Ard Crags and Knott Rigg

Walk Date – 25th February 2016

Distance – 6.8 miles

Weather – sunny start, cloud cover later, not too cold


Its a beautiful morning and we’re parked at the old quarry area by Rigg Beck for a walk up to Ard Crags and Knott Rigg. Its been quite a while since we had a walk up here, almost seven years in fact, so a return visit is long overdue. This is looking up Rigg Beck with Causey Pike just peeping out over on the left.

Just a few paces along the path and the three distinctive crests on Ard Crags, on the left, come into view.

Further along the path with Ard Crags to the left, Sail in the centre, and Scar Crags to the right. The three crests on Ard Crags are clearer to see from this angle.

A look back at the crossing point over Rigg Beck. Although crossing over the stones looks fairly straightforward, the water level today was such that it was covering most of them so we had to cross at a point off to the left of the shot where the banks were quite close together, and where only a long stride was needed to get us across quite easily.

From the beck, down at the bottom left, the path rises across the fell side and leads on to the ridge path.

On the left is the path we’ve been following which reaches the ridge and joins with another coming from the far end of the ridge. A view of Catbells in the centre of the shot as we take a look back at the view.

Turning round we view the very steep climb up to the first crest, this is Aikin Knott. That’ll mean a few pit stops on the way up there then.

The view eastwards from the top of Aikin Knott. Aikin Knott? Aching yes!

Causey Pike on the left and a view of Blencathra on the centre skyline from the top of Aikin Knott.

From left to right on the skyline are High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson as we continue along Aikin Knott.

A brief spell of level walking before the second crest, the east summit, on Ard Crags has to be tackled. The legs are very grateful for this brief respite.

A look down into Keskadale before we start the second climb up to the east summit.

On the other side of us is Causey Pike.

On the west side of us, as we reach the east summit, is Rowling End in sunshine and shadow, with a view northwards beyond it. The path up here is quite straightforward but it is only wide enough for one foot at a time so its a bit like tightrope walking. The heather on either side was growing across it as well which was a bit of a nuisance. Heather is the sort of plant whose stems seems bent on wrapping themselves around your boots, as if deliberately trying to slow you down, or even trip you up. Sneaky stuff is heather.

Looking the other way, to the east,  the skyline shows some of the snow capped Dodds to the left, and to the right, part of the Helvellyn range. Adding drama to the view was the constantly changing cloudscape above them all.

A look back at the path leading from the east summit across to the west one.

Another view of Causey Pike with Blencathra beyond. The patch of woodland down there looks to have found itself a nicely sheltered little sun trap, no wonder its thriving. That might be worth exploring one of these days.

Still climbing and taking a look back at the east summit with Aikin Knott just below that. Rigg Beck is now a long way below us over to the left.

At last the path levels out and now we’re making our way along to the highest point on Ard Crags, the west summit.

The long ridges of Hindscarth and Robinson, and Keskadale Beck, stretching down towards the Newlands Valley.

Ahead of us, on the left, is the summit of Ard Crags.

Looking back at the east summit with Aikin Knott just below it. To the bottom right of the photo is the road we will walk back on.

Looking south west to the snow capped  High Crag – High Stile – Red Pike range. The fast moving cloud is playing havoc with the lighting and plunging us into deep shadow every few minutes.

The view south west from the  insignificant heap of stones marking Ard Crags summit.

Causey Pike and Blencathra from a very windy Ard Crags summit.

Looking ahead to Knott Rigg summit, the little sunlit patch in the centre.

Hindscarth and Robinson getting some sun on their backs.

The view west from the summit. From left to right are Whiteless Pike, Wandope, Crag Hill and Sail.

Looking back along the Ard Crags ridge with Causey Pike and Blencathra to the left, and Clough Head and Great Dodd on the right skyline.

The bowl shape over on the left, between Wandope and Crag Hill, is Addacomb Hole.

View down into Keskadale as we leave Ard Crags summit.

Wandope, Crag Hill and Sail from further along the ridge.

