Walk date – 7th March 2022
Distance – 5.2 miles
Weather – dry, sunny, with a cold and gusty wind
A settled spell of weather has been with us for the last few days and, although we still have blustery, gusty winds blowing from all directions to contend with, the sunshine and bluer skies have been more than welcome, even though they have shown the garden to be in need of some attention after all that the winter weather has thrown at it. Early spring days like these always bring the perennial problem of how best to use them. Get some fell-walking in or make a start on the outdoor jobs. Today we decided on the fell-walking option and, bearing in mind the forecast for a blustery south easterly wind, we decided on a walk over High Rigg. It only rises to the modest height of 1171’/357m and its various humps and bumps offer plenty of shelter from any pesky gusts which might occur so, after dealing with a couple of mundane matters in Penrith first, off we went to St John’s in the Vale to have a leisurely walk over High Rigg and soak up the sun for a few hours.
A591 parking area – Wren Crag – Long Band – Cowrake Head – Mart Crag – High Rigg summit – St John’s Church & Youth Centre – St John’s in the Vale footpath – Low Bridge End Farm – A591 parking area
Even though its Monday, usually a very quiet day, there were plenty of cars already parked up around the off-road parking area alongside the A591 out of Keswick. Most of their occupants had already set out towards their various objectives but there were a couple of other late-comers as well as ourselves getting prepared for their chosen activities. We made our way along the A591 to the gate giving access to the High Rigg paths and we began our walk by making the short but steepish climb up Wren Crag with this view of Castle Crag over on our right.
Its a lovely bright day but now and again we are treated to a gust of the south-easterly wind, quite a cold wind too which seemed odd given that it was coming from the south. Happily its to our backs and not in our faces. Here’s a look along the A591 as it snakes its way through the valley down to Grasmere and Ambleside.
Looking ahead to the top of Wren Crag and encountering plenty of gale damage, both past and present, along the way.
Looking south towards Great How where just a sliver of Thirlmere has come into view. Plenty of cloud hanging around down there too which might get blown our way although we’re hoping that it will eventually break up before then.
The Dodds and the Helvellyn group, some of the higher ones still with snowy tops, extending all the way along the valley.
Approaching the top of Wren Crag where it was good to see that the two remaining Scots Pines had survived the winter gales. There used to be more but they have succumbed to successive gales/storms over the years so its nice to see these two still standing.
A view of Blencathra as we reach Cowrake Head at the end of our walk over Long Band. Only five cars were parked in the lay-by below Blencathra when we passed by it as we drove to St John’s in the Vale so there might not be many folk walking it today.
J heads for the mini-scramble up on to Mart Crag, his jacket hood up against the gusts which keep sneaking up on us.
Clough Head and Calfhow Pike from the top of the mini-scramble.
Continuing the easy walk over Mart Crag with Blencathra in view for most of the way.
Skiddaw and Lonscale Pike eventually begin to appear as we make our way along the crag.
Still quite cloudy to the south as I take a look back along the path.
Dropping down slightly now as we approach the wobbly stile …..
….. only to have to regain the height once we’ve crossed over.
Approaching the permanently soggy area around the tarn …..
….. although it is just about possible to avoid the worst of the squelchy parts. The paths over High Rigg were firm and largely dry today with only the occasional muddy patch. We haven’t had rain since last Wednesday and the sun and wind have been drying everything out quite nicely.
The view ahead as we leave the tarn and drop down to the next stile. We’ll be walking alongside the wall visible in the shot so another down and then up again awaits us. There’s no likelihood of getting bored on High Rigg!
Here we go then, down to the stile, cross over it and follow the path up beside the wall …..
….. a fell runner has just crossed the stile too although it might need a zoom in to be able to see him. The ascent from the stile had him changing from running to quickly striding, its a bit of a pull but doesn’t last very long. We naturally thought he would overtake us but he veered off to the right of the shot and crossed over Moss Crag instead.
Another soggy area below Moss Crag. Two options here, the path by the wall or veer left and skirt round as much of the marshy stuff as possible. We took the left hand option where the fell runner came into our view again as he descended Moss Crag, splashed across the squelchy area, headed straight up the opposite slope and disappeared from view. We took the more sedate route across the fellside using the path alongside the wall.
Back on dry land with a look back towards Moss Crag over on the right.
At the top of the path is this view of Clough Head, Calfhow Pike and the snowy top of Great Dodd …..
….. moving the camera a little to the right for this skyline view of Great Dodd and Watson’s Dodd whose north facing slopes still have a good amount of snow on them.
Looking back along the route so far and noticing that there’s still plenty of cloud to the south …..
….. but not so much over here. The vast bulk of the Skiddaw group is becoming more visible now.
Bass Lake and the Lord’s Seat fells are in view as we head for the path to the summit …..
….. with another couple of down and ups to go before we get to the high point. A couple of solo walkers some distance ahead of us had each reached the summit and disappeared by the time I’d taken this shot of the route over to the cairn.
Along the way other fell tops begin appearing. On the right, behind the the long northern spur of Bleaberry Fell, is the eastern side of the Coledale Horseshoe, the Causey Pike to Crag Hill section. Over on the left is the top of Robinson.
Across the middle foreground, at the end of Bleaberry Fell’s northern spur, is Pike and beyond it the fells making up the Coledale Horseshoe.
High Rigg’s summit cairn and the Skiddaw group beyond it. Very gusty up here so I had to kneel down to take the shot.
J takes a break as he waits for the photographer to join him and find a sheltered spot to take a break.
Before that though, a few shots from the summit area as the gusts subsided for a minute or two, here’s the Skiddaw group …..
….. Blencathra …..
….. and finally Clough Head.
A sheltered spot having been found we had a short lunch break minus the gusts and just enjoyed the sunshine and the view.
After the break we make our way back down with this view of the north western fells, lovely sunshine and, as we are now in the lee of High Rigg, no more gusts, which made for a very pleasant descent.
Back down to the road and the youth centre which is just out of shot to the right.
As we made our way down to the gate and the return footpath we noticed that the daffodils in the churchyard of St John’s church are almost ready to burst into flower so another day or so of this sunny weather should see them in full bloom. We pass through the gate and follow the path down the hill …..
….. from where this shot of St John’s Beck and Blencathra was taken. A great deal of fallen tree debris littered the path for most of the return walk back along the valley and plenty of evidence that quite a large number of trees had succumbed to the winter gales.
A ruined barn beside the return path …..
….. and further along we’re back in the sunshine with this sunlit view along the valley floor.
Low Bridge End farm where the sign outside said the tea-room was closed but nevertheless had a customer inside.
We leave St John’s Beck and the valley floor at this point as the path begins to rise high above the back and …..
….. leads us back to the gate alongside the A591 and our start point. Through the gate, turn left and after walking a very short distance we’re back at the car so today’s outing comes to an end. Its been wonderful to be out in lengthy periods of sunshine at last, certainly after such a prolonged period of damp, gloomy and very windy weather during which one wondered if it would ever come to an end. Hope springs eternal, as the saying goes, and I really do hope that we’ve turned the corner and that the weather will be much brighter from now on.