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A 5 hill circuit of Dovedale.

A 5 hill circuit of Dovedale.

Postby trailmasher » Sat Aug 05, 2017 10:55 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Hartsop above How, High Hartsop Dodd, Little Hart Crag

Hewitts included on this walk: Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Little Hart Crag

Date walked: 18/07/2017

Time taken: 4.19

Distance: 14.05 km

Ascent: 866m

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A circuit of hills around Dovedale.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

Since I had my last walk in the South Yorkshire Dales a week ago I had been pondering on where to go for my next one and deciding that it would be nice to visit some old friends again I made my way down to Hartsop where I parked up in one of the two car parks that are to be found at Cow Bridge just north of Brothers Water.

As I pulled onto the nearly full car park it was about 9:30am with the sun shining from a beautiful blue sky that was marred by only a few white clouds. The temperature as I set off was showing 17°c with the promise of a much warmer day ahead of me.

My walk began by passing through the small gate leading from the car park into Low Wood through which I walked north along a good path on which there is a good scattering of exposed tree roots that are both trip and skid hazards. It's a pleasant walk along the path and today with the sun beating down and its rays filtering through the trees foliage, birds singing, and the stillness about the wood it was a great place to be to forget about the woeful doings of today's world.

Apart from the trees, the birds, and the path there is nothing much to see whilst walking along apart from acres of head high bracken that shortly I will have to push my way through as I leave the main path that follows an elevated route alongside the A592 road that runs over Kirkstone Pass on its way to Ambleside. After about 250 metres of walking I turned off to the left along a narrow path that immediately begins to climb northwest on a steady enough gradient through bracken that was around 2 metres high. It was also very hot with no movement of air in this part of the wood, the tall bracken stopping any makings of a breeze.

After a short while of bracken bashing along the path I arrived at the wall that runs a good length of the way along the Hartsop above How ridge, only leaving it just above Gale Crag from where it then runs down the fellside to terminate at The Perch at the head of an unnamed waterway on Gill Crag. The path continues alongside the east side of the wall confined in, and later above the wood right the way up to Bleaberry Knott from where an escape must be made if a continuation of the ridge is to be carried out. It was my intention to leave the wood as early as possible and this I did by scaling the wall shortly after arriving at it to now find myself on the west side and a clear path all the way alongside the wall until having to leave it behind at Gale Crag.

Now that I was out of the wood the air was a lot cooler and looking back to the north I had a good view along the valley towards Place Fell and Angletarn Pikes to the right, and Deepdale Common and Aiken Crag over to the left with the verdant pastures sat either side of the main road stretched out along the valley bottom. The higher that I climbed along the steadily rising ridge path the more that the views opened up to the sides with good long views over to the Far Eastern Fells to the one side and St Sunday Crag, Birks, and Arnison Crag on the other with just a peep into Deepdale for now.

As I climbed along the knobbly ridge that consists of a series of rocky knolls the fells to the south came more into view. High Hartsop Dodd, Middle Dodd, Caudale Moor, Gray Crag, Hartsop Dodd and the Kirkstone Pass road running like a grey ribbon between them.
5 - Caudale Moor-Kirkstone Pass-Middle Dodd-Red Screes-High Hartsop Dodd.JPG
Caudale Moor-Kirkstone Pass-Middle Dodd-Red Screes-High Hartsop Dodd.

6 - Hartsop Dodd leading to Caudale Moor.JPG
Hartsop Dodd leading to Caudale Moor.

Looking back to the north once again I could see that the views were even wider than before now that I had gained a respectable height.
7 - Looking north towards Deepdale and Place Fell.JPG
Looking north towards Deepdale and Place Fell.

Despite the heat I was making good time and with the paths being dry and in good condition I was soon passing over Bleaberry Knott from where the other objects of my walk were now beginning to appear. As I reached Gale Crag I could see the ridge that bears the tops of Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Fairfield, and to the right of Fairfield there sits Cofa Pike.
8 - Dove Crag-Hart Crag to Fairfield and Cofa Pike from Bleaberry Knott.JPG
Dove Crag-Hart Crag to Fairfield and Cofa Pike from Gale Crag.

As I passed over Buck Stones I stopped to take a shot of the upper reaches of Dovedale and whilst doing so a young lady fell runner passed me, yelled "It's a good day for it" and then was gone, to be soon out of sight as she made her way ever upwards towards Hart Crag. Hell, I thought that I was doing alright in the heat until she passed me by.
12 - Dovedale with High Hartsop Dodd and Red Screes behind.JPG
Dovedale with Hartsop Dodd and Red Screes behind.

