Alfred Wainwright called Barf a "little rogue mountain" and alludes to the fact that even the forestry planters have left its steep, steep slopes well alone. He also points out that passers by look up at Barf with no thought of climbing it.
Well, I climbed it on a hot day in June 2010! Not only that, I "persuaded" my wife to join me on the walk and, for good measure, I strapped my little baby daughter onto me and took her too! Looking back, Barf is definitely hard enough without trying to carry anything extra up its excrutiating slopes.
We took the direct route described by Wainwright as "not a walk - a very stiff scramble for those overflowing with animal strength and vigour". If the previous reviewer honestly made it from the Clerk to the summit in under 40 minutes I'm almightily impressed. This took us hours! The heat, the extra weight, and the agonising angle of ascent meant that frequent rests and lots of fluid were the order of the day.
The initial scree slope to the Bishop is frustrating, in that you slide back a few steps about every fourth or fifth step, hampering progress. However, the views become pretty impressive as you get closer to the Bishop thanks to the rapid gain of height!
After the Bishop the rock gully awaits and is full of crumbling rock and hidden jagged rocks. My wife has a large black bruise on her knee to show for her troubles! At least progress can be made through this section without slipping backwards in the loose scree of the lower slope.
We followed the Wainwright route up - or rather around - the cliff face by climbing behind the oak and rowan tree. By now the view was simply majestic, but my pulse was racing and sweat was literally running off me. The final push through the heather and grass is compratively easy, but for the fact that by this stage weariness and tiredness are kicking in!
Stunning views of Lake Bassenthwaite from the summit, and a nice gentle stroll to the nearby summit of Lord's Seat offers itself for those that want more!
A great test of fitness and vigour, but like I've said keep your carrying load to the minimum required and it's probably wise to avoiding blazing hot or significantly wet weather. A cool and pleasant day is what Barf was made for!!!
(Written by: jonathonuk)