BB1036 : The Nine Standards
or The Battle Of Birkett Hills

Thursday 30th September 2010

High on a Pennine ridge overlooking Kirkby Stephen stand the Nine Standards: strange, man-made structures, rather like the Men of Gragareth (BB1025) but more of them. Other than by folk undertaking the Coast to Coast Walk, they are seldom visited.  However, I wanted to see them without the encumbrance of a twelve day, 200 mile trek.

The alternative was for us to finish the Wainwrights but the weather forecast was better for the east and that plus time constraints settled the matter.

Heading over to the Lune Gorge, it seemed that a day in bed would have been a more sensible decision.  The cloud was low and it was pouring down.  However, once we turned east round the top of the Howgills, it suddenly cleared and Kirkby Stephen was in bright sunshine. Lack of sun cream was suddenly a concern!

We parked the car in the (South Lakeland District Council please note) FREE car park.  I suppose the difference in policy is that Eden needs to welcome visitors whereas SLDC feels it does not need to attract them and can just in effect levy taxes!  


Kirkby Stephen Cloisters

Kirkby Stephen Parish Church

Frank's Bridge

Our route took us through this nice old town, down and across the river and out up by the Hartley Quarry.

Hartley Quarry

It seemed a much longer road slog than expected from the map.  Eventually we reached the open fell and a convenient two-man, high backed seat. Stan chose to stand, commenting that the seat was wet.  Bryan was still feeling the after-effects of his epic and had no such qualms.

The seat being put to good use

Looking up the Pennine edge

In the distance we could see the Nine Standards looking like tiny figures on the horizon.  

The Nine Standards seen between two outlying guardians

The Nine Standards with some serfs

When you reach them, you find that they are well constructed and of varying shapes and sizes, leaving you wondering the what, whys and whens.

The Nine Standards

Or alternatively, stopping for lunch, which we took using one of the larger standards as a now much needed windbreak.

Comitibus: The Nine Standards

The View Point

At the actual summit is a view point with a fine engraving showing the names of the distant hills and their bearings.  It seemed overcast around Scafell Pike which reconfirmed our destination decision.

My original plan had been next to strike out in a north-easterly direction over path free moorland ridge to pick up a distant track and return anti-clockwise.  I had to agree that it looked unappealing so, instead, we accepted Bryan’s recommendation of continuing along the C2C route before dropping down to the B6670 and returning clockwise.

The path was well trodden and, in parts, extremely boggy.  We reached a sign post that perplexed us.  Two C2C directions were shown, one for May to July, the other for August to November.  Our route was the one for the wrong period and we wondered why it was seemingly forbidden?  Was it the danger of being mistaken for grouse (of which there were quite a few) and thereby being shot?  We had heard no guns and anyway, we weren’t doing the C2C so the prohibition didn’t apply to us, did it?

Bryan gets that sinking feeling

The View Point

Other than many more bogs, we encountered no difficulties and eventually dropped down to the road. Here the mystery of the different routes was solved.  A notice board explained that there were in fact three routes from Kirkby Stephen to Keld to be followed at different times of the year in order to reduce the impact of erosion- a sign of how popular the Coast to Coast walk has become.

We could have followed the road all the way to Kirkby Stephen but chose instead to cut back across the lower moor, over a limestone pavement to pass above the head of an interesting valley- High Dukerdale which is a bit like a smaller version of High Cup Nick (see BB1031).  

The limestone pavement

High Dukerdale

We followed a wall round and reached the previously mentioned two man seat.  Shortly afterwards, rather than road-slog past the quarry, we turned left to find an alternative route back.  The path didn’t quite seem to correspond with the map, which is why the Battle of Birkett Hill erupted.

Bryan and I were stood side by side, each examining our own map and surveying the view.

“That’s Birkett Hill directly behind us,” said Bryan, emphatically.

“No,” said I.  “That’s Birkett Hill directly ahead.

“It’s that one over there behind us,” insisted Bryan pointing.

“It is not.” I contradicted, “It’s that one in front of us.”

Bryan's Birkett Hill

Don's Birkett Hill

“Look, it’s right here on the map!” we both insisted, silently mouthing things like “dumb cluck” or worse.

Strangely, we were both right.  Bizarrely, there are two Birkett Hills, both marked on the map and less than a mile apart.  One directly in front and the other directly behind.

Confusion resolved and mutual confidence restored, we headed for Ladthwaite and made a surprising discovery.  First, we spotted a red flag, then a parked aeroplane and finally a hay-meadow runway.  

