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Along Pasture Beck to Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag.
by trailmasher » Sun Nov 06, 2016 3:59 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Gray Crag, Thornthwaite Crag
Hewitts included on this walk: Thornthwaite Crag
Date walked: 21/10/2016
Time taken: 3.23
Distance: 11.3 km
Ascent: 686m2 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).
I first spotted this route in the Lakeland Walker magazine and although we have both been to Threshthwaite Mouth before on quite a few occasions and looked down on the valley of Pasture Bottom we had never ventured into it. As we had a free Friday we decided to have a look at it close up and climb Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag by this - for us - new route up to Threshthwaite Mouth.
The forecast was promising, and right enough it was dry, cloudy but bright with a cool 7°c to set us on our way from Cow Bridge car park at the north end of Brothers Water and west of the hamlet of Hartsop. A short stroll along the main road and then on to the village brought us to the narrow wooden footbridge just as we got to the first buildings from where we crossed over Hayeswater Gill to reach a short grassy lane running along the bank of the gill.
The lane that looked rather attractive with yellow leaved trees on the gill side with brambles overhanging a dry stone wall on the right, gave us a hazy view of Gray Crag to our front and the steep green and brown bracken covered flanks of Middle Dodd and Hartsop Dodd on our right.
As we walked on the lane opened up, and we now saw the full autumnal colours of the gill side trees, all shades of orange and yellow with a hint of red thrown in made for a wonderful spectacle of natures transformation from summer to winter, and if coming this way in a few weeks time all there will be to see will be a carpet of the same leaves overlooked by the bare branches of their spring and summer hosts.
After a few metres of walking southeast along the colourful but wet lane we turned right where there is a junction with the left hand one going nowhere only to a wide ford across Hayeswater Gill and is for construction traffic only. We continued on as though we were going to climb up the path by the wall leading up to the north ridge of Hartsop Dodd, but as we passed through the wall gate…
we immediately turned left to continue along the wall side track with the wide open slopes of Hartsop Dodd rising steeply on our right, and the grey crags and scree slopes of Gray Crag straight ahead of us.
The track is good, dry and wide as we made good progress along the valley bottom with a few sheep grazing and the sound of the odd raven somewhere up in the crags, but apart from them and the sound of Pasture Beck as it tumbled its way over the wide rocky bed all is peaceful hereabouts.
We soon arrived at a wooden gate and ladder stile and although there has been a cool breeze since we set off, from here on it had got quite a lot warmer, but whether that is a function of our walking pace, the narrowing of the valley, or a combination of both I'm wasn't sure, but a layer had to be discarded as the glory beads started to trickle down the brow and I could feel the dampness of a very warm torso under what I had left on.
We continued along the track still under grey skies until it finally turned away from the side of Pasture Beck at a small watercourse from where a paved path takes over as it now climbs gently around some moraines or old and now grassed over mine spoil heaps. This is a wonderful valley walk and it's alive with the colours of autumn, the varying shades of brown in the bracken, the mixture of light brown and green grass, the odd multi-coloured leafed tree, all in opposition to the blacks and greys of the crags and screes, but oddly contrasting and complimenting well with each other. If colour could make a noise then it would be one hell of a noisy place to be just now.
From here on the paved path begins to climb up and over the moraines/tips…
as the valley bottom continues to narrow and gain height. We soon left the paved path behind and now continued our upward journey along a narrow path and as we neared Raven Crag we passed over a tumbledown wall and then crossed an area where rocks had parted company from Raven Crag and come to rest sprawling down the fellside. Once across these rocks and then a second lot and on looking back a fair view is to be seen down the valley with the green fell sides of Brock Crag sat just behind the hamlet of Hartsop.
The narrow, stony path continues climbing as it passes along the fellside above a narrow, tree lined ravine of Pasture Beck…
from where shortly afterwards the path levels out as we began to enter Threshthwaite Cove. We crossed over a few nameless watercourses of which there are many in the cove, all carrying their trickles of water that help to swell Pasture Beck into the wide one that it becomes lower down the valley.
They say that the grass is always greener on the other side, well in this part of the valley it is. Whilst the grass on our side with the path is of the mixed, rough, light brown and green variety, in comparison the grass on the opposite side looks almost emerald as it runs down from the crags above to meet and mingle with the dying bracken and rushes before reaching the side of the beck. The fairly wide valley bottom below the cove is mostly covered in reddish, rustic coloured bog grass with a few rough grassed humps - moraines maybe - forming light coloured islands that run all the way up to the foot of the cove.
As we stopped to have a look around the path running up into the cove was noticeable by its absence as has some of the path that we had already walked along, not being all that visible until almost on it. I suppose that because of where we are just now it's also to be expected that the paths be wet, and they haven't disappointed us, but to be fair some of the wettest parts have been roughly paved but the stones that are there are mostly just under the level of the water.
As we started to head into the face of the cove the path steepens and initially becomes very rough and stony with large boulders having to be negotiated.
The path forward still cannot be picked out but all becomes clear as we continue onwards and upwards with the stony path coming to a sudden end. From this point on the path is now paved at a gentle angle and the reason for it being 'invisible' is that the paving stones are so well bedded into the grass that the path only becomes 'visible' as you get nearer to it.