A few more ups and downs still to go before we reach Knott Rigg summit.

The view east from the short col between Ard Crags and Knott Rigg. The first fells at the end of the fields are Catbells and Maiden Moor, behind them the darkish mass is the long ridge between Bleaberry Fell and High Seat, and on the skyline Clough Head, the Dodds and the Helvellyn range.

A look back at Ard Crags summit from the col.

Climbing out of the col on the way to Knott Rigg.

A look back along the route from Ard Crags …..

….. and a look forward at the route to Knott Rigg. So far we have met only one other walker all the way along this ridge.

On the skyline from the left are Red Pike, Starling Dodd and Great Borne. Over on the right is Whiteless Pike.

On the left, Sail, Scar Crags and Causey Pike, with a long look back along the ridge route we’ve followed.

On the left the long ridge between Scar Crags and Causey Pike.

The summit of Knott Rigg, no trig point, no cairn, no shelter, just this scrape of rocks. However, we did meet three more walkers, from Lancashire, who had puffed and panted their way up here from Newlands Hause. One of them, a short, stout chap and very red in the face gaspingly asked me if this was the top. When I said that it was he said ‘Thank god for that, he’s been saying we’re on the top now for ages, but every time I looked in front of me there was another bloody hill to get up!” The he to whom he was referring was another  member of the group who had brought his brand new gps along for its very first outing and was just getting to grips with how things worked. The red faced man didn’t need a gps to tell him he wasn’t at the top, all he’d needed to do was to look ahead and groan. Of course, we now have four blokes and a gadget so man talk about these gadgets ensued. I went off to take more photos …..

The view south west from Knott Rigg.

Robinson from Knott Rigg. The sunny morning has disappeared, the clouds have joined together and ganged up on us to block out the sun.

Looking over High Snockrigg to High Stile, in the centre, and its neighbouring fells.

Whiteless Pike from Knott Rigg.

The conversation about satnavs comes to an end and we can get under way again. A close up view of Newlands Hause as we descend from Knott Rigg.

Robinson from the descent of Knott Rigg.

One of the knottier sections of Knott Rigg.

The view down to Newlands Hause and Moss Force as we descend.

The road from Newlands Hause down to Buttermere.

Nearly down at Newlands Hause.

A look back up from the start of the climb up to Knott Rigg. No doubt the red faced chap and his mates thought that was the summit when they started out, and I wonder how many other people walk up there thinking the same, only to find that it isn’t when they get there?

Moss Force tumbling down the slopes of Robinson.

A long stretch of road walking lies before us, although there’s plenty of grass to walk on if  there is a lot of traffic. The road is supposed to be closed but there was some occasional traffic passing us. More about the road closure later.

A look back up the valley, not a soul around.

There are views of Blencathra and Catbells ahead of us for most of the return leg.

Catbells and Maiden Moor across the valley.

The reason for the road closure, a culvert on the verge of collapse just below Keskadale Farm. Another victim of Storm Desmond.

A view of the culvert from the other side. Looks as though the fencing has been blown down in the subsequent storms.

Further along the road was this large landslip which had started way up above us …..

….. and this is the other side of the landslip. The roadway has been cleared but a lot of debris is still lying around in the fields.

On the left is Catbells and over the right is Maiden Moor, and no, I haven’t lost my sense of balance, the fence really is at that acute angle. Perhaps the person who installed it had good reason to place it like that.

Hindscarth and Robinson, the Newlands valley heavyweights.

Milk churns and and an old plough on display at Birkrigg.

The ‘new’ house which is just across the road from the quarry car park, about a dozen paces to the left of the shot. It was completed in 2011 so I suppose we shouldn’t call it ‘new’ any more.

This is what used to be here and was known by everyone as ‘The Purple House”. Apparently it started life in 1881 as The Newlands Hotel and ended it as a guest house before becoming virtually derelict. It was sold at auction in 2007 for £470,000, then demolished and eventually replaced by the house in the previous photo.