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Four Far Eastern Fells from Haweswater.
by trailmasher » Sat Dec 10, 2016 5:03 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: High Street, Kidsty Pike, Mardale Ill Bell, Rampsgill Head
Hewitts included on this walk: High Street, Rampsgill Head
Date walked: 28/11/2016
Time taken: 4
Distance: 12.73 km
Ascent: 824m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
The clouds were clearing, exposing some small patches of blue that were not yet quite large enough to let the sun through and warm things up as I set off from the car park at Mardale Head, Haweswater. The surrounding high fells were cloaked with snow that must have been a lot thicker a few days ago before the slightly warmer days had arrived. Even so, it was still minus 2°c as I strode away from the car park with my legs clad in gaiters in readiness for what lay ahead on high.
I hadn't really decided what to do or which way to go as there are so many choices from here but on passing through the gate I made a quick decision to get up high by way of Kidsty Pike via Kidsty Howes even though it can be a bit of a tedious grind at times. I hadn't been that way for a while usually gaining height by either Gatescarth Pass, Rough Crag, or past one of the two tarns, or in this case 'waters', so just a few metres past the gate I turned off to pass over Mardale Beck and then follow the wall path as it went along the west bank of Haweswater towards The Rigg.
It was a perfect day for walking and despite the cloud the visibility was good and long distance clear which is something that hasn't accompanied me very much during the past few weeks. Haweswater was very low, the lowest that I've seen it for a while and must have been so for some time as the bottom of its southern end was cloaked in green grass, even more so than is usual.
As I left the car park I acknowledged a few other walkers but will see no one else until I'm nearly at High Street.
It didn't take long to reach The Rigg climbing steadily to follow the tree line around the base of Swine Crag and then drop into the east end of Riggindale where I would cross over Bowderthwaite Bridge that spans Riggindale Beck. It was very peaceful as I stopped to look northeast along the calm waters of the reservoir set between the surrounding autumn coloured fells topped off with a sprinkling of snow that proved to be much more than that once I had got up to it.
Looking down the water filled valley made me wonder what it must have been like before it was flooded for Manchester's sake, two villages, Mardale and Measand plus the surrounding farms put to the sword, all to water a city many miles away, one that the residents would never even visit. Nowadays such things still occur when progress demands more runways or high speed train routes, some things never change.
Looking the other way to the west, Riggindale exposes itself in all its glory with the bottom of scattered green and brown patches of grass and dead bracken running up the nearby slopes until they reach the grey of the crags and scree of the surrounding fells of Rough Crag, High Street, and Kidsty Pike, the whole lot being split in two by the watercourse and feeders of Riggindale Beck as it makes its way to Haweswater.
Once across the footbridge the path is followed north for a few metres until a suitable spot to turn off is found. There are a couple of dark lines in the grass that are obviously used as paths, but the ground around here is wet and boggy despite the cold temperature so I elected to climb a little higher along the shore line path before turning off and picking up the path to Kidsty Howes at a higher level. As I started to climb the steep grassy slopes of Kidsty Howes I gave my head a shake and wondered why I was making my way up here again. The crag of Kidsty Howes is way above me and although the incline doesn't appear to be steep when looked at, when you're on it, it is. No matter, I made my choice and will rejoice in the fact that I'm out on the fells.
The sun had now reared its golden head and things are warming up, including me, and as I pulled up the incline the glory beads began to fall thick and fast. Time to shed a layer as I stopped to take in the marvellous views that were now opening up as I gained height and despite the warmth of the sun I quickly felt the coolness of the breeze before setting off once again.
The path although fairly steep is good and firm and only gets a bit rougher just below the crag where loose stones have spilled off the crag and into the channel that now forms the way through and up the front of the rocks. In spite of the sun shining it has now got colder and ice is clinging to some of the rocks underfoot, snow is just around the corner. A quick scramble - or scrabble - up the channel to reach a grassy area and then more of the rocky channel, but it was only a few minutes of a trip through the crag and I was soon on the top of Kidsty Howes with its couple of large rounded humps of grass and rock, this is where the snow line was.
