BB0812 :  Wet, Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage

Thursday 10th April 2008           

Poor old Tony.  He was so worried that we were heading for another marathon and an unearthly hour start that he arranged to supervise a delivery of fish to stock one of his club's ponds rather than face the agony.  As if I was going to put myself through that sort of BB0811 agony again so soon!  However, once reassured that he could have a lie in, that we would not be going silly on mileage, plus the guarantee of- regular readers will know what is coming- yes- lunch at noon, he managed to delegate the fishwork and join us on a rather more leisurely stroll.

There was another reason why I didn't want another marathon.  They take so long to write up. So today, dear readers, you will be as relieved as I am that this report is relatively brief!

When we convened we did not actually have a plan.  However Bryan had a couple of suggestions up his sleeve, one of which involved Wet Sleddale.  Now, I have lived here for the best part of 39 years and never once have I been to Wet Sleddale.  I have frequently thought about it whilst driving past the sign to the reservoir near Shap but it has always looked so desolate, so bleak and uninviting.  And yes, very often, so wet.  Something inside me today made me blurt out “I’ve never been to Wet Sleddale, let’s go there.”

As we approached Shap and the rain was threatening to set in, it didn’t seem such a good idea.  It looked, well, wet.  However, I have to say that as we drove up to the reservoir, all my preconceptions were dashed.  It is actually a very pleasant little valley, with the odd house, plenty of barns, fields and trees plus an attractive reservoir with an interesting dam overflow.

We parked and started to get changed.  Last Sunday (BB0811) I had been indecisive about what clothing to take.  Today I had been very decisive.  But not necessarily logical. As we set off and the weather deteriorated with rain turning to light hail, I could not stop thinking of an old A A Milne rhyme:

John had great big Wellington boots on,
John had a great big waterproof hat,
John had a great big waterproof mackintosh,
and that, said John, is that.

Only the version going round my mind was rather different:

Don had great big waterproof boots on,
Don had his waterproof cag and hat,
Don had forgotten his waterproof overtrousers,
and Don, said Don, is a prat.

My legs soon got wet and a bit shivery.  Bryan was particularly concerned about me, given last Sunday’s showing, but funnily enough the wet did not get me down.  In fact I found the little ditty going round and round my brain made an excellent marching song. It was a bit of a boor when Tony and Bryn decided to explore the barns at Sleddale Hall whilst Bryan and I waited, trying to shelter under a tree that, of course, had no foliage.  A bit like an umbrella made of spokes and no material.  


Very derelict farmhouse by the water


Sleddale Hall plus reservoir

The bit about “waterproof boots on” did not hold good.  Unfortunately if you slip into a stream deeper than your ankles there is a tendency for water to find a way down to the toes! But the legs kept working and I was in good spirit.

The original plan had been to cross over to Swindale but given the nastiness of the weather we decided to head on up the track that led up the valley and over to Mosedale with the intention of lunching at the Mosedale Cottage at the head of the valley.  

Tony asked had I plenty of suitable adjectives to describe the conditions for the report?  I told him I had. Wet, wet, wet.


Mosedale Cottage


Inside the bothy

The rain eased off as we dropped into a very boggy Mosedale and by the time we reached the cottage it had stopped.  Our hopes were realised.  The cottage, recently painted white, is an official mountain bothy and was open for us to use.  Those who could got out of their wet things and we had lunch indoors- a BOOTboys first.  

Stan and Bryan were swapping yarns about great bothies they had known.  Bryan delighted in reading the bothy book- tales of folk who had over-nighted there and their hopes and disappointments about their fellow residents!  Unfortunately we were unable to light the stove so when the sun came out and we realised it was warmer outside than in, we made to leave.  Apart from Bryan, that is, who wanted to play at tents.  


Tony and Bryan play at tents


A sunnier Mosedale Cottage

You may recall that on BB0804 Tony had found a fly sheet and Bryan took it home to make it into an emergency tent.  However, for what ever reason, he has not felt able to test it at home and he decided this was the ideal opportunity.  Much time was spent experimenting with different configurations of walking poles as makeshift tent poles till some of were getting so cold that we made him put it away.

 On the return, Tony got particularly excited by the number of puddles to be found containing frog spawn. 

Bending down to examine them must have put his back out as he was suffering for the rest of the afternoon.

The journey back down upper Mosedale and over to Wet Sleddale was in much brighter weather than on arrival, albeit cold.

My trousers duly dried out, causing a new rhyme to emerge:


Tony's frog spawn

Don had great big water filled boots on,
Don had his windproof cag and hat,
Don had his nice, dry, lightweight trousers on,
and that, said Don, is that.

Apart from the fact that my phone had been in my wet trouser pocket and the screen was still misty with damp.

We returned high above the north side of the reservoir, by an old wall with strange holes in them that Stan announced were “bee boles”.  

He later added that "Bee Boles are recesses built into stone walls until the late 1800's in wet and windy parts of the country to keep bees in straw skeps.  The wall we saw certainly fits the wet and windy criteria but  whilst they are usually rectangular (although they can have a curved or pointed top), I can not find any examples with an aperture to the back.  Not sure what else they could have been? "

I had never heard of the term and they looked more to me like slits for archers but that did not make sense!  See the International Bee Boles Register or The Dry Stone Walling Association of Great Briton if you want to know more about Bee Boles.


