Walk date – 21st June 2019
Distance – 9.8 miles
Weather – cool and cloudy morning with some sunny spells, warmer and brighter from late morning, windy on the tops
The dire weather we’ve experienced over the past few weeks isn’t worth mentioning, and with a much better forecast in prospect we took the opportunity to get out onto the fells again today. It was still on the cool side when we started out, under large clumps of heavy cloud, but things gradually improved and with the sunny spells increasing in length the temperature eventually climbed to something closer to what it should be in June, although there was a cold and blustery wind on the fell tops .We haven’t walked over today’s fells since 2015 so it was definitely time for a return visit and the weather improved enough to provide us with some wonderful views and a very enjoyable outing.
Church Bridge – Newlands Beck – Castle Nook – Mine access path to Dalehead Crags – Dale Head – Hindscarth Edge – Hindscarth – Littledale Edge – Robinson – Little Dale – Scope Beck – High Snab – Church Bridge
Only one car was in the little parking area by Church Bridge when we arrived, its occupants had just started walking up the lane towards Little Town as we drove down it. Once we were kitted up and the gps had located us we followed in their footsteps up the lane with this view of Causey Pike on the skyline.
A little further up the lane I took a look back towards Hindscarth, Scope End and Robinson, looking very grand in the morning sunlight. Its very much on the cool side for June with lots of large clouds around but there are enough gaps between them for us to be hopeful that, as the morning warms up, they will break up even more and let the sun through eventually. We could do with some sunshine having seen none for what seems like an eternity.
Rather than walk into Little Town we cut up the banking between the lane and this valley track using a short, narrow path, which is easily missed if you aren’t looking out for it. Now we can see the three fells we’ll be visiting during today’s walk, Dale Head on the left of the skyline, Hindscarth in the middle and Robinson over on the right. The hill nearest the camera is Scope End which is just the tail end of Hindscarth.
The old mine road provides a great walking surface and extends up the valley as far as the Castlenook Mines so we have two miles of flat and easy walking which should warm the muscles up very nicely. An easy walk in is helpful especially when the leg muscles haven’t done much lately, other than potter about locally.
Newlands Beck winds its way along the valley and beyond it Dale Head and Hindscarth get some splashes of sunshine, the recent heavy rains have really ‘greened up’ their slopes.
From the same viewpoint a look back along the valley where Causey Pike and Rowling End are prominent on the left skyline. We haven’t seen a soul along here so far.
Ahead is the building marked on the OS map as a climbing hut but having seen different vehicles and occupants around it on previous walks along here we have come to the conclusion that it is probably now a holiday cottage rental. It certainly had visitors in it today, one of whom came outside just as I took the shot. He’s hard to pick out but he’s wearing white trousers and a black t-shirt and is standing on the grass just by the back door. By the time we reached the cottage he was back indoors so we passed by without an exchange of greetings .
The numerous spoil heaps dotted around indicate that we are approaching the Castlenook Mine area. Castle Nook is the prominent craggy precipice jutting out into the valley on the left of the shot. Behind the highest of the spoil heaps in the centre you might be able to pick out a path rising across the lower slopes of Dale Head, that’s the old miners path that we are heading for.
Looking back along the valley where the sight of heavy grey cloud building did nothing for confidence in the ‘it will be a dry day’ forecast. Fortunately they passed over without dumping their contents on us. As we approach the spoil heaps of Castlenook Mine we walk alongside the beck towards the crossing point. It took us a while to find a safe (ish!) place to cross as the recent rains had swollen the swiftly flowing beck. Maintaining balance with our walking poles on the wet and slippery stones was a little precarious but we eventually made the crossing with nothing more serious than a few splashes on our boots.
Once across the beck our jumpers and jackets came off in readiness for the climb. The initial part of the path is rather sketchy but the main path could be seen very clearly ahead of us so we had no difficulty in getting on to it. As we climbed I took a look over towards the waterfalls in Newlands Beck which, if you were up close to them, must have been quite a spectacular sight today after all the heavy rains.
The path is all grass and easy to see ahead of you as it rises steeply up the hillside from the beck. Castle Nook is the craggy prominence in the foreground on the right and below it you may be able to pick out the path we followed down to the beck crossing. From this viewpoint it looks as though the crossing would be straightforward given the multitude of stones to be seen in it, and it probably is when the water level is lower than it was today. Other walkers must have had similar problems in the past for there was a well trodden path extending a good way along the bank where walkers had also searched for a dry and risk free crossing.