From this same spot I also had a good view of Stangs and Stand Crags that I got my boots on last year sitting below Dove Crag with its great cleft running through the face of it and the Priests Hole running into it.
13 - Dove Crag and Stangs.JPG
Dove Crag and Stangs.

Earlier on in the day just after I had scaled the wall to gain the ridge Hart Crag seemed so far away, and now as I left Blake Brow it still seems a while away but also much larger. There is a cairn at about this point - not the summit as that has already been passed - sat on a small outcrop of rock and from where I had a good view of a multitude of fells.
15 - The Far Eastern Fells from Hartsop above How.JPG
The Far Eastern Fells from Hartsop above How.

16 - Hart Crag and Link Cove.JPG
Hart Crag and Link Cove.

Leaving the cairn behind I made my way to the foot of the path through the scree where I decided to have a break before starting the slippery toil up the loose path. I chose a convenient rock as a seat whilst I took a drink and had a rest before tackling the scree, a place from where I could survey a good portion of the Lake District bathed in glorious sunshine from a white cloud dotted blue sky, and I couldn't help but think how lucky that I was to be privy to scenes such as this.

I could have lingered longer but time goes by - tempus fugit - I believe is the Latin equivalent to 'time goes by' and I have this stretch of steep and loose stoned path to climb before I reach easier ground. The path of loose stones isn't all that long in itself but it is still a fair climb up to the summit only easing off once that the shelter that is marked on the map is reached from where the going is then relatively easy as the path wends its way through short grass and then up a short bank to the summit of Hart Crag itself.

From the area of the shelter there is an amazing view along the ridge that I had just walked up with Deepdale to the left and Dovedale lying to the right.
21 - Hartsop above How ridge from Hart Crag.JPG
Hartsop above How ridge from Hart Crag.

Having walked from Cow Bridge to here without seeing anyone apart from the young girl fell runner I am now surrounded by eager walkers many of them still making their way up and along to Fairfield with just a few going the other way, both streams of which are doing the Fairfield Round or combination of. There is a good view of Scrubby Crag and Fairfield from the summit of Hart Crag.
22 - Scrubby Crag with Fairfield behind.JPG
Scrubby Crag with Fairfield behind.

Deepdale that terminates in Link Cove lay way below me and is surrounded by the ridges of Hartsop above How to the southeast, with St Sunday Crag and Birks on the opposite side.
23 - St Sunday Crag-Gavel Pike and Birks from above Link Cove.JPG
St Sunday Crag-Gavel Pike and Birks from above Link Cove.

It's a beautiful day and I never cease to enjoy the views of the surrounding high fells, fells that I can keep on looking at as I left Hart Crag and now made my way south along the well beaten path towards the large rounded dome of Dove Crag from where I would look back and cast my eye over the rocky descent that I had just made.
28 - Fairfield and Hart Crag from the north slopes of Dove Crag.JPG
Fairfield and Hart Crag from the northern slopes of Dove Crag.

27 - Dove Crag-Red Screes and the Kentmere hills behind.JPG
Dove Crag-Red Screes and the Kentmere hills behind.

Looking around from Dove Crag there is an array of fells to be seen from the Buttermere Fells all the way around to the Coniston Fells, a most rewarding view.
30 - Great Rigg and the Western Fells.JPG
Great Rigg and the Western Fells.

As I left Dove Crag, now walking south, I had a good view of some of the fells in the south, Red Screes being the most prominent with the three peaks of the Kentmere hills behind it.
31 - Red Screes with Middle Fell and the Kentmere Hills behind.JPG
Red Screes with Middle Fell and the Kentmere Hills behind.

Leaving Dove Crag gives a choice of routes depending on where one is going and just now I was walking along the start of Thack Bottom Edge that if followed would take you on a continuation of the Fairfield Round and back down to Ambleside. But I am going to turn off and make my way east along a narrow path through the grass that follows the contour of Scandale Head to arrive at High Bakestones, a rocky knoll that bears a very well made and imposing tall, circular, stone built cairn or currick whichever name suits it best. It is built from the same type of flat leaves of stone that is sticking out of the ground in much profusion and it is indeed a great viewpoint stuck on this high ground above Scandale Head. This is where I had my lunch, and although there are many places of beauty in the LD to sit awhile this was as good a place as any to while away a few minutes whilst refuelling.
39 - High Bakestones cairn on Scandale Head.JPG
High Bakestones cairn on Scandale Head.