The parked plane

The red flag was a windsock for Ladthwaite International Airport!  We stopped to plane-spot for a while whilst enjoying a coffee but all we saw on the runway were cows.

Ladthwaite International Airport

We followed Ladthwaite Beck as it meandered across a meadow, reminiscent of parts of the Dales Way.  

Ladthwaite Beck

After it dropped into a wood, there was yet another discovery to be made. Through a clearing we could see that we were walking parallel with a huge limestone cliff, Ewbank Scar, and that the beck was not running down what at one time must have been the river bed.  Instead, it was hurtling down a narrow and perfectly straight cleft in the rock, looking just like a natural mill race or, perhaps, a Disney World log flume.

The Ladthwaite Beck mill race ......

..... or log flume!

Returning to Kirkby Stephen

For I-Spy fans, there was one more treat in store.

Back in Kirkby Stephen was a signpost with the distances marked in furlongs.

Do you remember Big Chief Odhu Nutingo?

If my memory serves me well, he would have awarded 50 points for such a rare sight!

Don, 30th September 2010  

Eden Waypost Tiles:





30th September 2010

Distance in miles:


Height climbed in feet:




Other Features:

The Nine Standards

Wainwright Countdown:

Don & Stan: 2 (unchanged)     Bryan: 0


Bryan, Don, Stan

Click on the map for an enlargement.

If you have Memory Map on your computer, you can follow the route in detail by downloading BB1036

To see which Wainwright top was visited on which BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?

For the latest totals of the mileages and heights see: BB Log.



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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!

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2010 Outings

BB1001 :
The Most Perfect
 Winter Day
Thursday 7th January

BB1002 :
 Potter Fell
Thursday 14th January

BB1003 :
A Snowy Equipment Test

Thursday 21st January

BB1004 :
Leave It To The Professionals

Thursday 28th January

BB1005 :
That's A Lyth Record
Sunday 31st January 

BB1006 :
Reasons To Be Cheerful
One, Two, Three
Thursday 11th February

BB1007 :
Can You See Clearly Now?
Thursday 18th February

BB1008 :
In Memory Of
Thomas Williamson
Thursday 25th February

BB1009 :
Almost a Mountaineer!
Wednessday 3rd March

BB1010 :
The Beginning Of The End
Thursday 11th March

BB1011 :
The Free Men on Tuesday
Tuesday 16th March

BB1012 :
We'll Get Them In Singles,
Thursday 25th March

BB1013 :
The Fools on the Hill
Thursday 1st April

BB1014 :
The Windmills on the Moor
Wednesday 7th April

BB1015 :
By Lake, Ridge and Wainwright
Sunday 11th April

BB1016 :
The Ten Lake Tour (+5Ws)
Thursday 15th April

BB1017 :
The BessyBOOT
Thursday 22nd April

BB1018 :
The Kentmere Challenge
Saturday 24th April

BB1019 :
Winter in Springtime
Thursday 14th May

BB1020 :
Red Screes and Sausages
Thursday 20th May

BB1021 :
The Mile High Club
Thursday 27th May

BB1022 :
What A Difference A Day Makes
Thursday 3rd June

BB1023 :
Something Brutal
Thursday 10th June

BB1024 :
Rendezvous on Haycock
Thursday 17th June

BB1025 :
The Men of Gragareth
Thursday 24th June

BB1026 :
The Smardale Round
Thursday 1st July

BB1027 :
Don't Shun The Shunner!
Thursday 8th July

BB1028 :
All Around the Edge
Thursday 29th July

BB1029 :
The Return of Uncle Jamie
Thursday 5th August

BB1030 :
The Examination Results
Thursday 12h August

BB1031 :
Nick by Haggis
Thursday 19th August

BB1032 :
And Then There Were Two
Thursday 26th August

BB1033 :
A Surplus of Sheepfolds
Thursday 2nd September

BB1034 :
A Good One For Tony
Thursday 23rd September

BB1035 :
The Wainwright Triathlon
Tuesday 21st - Thursday 23rd

BB1036 :
The Nine Standards
or The Battle Of Birkett Hills
Thursday 30th September

BB1037 :
This Is The Way
The Wainwrights End
Thursday 7th October

BB1038 :
A Return To Sanity?
Thursday 14th October

BB1039 :
A Succesion of Scars
Thursday 21st October


BSB2010 :
boys in Zillertal
Saturday 30th January
to Saturday 6th February

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




To see which Wainwright top was visited on which
BB outing see
Which Wainwright When?.

To download a log of heights and miles and which Wainwrights have been done by which BOOTboy in the "modern" era, i.e. since the advent of BOOTboys
click on BB Log.

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