Planning my last Nuttall

I’ve now done 150 of the 253 English Nuttalls, meaning they’re 59% complete, and by the corresponding stage in my Wainwright round I’d long had my final fell lined up. Indeed before I was 40% through the Wainwrights, this was clear. So it’s definitely not too early to start thinking about my last Nuttall.  The only reason for doing this is to make sure that I don’t end up finishing on some dreary top that only just scrapes in as a Nuttall on a technicality, and has little to commend it. I’m simply not prepared to just leave it to chance.

[For anyone mystified about what a Nuttall is, the definition is a hill of 2,000ft or more and at least 50ft of ascent on all sides.  The definitive list was produced by John and Ann Nuttall and two books (one for Wales and one for England) set them out in a serious of walks.  The list currently contains 443 hills, 253 in England and 190 in Wales, and there have been a number of additions and deletions to the list over the years as hills are resurveyed more accurately].

 

One decision that has made itself is that my last English Nuttall will be in the Lake District. With 171 of the 253 there, that only seems fair. And the Lakes is where my heart lies. So this was never in doubt.  But picking the final fell itself is tricky. So I’m going to take you through my thought process.

The 33 Lake District Nuttalls I have left are:

Name Height (m) Grid Ref
Blencathra – Hallsfell Top 868 NY323277
Blencathra – Gategill Fell Top 851 NY317273
Blencathra – Atkinson Pike 845 NY324283
High Street 828 NY440110
Thornthwaite Crag 784 NY431100
Pillar Rock 780 NY171123
Harter Fell (Mardale) 778 NY459093
Stony Cove Pike [Caudale Moor] 763 NY418099
Ill Bell 757 NY436077
Little Stand 740 NY250033
Kentmere Pike 730 NY465077
Froswick 720 NY435085
Branstree 713 NY477100
Yoke 706 NY437067
Ladyside Pike 703 NY184227
Bowscale Fell 702 NY333305
Gray Crag 699 NY427117
Great Knott 696 NY259042
Seatallan 692 NY140084
Bannerdale Crags 683 NY335290
Branstree NE Top [East Top][High Howes (Mardale)] 673 NY487103
Loadpot Hill 671 NY456181
Wether Hill 670 NY455167
Tarn Crag (Sleddale) 664 NY488078
Carrock Fell 663 NY341336
Place Fell 657 NY405169
Selside Pike 655 NY490111
Grey Crag [Sleddale Fell] 638 NY497072
Harrop Pike 637 NY500078
Hobcarton End 634 NY195234
Rough Crag (Riggindale) 628 NY454112
Hartsop Dodd 618 NY411118
White Maiden 610 SD254957

Round 1 – Lose the Wainwrights

The main complication is that I’m doing the Wainwrights in parallel with John and Ann’s list, and a good number of these are over 2,000ft and hence are also Nuttalls. So by doing the Wainwrights, which I will clearly finish first, I’m reducing my pool of candidates for last summit. This leads to the obvious conclusion: the last summit should be one that’s not a Wainwright.  This may seem non-sensical as surely the Wainwrights are likely to be the better summits ? True, but I have the ability to choose any of them as my last Wainwright if I want. So first I throw away all of those that are also Wainwrights. This culls 22, leaving me with:

Name Height (m) Grid Ref
Blencathra – Gategill Fell Top 851 NY317273
Blencathra – Atkinson Pike 845 NY324283
Pillar Rock 780 NY171123
Little Stand 740 NY250033
Ladyside Pike 703 NY184227
Great Knott 696 NY259042
Branstree NE Top [East Top][High Howes (Mardale)] 673 NY487103
Harrop Pike 637 NY500078
Hobcarton End 634 NY195234
Rough Crag (Riggindale) 628 NY454112
White Maiden 610 SD254957

Round 2 – lose those “on the way”

But it’s not quite as easy as that.  A number of Nuttalls are secondary summits on other mountains, but sneaking onto the list by virtue of meeting the height and drop criteria. So many of these are naturally done on the way between the main tops, many of which would be visited on the Wainwright round. Realistically, I’m not going to be able to avoid doing them as part of my Wainwright round, or it would be silly to leave them.  And if they’re only secondary tops, would I want to do leave them anyway ?  So time to lose these too.  Another 4 gone:

Name Height (m) Grid Ref
Pillar Rock 780 NY171123
Little Stand 740 NY250033
Ladyside Pike 703 NY184227
Great Knott 696 NY259042
Hobcarton End 634 NY195234
Rough Crag (Riggindale) 628 NY454112
White Maiden 610 SD254957

Semi-final

This is a much more manageable list to choose from and here a bit of subjectivity is needed.  Each has its merits, but some more than others:

Little Stand and Great Knott – these will clearly be done as a pair.  So a choice of a view down into Eskdale or Langdale – my two favourite valleys. But neither have quite what I’m looking for. Not that I can define what I’m looking for – I’ll just know it when I see it.

Ladyside Pike and Hobcarton End – I’ve finished the Wainwrights in the NW fells so we’re looking at a trip just to pick off these. An obvious circular walk that would take out both. These will almost certainly be done towards the end, but they don’t quite cut it for the ultimate acolade.

So this leaves:

Name Height (m) Grid Ref
Pillar Rock 780 NY171123
Rough Crag (Riggindale) 628 NY454112
White Maiden 610 SD254957

The Final

Only 3 left, but each is a strong contender for very different reasons:

Pillar Rock – the only Nuttall that ropes are needed for, and the highest of the final round candidates.  An obvious choice. But it’s quite legitimate to complete a Nuttall round and leave out Pillar Rock because of the need for climbing. So even if I chose this one for last, I’d still want to make the penultimate one special in case I never got around to doing Pillar Rock. There’s no shame in not doing this one, and indeed John and Ann have only done Pillar Rock once despite having done three rounds.

Rough Crag (Riggindale) – I’m just thinking of that stunning view down into Haweswater. Rough Crag is a detour from anything else I do in the FE fells, so unlikely to get in the way. I have a free choice and may even take it out on my Coast to Coast. I won’t know what I want to do about this one until after my FE fells trip.

White Maiden – Seriously ? I hear you ask. It’s actually perfect in a number of ways.  First it is well out of the way of any other fells I have yet to bag. I’ve done all of the fells north of it, and the Outlying Fells to the south can be done so as to leave White Maiden. Look at its height also. It only just scrapes in and indeed is the lowest of the Nuttalls, jointly with 3 others which are all 2,001 ft. But John and Ann list it 253th of 253. In some ways it’s the most Nuttally of the Nuttalls. And climbing this last would bring it full circle as I was last here(ish) (well just along the ridge on Walna Scar) in 2007 at the start of my Nuttalls quest.

The Winner

Rough Crag put up a good fight, but fell at the final hurdle.  The other two just have much more compelling reasons. So here’s what I’m going to do.  If I get a chance to do Pillar Rock then of course I’ll do it.  If not then that’s fine. Ignoring Pillar Rock, White Maiden is my nominated final English Nuttall.

What about Wales ?

With a mere 46 out of the 190 done I’m very early in the round and it’s too soon to be thinking of a final one. But what I can say is:

  • it’s most likely to be in Snowdonia
  • it won’t be the lowest Welsh Nuttall – Mynydd Graig Goch as I did that last year when I did the Nantlle Ridge.  But it would have been a fitting end, especially given that it was one of those that has been promoted.
  • it won’t involve ropes
  • it’s several years away.

So let’s worry about that later.

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