Higher up now and approaching the crossing of Far Tongue Gill indicated by the cluster of rocks in the sunlight just up ahead. The intimidating cliffs and crags over to the left have the same name as their much more famous, and not too distant neighbour, Great Gable. The grassy shelf just below the flattish ridge on the skyline is where the path will eventually pass above the crags and bring us out to join the path to the summit coming up from Dalehead Tarn. No scrambling is necessary on this route.
Just below us is a neat and tidy sheepfold, built just above one of the cuttings of what was once the Long Work copper mine, dating from Elizabethan times and long abandoned. More cuttings and workings, indicated by the brownish areas, can be seen over on the left. The waste rocks have a metallic content which inhibits regeneration of the vegetation so the area remains more or less as it was when it was abandoned.
We’re about to lose this view back down the valley so I took a shot before we rounded the hillside. The cloud is breaking up well and has finally lifted from the summit of Skiddaw. It was lovely in the sunny spells but occasionally a little goose-bumpy under any larger patches of cloud.
The path levels out a little, giving grumbling muscles a brief respite, as we approach the Far Tongue Gill crossing. It curves around to the right, crosses the gill and continues up the slope below the outcrops in the centre.
Another look back before we cross the gill as I realised the valley was in full sun for the first time this morning. Dotted here and there all the way along this route are some very useful rocks. Most of them flat topped and miraculously occurring just about the time my back was saying ‘Whoa, I need a break’. Yes, its started giving me a few twinges again, which is hard to understand since I haven’t done anything untoward, or even mildly strenuous, to make it flare up again.
After crossing the gill the path follows a zig-zag route around some of the steeper contours which provides a stretch of slightly easier walking, together with a grandstand view of the crags of Maiden Moor and High Spy.
The zig-zags lead us up to a flatter area above Far Tongue Gill where a derelict building and more abandoned mine workings are located. We met our first walker of the day around here, a young man with his dog who was walking the same route as us but in reverse so we had a few minutes of chat. We were already beginning to feel the breeze up here and he mentioned that it was a bit stronger up on the tops so we make a mental note to get the jackets back on just before we reach the ridge line. We part company …..
….. and make our way up the next section of the path above the crags from where …..
….. the views are simply breathtaking, showing the full length of the sunlit valley …..
….. the craggy eastern face of Hindscarth with Causey Pike in shadow behind, and below us the deep cleft of Far Tongue Gill.
On the other side of the valley the soaring cliffs, crags and scree runs of the Maiden Moor – High Spy ridge, which always reminds me of the Whin Rigg – Illgill Head screes alongside Wast Water.
We reach another level area, where there are more mine workings, from where we are able to view the very last section of the route above the crags up to the point where it meets the grassy ridge line and the path rising from Dalehead Tarn. I have no feeling of exposure but J doesn’t want to linger so we press on up to the ridge.
It isn’t long before we are standing on the path coming up from the tarn looking eastwards across Borrowdale with the Dodds, the Helvellyn range and Fairfield on the distant skyline.
Beyond High Spy are Blencathra, to the left, with Clough Head and the Dodds over on the right.
We climb a little further up the path and get a view of Binsey on the extreme left, followed by the Skiddaw group and Blencathra, before carrying on up the steep and rough path to the summit.
From the summit area a look around at some of the views. Here’s a closer look at the distant skyline for a clearer view of White Side, Helvellyn, Nethermost Pike, Dollywaggon Pike and Fairfield across the intervening ridges of Armboth Fell and Great Crag.
On the skyline to the south east are Glaramara, Swirl How, Bowfell and Esk Pike …..
….. and on the skyline a little further to my right are Great End, Ill Crag, Broad Crag, Scafell Pike, Lingmell and Great Gable …..
….. and still further to my right is Kirk Fell with Stirrup Crag on Yewbarrow just peeping out behind it on the right.
The skyline remains the same but now immediately below is the path along the side of Grey Knotts coming up from the Honister Slate Mine.
Just a short distance from the summit cairn we find a small shelter where we can have our lunch break, minus our jackets, in the warm sunshine and out of the strong wind. This was our skyline view, from left to right, as we tucked in – High Raise, Thunacar Knott, Harrison Stickle, Pike O’Stickle, Combe Head and Glaramara.
After lunch we eventually got around to visiting the splendid cairn on Dale Head summit, seen here with a view of the Skiddaw group and Blencathra across the Vale of Keswick …..
….. followed by a look eastwards to Clough Head and the Dodds …..