Although Kidsty Howes is some 280 metres lower than Kidsty Pike the views are amazing as I looked over Haweswater, Naddle Forest, and Selside Pike to the east. Moving around to the south High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, and the long ridge of Riggindale are to be seen as well as a great ariel view into the confines of Riggindale itself.
I couldn't quite see Kidsty Pike as there is a rise in the fellside blocking the view but the sides of Low Raise and High Raise can be seen above me to my right. I could see someone making their way along the Eagle Crag part of the ridge as I looked south across Riggindale
The path now runs on behind the crag, is in a bad condition and is usually wet and boggy even in dry weather but today it was frozen solid as I made my way along taking great care not to slip on the ice. Soon after passing over this rutted and washed out section of path I met up with the relatively newly laid path of crushed stone that has been laid down when the path was repaired after the passage of many boots of the Coast to Coast walkers and general erosion due to the weather. The walking was a lot easier now until it ran out at about the 650 metre contour from where it was then a rutted track over grass more or less until the summit of Kidsty Pike was reached.
The east side of Kidsty was fairly well clear of snow but it was a different matter on all other sides especially to the north towards High Raise and Low Raise where the snow was as the Christmas Carol portrays, deep and crisp and even. As I've approached the summit of Kidsty Pike the sun has decided to hide behind banks of grey cloud, but the air is still crisp and clear with views into the far distance making it more than worthwhile to make the climb up to here. The views across to the Dovedale and Helvellyn Ranges were absolutely stunning and I could follow the line of mountains into the far distance making it possible to easily see Blencathra way over in the northwest.
Leaving Kidsty behind I made my way over to Rampsgill Head now walking over the snow that was sometimes frozen hard enough to stand my weight and at others suddenly collapsing under my feet as I stood on a soft spot and would sink in either up to my knees or hips. I was initially going to go to High Raise but after fighting my way through this sort of snow for a while I turned about and continued my fight on to Rampsgill Head.
Once again the views were tremendous and I can't say enough about them as I looked down into Ramps Gill and followed it all the way into Martindale.
On my right was High Raise and the ridge to Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill…
whilst to my left I was blessed with a full length view of Rest Dodd and the connecting ridge to The Nab.
Beda Fell and Angletarn Pikes sat between them and Place Fell with Helvellyn, Raise, Stybarrow Dodd, and others running once again all the way along as far as Blencathra.
Calming down after the euphoria of being privy to those views I turned away and made my way southwest over the uncertain nature of the underfoot snow until it more or less cleared for a while as I passed over Twopenny Crag and along the Straits of Riggindale to begin the climb up to High Street.
Once that I had picked up the well made path it…
was but an easy matter to find my way up the old roman road and although it had quite a few icy patches lying about it was virtually clear of snow that made the walking a lot easier.
As I neared the top a group passed me as they made their way to the top of Long Stile but ignored my greeting as I stepped onto snow once again as the summit trig column came into view. Just before the summit I passed a chap who responded to my 'hiya' but he didn't look too sure on his feet and after my asking after him he said that he was alright.
It was still very cloudy but clear beneath them, and looking south I could see a long, wide band of pastel yellow caused by the sun as it started to drop in the far distance.
Someone had made a snowman - or snowperson to be politically correct - and a snowball was perched on top of the trig column. I didn't linger as there was a cold breeze and with the thick cloud cover the light may start to disappear fast today.
Next on was Mardale Ill Bell so I followed the wall for a short while with the sort of snow underfoot as before until I met up with the well made path that I would follow all the way down to the next summit. It was but a few minutes walk down to Mardale Ill Bell where I took a couple of photos before settling down behind the summit cairn for a bite to eat and a warm drink. Once again the views are amazing as I looked over Piot Crag towards Haweswater and the surrounding fells with one of the best ones over towards the three peaks of Froswick, Ill Bell, and Yoke, but due to a bright spot in the sky where the sun was setting in the far distance the background bleached out, so maybe I'll catch it next time when the sun is not directly behind those three particular mountains.
Late lunch over and glad to get moving again as the breeze had now got stronger making me a tad cold as I sat taking in the views. I now pondered whether to continue on to Nan Bield and Small Water or take the shorter route down the north ridge of Piot Crag…
and as the light was beginning to dim a little that is what I decided to do. So, Piot Crag it was, and although it was thick with high cloud to the south and west the sky had cleared a bit to the north and the east and the sun was now shining once again, not everywhere but enough to brighten up the scene in front of me.
