BB1836 : The Comeback Trail

Wednesday 24th October 2018

“What are your requirements?” I asked Martin before the next stage of his Comeback Trail.

“Less than 10 miles, not more than 2,000 feet of climbing and a route that we have not done previously,” was the reply.  He might have added something to the effect that it would be a bonus if we could see where we were going.  As he didn’t, I added that in for him.

The solution was the Willdale Round.  Never heard of it?  Nor had I.  It starts from Bampton and climbs up the minor hills to the north of the Haweswater Dam along to Low Kop then back along the Hause to the start point.

The day was far better than predicted.  No fog or mist to be seen anywhere, just a beautiful autumnal morning.  Would it last?  It did.

After passing through pleasant rolling farmland.....,

..... we emerged onto the fell.  

Here there are many tracks and paths but we weren’t too concerned about following them, we just wanted to get to a good view point to see Haweswater. Consequently we took what was a remarkably direct route to an unnamed small summit almost directly above the dam.  The views did not disappoint.

We continued along the undulating ground to Four Stone Hill.  Same view, still superb.

It took a bit of scurrying around trying to find the stones.  Brian spotted them. They weren’t on the hill that carries their name and number.  They were in a dip to the northwest, left of a small tarn which has an ancient ring of stones to its right.

There was another odd feature about them that I will reveal later.

Our next intended point of interest was to be what the map shows as the Old Boundary Stone.  We had some difficulty finding it.  The first reason was that the OMN mapping program on my phone refused to work- it seemed to think I hadn’t renewed my subscription but I had.  Consequently we resorted to more old fashioned navigation by using the line of our shadow to orientate the paper map.

Also we were looking for a path coming up from the valley.  That is my excuse for us going too far.  I had to get out my old Garmin and obtain the grid reference from the satellites.  We could now navigate directly to the top of Low Kop but we still couldn’t see the Old Boundary Stone.  We had a hunt around but it’s a grassy area; there was no stone to be seen.  Then Terry spotted it.  What a surprise.  It must be the smallest boundary stone in the whole of Cumbria, if not the world.

The descent was straightforward.  We needed to pass between two enclosures of trees.  We saw them in the distance and headed directly towards them.  However when I later checked where we were, I couldn’t see them anywhere.  The reason being that we had already been through them and I completely failed to notice!

The OS map shows two routes to Moorahill Farm.  The left hand one is a track that goes through a ford.  The right hand one is a path that heads to a bridge.

However, that is not what the finger post told us.  It said that we should take the left hand track in order to avoid the “deep” ford.  What should we do?  We gambled, against the odds, that the map was correct and the authorities that planted the finger post were wrong.  Fortunately we were right.  There was a clapper stone bridge over the stream which is just as well as it would otherwise have been a deep amount of water to ford.

We had seen many wild ponies but all of them black.  Then, near the farmhouse, there was a white one, galloping across the field like Shadowfax.

Now we had reached civilisation and we strolled down the lane to Bampton, passing on the way a tree hosting a rather strange black fungus.

On reaching the village, we had a Withnail moment.  I had quite forgotten that in the film “Withnail and I” they made a call from a phone box deep in the country. Furthermore I hadn’t realised that that very phone box was on the edge of Bampton village.  Like Sleddale Hall, it is a bit of a shrine to the pair, having a visitors book that is full of Withnail related comments.  I thought we ought to add something but nothing witty came to mind so perhaps it was as well that none of us had a pen.

On the way to the car we passed "The Mardale Inn @ St Patrick's Well" which is a rather strange establishment, claiming to be "ALWAYS OPEN . . . within reason!"

Reason seems to have run out.  Clearly we couldn’t stop there to celebrate our successful circuit of the comeback track.  Nor could we stop at The Crown and Mitre as it was closed until Thursday.  Instead we drove on to Shap and tried its Crown which was open.  Let’s just say that it is not the most attractive pub that we have ever visited.

So now to the question you have all wanted to ask.  How did Martin cope with the distance and terrain?  Did his hip stand up to it or was he having difficulties?  Well, yes.  He had had great difficulties.  He had had a severe reaction to his flu jab yesterday and had phoned me first thing this morning to apologise that he would not be able to join us.

I am pleased to report that he phoned again this evening.  He is feeling much better and was very grateful that we have reconnoitred for him a trail that is under 10 miles, less than 2,000 feet and a route that he has not done previously.  He is looking forward to following in our footsteps.  We would like to go with him but it is no longer a route that we have not done previously so it doesn’t qualify.

Never mind, Martin.  We’ll make an exception for you.  Come back soon.

Don, Wednesday 24th October 2018

PS  Those with an eye for detail will realise that I haven’t yet revealed the odd feature of the Four Stones.  The answer is that there are only two of them.  I have put that right in the Comitibus photo, leaving a space for Martin to reappear.



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Comitibus:  Don, Martin, Brian, Terry


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Weathervane Corner

Map : OS 1:25k


BB1836 : The Comeback Trail


Wednesday 24th October 2018


Four Stones Hill, Willdale Round

Distance in miles (Garmin):


Height climbed in feet (OMN):


GPX track



Brian, Don, Terry


If you want to know which BOOTboys reports refer to having visited any particular Wainwright or certain other hills, see BOOTboys Hill Log.  Warning- it might not be fully up-to-date!

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