The first thing people probably think about when someone mentions ‘Binsey’ is the little hill in the north of the lakes, and to be fair, compared to the rest of the fells in the Lakes district, it is a small fella. However, after climbing it a couple of times before the views from the top are quite impressive.
We were on our annual trip to a well-known lodge site north of Bassenthwaite and we wanted to introduce our new Springer puppy to the fells without absolutely beasting her. We had taken Alfie, our older ESS, up Hallin Fell when we had bought him years ago so we thought it fitting to take Charlie up there as her first wainwright too, we managed that on the first day and it took approx. 1 hour. So on the third day we walked from the lodge door and headed towards Binsey.
Now, all the books say a puppy should only complete 5 minutes walk for every month of its life until adulthood. I’m no expert as such, but if anyone has owned an ESS, or any working spaniel for that matter, you will know that half an hour walk for a 6 month old ESS will be as effective as a fart in a hurricane. I think these experts who write these books are generalising and mostly referring to either little handbag dogs or very big dogs who have to watch weight stress on their bones.
So, back to Binsey, the lodge site we were staying is literally across the A591 so we on the morning we had picked to have a look up we throw some cold weather kit on at the lodge and set off out of the site. We crossed the road and through a gate up a farm track. The weather gods had graced us with a decent frost the night before and the sun was shining that morning. In fact the sky was crystal clear which is a treat lakeside, plus this was a week day and the fell appeared to be ‘people free’. The farm track was a straight approach to the base of the fell stretching east to west, passing through a couple of gates until the ground starts to accent.
The las time we tried this route, the ground was so frozen and icy it was virtually impossible to walk up the well-trodden path so we abandoned the walk and set up camp in the lodge site bar. But this time the frost had covered the grass and heather but the ground was softish and was ‘grippable’.
The accent wasn’t tasking and we were at the top in no time at all. Both the dogs taking the route in their stride and it’s a joy watching both ESS’s working the heather, running up and down the ghyll and generally running constantly until we reached the top. I have pondered the idea of fitting a pedometer to Alfie in the past but I can guarantee I’d be replacing it every outing as the amount of scurrying about the dogs do I would lose any attachment down the nearest rabbit hole or off the top of some crag somewhere. I can imagine my dogs will probably complete 5 times more millage than me and the missus, virtually unbreakable.
The route up was rewarded with one of the best views in the area. Like I said, the day was clear and the rest of the Lakeland hills, and thus provides a good spot to look out at the Northern and North Western Fells of the Lake District, as well as the coastal plain and, across the Solway Firth, Scotland. Snaefell on the Isle of Man.
Some kind souls over the years have built and maintained circular wind breakers out of the tons of stones laying at the summit. But today it was redundant with only a breath of chilly air greeting us at the top. We noticed on the way up that a cloud inversion had formed over Bassenthwaite, stretching down towards Keswick and had created quite a spectacle. So the phones were out at the top and photo opportunities were plenty. Both dogs were enjoying the sheep free summit which is quite a flat plateau covered in heather. We were also surprised to see 3 or 4 Christmas trees complete with baubles stood proudly in the heather. Fell walkers have a canny sense of humour sometimes!
Someone who lost her sense of humour whilst taking pics of the afore mentioned tree was the missus, the temperature was dropping and making handling mobile phones hard, Mrs. Hiker dropped her phone which did land safely on its back on the frosty grass, however the frosty grass was on a slight incline and as Charlie the ESS puppy saw Mrs. H bend down to retrieve the phone, she kicked it down the slope and with its smooth back it set off on its 10 metre journey before coming to rest in some heather, luckily just before a steeper way down which may not have ended well.
Phones retrieved safely and gloves back on hands we set off back down as the clouds were starting to collect in the north and snow was forecast. We descended the same way we came up for haste and it turned out to be a good call as when we stepped off the fell through the first gate into the approach field the first flakes of snow hit us and the once cloud free summit was now shrouded in a thick grey hat.
I do hate to preach as we’re all grown-ups but being able to read the weather before it happens is essential in the hills, we read the weather well that day and both safe and well. I know Binsey is tiny compared to the likes of Skiddaw and Blencathra, but calling out MR isn’t on my ‘to do’ list on any fell we visit.
We had a few hours out with some very good pics taken. Charlie’s second Lakeland fell and she took it in her stride. Small fell with great views!!