It winds its way upwards through the centre of the face of the cove and once just below the col of Threshthwaite Mouth the path splits into two with the paved one continuing to the right whilst the other bears off left along an old stretch of path that is initially quite rough. I took this one whilst E continued along the more civilised route with my way leaving the stones behind to then pass over wet ground and sloping rock before arriving at the col about midway between the steep sides of Threshthwaite Crag and Thornthwaite Crag.
The crags on either side of Threshthwaite Mouth form this saddle separating the valley of Pasture Bottom from the valley of Troutbeck Park and from this viewpoint the views north and south along the two valleys are outstanding.
It was still grey with cloud, but at least they are separate clouds now instead of one continuous grey blanket, but there is still a haze and I would think that a cold, clear, sunny day would bring the best out of what can be seen from this position. Now we are out of the valley and cove we can feel the chill of a breeze as we looked for a sheltered place behind the tumbledown dry stone wall that runs from Stony Cove Pike all the way down into Threshthwaite Mouth and up the other side to meet up with the wall and Beacon on Thornthwaite Crag. You've just got to admire the dry stone wallers for their skill, strength, and toughness for managing the rough working conditions, especially when you see a wall built on an impossibly steep fellside, rather like these running up the crags on either side of Threshthwaite Mouth.
Ten minutes of a break sitting in the cool breeze was enough so we set off to now climb up the steep and loose scree and stone strewn path of Thornthwaite Crag.
After a fairly rough climb the path becomes more stable and the gradient easier as we made our way along the now grassy slopes to the Beacon that is perched on the wall corner on the summit of the aforementioned crag.
There were probably half a dozen people either at the beacon or just arriving as we were, including a couple of photographers with their camera set up on a tripod pointing south.
It looked like they had been there a while so maybe they were waiting for the light to become more favourable. There were some very small patches of blue showing but the continuous flat, grey cloud bank had now broken up into separate clouds of varying shades of grey, making them look quite attractive and photogenic.
We didn't linger as it was too busy so we continued on following the path and wall north as we made our way to Gray Crag. We stopped at the end of the wall to have a look at the surrounding fells and what a view it is.
Almost 360° of mountain scenery was laid out in front of us, or should I say all around us. North we could see as far as Blencathra and the fells of Caldbeck to the much nearer one of Place Fell, moving to the northeast there is Brock Crags, The Knott, the top of Kidsty Pike whilst east of course it's the fells of High Street that dominates the skyline. South there is not much apart from the Kentdale group, Stony Cove Pike and Thornthwaite Beacon and as we turned west the mountains of Dovedale are all stacked up. Fairfield, St Sunday Crag, Birks, the Helvellyn Range, they're all there waiting to be climbed again, and no doubt there are a multitude of walkers doing exactly that as we cast our eye over them.
There is nothing to do now but walk along the ridge path with its varying underfoot conditions, sometimes wet and boggy whilst other times dry and stony but despite that the going is easy, very easy as we first of all descended then climbed up slightly to reach the first cairn. After the cairn we descended again to then re-ascend as we walked over an unusually - for this fell - rock covered area then crossing over an old dry stone wall from where the summit cairn can be seen. It was then but two minutes to reach the large cairn where we took a few minutes to once again admire the scenery before making our way downhill to reach the steeper part of the path as it begins to work its way down the north ridge, first going east following the easiest line and then swinging around to the northwest but all the time following the easiest contours. The path is a bit rough in parts with a few short rocky areas but all in all it's not bad.
Hayeswater is down below on the east side and I moved around quite a bit trying to get a complete and full length shot of it, but I could only manage to get the length and most of the width, just missing out on the west bank that was lying too far beneath the fellside below me. A complete full photo would have been my choice as there is a grey band of shingle encircling the water that really identifies it from the bottom of the fells that surround it.
As we reached the northern tip of the last of the high ground before descending we had a great view across Hartsop towards the local mountains. And now Loadpot Hill and Wether Hill are showing up quite clearly behind Rest Dodd and The Knott.
On our descent we could see signs of construction work with a couple of excavators sat in the gill below Prison Crag with a few blue pipes laid out along the gill, whilst to the left and just above the bend in Hayeswater Gill where the footbridge is there is a new filter/pump house being built. Now it isn't too long ago that the Water Authority was talking about draining Hayeswater as a cost saving exercise but due to the many objections to this it appears by what's going on just now that they have backtracked on that idea. That is good news as there is nothing better than a good stretch of water to enhance the beauty of the landscape. From the footbridge it is but a short walk back to the car park at Cow Bridge where we finished off our supplies for the day.
Today we have walked over some new ground and pleased we are that we did so. It was 7°c when we set off and 10°c when we got back to the car with mostly cloud overhead and just a smattering of blue here and there. A cold, stiffish breeze at height did nothing to cool our ardour as we did this walk with the route along the valley being colourful, easy, and interesting. Just being in this valley with its muted autumn colours, clear waters of the beck running along its rocky course, the peaceful nature, and the high surrounding crags all made for a great walk in near isolated and wilderness conditions but also being aware that one is not too far from habitation and that the high fells above us were busy with many others enjoying a good day out on the fells and mountains of the Lake District.
by ChrisW » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:19 pm
by trailmasher » Mon Nov 07, 2016 10:04 pm
ChrisW wrote:What a beautiful hike TM, fantastic colours too (timing is everything) Hat's off to those photographers who have dragged all their gear up top to await sunset
Thanks very much Chris most welcome Autumn and the LD really complement each other and it is a great walk for sure especially when exploring new ways onto a fell
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