Thornthwaite Crag, High Street and The Knott

Walk date – 11th May 2019

Distance – 7.8 miles

Weather – dry with sunny spells, lots of fair weather cloud, cool breeze


Today was forecast to herald a change in the weather which will gradually become sunnier and warmer during the coming week so fingers crossed that the forecast holds firm. However a heatwave wasn’t expected today and the temperature wouldn’t be a great deal different, maybe just a degree or so higher than lately, but it was an encouraging start to see blue sky and fair weather cloud ahead of us when we set off for Hartsop. The little car park in Hartsop village already had about half a dozen cars parked when we arrived about quarter past nine with their occupants busy getting themselves geared up for their day’s adventure. We do the same and once the gps had located us off we went.


Hartsop – Pasture Bottom – Pasture Beck – Threshthwaite Cove – Threshthwaite Mouth – Thornthwaite Crag – High Street – Short Stile – The Knott – Hayeswater – Hayeswater Gill – Hartsop

Hartsop Dodd looked splendid this morning, with its new green covering absolutely glowing in the bright morning sunlight. We’ve just passed through the car park gate in the wall on the right and will go through the gate in the shot and make our way over to Pasture Bottom. As I put the camera away I saw J heading up towards the stock pens so I had to call him back, we’ve walked the path beside them so many times now that he just went on automatic pilot I think. The couple on the path beyond the gate were heading up Hartsop Dodd alongside the wall by the time we reached the Walker Bridge crossing so they haven’t had much by way of a warm up. That’s a very steep route whichever way its approached and I was glad to have a long lead in along the valley before our particular bit of steepness needed to be tackled.

A peep over the wall at the remains of the old Myers Head lead mine as we head for Pasture Bottom.

Progressing along the old cart track through Pasture Bottom. Today’s first summit will be Thornthwaite Crag which is the rounded hump just peeping up to the left of the centre skyline. Its a pleasant sunny walk along the valley although we keep our jackets on for the time being as the air is still on the cool side.

Once through the gate the cart track comes to an end and the path …..

….. and ourselves, become more closely acquainted with Pasture Beck which is splashing its way along to join Goldrill Beck in Patterdale. There’s a lot of fair weather cloud around so we have a shady view ahead of us.

Its a different story though behind us as I take a look back to Brock Crags which is also showing off its new spring green covering.

From the gate the path has been fairly level but as we approach Raven Crag it begins to veer away from the beck and rise steadily through a cluster of drumlins. We eventually caught up with the pair of walkers on the path just ahead of us when they stopped for a break in the mass of boulders on the left, just behind the wall.

A look back at some of the drumlins before pressing on and, after a quick exchange of greetings with the pair of walkers enjoying their break, make a series of mini scrambles through the boulders below Raven Crag.

The western slopes of Gray Crag catching a few rays of sunlight as we climb steadily towards Threshthwaite Cove.

The steady climb brings us to Threshthwaite Cove where we have a stretch of easier walking for a while. We’ve made good progress so far but up ahead is the steep climb out of the cove up to Threshthwaite Mouth so progress is bound to be down to snail’s pace when we reach it.

A look back down the valley from just above the ‘halfway rock’, so named, presumably, because you are only halfway up the steep climb when you’ve reached it. A group of walkers can be seen below on the left making their way over the level stretch before beginning their climb. We took a breather here and got the walking poles out. From the rock the path is stone pitched which is a big help, but eventually our leg muscles were crying out for mercy and the latter half of the climb felt as though it would never come to an end.

Finally the torture ended, and on reaching Threshthwaite Mouth packs were downed, out came the coffee, and the Mars Bar, and we flopped by the wall to enjoy a well earned break. The other walkers eventually arrived and did exactly the same. Our legs returned to something resembling normality and after our break I wandered back over the wall to take a look back along the valley and the two and a half mile walk through it that we had just completed.

However, that’s not mission accomplished as we now have the steep and scrabbly path up Thornthwaite Crag to deal with. Just before I took this shot a couple of young lads came by and virtually sprinted up the rocky crag face route leading over to Stony Cove Pike, barely needing to put out a steadying hand as they did so. Oh, to be so young and agile! At the other end of the age scale, coming down towards them, were two older chaps who were using every point of contact they possessed as they very carefully made their way down over the rocks and boulders. When they reached us they had a bit of joke with us about how unfair it was of the fells to drop you down to a col and then make you climb up from it again. Yep, we feel just the same we replied. They looked at the path ahead, looked at each other and said “Well we’d better get on with it then” and off they went.