….. and finally, J taking in the view along the valley below. Then it was jackets back on again before we turned into the wind and carried on along the top towards …..
….. the first rocky rise along Hindscarth Edge where hoods went on and were pulled as tight as possible. Just beyond the rise we met a couple in similar mode, hats on, jackets zipped, hoods up, gloves on, the female walker was so well wrapped up that only her eyes were visible. Its hard to convey just how chilly it was given the sunny view. I gave in a little further on and put my gloves on too as the first signs of numbness were beginning in the tips of my fingers.
Proceeding in a windblown fashion along Hindscarth Edge with High Crag, High Stile, Red Pike and Great Borne on the skyline across the Buttermere valley. If your peer closely enough you might just about make out the top of Starling Dodd between Red Pike and Great Borne.
A good vantage point from which to view the Honister Pass road making its way far below us beneath the crags of Fleetwith Pike. Pillar is lurking in the shade over to the left.
Never mind the views, watch where you’re putting your feet along here. In the middle distance are the paths over to Hindscarth and behind is the steep climb up to the summit of Robinson.
Hindscarth Edge is crossed without incident and we take the path up to Hinsdcarth summit, seen branching off to the right in the previous shot. A good path with a steady gradient from where …..
….. there’s a good view back to Dale Head.
A little further along the Hindscarth path and more of Dale Head comes into view together with the deep chasm of Far Tongue Gill towards the bottom left..
A closer look at Great Gable crag and the path we followed high above it. From the valley you would not imagine that there could be any way of avoiding those forbidding crags, and why would anyone even bother in the first place when it is straightforward enough to follow the course of the beck up to the pass between High Spy and Dale Head. But prospectors and miners weren’t climbing up there for the fun of it, they were looking for minerals and obviously weren’t too troubled by the lengths they had to go to to find them. With a zoom in it might be possible to pick out the derelict mine building, its directly below the light coloured scree running between the two lower, and smaller, sections of crags. From the building the path can be traced up to the next mine level, the larger greyish patch where J wasn’t keen on lingering, and from there on up to the ridge line. An ancient and ingenious route, rising from one mining level to the next, which is more or less grass all the way and where hands never have to touch rock, those long forgotten miners obviously knew a thing or two.
It wasn’t very long before we were on the top of Hindscarth where, in lieu of a shapely cairn, is the haphazard pile of stones marking the summit. Right behind it is the grassy summit of Robinson, the next fell on our list today.
First though a couple of views from the top, here’s Grasmoor, with Wandope just below it, Crag Hill and Sail with Grisedale Pike in deep shade just behind it.
More or less the same view as the previous one but now including the Ard Crags – Knott Rigg ridge below Sail, while to the right of Grisedale Pike are Scar Crags and Causey Pike. Visibility was excellent today and it was great to be able to see plenty of detail on the surrounding fells.
The view northwards towards Keswick, the Skiddaw group and Blencathra.
Now looking eastwards across the Maiden Moor – High Spy ridge to Clough Head, the Dodds, the Helvellyn range and Fairfield.
Its still quite cool in the breeze, especially when we have cloud directly above us, so we’re soon on the move again and heading back over towards the Littledale Edge path and the climb up to Robinson.
From the path junction a view down to Littledale Edge followed by the stiff climb up to Robinson. ‘Lots of steep ups and downs on this walk aren’t there?’ observed a lone male walker who we met as we began to descend. He did have the wind at his back to give him a leg up but we agreed with him wholeheartedly nevertheless. The wind became much stronger along here for some unfathomable reason.
There’s plenty to look at as we drop down, the steep ridge and western flanks of Fleetwith Pike were showing up nicely in the sunlight, Haystacks, right behind it, had some brighter spots but still managed to look as dowdy as it usually does, while Pillar, on the right skyline, remained in deep shade.
The Honister Slate Mine takes centre stage in a distant sunny patch with the Glaramara – Allen Crags ridge looking grey and brooding right behind it.
We take a breather on reaching a very slightly flatter area on the climb and take a look back at the Hindscarth summit plateau, stretching out towards the left of the shot, with the summit of Dale Head right behind it on the right. After which its time to …..
….. get on with tackling the very last steep section of climbing today. I offer up a thank you to the fence gods for not allowing it to have fallen down since our last visit. From the very first time I climbed up here, and that’s more years ago than I care to remember, these fence posts have been invaluable in helping me get my weary and aching limbs up this last section of steepness. We didn’t have walking poles then so I dragged myself from one fence post to the next, leg muscles burning and desperately waving white flags, until the ground eventually flattened out. Now I have walking poles but you can’t abandon an old friend just because you have a new one can you? Me and the fence posts renewed our long-standing friendship and we finally arrived at …..
