Walk date – 23rd January 2020

Distance – 4.8 miles

Weather – dry, mild, very dull and overcast, no wind, no sun

A new phrase has popped up on the weather forecasts lately, anti-cyclonic cloud. It keeps tripping off the lips of the weather presenters as they try their best to cheer us up while delivering another dollop of dreariness. Anti-cyclonic cloud it may be but it boils down to the same thing, dull, overcast skies and low light levels. The slightly brighter weather of the weekend disappeared as quickly as it arrived and we’re back  in the gloom once more. However, as the day was set to be dry and with hardly any wind, we decided to settle for another short walk just to get some fresh air and exercise. It wasn’t a day for the fells, as the photos show, and even if it had been I would not have been walking them. For the past few days all the symptoms of a cold have been manifesting themselves and a head full of gloop, aching limbs, sneezing and generally feeling well below par are not conducive to walking over anything requiring anything more than a very mild amount of effort. I can still put one foot in front of the other however, so a low level walk was decided on and off we went to Patterdale.


Cow Bridge – Brothers Water – Hartsop Hall – Sykeside – Hartsop Village – Bridgend – Cow Bridge

There was no-one around at the Cow Bridge car park when we arrived late morning. No more than half a dozen cars were parked so no difficulty in finding a spot and getting ourselves organised. Not that there was much to do in that respect, its only a two hour walk so we hadn’t brought packs, it was just a case of switching on the gps and waiting for it to find us before locking the car and setting off. One look across at Hartsop Dodd told us all we needed to know.

On the bridge and looking towards Hartsop village, with plenty of heavy low cloud everywhere, some of it clipping the tops of Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd. It wasn’t cold but the very damp and clammy atmosphere combined to make it look as though it was.

On the other side of the bridge I took a look towards Brock Crags as we started out on the footpath alongside Brothers Water.

There’s not a soul to be seen as we walk alongside Brothers Water and the fell tops up ahead are mostly hidden from view. The smoke from a bonfire drifts gently skyward at the head of the water so somebody up there is busy tidying up.

We’ve passed Brothers Water at this point and, beyond the trees of Low Wood, the view ahead such as it is, begins to open up a little more. The smoke from the bonfire drifts up the fell sides while the cloud makes its way down the slopes of Caudale Moor. Warm air rising and cold air falling, a mini physics lesson in action as we walk along.

Walking along here was very pleasant as we made our way towards Hartsop Hall, especially as the absence of leaves on the trees allowed what little light there was to get through and brighten things up a little.

High Hartsop Dodd up ahead as we pass through the gate. The cloud has dropped ever lower down the slopes of Middle Dodd and Red Screes to the left of it.

Signs of recent tree surgery and the always delightful smell of freshly sawn wood greet us as Hartsop Hall comes into view. No views today of anything beyond High Hartsop Dodd.

Hartsop Hall, a 16th century Grade 1 Listed Building, in the heart of Patterdale. No-one around today, not even a barking dog. We followed the track right around the Hall which leads to …..

….. the farm access road between the Hall and Sykeside Campsite. The cloud seems to have drifted away from Hartsop Dodd and Caudale Moor for the moment so we can at least see their tops although everything looks very dour indeed.

Walking across the open fields via the farm access road and a look to my left reveals a slightly brighter outlook to the north. The sun didn’t actually break through but there was a brief thinning of the cloud for a few moments over there. Brothers Water, on the left, is hardly more than a smidge now and the tops of Angletarn Pikes and Brock Crags are low enough to avoid being enveloped by the cloud blanket.

As we reached Kirkstone Beck, below the fence on the extreme left, I stopped for a look across the fields but there was nothing to see of Dove Crag, Hart Crag or Fairfield which should have been in view over to the right.

Crossing Kirkstone Beck with a view of Brock Crags.

The access road from Hartsop Hall took us through the Sykeside campsite where we found the origin of the bonfire, in one of the campsite’s adjacent fields. It was still burning, a mound of dead wood close at hand awaiting its fate, and everything being watched over by a workman and his dog. After an exchange of greetings we carried on up the lane and out, by the white campsite sign, onto the Kirkstone Pass road. Not much traffic today so we didn’t have to wait at all before we could cross and then pass through the gate, at the bottom of the shot, and on to the path leading towards Hartsop village.

This avoids walking along the usually busy road although …..

….. it does have its own set of hazards, mostly in the form of very low hanging tree branches. Not a problem for a little shorty like me, I barely had to bow my head to get by them, J, being a good bit taller than I am, had to do a bit more ducking and diving to make his way through. It was very warm and humid through here, so much so that my mid-layer fleece just had to be removed. I could have managed without my jacket too but as I didn’t have anywhere to stow it I had to leave it on.

