Following on from my recent walking successes – see, you go out not with the Ramblers and start to enjoy walking again, I’d already asked Karl to include me in his next Lake District walk and I didn’t care where we might go. He informed me that our next adventure would involve the fells above Haweswater, I dared to ask if this would include High Street and was delighted when this was duly confirmed. The backstory to this was that in 2015 with the Southport Ramblers group, a walk from Pooley Bridge was meant to take in High Street – it didn’t and culminated at the not very high or impressive Arthur’s Pike. (Excuse me whilst I go and cancel my Ramblers membership!)
We arrived at unknown location next to Haweswater – that doesn’t really narrow things down for anyone who hasn’t been to the area, shall I just say that we parked on a small car park next to the reservoir / lake. For the record, I have to say that my first impression of Haweswater was that it was stunning, the reflection of the fells went a long way towards influencing this opinion, but it is a beautiful stretch of water and very difficult to believe that mankind has hand an active hand in creating it.
For a very pleasant change we actually started the walk by going downhill first, this is unprecedented with Karl and Sue walks that nearly always involve a monumental assault up the face of this fill or that fell, why, this was almost civilised. Not many people know this, but my favourite tree is…the Hawthorne tree, we used to have one which killed cheap footballs in our front garden so it was a case of admiring something that I’ve known all my life. Anyway, there was a lot of Hawthornes on the side of the crag that we were now yomping across, the crag was Riggindale and the area was the wonderfully named Dudderwick. I’m not sure who had planted the Holly tree, even though it was less than six feet in height, on this hillside it stood out more than some Ash trees that dwarfed it. Walking alongside the water was an absolute joy, alas all good things come to an end and within less than ten minutes of gentle ambling, we turned left and began a phase to which I shall refer as ‘the big up!’ The name of this route is ‘Long Stile’.
Karl had warned me that we would be attacking High Street via the ridge which is the Riggindale Crag and what an incline it was. I am toying with an idea of deploying a grading scale for hills that I ascend…this would be around a three to four, if we think of a crown green bowling green as a 10 and Steel Fell (whatever God awful route we took) as being a 1 then this should serve to indicate the incline, for anyone who has had the misfortune of climbing Steel Fell! It was steep, but more of a slog than a major climb…and seemingly relentless. On the plus side, the terrain and indeed the scenery changed frequently. The major mountains adjacent to us of course stayed the same but the environment through which we were walking changed quite dramatically. At times I had to stop myself from looking up as the summit – the point at which our ridge collided with High Street proper, seemed to be getting no closer. On the positive side there was many distractions like the stunning Blea Water and its smaller neighbour the appropriately named Small Water.
We stopped for lunch around three quarters into the climb…I was feeling pretty much exhausted by this time and the views back over to the other side of the valley made the decision very hard to contest. For a nice change, the normally omnipresent wind decided not to blow our socks off and we had a nice fifteen to twenty minutes worth of rest and relaxation. I checked my altimeter which reported that we had still around six hundred feet to climb – in my head that equated to around two thirds of a standard Pendle Hill climb…so nothing to worry about then!
In time we set off once again, the gradient worsened – as indeed it does on most climbs until you are within reach of the final crest of the hill or mountain or fell. I found it very hard to believe that we had just bolted up around six hundred feet in less than half an hour – take that Naismith! As I took the final crest of the slope I kept expecting there to be more…and there wasn’t, I’d made it, to the top of High Street…at last! And the views were spectacular! For once we were treated to a full panorama from Great Mell Fell and Blencathra, across Grizedale Pike, Helvellyn, Great Gable, the Scafells and even the Coniston range. This was our reward for something of a hard push up this giant. Nobody had expected the ascent to be easy, but by the same token no one would have hoped to have such a ‘who’s who’ of Lake Distract fells sprawled out along the horizon. And it wasn’t even windy!
Here are some more pictures:
After taking more photographs probably than what I needed. We discussed our next objective. Sue and Karl were happy to factor in a visit to High Raise, I was not so sure of this as it looked like a lot of descending and ascending. But then Karl reasoned that it was not that far away and compared to what we had already done…it was nothing. So of we set in the direction of a fell that I had heard of from two weeks ago, ‘The Knott’. I think it’s fair to say that unless you were avidly ticking off the ‘Wainwrights’ then you probably wouldn’t visit this fill / lump. Yes it has a commanding position, but that hardly singles it out for special treatment in this environment where this characteristic is widely shared. We spent no more than five minutes here and then climbed back over the wall and onwards up another path to Rampsgill Head, a fell of which I had never heard.
We were not that sure of which part / cairn actually signified the highest point of Rampsgill Head…Karl touched all three, I did two and I think Sue just did the one, I’ll go with Sue as she is generally right about these types of things. With the benefit of hindsight I could have just used my altimeter and referenced the reading with the fell’s Wiki entry! By this time – which was around one thirty, the sun was fairly beating down on us. The walk over to High Raise did not look as bad from this aspect as it had from High Street – it had looked like a right odyssey, and we set off downhill and then up a steady but not at all severe climb. In all honesty I don’t think that it took us twenty minutes to get to the top of our second biggest fell of the day. High Raise had a quite extensive summit cairn and a wind shelter of sorts – a bit like the ones at Pen-y-Ghent and Whernside but on a day like today it was cloaked in shade and would serve no purpose so we declined to use it and ate the rest of our lunches here in the sun.
The penultimate stage of the route was now upon us, to sort of ‘wriggle’ (hence the name of the walk) back to Kidsty Pike, our last summit. From this aspect, the pike looked like any other mound of earth attached to a hillside soaring into the sky. The point in visiting this peak is not to see it, moreover, it is the the view from the pike itself. It was phenomenal! As it was still a lovely day and Shap chippy doesn’t open until 16:30, we stopped at spent some more time taking in the amazing views down into the valley. Sue spotted some deer down below and try as I might I could not focus on them. This was made even more envy-evoking when Karl managed to get a fix on them. I persisted however and eventually after scouring the valley for a good five minutes I glimpsed something wandering around. And then there they were, I could not tell you how many of these shy creatures were roaming around but I’d guess at around thirty or so. My camera and my photography in general, was not good enough to capture a piccie of them so I’ll put a link to Karl’s website (if he’s edited it) later.
Eventually, we began our descent into Riggindale. The day had been exceptionally good, the weather had proven most of the met’s forecasters wrong and the company had been as splendid as ever, I just wanted to be sure of making it two consecutive walks where I hadn’t fallen over. And on that gradient this was going to be no mean fete. After some distance our path divided into two very distinct routes – stoney or grassy. We opted for grassy guided by the logic of ‘this will be easier on the knees’. I’m sure we were correct in our thinking but the backs of my legs are still hurting now two days later! Our last stop before rejoining the car at Haweswater car park, was to take a few moments basking in the sun aside Riggindale Beck where I refilled my water bottle (with a filter) as what water I had left was running low and quite warm. The beck’s water was a good few degrees cooler which made a nice difference.
We reached the car and were presented with Sue’s GPS statistics 8.6 miles and 3,800 feet of ascension. Of course Sue immediately advised us to ignore the ascension figure as it’s prone to over reporting (damn) and that in all honesty we would probably done more like just three thousand feet. That’s good enough for me. This was a thoroughly enjoyable walk over one mountain that I had been eager to take in for years, one iconic viewing platform and some fells that I’d never heard of!
Distance walked – 8.6 miles
Ascension – 3,000′
Song of the walk: Zayn Malik and Taylor Swift, I Don’t Wanna Live Forever from the woefully awful film: Fifty Shades Darker.