Travel and Coronavirus
Please check current coronavirus restrictions before travelling within or to Scotland.
Click for details
Horses, hounds, and High Pike.
by trailmasher » Fri Nov 18, 2016 9:23 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Carrock Fell, High Pike (Northern Fells)
Hewitts included on this walk: Carrock Fell, High Pike
Date walked: 29/10/2016
Time taken: 3.07
Distance: 11.7 km
Ascent: 565m2 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).
After my escapade on Friday - yesterday - around Stangs and Stand Crags, E fancied a walk, nothing too demanding, so as it was a decent day with plenty of sun we decided to have a drive over to the area around Mosedale. We hadn't been in this area for a while so with its big, rolling, grassy fells it would make a nice change from getting into the more rugged areas of the Lake District. Our choice of walk today was to be Carrock Fell and High Pike passing over Round Knott and Miton Fell as we walked from one to the other.
Leaving the A66 we took the road for Mungrisedale that has the massive bulks of Souther Fell and Bowscale Fell on the left and the farms and pasture lands to the right, that are overlooked by the two Eyecot Hills - Eyecot Hill and Little Eyecot Hill - both of which go under the heading of Naddle Crags.
It wasn't long before we passed through the hamlets of Mungrisedale and then Mosedale as we continued north to pass Stone Ends to then park up on quite a large grassy area that is on the left just under the east flank of Carrock Fell at NY353 337. It's a handy spot as the plain to see wide grassy path starts directly from the parking area and gives an immediate picture of the walk and climb ahead with the craggy face of Scurth looking down on you.
Brew over and boots on we set off with the sun and blue sky over to the east, but things have changed over to the west where we are going as the fells are now covered in clag with just a hint of clear sky in the north. It was mild and calm as we passed by the large, boulder filled and elongated hole that goes by the name of 'Apronful of Stones' and is all that is left from past mining activities. As everywhere else the bracken has turned brown, and the few stunted trees that are clinging to the crags and lower scree slopes are hosting their autumn colours.
The path gently leads the way towards Scurth, the great concave curve of crags that form this eastern foot of Carrock Fell before it begins to steepen as it leaves the grass behind and briefly enters the dead stand of bracken. As it steadily rises it swings over to the left to pass below the southeast corner of the crags, leaves the bracken behind and departs from the good firm path to now push one onto the foot of the short and loose scree slope.
As can be expected by the clue 'scree', the path now has a very loose consistency, has got steeper and with it being damp had us slipping and sliding more than once as we steadily made our way around the base of the crag where the bracken has made another assault on us.
We soon left the scree behind to find that the path had levelled out quite a lot as it now took us into Further Gill Sike the rock and grass lined dry gully that rises steeply around the crags and would take us west to reach easier ground. The path winds its way slowly up the gully with the loose stones and gravel evidence that plenty of water still runs down it during a wet period and we're thankful that today is dry.
The bracken had thinned out with heather becoming more prominent, the odd gorse bush and small tree along with plenty of underfoot moss completed the scene of the natural beauty of the gully. Turning around and looking east there are wide open views across Mosedale with the Pennines just peeking through the clouds in the very far distance.
As we gained the top of the gully it opened up and got wider with the bracken once more making it abundantly clear whose top dog around these here fells. We finally reached the top and found the ground to be very badly eroded with quite a large chunk of the fellside scooped out by the weather and passage of many boots.
We stopped for a quick breather and look around with the two Mells and the skyline of the fells behind Ullswater just below the clouds taking up the view to the southeast. Immediately south was Bowscale Fell and a hint of Blencathra whilst north the view takes in the area around Hesket Newmarket, east there is an even more extensive view across Mosedale's farm lands than there was from lower down in the gully.
From the top of Further Gill Sike the path is plain to see as a wide, green lane until it meets up with an old sheepfold…
from where the path now threads its way through good old heather with not a bracken frond in sight. This section of path is rough and stony as it heads west then northwest at a respectable angle until it steepens slightly as it approaches the rock covered mound of Pike...
which someone on their first skirmish up here could be led into thinking that this was the summit of Carrock Fell. But even though Pike has a decent cairn stuck on its northern end there is still a bit of a walk to do yet before the big one is reached.
On the OS map there is a marked footpath line all around the base of Pike taking in quite a large area. There is also an area marked 'The Trough' and I wondered if it had anything to do with the hill fort that used to stand on Carrock Fell, something like a defensive ditch that ran around the circumference of Pike as a first line of defence against attack. Just a thought.