Before we got going I took this shot looking south along to Troutbeck Tongue, in the valley bottom to the right, with Froswick, Ill Bell and Yoke on the skyline to the left of it.

Here we go then, J and the other walkers are already on their way …..

….. but I stop once more as I glance to my right. Out comes the camera again to capture this sunny view along the Troutbeck valley.

With nothing much, other than a steep and very loose path, to look at ahead of me I took a look back at the craggy route to Stony Cove Pike from Threshthwaite Mouth. The two young lads have made short work of the climb and are long gone and there’s no sign of the two older chaps on the route ahead of us either.

A look back across to Stony Cove Pike, the summit of Caudale Moor, from one of the places on the loose path where I could actually stand still long enough to take a shot. A handy flat rock providing the stability needed otherwise I’d have been slithering slowly back down.

Its a tedious ascent but the steep, loose path is now behind us and we’ve reached the much easier level path just below the summit area so it was a good point at which to take a look back at our route and the surrounding scenery. Sunlight streaming through the broken cloud is dappling the fells all around us and we have a view all the way back down to Hartsop village nestling in the trees in the green fields below Brock Crags.

A look across to Windermere, on the far left, with the Coniston fells and Red Screes on the right beyond the intervening ridge.

After three and a quarter miles and two very steep climbs a lifting of spirits and an unspoken ‘hurray’ as Thornthwaite Beacon comes into view  …..

….. followed by a look over towards the Ill Bell ridge and Windermere from just below it.

As usual it was busy although a slight zoom made it appear not to be the case but, to be fair, most walkers were sitting against the wall either already eating their lunch, or rummaging through their packs in search of it. Just after taking this shot the two older chaps we had joked with back at Threshthwaite Mouth appeared which explains why we hadn’t had sight of them ahead of us. They must have taken the grassy route going off left of the scree path which adds a little more to the distance but is certainly easier on the feet. We had other ideas about where to take our lunch break so …..

….. we made our way to the old sheepfold some distance away from the Beacon where we settled down for a very welcome, very sunny and very breeze free lunch break.

After our break we headed across the grass to join the path leading over to High Street. Beyond the path, on the skyline, is the broad plateau of Harter Fell with Kentmere Pike to its right.

On the way we pass below the Beacon and see one of the two chaps we shared a laugh with back at Threshthwaite Mouth putting on his jacket and getting ready for the next leg of their walk and that was the last we saw of them.

Rounding the head of the Hayeswater valley which I had hoped would be a lot sunnier than this. We did wait a little while in the hope that the cloud would drift away and provide a sunny spell but this was as good as it got during the time we were there.

A look back along the well trodden highway towards to the beacon with a constant stream of walkers heading in both directions.

More dappled fells across the Gray Crag ridge as we make our way over to High Street. Fairfield and the Helvellyn range are prominent on the skyline.

Gray Crag is just below us and the silhouette of Blencathra is on the distant skyline towards the right.

A very short diversion from the main path provides this bird’s eye view down to Hayeswater, flanked by Gray Crag, on the left, and the slopes of High Street to the right.

Looking back along the steadily rising highway to Windermere and the Ill Bell ridge.

The Hellvellyn range clearly silhouetted against the candy floss clouds.

A sunny spell lights up the skyline view of Fairfield, Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike beyond the Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd ridges.

On the distant skyline are the shadowy shapes of Crinkle Crags, Bowfell, the Scafells, Great End and Great Gable.

Only a sprinkling of walkers were around as we reached the trig column on High Street. It was pretty nippy up here in the cool breeze and my gloves have been on for a while now. I was glad we’d had lunch back at the beacon because it was much too chilly to sit up here and eat. Everybody else seemed to think so too because no-one was hanging around.

I moved west away from the trig column and took a few shots of the views across from us. Great Gable peeps up between Dove Crag and Hart Crag on the left. Then comes Fairfield and Cofa Pike followed by Dollywaggon Pike and Nethermost Pike.

Looking north west across Hartsop Dodd we can view Helvellyn, Catsty Cam, White Side, Raise, Stybarrow Dodd and a tiny bit of Great Dodd.

