Walk date – 15th January 2024
Distance – 4.6 miles
Weather – dry, sunny, with a very cold and brisk north wind
A short walk up to High Pike today which might possibly have included Carrock Fell but didn’t in the end. We spent the morning in bright sunlight and blue skies accompanied by a brisk and very chilly wind, so chilly that the muscles on the right side of my face became somewhat anaesthetised while those on the left side were kept warm by the blazing sun, it was rather like trying to talk as the anaesthetic was wearing off after a visit to the dentist.
Carrock Beck ford – Quaker Hill – West Fell – High Pike – Sunny Bank – Carrock Beck – Carrock Beck ford
We parked just a little way up the hill from the ford across Carrock Beck and then walked a few paces up to the start of the path across Carrock Common.
A quick look over to our left as we start out reveals the north facing slopes of Carrock Fell covered by a smattering of snow, none of which had fallen on the south facing ones as we approached them from the road from Bowscale and Mosedale.
The path across the common flattens out to reveal the route ahead. The path winding its way crosses Quaker Hill to begin with, behind that are the snow sprinkled slopes of West Fell and over to the left is a much more snowy High Pike. A bitingly cold wind is blowing across from the right which, despite hats, hoods and, in my case, two pairs of gloves, gradually leads to frozen face muscles and chilled fingers.
We left the main path over Quaker Hill to begin the climb over West Fell where I took a look back at our route so far. The North Pennines and Cross Fell, with its distinctive bump, can be seen on the left skyline.
We reach the snow line on West Fell where I took another look back before trying to get some warmth into my right hand by blowing into my glove, which was comforting for the few seconds it lasted.
On we go and further up I took a shot of our route ahead. The view gives the impression that we are almost at the top but we aren’t and there’s a whole lot more steep climbing to be done before we finally reach the top. The snow was only a sprinkling but it added some definition to what would otherwise be an unremarkable view.
After a couple more ‘get your breath back’ stops we reach the level path across the top of West Fell from where High Pike looks a lot less snowy than it did when we first saw it. The deep gullies on High Pike contain an abundance of former mine workings
Approaching some of the old mine workings from West Fell. A time line history of mining on High Pike is available on this site –
Deep shadows in a deep hole and similarly in the shallow trench beyond. Hard to tell whether these were prospecting holes/trenches or whether they are due to underground workings collapsing.
The deep hole from another angle plus the view across West Fell’s plateau. Note the deep shade on the north facing slopes of Carrock Fell.
Looking across the summit of West Fell.
Deep shade on Carrock Fell’s north facing slopes.
We turn our attention away from the mining remains and take to the path heading up to the summit of High Pike. The group in the far distance have walked the same route as we have and they and us have remained more or less the same distance apart. We kept seeing them as they passed over the various humps and bumps between us. The three ladies ahead of J were talking non-stop as they passed by us when we were taking photos at the mining area, they came over from the Calebreck direction.
Another fenced off collapsed area beyond which is the path going around Sunny Bank and which eventually would be our return route, although we did not know it at the time.
The summit of High Pike, suitably snow covered but not deeply so. There was just enough to provide an appropriate winter walk photo. At the height of 2159’/658m this is one of the Lake Distict’s most northerly fells and with no fells close enough to provide much of a wind break we were fully exposed to the brisk and very cold wind. The stones of the wind shelter were covered with iced up snow and the bench was covered likewise so it wasn’t a place to linger very long. The three ladies hadn’t stayed long either and as we were approaching the summit they were making their descent over the path back to Calebreck.
Another view of the wind shelter and trig point.
Carrock Fell, its plateau catching the morning sun although the sun isn’t high enough to land on its north facing slopes, nor will it be for a good few weeks yet.
I would have had a shot of the Skiddaw group just a few seconds beforehand. By the time I’d switched the camera on and lined up the shot the bank of cloud appeared from nowhere and blanked out the view.
I managed to keep the sun out of this shot to get this very shadowy view of Blencathra and Mungrisedale Common, taking any further shots in this direction was futile.
Looking across Roughton Gill towards Great Sca Fell and Little Sca Fell on the skyline above Yard Steel, the great bump across the centre of the shot.
Little Sca Fell on the left skyline sweeping down to Brae Fell over on the right.
Brae Fell with Cumbria’s coastal plain beyond.
Across the misty Solway Firth is Criffel, over in Scotland.
Back to the summit area for another look at the ‘furniture’ adorning the top and then …..
….. we dropped down just a few yards to the north of the summit to take a short coffee break in the second wind shelter. This too was deeply iced over but its taller walls did provide cover from the wind, unfortunately they were also tall enough to prevent the sun getting into it which meant the hot coffee was more than welcome.
While we took our coffee break we discussed whether it was worth going over to Carrock Fell. We would normally include it on a walk up to High Pike but today the views from it would be too backlit by the low sun for good photography, furthermore our descent from Carrock Fell would mean walking the path down the deeply shaded northern slopes and straight into the wind. We decided to stay on this northern path, drop back down to the mining area we had stopped at previously and from there follow the path around Sunny Bank back to the car above the Carrock Beck ford.
Following a quad bike trail back to the mining area below West Fell. The path we used to cross West Fell is clearly visible as is the path winding its way around Sunny Bank over on the right.
Sunny Bank living up to its name today as we make our way over to the path going around it.
A look back at some of the gullies created during mining operations.
A few more gullies further down. Not formed naturally by becks, there were none in any of them, but formed by human hands/machinery digging into the hillsides searching for the minerals they contained. Plenty of spoil still lying around as the photo shows. One solo walker, accompanied by his dog, is walking up the path who we had a brief chat with as we passed each other. I began to wonder if dogs can imitate human speech because this dog looked me straight in the eyes and then seemed to greet me in two quite distinctive tones, something that sounded like a quiet ‘hello’. It wasn’t a bark or a growl but it was the most unusual sound I’ve ever heard coming from a dog. I mentioned this to its owner and he replied that the dog did make that sound from time to time but whether it was some form of friendly greeting or not he didn’t know. I’m still pondering about the incident.
More gullies from long ago searches for minerals as we part company with him and his dog and continue our descent.
Much lower down the valley now and still enjoying the blazing sunshine. Note the deep shade on Carrock Fell’s slopes to the right, that would have been our descent route had we gone over to it. Furthermore the bulk of Sunny Bank and West Fell are protecting us from the brisk and chilly wind and we still had some snow to crunch through so the walk back down was very pleasant.
Rounding a bend so a look back at High Pike before the view is lost.
Crossing Quaker Hill again we noticed this small group of fell ponies grazing on its slopes. There was a larger group of eight further up the hill but they were too far away from us to take a photo of them. Nice to see them roaming the fells again.
A look back at West Fell as we descend Quaker Hill …..
….. and a look ahead to where we are about to re-join the main track leading back to the car.
A look back as we reached the main track from the path on the right. The view of High Pike has disappeared and only the tip of West Fell can be seen.
Once on the main track we only have a short distance to walk until we are back at the car so this is where today’s walk comes to an end. Its been a gloriously sunny walk and, although the brisk and chilly wind definitely outmatched any warmth offered by the bright sunshine, we have enjoyed the chance to get out into some proper winter weather again. We woke up to find snow on the ground today (Tuesday) and it has been snowing on and off, and settling, all day so far. Will it continue to snow and settle, will we get the chance for another snowy walk in bright sunshine? Who knows, we’ll just have to wait and see.