From this viewpoint on Scandale Head there is a great view along Scandale that leads the eye directly to the waters of Windermere in the hazy distance. On the right hand side there is the ridge of the Fairfield Round with High Pike and Low Pike whilst on the left there is the ridge from Ambleside that one can take if either leaving or going to the 776 metre summit of Red Screes.
42 - Scandale and Windermere with High Pike and Low Pike to the right.JPG
Scandale and Windermere with High Pike and Low Pike to the right.

Unfortunately a time arrives when a man has to make a move so I put my things together and set off once again still walking east as I crossed Bakestones Moss still following the narrow path as before, down to Black Brow passing Scandale Tarn on the way. I turned around to take a look at where I had just been and could just see the cairn sat on its mound of grey rock.
45 - High Bakestones from near Scandale Tarn.JPG
High Bakestones from near Scandale Tarn,

My next port of call was to be Little Hart Crag and that was now not too far in front of me, making itself known by its rounded hump of grass patched grey rock stuck up like a wart sitting just above Scandale Pass and in between Dove Crag and Red Screes.
46 - Little Hart Crag.JPG
Little Hart Crag.

As the tarn is left behind the path begins to rise towards the main path that is crossed to reach another narrow path that would take me to the summit of this 637 metre high crag with its summit a mere 27 metres - 88 feet - or so above the main path. So not much of a climb then to get onto the top of this one before setting off down the opposite side to walk down the ridge to the summit of High Hartsop Dodd. The views from this summit are very similar to what I have already have, or can see but there is a great view of Red Screes and the steep path that can make for hard going at the near end of a long day.
49 - Red Screes from Little Hart Crag.JPG
Red Screes from Little Hart Crag.

Little Hart Crag sports a small cairn of stones perched on the rock and grassy top and as I left it behind I now made my way down the northeast side on a good path that made its way amongst a few rocks to soon reach the ridge path that wends its way down in the same direction to the summit cairn of High Hartsop Dodd.
52 - A view north along High Hartsop Dodd with Brothers Water and Place Fell behind.JPG
A view north along High Hartsop Dodd with Brothers Water and Place Fell behind.

A nice steady walk ensued as I made my way easily down to the small cairn from where I had a good view of the Middle Dodd to Red Screes ridge, a hard climb but worth the sweat once the summit of Middle Dodd has been reached.
57 - Middle Dodd to Red Screes ridge from High Hartsop Dodd summit.JPG
Middle Dodd to Red Screes ridge from High Hartsop Dodd summit.

After the summit cairn has been relinquished and the walk continued a break in a wall is reached, this wall sits above Bull Crag and Bell Knott and from here on the going is very steep. The path is good all the way down and just below the wall a fence is crossed by using a step stile. Now it's not often that my legs ache but around 100 metres from the bottom the fronts of my thighs began to ache a little, nothing to do with the distance walked but with the steepness of the downward path and the continual holding back with the leg muscles. Having a strapped up right knee didn't help any but today that wasn't a real problem, it was just the long grind down the fell.

This was probably the hardest part of the walk and it was with a sigh of relief when I finally arrived at the old barn from where I then walked through the fields passing the site of an old settlement that can be picked out to the left by the remains of the large rocks that form a kind of rough circular boundary around the area. The fields were full of wild flowers and as I turned around to scowl at the just walked down ridge the sun was shining on the buttercups and spreading the colour around like a vast yellow carpet.
62 - High Hartsop Dodd.JPG
High Hartsop Dodd.

Once across the fields it was just a case of passing by the old Hartsop Hall and walking back along the track that follows the line of Kirkstone Beck until it runs into Brothers Water…
63 - Looking across Brothers Water towards Angletarn Pikes and Brock Crag with Rest Dodd behind.JPG
Looking across Brothers Water towards Angletarn Pikes-Brock Crag with Rest Dodd behind.

and then walk beneath the trees by the side of the tarn/lake back to the car where it was found to be still 27°c.

Although there were many people around the Hart Crag area, mostly just passing through to and from Fairfield, I saw only one other person from the start of the walk to the summit of HC and once that I had turned off the main path to walk to High Bakestones I saw no others until I got to the banks of Brothers Water where there were three twenty somethings bathing their feet in the cool waters of the tarn/lake after coming off the hills. I've had a hot and enjoyable day around Dovedale, a place that I have been to many times before and continue to enjoy whenever I get up there, and even a struggle through deep snow is well worth the effort as on a cold and clear day the views are even better than they have been today.
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