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Carrock Fell, High Pike and The Knott - Fells on the Edge

Carrock Fell, High Pike and The Knott - Fells on the Edge

Postby old danensian » Thu Oct 11, 2012 5:48 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Carrock Fell, High Pike (Northern Fells), Knott

Hewitts included on this walk: Carrock Fell, High Pike, Knott

Date walked: 07/10/2012

Time taken: 5

Distance: 17.5 km

Ascent: 757m

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“No, nobody climbs these northern fells.”

The exclamation, laden as much with sarcasm as with a North Yorkshire accent, was made by the latest arrival on the summit of High Pike. There were now seven of us gathered around the stone bench, the trig point and the jumble of stones that once comprised a cairn: at least two more were approaching in the distance. As the leader of a group of four he could hardly claim to be an innocent bystander to an apparent crime of over-population in this north eastern extremity of the Lake District.

For me, this was a quick three-peak snatch off the M6 as I drove from Doncaster back up to Ayrshire in sore need of an up-lift. Clearing out my late father’s accumulation of brushes, nails, screws, washers, tools, pots of dried out paint and bits of old timber, copper and rope in the garage scratched at many memories. Then, from the sublime to the ridiculous, the Rovers got well and truly gubbed by Preston and tried to throw away a one-goal lead against Shrewsbury, who fortunately were even worse than we were.

On Sunday the weather runes were well-read and everything bode well for a superb day. Despite dropping down into thick mist after crossing Stainmore on the A66, the promise of blue sky and sun was fulfilled once Penrith was passed.

Crags of Carrock Fell from Stone End - the very edge of the Lakes

The winding road up to Mosedale was taken and the car left close to Stone End. Crags rearing up above the parking place represent the geological edge of the Lake District, a feature that became more evident as height was gained on the path weaving through them. A mixture of autumnal bracken, patches of scree and the odd scramble were all negotiated on a steep start to the day.

Any pain, however, was short-lived. The remains of an old building or sheepfold was soon reached, after which the angle eased and the upper slopes were crossed to the cairns on a pair of summits. Again, the sense of being on the edge of the fells was the dominant impression: the patchwork of farmland to the north and east in stark contrast to Blencathra and Skiddaw behind. Those staying in the Eden valley must have been cursing a gloomy day as a band of low cloud stretched across the view until well after midday.

The Eden Valley - feeling sorry for those who think it's a grotty day under the cloud

Approaching the summit of Carrock Fell

Once on the tops the hard work was over. The undulations between Carrock Fell, High Pike and The Knott lent themselves to comfortable walking and only the occasional need to be picking a way between places less wet. Let’s face it, after this summer, suggesting you can find any dry routes is a little far-fetched.

The Knott and High Pike - from Carrock Fell

On High Pike the crowds gathered round the summit tableau of cairn and slate bench that AW would still recognise. More likely to leave him speechless were the windfarm bristles in the Solway Firth that were emerging from the last of the morning mists.

High Pike - with Carrock Fell in the background

Recreating Wainwright - High Pike and "the bench" with Blencathra in the background

Across the water Criffel and the Galloway hills beyond formed the horizon, and to the left Snaefell and the Isle of Man peeped out. However,Blencathra and Skiddaw turned their backs and masked the views of the central Lakeland hills beyond; you’re only treated to occasional glimpses as lines of sight shift the distant silhouettes.

But this doesn’t detract from the charm and enjoyment of these fells. We don’t just visit the tops to enjoy the towering views of surrounding peaks and pinnacles. The contrast with what lies beyond, more distant horizons, can be just as alluring.

After leaving High Pike’s crowds I returned to the track, past penned-in sheep (there’d been a hound trail earlier in the day so may have been best kept out of the way) and visited Lingy Hut. Unlike Scottish bothies, which snuggle into the landscape or reflect their local geology, this Lakeland version stands out like the proverbial sore thumb as it looks down the valley clad from head to toe in heavy-duty roofing felt.

Lingy Hut - blending into its surroundings

Squelching over to The Knott I watched a quad bike rodeo in the distance as more sheep were herded from the fell. AW likens this top to a cricket pitch, so it was no surprise that while wandering round to enjoy the views I almost lost sight of my sac perched by the handful stones making up the cairn. The wander did, however, give me the single reminder that I was in the Lake District, the north eastern end of Bassenthwaite just being visible: apart from sea it was the only stretch of water seen during the day.

The Knott - High Pike and Carrock Fell on the horizon in the background

Looking east to Mosedale down the valley of the River Caldew from Coomb Height

While retreating down the broad shoulder of Coomb Height and back to Mosedale I was encouraged to see that one of my outstanding singles can be reached easily. Mungrisdale Common doesn’t have to be attained over Blencathra, Bannerdale or Bowscale. Instead, a car can be taken well up the River Caldew valley and the potential boggy plod can be minimised.

Up to Coomb Height from River Caldew

River Caldew and slopes of Bowscale Fell

Normally a tarmac trudge can be dispiriting at the end of the day, but not this time. Following the River Caldew out towards Mosedale was a pleasure. Plenty of soft grassy verges as well as the road surface made for easy walking and the surroundings are an absolute delight. It was no surprise to see a couple ensconced at the river’s edge each with their own easels well into their individual interpretations of the valley. I just stuck with the digital version of reality.

The end of a great day

The final part of the walk back to the car was accompanied by the rhythmic chime of geological hammers as a group of students made their own particular exploration of the edge of the fells. Hopefully they got a chance to raise their eyes to the panoramas that their rocks have given rise to, as well as grasping the distinctions between igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary.

It was only a relatively small walk and I’d envisaged quite a short report too. However, on the drive home, and while sat thinking about it with the benefit of time and hindsight, I realised that there was far more to share than a simple route description.

If you’ve got to the end, thank you; but don’t feel guilty if you subsequently add to the crowds and frustrate another visitor’s aspiration for idyllic solitude.
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old danensian
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Re: Carrock Fell, High Pike and The Knott - Fells on the Edg

Postby ChrisW » Fri Oct 12, 2012 6:09 am

It's reports like this that result in crowded hills OD :lol: What a wonderful hike, described perfectly and captured beautifully in your 'digital version of reality' - even those guys with easels would be impressed :clap:

Really enjoyable read that got me wandering down memory lane early on with your comments about Rovers (I lived on Lakeside for a year and walked to the footy a couple of times) though as a Leeds fan I'm not sure I should admit it :lol:
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Re: Carrock Fell, High Pike and The Knott - Fells on the Edg

Postby johnkaysleftleg » Fri Oct 12, 2012 8:32 am

Beautifully written report and great pics Old D :clap: We walked up Eagle and Sergeant's Crags in the tourist honey pot of Borrowdale on the same day. We had those fells to ourselves apart from a fleeting hello to another couple when we reached Eagle Crag.
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