well laid out path that led down Binsey’s north face. Obviously though we were not ones for easy challenges and instead we headed back into the bracken, carving our way back to the car.

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Huddled inside the shelter, cold and windswept.

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