I’d seen this white rock for many years on the way to Venture Scout camp at Ennerdale and wondered what it was. A colleague in the Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team told me a story about it which I couldn’t remember. So a quick ‘google’ came up with these two tales:
“In 1783 the Bishop of Derry, or Londonderry depending on your leanings, was en route to Ireland via the then bustling port of Whitehaven. He stayed at The Swan and after perhaps too much ale had a wager with the locals that he could ride over Barf Fell to Whitehaven. Next day he urged his horse up the steep scree covered fell side only to come to a sudden end plunging down the steep hillside. Ever afterwards the Swan Inn had a bucket of white paint tipped over the rock at the point the Bishop came to grief…hence it nickname as Bishop Rock”
“You will see two large white rocks – one half-way up Barf, and one at the bottom. The higher one is called the Bishop, and the lower one The Clerk. They commemorate a deadly drinking session back in the 18th century at the Swan Inn (recently transformed into holiday apartments) during which the bibulous Bishop of Londonderry, doubtless across on diocesan duty, bet his clerk that he could beat him to the top of Barf. With that, they downed their glasses and set off. The Right Reverend keeled over and died half-way up, and the clerk pegged it at the bottom, and the stones are said to commemorate this foolhardy wager.”
So which one do you think is right?
Anyway, back to the walk…To explore more areas of the Lake District (and get some more Wainwright’s done), I headed for a collection of hills north of Whinlatter.
Parking at the Former Swan Inn, a path leads up the valley with Barf on the right. I couldn’t not come here and not see The Bishop. It’s a steep (very steep) climb up on very loose scree (I can see why he came to grief). Infact it’s actually quite nasty. Vague paths wind their way to the summit of Barf, which passes some slabby rocks (Paddock Crag and Slape Crag – are there climbing routes on these?) and then gives fine views around to Derwent Water, Skiddaw, Bassenthwaite Lake and beyond.
Heading from Barf to Lord’s Seat, we were overflown by a couple of second world war planes playing together.
Broom Fell was next, with enticing views to Ling Fell and Sale Fell (my last two Wainwright’s in this area). If I’d headed for them I’d have walked home in the dark.
A nice descent and short rise brought us to Graystones before a steep descent to Scawgill Bridge.
Following a footpath passed Darling How house a circuitous route eventually led to Brown How, bashing heather as we rose. It was windy now but still fine.
A little further on Whinlatter Top is reached, my last for the day. Trying to find a reasonable route back to the car was difficult and a bit of forest bashing found a forest track that eventually popped out just below Lord’s Seat which allowed an easy descent back to Thornthwaite.
Another fine day with a Wainwright count of 5.