The views from Pike looking north and east offer open panoramas but west and south is under cloud with only the faint outline of Carrock Fell beyond the next rise, only a short way further west, noticeable. We continued forward still climbing easily west, but as the defensive walls of the old fort came into view I left Elizabeth to continue on to the summit whilst I had a good look around the aged construction. The remains of the wall still stand around a metre high in places, is quite wide and very long as it encircles a very large area of the summit plateau. It must have taken an age to build as it is still of solid construction and the stones had to be got from somewhere. Okay, they probably got them locally from the surrounding area but in those days there were no excavators, not even picks and shovels, iron wasn't about, so pointed bones and fire hardened pointed branches were probably their tools of choice, if they had a choice. Hey lad, back in the day…
Once my archaeological exploring was over I met up with E on the summit of Carrock Fell that sports a large pointed cairn and a shelter sat amongst the many rocks both large and small that adorn the crown of the fell.
During our 20 metres or so climb up from Pike we have now entered into a realm of damp, cold greyness, that once we had stopped for a bite to eat in the shelter brought a chill to the body and gave us a light coating of miniscule droplets of moisture that go hand in fist with the clag that now surrounds us. There was not much point in bringing out the camera as we prepared to set off once more, but I gave it a go with nothing much to see only grey and the foreground colours of the ground immediately in front of us. It was as predicted, a waste of time.
Leaving the comfort of the shelter behind we continued following the path west and once we had left the slopes of Carrock Fell the path is now nothing but a tramp through very wet ground where sticky peat and large areas of boggy ground is in abundance. Such was the ground that it was at this point we were pleased that we had elected to wear our gaiters which is something that we don't always do.
After a good few metres of following the path we veered off slightly southwest towards a small outcrop of rock that goes by the name of Round Knott, and at only 603 metres in height is only a mere 3 metres higher than the surrounding ground.
The mist/fog/clag has thinned out slightly and from the small summit cairn of this rocky knoll we could just about see the northern flanks of Bowscale Fell and Knott to the south of us.
There was no point in lingering so we dropped off the west side and picked up the regular path once again as it now turned northwest towards Miton Hill that is scarcely noticeable as a hill as it gently rises to 607 metres, only 7 metres above the surrounding fell top. At least the rocky outcrop of Round Knott felt like a hill as we scrambled up the 3 metre high rocky face.
Since leaving Round Knott the cloud has lifted considerably higher and is now only covering the top of Carrock Fell and the fells to the west with just a wisp of cloud hanging over High Pike.
The path which is now much wider was still wet and boggy as we approached and then left Miton Hill behind to descend slightly into the Red Gate area that sits above Drygill Beck. Once we started climbing back up and over the head of Drygill Beck the path became much drier and is plain to see as it heads unerringly north for the summit of High Pike.
In the past Drygill Beck - as many others around here - was the scene of much mining activities with a couple of old shafts and level indicated on the map, but we didn't do a detour to check them out.
The climb up to the summit of High Pike is steady enough with no hazards apart from those that you bring on yourselves and once arrived at it is found to be a great viewpoint and is adorned with an OS stone built trig column, a large shelter, and a bench seat constructed of thick slate slabs.
The upright back of the seat has two brass plaques set in it, one to a Mick Lewis a 10 year old boy, the other one was hard to read but I think it was for a ?-------? Mary Lewis, whilst above them there is a long carved inscription bearing the words:-
HE IS A PORTION OF THAT LOVLINESS
THAT ONCE HE MADE MORE LOVELY
The clag had dropped over the fells again with the only views possible were to the north and east across the valley and southeast towards Carrock Fell that once again had its head in the clouds. After a very short break for a drink and photos we set off following the north eastern wide and clear track down the east side of High Pike and then Low Pike…
to quickly lose height and make progress to pass by the old mines and shafts that once made this area busier than what it is now. The shafts that we saw had collapsed, leaving nasty, fenced off red coloured holes in the fellside and no warning was needed to encourage one to keep away from them.
We continued downhill to reach another track above Birket, another mine track that runs from Calebreck all the way over to Fell Side in the west that was yet another busy mining area with many levels, shafts, mines, and reservoirs all now redundant. The track now took us downhill below Birket and Old Fell where we passed more worked out mines with one in particular being especially extensive in its day making itself obvious by the amount of the usual devastation that's been left behind. The remains of the odd building can still be seen but it’s the amount of mining waste that spoils this enclosed area at the base of the fells. There is an unnamed beck/sike running through the ruination and if the area was to be cleaned up it could become rather an attractive place to have a picnic.
We stopped for a last break to finish off our last sandwiches before making our way south down the tarmac road, crossing the ford at Carrock Beck that makes its way down from the heights from its beginnings at Drygill Beck that we passed over the top of a while ago. Not too far south of the ford there is a small road junction and this is where we met up with a number of stampeding fell ponies charging up the minor road towards us. As I didn't know which way they were going to run I told E to hold her ground as I got the camera out as they ran straight towards us. When I could see the whites of their eyes all thoughts of a magazine headlining picture went out of the window to be replaced by one of a couple of walkers trampled into the dust by a dozen or more black fell ponies in full gallop. It was time to move, and as we did so the ponies suddenly swerved away to run up the road which was my cue to recover my bravado of the last few seconds and take a parting shot of them as they horsed off along the road from where we had just come.
