Birks and Arnison Crag

Driving along the road between Patterdale and Glenridding it is very easy to miss the steep fall of St Sunday Crag's north east ridge. Tucked away behind trees and the church of St Patrick's, those who look that way deliberately tend to have eyes for the way to Helvellyn and Striding Edge. Blink and the little fell of Birks will be gone. The summit ridge is rather plain grass, the summit cairn just a small un-majestic gathering of stones. Hardly fitting for the dramatic, steeply sided fell presented from Glenamara Park at its base. Although it is initially a steep climb a stone pitched path makes the footwork easy and the only difficulty is finding the concerted effort required to keep on going. Just reward are the views behind to Ullswater and beyond. Higher up the view across to Birkhouse Moor, Nethermost Cove, and on into Grisedale is spectacular.

Walking through Glenamara Park you are bound to meet the lovely Aberdeen Angus cattle the National Trust have put in to control the bracken, and allow new trees to establish. Cows graze differently to those highly efficient woolly mowers called sheep that chop everything down to the turf. Whilst they are a pretty laid back breed it's wise to be careful around them especially if you have a dog. Jessie and Beth walked past the small herd only a couple of metres off the path without a hint of trouble. Always treat them with great respect, and if any doubt remains come back another day. You may meet some more cattle on the way to Arnison Crag, but these were too far away to determine what breed they were or their friendliness.

Arnison Crag on the other side of the park, rising directly above Patterdale has arguably better views of Ullswater looking straight down onto the southern end and the Glenridding pier. It's also a fine viewpoint for Place Fell. Any crag with juniper growing amongst its rocky summit outcrop scores extra points with us. Much like Birks, we think it is unfairly under-rated.

Parking is severely limited in Patterdale and fills quickly at weekends and holiday times due to this also being the start point of a classic round of the Helvellyn ridges. It is largely limited to the overflow car park of the Patterdale Hotel where a charge is made.