A pre Christmas chill out at Stony Cove Pike et al.
by trailmasher » Fri Dec 29, 2017 8:25 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Caudale Moor, Gray Crag, Hartsop Dodd, Thornthwaite Crag
Hewitts included on this walk: Stony Cove Pike (Caudale Moor), Thornthwaite Crag
Date walked: 22/12/2017
Time taken: 4.01
Distance: 13.52 km
Ascent: 882m4 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).
It was dark, dismal, and dank when Chris arrived at the house where the surrounding countryside was blanketed in very low fog, so much in fact that if anyone had seen us loading the bags and boots into the car they would have thought us mental to be even stepping out in that kind of weather. But we do, don't we?
Temperature wise it wasn't particularly cold at about 9°c but there was a heavy dampness in the air and before we had got into the car our clothes were coated in a film of micro droplets of moisture, it wasn't rain drizzle, just the settling of damp from the fog. No matter what the weather we were setting off on what would be Chris' last walk of the year as he will be spending the remaining days of this year and the new ones of 2018 working off shore.
The drive was a dismal one until we reached Pooley Bridge where there was cloud just covering the fell tops, an improvement of what we had left behind in the Eden Valley below Cross Fell, an improvement that went slowly backwards as we approached Glenridding, Patterdale and then our parking spot at Cow Bridge, Hartsop where both car parks were empty of any other vehicles. As we prepared for the walk the sky got a little brighter so things were looking up although the cloud was not moving anywhere just yet. We could have parked at the Hartsop Village car park but Chris had been driving since 6am so a leg stretcher before the start of the climb up the steep north side of Hartsop Dodd was deemed a good loosening up exercise, in any case it is but a few minutes more walking and perhaps only an extra kilometre or ½ mile.
A walk across the main road and then along the metalled lane to Hartsop soon had us crossing the footbridge over Pasture Beck and following the beck side path alongside the drystone wall…
Looking back to Hartsop from Pasture Beck
that led us to the gate and stony lane that we followed to the righthand branch leading to the start of the climb up our first hill of the day, Hartsop Dodd.
Start of the climb up Hartsop Dodd
To our left we had a misty view of Gray Crag with the sun attempting to break through the cloud.
Gray Crag appearing through the mist
The path is clear to see, starting off as an easy gradient but gradually getting steeper the higher you get and before the wall stile is reached there are the odd wet patches where it passes over grass and a few rushes but all in all decent enough. As we climbed the low mist began to clear and when we arrived at about the 250 metre contour we looked back to see a clearing sky, still cloudy but now with patches of blue appearing but what took our interest most of all was the cloud inversion that was spreading through the valleys leaving the tops of the fells with a golden glow.
Cloud inversion over Hartsop and Patterdale
We could also see the south face of Brock Crags where many new trees have been planted amongst the large area of dead bracken, an exercise that is now being carried out on a great many bracken infested fell sides.
Brock Crags behind Hartsop
As we climbed we couldn't help but look back with monotonous regularity at the unfolding scene below us as the valleys slowly filled up with white clouds.
Inversion spreading through the valleys
Despite the steepness of this first bit of climb we soon arrived at the point where the wall meets an old fence and the ground eased off slightly before we reached the site of the old mining shaft and adits.
Climbing Hartsop Dodd
From this point the fellside got decidedly steeper as we worked our way steadily upwards through short rocky areas as the path zigzagged its way ever upwards, the wonderful views of the cloud inversion giving us an excuse to stop and take photos of this natural wonder.
Cloud inversion over Patterdale and Hartsop Village
Now into Dovedale and Kirkstone Pass
The slowly rising cloud inversion now over Glenridding and beyond
Northwest to St Sunday Crag-Birks-Catstye Cam
The photos were taken between the 300 and 530 metre contours, from the 530 metre mark the ground begins to ease off somewhat and from where the pace picked up allowing us to arrive at the first signs of the summit that is the end of a dry stone wall at the 600 metre line.
Hartsop Dodd wall end at 600 metres
This is a great viewpoint of the surrounding fells and mountains.
Northwest from Round How on Hartsop Dodd
Another few minutes saw us at the cairn seated at Round How…
Hartsop Dodd summit cairn
that is actually not the highest point as that is just a few metres further up and to the left by the wall and is marked by an old wooden fence post that has a piece of iron stuck out of the top of it.
Hartsop Dodds highest point - the true summit
We've also arrived at the snow line, or what is left of it and it's also a tad colder especially now that the hard climbing is over for a short while. We were now heading south along the easy rising slopes of Caudale Moor and although the sun was now a welcome sight it was to be a bit of a nuisance as it was shining straight in our eyes as we progressed forward over the now frost hard ground.
Into the sun south along Caudale Moor to Stony Cove Pike
The walking is easy along the 'Moor' as it initially undulates and winds its way along with the path now following the tumbledown wall, a wall where we decided to have a break just before entering the patch of darkness that covers the steepest part of the walk along Caudale Moor before arriving at the summit cairn of Caudale Moor or as some may prefer, Stony Cove Pike.
