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Bleaberry Haws

Stone Circle


Please be aware. If you are in any sense hydrophobic stop reading this now and go and find another stone circle to visit.
My route to the Haws started in Torver, the footpath to the fells passed by my campsite and so was the most logical route to take. It is also the route given by Robert Harris in his book Walks in Ancient Lakeland.
The walled trackway from Torver winds its way up through beautiful gnarly woodland, the walls along the track are covered in thick green velvety moss giving them the appearance of having grown there. All around you is the sound of running water, unfortunately most of it is underfoot as the trackway and the Ash Gill Beck, which it follows, have joined forces. I wouldn't recommend wearing wellies here as the track is lined with slate chippings and is very slippery.
I'm afraid when you leave the woodland things don't improve much. The moor above the wood is waterlogged and I would recommend walking parallel to the trackway using the sheep tracks as they tend to follow the drier ground.
One thing that does lift the soul at this point is the view, the Old Man of Coniston and Dow Crag rise above you changing the whole landscape perspective from one of soft woodland to hard fell.
Your next obstacle is the Bull Haw Moss Beck, a deep, fast flowing stream. At it's shallowest point the beck is about three quarters of a metre deep and at its narrowest point about a meter and a half wide. Robert Harris mentions stepping stones, I couldn't find them. The only thing for it was to jump. I threw my bag over and then grabbed the terrier and leapt across.
Once over the beck things start to improve. The ground is still marshy but gradually rises. You can see the long ridge of Blaeberry Haws rising to your left.
I left the path here and struck out to climb the hillside, aiming for the cairn on the top of the Haw.
Once at the cairn the whole landscape opened out in front of me. There were views back into central Cumbria to the north east and the Duddon estuary to the south but the dominant unescapable influence here is the Old Man and his partner Dow Crag.
The hilltop cairn is modern but may be overlying a more ancient structure and the base platform is seems to be composed of stones and is out of proportion with the narrow cairn.
From the cairn the circle is on the slightly lower ground to the south west.
Once at the circle you'll notice the northern views are obscurred by the higher ground. I would suggest that although the Old Man is the dominant feature, the eye is drawn to the south and the silvery waters of the Duddo estuary. It's also interesting that the other prehistoric structures, the robbed cairn, earthwork and ring cairn are not visible from the circle.
The circle itself is a beautiful tiny ring, just four paces across with the tallest of the seven stones no higher then my knee.
After spending a little time at the circle I walked back along the ridge to the north east and had a look at the robbed cairn. The cairn is composed of cobbles and has a hollow centre. In the centre are a number of large pieces of slate, Robert Harris suggests that this may the the remains of a cist.
The next feature you encounter, along the north eastern edge of the Haw, is a linear bank running NW-SE and curving slightly to respect the cairn.
After the earthwork is a large ring cairn. Unfortunately my photographic skills do not do this structure justice as it is a large (nineteen paces), well-defined feature with bits of stone poking through the banking.
I spent a good hour up on the ridge poking around these sites but the clouds began getting lower and lower so I decided it was time to go.
I returned by walking along to the old slate workings and then following the Ash Gill Beck back down the hillside. In hindsight I would suggest this is probably the route I should have taken when ascending the Haws as the gradient is a little less severe and the ground is a little drier.

All in all I would say that Bleaberry Haws is well worth the effort. The domineering effect of the Old Man really grounds you in the landscape, a landscape that, at first glance, seems wild and untamed and the monuments here seem remote and isolated. But take a closer look and you'll see the hand of man on the fells. The Old Man of Coniston is riddled with mines and quarries. There is even evidence of prehistoric copper extraction here. So we are seeing a landscape that has previously been a place of massive industrial activity stretching back into prehistory.

In his excellent book, The Stone Circles of Cumbria, John Waterhouse suggests an alternative route to Bleaberry Haws
"The easiest approach to this tiny circle is from the quarry road.
Leave the quarry road at the point where it turns sharp left and cross a dry stone wall."
fitzcoraldo Posted by fitzcoraldo
3rd September 2006ce
Edited 3rd September 2006ce

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