Beyond the trees with a very watery path ahead of us. The wall just beside the green field did not have a stile, gate or any other means of crossing that we could find so there was nothing for it but to drop down to the gate at the roadside and walk the tarmac for a few yards.

Back on the Kirkstone Pass road again where I nipped across for this shot looking towards Hartsop above How beside Brothers Water. Oddly, there are ripples on the water but we couldn’t feel any breeze at all on the road. The section of road walking is quite short and before long we reach another footpath sign indicating the way to Hartsop village. It would be easy to miss though if you weren’t keeping an eye out for it.

A short slight slope up from the road leads us to the gate and then …..

…..we’re back on track for Hartsop village. Above it Lingy Crag looks out across Patterdale.

Walking the path to the village with a look over to my left for this view of the two tops of Arnison Crag. The top to the right is the generally accepted summit.

We enter the village by the back door, so to speak, across the footbridge over Pasture Beck …..

….. and, after threading our way through the cottages at the lower end of the village, emerge on to the tarmac lane where we turn right and head up to the centre of it. As many of you will know this tarmac lane terminates at the car park at the top of the village but we don’t go that far. Just beyond the cottage with the spinning gallery is a footpath sign on the left, although there is really no need to walk right up to the sign since you can reach the footpath by branching off up a track to the left just a few yards beforehand and joining it from there. The path out of the village is just about the only bit of steepness on the entire walk …..

….. and it is only a very short climb out of the village and onto the concrete track from where there is this view of Hartsop Dodd. That rocky outcrop always reminds me of a rather malevolent eye glaring down at me. The fells around the heads of Deepdale and Dovedale, to the right, are still smothered in cloud.

Cloud pouring over High Hartsop Dodd as I look over to Brothers Water from the path above the village.

It still looks a lot brighter to the north of us as we carry on along the easy grassy path. On the skyline from the left are Saint Sunday Crag, now almost devoid of snow, Birks and the two tops of Arnison Crag where we were walking just a few days ago.

Another look back to Hartsop village and Hartsop Dodd and if you’d like a more summery view take a look at the walk we did on 15th August 2019, the link opens in a new window –

On we go and, not being weary enough to warrant a five minute sit down, we don’t make use of the green bench …..

…. and carry on through Patterdale where the path eventually becomes a little more undulating but is nothing very demanding. The bracken covered slopes of Dubhow Crag come into view, as does Place Fell just behind it.

Another view of Dubhow Crag from further along the path.

The lovely waterfalls in Angletarn Beck.

Over the bridge across the beck and a longer view of the next section of our route …..

….. and a look back at the waterfalls and Lingy Crag.

Hartsop above How from an old barn beside the path …..

….. and a look beyond the wall to Saint Sunday Crag, Birks and Arnison Crag.

The only spell of sunlight we saw was when Glenridding Dodd had a couple of minutes worth thanks to a break in the cloud over there. We are about to leave this path we are on and at the next junction we’ll take a left and drop down, cross the bridge over Goldrill Beck and follow the track across the field back to the A592 winding its way along Patterdale.

There’s still no view to the right of Hartsop above How although Middle Dodd and Red Screes have finally appeared to the left of it. Below is the path across the fields we are about to drop down to.

Our view into Deepdale as we walk the track across the fields.

To our left the cloud was now funnelling down the Kirkstone Pass at some speed, eventually obliterating Middle Dodd and Red Screes.

No such problems over Place Fell as I took a look back from the field crossing.

There’s a short spell of road walking on the A592 but it doesn’t last long and we leave the road here and follow the narrow track beside the wall and …..

….. out of harm’s way again as we follow the path through Low Wood …..

….. which had some very slithery patches along its length.

Its not a long walk through the woodland and before very much longer we are back at the car park. One car is still parked on this side of the bridge with about three or four in the parking area on the other side, all of them still awaiting the return of their occupants and one slowly running down its battery because its driver has left the lights on, let’s hope the battery still had some life in it when the driver finally returned. Apart from the workman at the bonfire we haven’t met or seen anyone else throughout the walk so perhaps the occupants are still up in the clouds somewhere. It was a shame about the low light but despite that this is a grand little walk for toddlers to totterers and everyone in between, especially if you only have half a day to spare because it can be easily fitted into a morning or an afternoon, or even a sunny summer evening although one of those is still a long way off. Why not give it a try sometime?