….. the cairn at the path junction and flatter ground at last. Grasmoor is over on the left and the summit of Robinson, our final fell of the day, is over on the right. Moses and the Israelites could not have been more relieved to see the parting of the Red Sea than I was to see the summit of Robinson at last, my legs always find that last little part of the climb a bit of a killer. Its still blowing strongly and we have some big cloud moving over us but I don’t care, there is only a short and level walk to the summit where …..
….. I can flop down in the summit shelter and take a well earned breather for a couple of minutes. Meanwhile J held one of his walking poles aloft and did a fair imitation of the radio ham hogging the entire shelter with all his gear who we once came across up here – see 15th October 2015 walk for further details. I was still laughing at the impression he’d just done as he took this shot.
A short stroll across the broad summit area provides this view down to Rannerdale Knotts, jutting out towards Crummock Water, with Mellbreak on the opposite side. The high point on the skyline is Blake Fell.
Grasmoor, below which are Whiteless Pike, on the left, and Wandope on the right.
Crag Hill, or Eel Crag if you prefer, dropping down to Sail with Grisedale Pike just peeping out behind it, and Knott Rigg across the middle foreground. Clarity and definition in abundance today.
Ard Crags just behind the summit plateau with Scar Crags and Causey Pike just behind it. The Skiddaw group fills the right hand side of the shot.
The views from Robinson are extensive and would be even better were it not for its broad and extensive summit area which tends to restrict views of the surrounding fells to their summit areas for the most part. Wherever you look there are views to enjoy and marvel at, even though you may have seen them several times over. The summit itself is a little unusual in that it has two long, low outcrops running parallel to each other as shown in the following shot …..
….. and the path running between the two with the western side being slightly higher, not that it matters all that much as there’s almost no visible difference between them but some walkers are sticklers for reaching the absolute highest point.
We begin our descent in sunny mood and sunny weather, even the wind has lessened a little now that we are losing height and we have a lovely afternoon in which to enjoy the views and the tramp down.
The north Pennines in the distance as we gaze down on Scope End, Maiden Moor and Catbells during the descent.
The path carries on down towards Robinson Crags but we eventually leave it and go off path down towards Scope Beck.
There’s a fine view of Hindscarth along the way …..
….. and of High Crags above Scope End. We keep Scope Beck in view as we descend the grassy slopes, these become a little more rock strewn as we get nearer the beck but they don’t present any real problems, they’re more of a nuisance than anything else as we pick our way through them.
We eventually reach the rough path coming up from the old reservoir and continuing on into Little Dale. We did see a couple of walkers going up the path towards Little Dale as we were descending but they were out of sight by the time we got down to the path. From this vantage point the lovely green path along the valley beside Scope Beck can be clearly seen, however …..
….. between the previous photo and this one, down at the reservoir, the path weaves its way through a bouldery patch, rather like the slopes in the shot above the reservoir. Once again the rocks and stones are more of a nuisance as there are so many of them, and avoiding catching a boot on one of them, as the path weaves its way through, does require a certain amount of concentration.
Looking back up from the tarn at our descent route. We reached the path some distance behind the V notch on the right skyline and followed it through the boulder field down to this point. The path stays well above the beck but I suppose you could always walk down alongside the beck if you felt like it.
The rough bouldery path is well behind us now and for the remainder of the walk we can enjoy the easy path, the lovely views and the sunny weather. Some way back our jackets just had to be removed because it was so warm down here in the valley.
I turned around for a last look up this quiet little valley and its gentle path up to the reservoir. Hindscarth on the left, Robinson on the right, Scope Beck gurgling below us and blue skies above us, days like this have been in short supply this month so we’re enjoying every minute of it.
Maiden Moor across the valley …..
….. and the big three of Newlands, Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson, looking really lovely in the afternoon sunshine.
Arriving at the pretty little Newlands Church which is almost at the end of the lane we’ve been walking down once we were past the High Snab holiday cottage. After a few more steps we reach the end of the lane and turn right onto …..
….. the Church Bridge lane where our car, together with a whole lot more which have arrived since we left this morning, is parked. So our walk ends here and a really enjoyable one it has been too. Our legs are weary, not having had much to do during our rain enforced lay-off, but it was grand to be out on the fells once again and have some decent weather in which to enjoy them.