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" Base Brown with Hilton "

Date & start time: Sunday 15th July 2012, midday start.

Location of Start : Seathwaite at the head of Borrowdale, Cumbria, Uk ( NY 235 121 )

Places visited : Sour Milk Gill, Base Brown, Gillercomb Valley and back.

Walk details :   3.5 mls, 1800 ft of ascent, 4 hour 45 mins.

Highest point :  Base Brown summit 2,120ft - 646m.

Walked with : Hilton, Ann and the dogs, Cassie, Harry and Bethan.

Weather : Overcast with a gentle breeze on the tops.

" Base Brown with Hilton " at EveryTrail

[ Alter the settings to zoom or change the Map, use Everytrail to download the Gps route ]


A shorter but a very energetic walk as we climb Base Brown from Seathwaite via Sour Milk Gill.

A steep up to start, more steep up to the summit and then another steep but leisurely descent back to tea at Raingauge Cottage.

A bit of a steep up and down day you could say !

We parked at the cottage in the farmyard at Seathwaite Farm . . . finding a space is easy today despite all the cars lining the road outside.

It also helps to know the owners of the cottage and also the gentleman who is 'cottage-sitting' and 'dog-sitting' it this week.

After meeting with our companion Hilton today we were on our way . . .

. . . across the farmyard and through the arch, taking the path to Sour Milk Gill and Gillercomb.

Hilton and I on the steps up to the bridge over the River Derwent.

[ The bridge sits high over the river due to the flood protection dykes between it and the fields ]

Hilton and Ann start up the pitched path.
Part of the lower cascades alongside the climb.

Looking back down into Upper Borrowdale.

The farmer and his colleague have been gathering the sheep off the high fell

and they have been walking them down the valley as we climb up and away from it.

The view down.

There are nearly a hundred cars parked along the roadside even on this "far from spectacular weather" day.

Above the steepest part of the climb but it is still  a steady ascent for a while yet.

The top falls cascade over a vertical cliff.
Ann on the excellent erosion-free pitched path

The sun has come out as Hilton and I reach the level ground above the falls.

Gillercomb Slabs is the name given to the smooth rocks on the fellside above the falls.

Beyond it, where that wall cuts through the bracken, is the old Seathwaite Plumbago Mines.

The wall again and the top workings.

Part way down, another spoil heap stretches down the fellside.

The mine was famous for fine plumbago (wad), a high quality carbon deposit which was soft yet resilient enough to be used in industry.

It was originally utilised in the making of moulds for lead cannon balls for the Elizabethan Navy. This mining area was therefore under tight security

very much like a defence establishment today.  Latterly the carbon was used to make the 'lead' in the first ever lead pencils

by the company which went on to become "Lakeland Pencils" of Keswick.

Click here for more details and a sketch map or here for more historic detail.

Suitably rested from our first climb . . . we started out on our second ascent.

The plan is to scramble up to that large, darker perched boulder, just left of centre, then up the skyline to the top.

So as to avoid confusion, the stone marked as the 'hanging boulder' on the map

is one of the ones balanced on the vertical cliff further to the left. Our route is up the rough gully to the right.

A split boulder low down on our part of the fell.

Another interesting rock outcrop with the River Derwent below.

Looking down on Seathwaite Farm.

The sheep have now arrived at the farm and have been penned in that U-shaped area.

Hilton surveys the steep scramble ahead . . .
. . . no problem says Harry !

Care should be taken if only for all the loose gravel that the water has washed down the gully recently.

Cassie encourages the back markers !
It's me behind this time . . . stopped to take a photo of . . .
Spot the four climbers (lower two together)

. . . Gillercomb's Raven Crags


The big lens out now to reach across to the opposite fellside.


Spot the four climbers making the ascent today.


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Borrow my glasses or hold your cursor over the picture


to give yourself a little assistance


once you've tried to see them without !


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The perched boulder is still 'perching' as we reach the top of the gully.

It has settled itself on several smaller rocks which give it that elevated look.

The view down Seathwaite Valley and Borrowdale from the boulder.

From the other side the rocks holding it up and daylight underneath can be seen.

" He's facing the wrong way for the photo . . . shall I tell him "

That's better . . . thanks Cassie.

Onward and upward . . . a couple of false summits on this climb.

A cairn but another summit further ahead . . .

This is the not the real summit of Base Brown . . . . and neither is that one . . . that's Great Gable.

Here's the summit and the sun is out to greet us once again.

A rather good job it was too as the wind on the summit itself was much stronger than it had been lower down.

Climbing over . . . time for a little lunch perhaps.

Click here or on the photo above for a top value Loweswatercam 360 degree panorama . . . complete with a free lunch.

Time to get the bigger camera out and catch a photo of the summit of Scafell Pike opposite.

Quite a number of people up there today . . . same as most days !

The dramatic gash in the Lingmell fellside known as Piers Gill.

Styhead Tarn and the Stretcher Box up to the right.

Name that fell . . . it's Pillar seen across the hause between Green Gable and Brandreth.

One or two . . . or seven people walking the ridge towards Brandreth and Grey Knotts.

Pulling back . . . Scoat Fell and Pillar with the Base Brown summit cairn.

Time to be off.

We venture slightly off piste to the edge of the fell to look down on the track below.

This gave us a slightly unusual view of Stockley Bridge.

Ahead . . . the wider view of the Scafells over Styhead Tarn

We headed round to join the main path towards Green Gable.
Distant Blencathra in dappled sunshine.

The high fells ahead beckon . . . but our plan is to cut down into Gillercomb Valley and make our way back down today.

Not yet shown on the map though they've been there some time . . .

the top zig-zags as we set off down into the valley from the hause.

A good pitched path on this popular route up to Great Gable . . .
. . . but we were walking down, looking once again at Raven Crags

Gillercomb is a classic 'U-shaped' glacial hanging valley, carved out by ice.

The term hanging is given because the main 'Borrowdale Glacier' was a lot bigger and cut deeper into the adjacent landscape.

This left this gentle valley with an abrupt end where Sour Milk Gill cascades over the edge, down into the lower valley at Seathwaite.

Nearly full circle for the day . . . we're back beneath the perched boulder that we passed on our Base Brown ascent.

Just the last short descent to go.

Don't be fooled . . . this can be a tricky descent after a long day out or when the rocks are wet and slippery.

Has someone tied this rock down so that it doesn't fall into the river below ?

No . . . there's a party of youngsters really enjoying a spot of rope work and climbing on the other side.

Wainwright calls this Seathwaite Slabs.

Back over the ladder stile and we're nearly there.

Hilton and I hold the gate for Ann . . .

It was shut in order that the farmer could move the sheep we had seen earlier.

Mmmm . . . I can hear the kettle boiling already !

One final shot on Honister as we returned home.

They have a nice new sculpture advertising the mine . . . full marks . . . very tasteful.

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Technical note: Pictures taken with either Ann's Cannon Sureshot, my G10 or 1100D SLR digital cameras.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a slightly less-full rain gauge at Raingauge Cottage !

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Previous walk - 11th July 2012 Crummock and Blue Sheep

A previous time up here - 20th July 2010 Base Brown & Plumbago

Next walk - 19th July 2012 Lanthwaite Hill with Dee and John