Excitement over and heartbeat back to normal we continued on our way to now see maybe 15 or 20 cars parked up either alongside ours or on the roadside. There must have been something going on and the owners can't all be on the fells as it's been fairly quiet up there today with us seeing only four other walkers in the distance. Then we heard the horn blowing as the Master of the Hunt called his hounds. So that's what is going on then, a hunt. There was nothing to see as we got to the car, only lots of people waiting around for the hounds to appear and although they couldn't be seen they could certainly be heard as they made their way towards us.
After a short period of waiting a couple of hounds came through the crags of Buck Kirk leading the pack by a good few minutes as they worked their way up and down through the rocks and bracken. On they came to race through the rocks below Scurth following the base of the crags and passing across the screes that lay above the bracken. As they got further north so they rose higher still following the crag until it ran out into the hillside and they disappeared altogether. But the chase wasn't over yet as now the full pack made an appearance strung out along the fellside following in the tracks of the ones already passed by.
As we were about to close the car up a few renegades made an appearance, stragglers, young or lazy we didn't know which, but they didn't seem all that interested in running their paws off over the rocks and scree. Maybe they were young and knackered but whatever the case they just messed about in the bracken wandering about without a care in the world. Then something stirred, and out of the bracken ran a hare. Now that livened up the ne'er do wells as all of a sudden the hare was spotted and the chase was on. Just how the pack had missed the hare is a mystery, but missed it they did thank goodness, but now he's been clocked. Maybe it should have stayed where it was; if it had eluded the pack then these amateurs shouldn't have been a problem. The hare was bounding all over the fellside, sometimes in the bracken, others in the rocks or on the scree. It almost felt as though it was playing with the hounds as they ran around like headless chickens until it finally put up two front feet at them and disappeared from sight never to be seen again by us or the hounds.
We are against hunting of any kind and it was great to see the hare the winner in this round, but on so many occasions they aren't. The sad thing is that the Hunt Master who was just below the chase didn't attempt to call off the hounds; he just watched them in their thankfully futile attempt to catch their quarry.
I'm not just sure of the game plan regarding fox hunting but I believe that a scented drag is used for the hounds to follow a day or so prior to the hunt. Now whether this holds for both hunting by horse and hounds, just the hounds, or both, I don't know, but whichever it is I'm sure that there is plenty of skulduggery done when the opportunity arises for the hunt.
Despite the near Annie Oakley and Gene Autry incident with the ponies and the bloodlust of the hounds this has been a decent walk in good weather despite the nuisance of the regular rising and falling cloud cover that gave a teasing hint of the valleys and fells to the south and west. Once we had departed from Carrock Fell the visibility got somewhat better but only on certain quarters so inhibiting the variety of photos opportunities in directions other than the ones that were mostly across the valley towards the Pennines where even there the clouds were just about over the tops of the fells. There was a cold breeze at height despite the odd patches of sunshine that we were blessed with, but at least we had no rain that not only would have been a nuisance but would have made the already wet paths even worse.
by johnkaysleftleg » Thu Nov 24, 2016 3:56 pm
by trailmasher » Thu Nov 24, 2016 9:02 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:Did these fells on an absolutely stunning winters day with all those horrible bogs frozen solid. This is obviously the corner of the Lakes for anti-social activities for when we were there there was a moto-cross event churning and stinking up the fells. It does make you wonder just what the point of "National Parks" in the UK is because preserving wildlife is certainly not the aim.
Thanks JK and it's akin to some of the Pennines that are best done on a freezing day One of the reasons for the ever increasing size of the boggy areas is the number of mountain bikes that churn up the adjacent ground around the soft spots but at least they don't have exhaust fumes
Like every other organisation nowadays Andrew, NT included, they are just money making machines only interested in profit and quick to sell off any assets they deem to be - or will be - unprofitable for them in the future
BTW great report from 2012, superb pics and I'm only sorry that I didn't have your views on my day up there
by Guinessman » Sat Nov 26, 2016 9:29 pm
by trailmasher » Sun Nov 27, 2016 5:00 pm
Guinessman wrote:Excellent report Trailmasher. After ignoring these hills for years I went over on 11/11 and did Carrock fell, High Pike, Knott, Great Scafell, back to Knott, Great Calva and back along the valley. Well impressed by the area. Great Calva reminds me of the northern cairngorms albeit on a smaller scale
A damn decent walk there GM over good going though a bit steep on the way down to the round sheepfold
Thanks for your comments
by ChrisW » Thu Dec 01, 2016 6:42 am
by trailmasher » Thu Dec 01, 2016 12:52 pm
ChrisW wrote:great read as always TM with lovely accompanying pics (even if you did miss that magazine cover shot)
Thanks Chris and not knowing which way the nags were going to go was a bit scary for a moment but a good day out with a couple of side shows thrown in