Upon leaving Mardale Ill Bell the slopes are quite gentle and virtually snow free with just the odd patch here and there. It initially falls to the east and then northeast on ever increasingly steeper slopes, mostly grass but with plenty of rocks and boulders thrown in and amongst. As I approached the top of Piot Crag I had to juggle my way through the rocky outcrops. First to the east and then when right on the nose I turned full on to the north to descend the steep and now snow covered slopes wending my way through the rocks and taking great care as I did so. Looking to my left I noticed a fairly wide and snow free gully that would have made a decent way down but getting to it across the snow and rocks looked a bit dodgy, and anyway, I was alright where I was.
There is a great view of Blea Water on the descent…
and likewise over and across the pattern of becks and feeder channels that cobweb across the low area of Mardale Waters…
collecting water to feed Small Water Beck and the smaller one from the larger tarn, Blea Water Beck, both of them eventually pairing up to then become Mardale Beck.
The journey down the ridge was fortunately uneventful and once most of the crags had been left behind the slope eased off quite a lot leaving me on almost level ground prior to reaching Blea Water that in spite of its blackness held a reflection of the sky on its smooth surface. I wandered around for a few minutes before making my way over to Blea Water and the dam wall with the water cascading over of it in a uniform pattern in contrast to the irregular ones that nature has surrounded us with.
Crossing the beck was easy and once over I simply picked up the path that leads to here and then on to Caspel Gate, the tarn that sits between Long Stile and Rough Crag. It must be sheltered from the worst of the cold in this great depression as sections of the path were very wet and boggy with the passage of quad bikes not helping to maintain the integrity of it. Sections of it are now churned up forcing you to walk higher up the fellside on sloping grass that was slippery with water and eventually instead of a narrow path as there used to be there will be another dark, wide, boggy one that are becoming all the more obvious in the hills.
Twenty minutes later I was back at the car where I finished off my hot drink whilst looking at the hills around me and thinking about the good day that I've had on the fells today. It was hard work at one point whilst on my aborted way to High Raise due to the inconsistency of the snow quality, but all in all a great walk. And there's something about the mountains and snow in winter, like apple pie and custard they fit together well, especially when the weather is good, like today has been. The snow seems to bring out the best in the crags, identifying the nooks and crannies, enhancing the profiles of the rocks and crags whilst the regular patterns of dry stone walls criss-crossing snow covered fells always bring to mind the graft that has gone on in the past to construct the once upon a time important, but sometimes now, defunct estate, parish, and county boundaries.
by ChrisW » Wed Dec 14, 2016 6:59 am
Another great read with some lovely shots to make me miss the mountains. -2 is not so bad, we've rarely been north of -25 for the past 2 weeks (-35 with the wind chill a few times too ) It's been a poor year for me hike wise but 2017 is close and looking better in terms of availability so look out for some snow shoe trips early next year
Thanks for keeping me hiking, albeit vicariously, I look forward to posting a few more of my own very soon
by trailmasher » Wed Dec 14, 2016 8:49 pm
ChrisW wrote:Snowperson I guess that's the way it is nowadays mate
Political correct gone mad mate
-2 is not so bad, we've rarely been north of -25 for the past 2 weeks (-35 with the wind chill a few times too )
-25 to -35 you must be having a laugh mate you know what they say about brass monkeys
Thanks for keeping me hiking, albeit vicariously, I look forward to posting a few more of my own very soon
Too much work and not enough play... Chris and wondered where you've been keeping yourself lately Be great to see some more of your reports and outstanding photos of your ventures into the wild again
by johnkaysleftleg » Sat Dec 17, 2016 4:25 pm
by trailmasher » Mon Dec 19, 2016 8:50 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:That looks a grand day out TM and is making my current exile from the Lakes all the more painful. If I don't get over there sometime over the Xmas break I think I may go insane. Lovely pics btw
It was indeed a grand day out JK and you know that there's always a welcome in the fell sides of the LD Bite the bullet and just go for it and thanks for your comments re the pics