A view back north to Hartsop Dodd summit
From Hartsop Dodd to Stony Cove Pike there is some 476 feet - 145 metres - of climb but it is so steady it's not really noticeable. The going is good all the way along with just a few wet patches - frozen today - around the middle reaches of the final climb to the summit. We passed over or skirted some large areas of frozen snow and with Sonny never having seen snow before was going mad on it. As we passed one of the small ice covered tarns he ran onto it not realising that it was only a temporary surface and promptly broke through and had an invigorating cold bath from which, after a good shake and sharing his cold water with us continued on his merry way heedless to his soaking. He also has a penchant for holes full of water and thick black crap of the peaty kind. After reaching the top of the last bank a turn to the east for a short distance found us at the second summit of the day, Stony Cove Pike,
The High Street Range from Stony Cove Pike
The surrounding fells were bathed in sunlight but we could see that the cloud was steadily rising around us and becoming really prominent as it slowly began to fill up the valley of Pasture Beck to the north and Troutbeck to the south. Just now Threshthwaite Mouth was free of fog but it was high up over the Kentmere mountains with just the tops of the three main peaks showing through the cloud.
Just now Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag, and the High Street range are free of cloud and still basking in sunlight but the way that the cloud was rising they wouldn't be like that for much longer.
Thornthwaite Crag and High Street
From the summit cairn we followed the path as it swung over to the north to reach the corner of the drystone wall that we had followed along Caudale Moor and now continued following as it made its way down the easy ground…
East towards Threshthwaite Mouth-Gray Crag-High Street etc
to reach the top of the steep and rocky climb down into Threshthwaite Mouth.
Thornthwaite Crag and Beacon
Although the cloud was still rising it hadn't yet reached its grey fingers to the col of Threshthwaite Mouth which is where we were going to stop for a bite to eat. Due to the roughness of the ground descending into the col was not a fast journey especially with the frozen ground and Sonny getting crag fast at one point when Chris had to go and rescue him after which he promptly left his master behind to get down before him.
Descending from Stony Cove Pike to Threshthwaite Mouth
It was hopeless trying to get a photo along Troutbeck so I had to be satisfied with one along the cloud filled valley of Pasture Beck before that too got filled to the brim.
The view into Pasture Beck
I also managed to get a shot of the climb out to Thornthwaite Crag before the cloud enveloped us as we ate our meal.
Our way to Thornthwaite Beacon lies up alongside the wall
By the time we had eaten and got going again we were in the grasps of the folds of damp clouds that we would never leave again until we had dropped off the north end of Gray Crag and the walk back to Hartsop.
The climb out to the Beacon is by way of a steep and loose scree covered path that zigzags its way up the west face of Thornthwaite Crag and still more or less following the wall. It eventually eases off to a straight and steady incline that runs all the way to the foot of the tall tower of the stone Beacon that is sat on the very top of the crag.
Just to go back to the col, there is a path on the opposite side of the wall that doesn't look as scree ridden as the one that we ascended and doesn't look as steep. It's an optical illusion as the way is no better - maybe less scree - or less in its steepness, but it doesn't look as stark as the ground over the other side of the wall where the going is solely on stony ground.
As there was nothing to see we didn't linger and set off along the grassy ridge to Gray Crag, again as on Caudale Moor, on a good grassy path that is too good to lose even in fog and with nothing to see only a couple or so photos of our walk along the ridge were taken…
Approaching the 710 metre cairn before Gray Crag summit
Approaching the misty 699 metre top of Gray Crag
until we reached the 698 metre high summit cairn…
Gray Crag summit
that is actually 1 metre lower than where a wall passes over the 699 metre part of the ridge just a few metres back to the south.
Continuing on from the summit cairn we took the initially easy incline until it begins to get a lot steeper turning to the northeast to traverse around the steepest part of the fellside before regaining its way north and then northwest to eventually reaching the stony track that is the service road for the Hayeswater Reservoir.
Descending to Hartsop
This we followed all the way down to the village passing an old field barn on our way.
Old field barn
We had had the best of the day between the climb up Hartsop Dodd and Threshthwaite Mouth as the low clouds that were now once again on the fell tops testified.
A cloud capped Hartsop Dodd
A cloud capped Gray Crag
It was now but a short walk back to the car park from where, after having had a damn decent walk we were now going to savour the innards and ales of some festively decorated hostelry. It's a shame that the clouds rose up to cover the last two fells and we saw no other person apart from one chap who emerged out of the clag as he walked off High Street to Thornthwaite Crag, passed us on his way to Gray Crag and then again as he walked back to Thornthwaite Crag so he must have been on a serious Wainwright bagging mission.
Happy New Years safe walking to all WH's.
by thefallwalker » Sun Dec 31, 2017 2:16 pm
I thought my whingeing coming down from Stony Cove would of got a mention
See you in the New Year
by dav2930 » Sun Dec 31, 2017 6:07 pm
by trailmasher » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:36 pm
I thought my whingeing coming down from Stony Cove would of got a mention
My ears now automatically close when you start moaning and you ought to know by now you'll get no sympathy from me
Yes, hope to see you in a couple of weeks
by trailmasher » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:41 pm
dav2930 wrote:Nice round on a cracking day TM, with some steep ascents and descents. Lovely inversion and banks of mist floating around which you've captured well in your photos. I've always thought Gray Crag looks particularly impressive from around Hartsop.
Thanks dav and despite the couple of sharp pulls it is always a great walk I'm pleased that the inversion photos came out ok as would have been a shame to lose them
Re Gray Crag, there is a great view of it to be had from Brock Crag Again thanks for your comments
by HalfManHalfTitanium » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:41 pm
by trailmasher » Mon Jan 01, 2018 5:58 pm
HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Great shots of the cloud inversions!
Thanks very much Tim it's always nice to be able to get shots like that