Wet Sleddale Reservoir


Team picture on new bridge

We crossed the river some distance below the dam by a fine new wooden bridge, walked past the met office weather station and up to the dam where we had parked.


Met Office


Wet Sleddale Dam - click photo to activate

The overflow makes pretty patterns with the water as it drops down the front, Tony in particular finds it hypnotic.  Click on its photo above to see it in motion (it midght take a little while to load).

Wet Sleddale Reservoir

Back at the car we were all surprised at just how far we had walked today.  We hadn’t really intended such a long outing in the rain but Wet Sleddale really is a surprisingly nice area and well worth revisiting on another day.  A dry one of course!

Don, 10th April 2008


Addendum:  Steve G asks:

    Did you know Sleddale Hall once featured as Monty's Holiday Home in the cult movie Withnail and I?  See also Movie Locations.

    As an exiled Lancastrian not able to get to the Lakes but once or twice a year I enjoy your weekly reports and pictures. Keep up the good work!

Having seen the second photo of Sleddale Hall on Movie Locations, I now wish I too had explored it, rather than getting soaked waiting.  It looks much more interesting than Stan and Tony led us to think!





11.0 miles

Height climbed:

1,333 feet



Debts outstanding:

All paid up!

For the latest totals of the mileages, heights and Lakeland Fells Books Wainwrights see: Wainwrights.

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!

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2008 Outings

  • BB0801 :
    Avoiding the Graupel;  
    Wednesday 16 January
  • BB0802 :
    Lyth in the Old Dogs;
    Tuesday 22 January
  • BB0803 :
    That's Lyth;
    Sunday 27 January
  • BB0804 :
    Tony's Memory Lane;
    Wednesday 30th January
  • BB0805 :
    Fell's Belles!
    Thank You Mells
    Wednesday 6th February  
  • BB0806 :
    The Langdale Skyline
    and a Fell Race!
    Wednesday 13th February
  • BB0807a:
    An Outbreak of Common Sense;
    Thursday 21st February
  • BB0807b:
    Askham Fell and
    the Lowther Estate;
    Thursday 13th March
  • BB0808
    Thanks to the MWIS
    Wednesday 19th March
  • BB0809 :  
    High Street and Kidsty Pike
    but no Fairy
    Friday 28th March
  • BB0810 :  
    Prelude to Spring
    Wednesday 2nd April
  • BB0811 :  
    Spring in Lakeland
    Sunday 6th April
  • BB0812 :  
    Wet, Wet, Wet Sleddale to Mosedale Cottage
    Thursday 10th April
  • BB0813 :  
    What's It All About, Tony?
    Thursday 17th April
  • BB0814 :  
    The Hidden Mountain
    Tuesday 22nd April
  • BB0815 :  
    The Bowland CROW
    Thursday 1st May
  • BB0816 :  
    High Cup Nick:
    The Gurt La'al Canyon
    Wednesday 7th May
  • BB0817 :  
    Travelling Light
    Wednesday 14th May
  • BB0818 :  
    Pensioners’ Day Out
    Thursday 22nd May
  • BB0819 :  
    The Northern Tip
    Thursday 29th May
  • BB0820 :  
    The Bannisdale Horseshoe
    Wednesday 11th June
  • BB0821 :  
    Black, White or Grey Combe?
    Thursday 19th June
  • BB0822
    Thunder on the 555
    Thursday 3rd July
  • BB0823
    We'll Give It Five
    Thursday 10th July
  • BB0824 :
    Shelters from the Storm
    Thursday 17th July
  • BB0825 :
    The Big Wind-Up
    Wednesday 23rd July
  • BB0826 :
    Tony’s Third (and wettest) Alfie
    Wedmesday 30th July
  • BB0827 :
    A Visit to Mud Hall
    Tuesday 19th August
  • BB0828 :
    The Tale of Randy Gill
    Tuesday 27th August
  • BB0829 : Mosedale Cottage Revisited
    Wednesday 3rd September
  • BB0830 : Mist Over Pendle
    Wednesday 10th September
  • BB0831 : Luncheon Chez Monty
    Thursday 2nd October


 The Comback Trail

  • CBT01 : Helm, direttissimo
    Monday 22nd September
  • CBT02 : Cunswick Fell and back in the dark!
    Monday 29th September


  • BskiB08 : Bootski Boys in the Sella Ronda  
    23rd February - 1st March



Click on the photos for an enlargement or related large picture.



Bryan has kindly produced a log of which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of Bootboys.  

To download the Excel file click on Wainwrights.  

If anyone wants to claim other peaks, please let me know and I will submit them to the adjudication committee!


BOOT boys

This page describes an adventure of BOOTboys, a loose group of friends of mature years who enjoy defying the aging process by getting out into the hills as often as possible!

As most live in South Lakeland, it is no surprise that our focus is on the Lakeland fells and the Yorkshire Dales.

As for the name, BOOTboys, it does not primarily derive from an item of footwear but is in memory of Big Josie, the erstwhile landlady of the erstwhile Burnmoor Inn at Boot in Eskdale, who enlivened Saint Patrick's Day 1973 and other odd evenings many years ago!

If you want to contact us, click on