Blencathra is over on the right skyline with just the tops of the Skiddaw range peeping up behind Hart Side to the left of centre. If you zoom in and peer very hard you should be able to spot just a smidge of Angle Tarn below the north top of Angletarn Pikes, towards the bottom right. I didn’t spot him at the time but a hang-glider has also managed to sneak into the shot.

You might well be wondering what the heck is this supposed to be. Well, its a look down at a little piece of High Street and if you zoom in and look carefully you may well spot quite a few white specks, also known as hailstones. While we were walking along the plateau we were treated to a five minute hail shower. I think I mentioned it was chilly up here. Quite incredible, especially when we looked over at all the sunlit fells and valleys around us.

Its still pretty gloomy up here but the hail cloud has passed over and we have an uneventful descent off High Street. A few people were making their way up, some opting for the lower path with its views of Hayeswater with others keeping to the path we are on.

J carries on while I stop for a shot of High Raise beyond the craggy face of Kidsty Pike over to the right.

We make a slight diversion here and cross the wall over to the cairn on Short Stile to take in the views along Riggindale.

Looking along Riggindale with a section of Haweswater at the end of it.

The view back up to High Street from the cairn on Short Stile …..

….. followed by a look across to a sunlit Caspel Gate between the shadowy ridges of Rough Crag and Long Stile.

Kidsty Pike looking a little more pike like now that we are closer to it.

Returning to the path from Short Stile with a view of Twopenny Crag. Once back on the path we’ll drop down the hill across the Straits of Riggindale and then make the short climb back up the other side to make our way over to The Knott.

A look back to High Street at the point where we pass through the wall and pick up the path on the other side.

A short walk followed by a short climb brings us to the summit of The Knott, from where the path over to Rampsgill Head and on to High Raise can be clearly seen.

Turning the camera slightly to the left brings in the view of the long ridge from High Raise down to Bonscale Pike.

The partial view down to Hayeswater from The Knott.

J is smiling because he knows what my feelings are about summit hogging and here is a prime example of such inconsiderate behaviour. The bloke sitting on top of the cairn was so engrossed in some piece of electronic technology that our presence never registered with him and not once did he look up from whatever gadget he was studying, despite numerous camera shutter clicks. If you see this, whoever you are, please remember that other walkers may like a shot of the cairn minus you and your belongings. In addition to marking a summit cairns are also used as a foreground feature for a landscape shot, as a setting for a group photo, or simply because they have a particular characteristic, none of which are enhanced by those who selfishly fail to consider other walkers.

Only one thing for it then, if they won’t shift try to block ’em out. Pity we didn’t have a third walker with us then we could have blocked out the other guy too.

Still irritated as I take this shot of The Nab and Steel Knotts below us as we begin our descent of The Knott. We met a couple making their way up who looked very weary indeed, its probably just what we looked like when we finally reached Threshthwaite Mouth.

A very sunny Rest Dodd ahead but no more climbing for us today as we’ll cut off to the left shortly and drop down to Hayeswater and the walk back to Hartsop.

Hayeswater below the steep slopes of Gray Crag, and where a pair of fell runners have just bounded along the path below me heading down the same route, chattering away to each other as they went. How anyone can run and talk at the same time is a mystery to me, I can’t even run never mind talk as well.

I stop to remove my jacket now that we’re a lot lower and its much warmer. I also take the opportunity to get a clearer shot of the skyline beyond the tree lined slopes of High Hartsop Dodd. There’s a little piece of Brothers Water on view below it too.

Almost down at the Hayeswater outflow where the dam used to be. No dam now since the water is no longer used as a reservoir but its still easy enough to get across. There is a proper footbridge a little lower down though if the water is too high to cross easily.

Hayeswater and High Street from the outflow.

On the other side of the outflow now with a look back across at The Knott. Its much less breezy down here and much warmer so it was a very pleasant walk back.

The footbridge I mentioned is just below us with Brock Crags towering over it. The path we’re using is the old track which would have been used by the water company to gain access to the dam.

One of the many water slides, falls and cascades along the length of Hayeswater Gill. Why is there always a tree blocking the view?

The old filter house across the gill comes into view as we drop down towards Hartsop. We often start our walks up to Brock Crags along that path along the fellside from the filter house.

Saint Sunday Crag dominates the skyline ahead of us now that Helvellyn and Catstycam are slowly disappearing from view.

Hartsop Dodd looked even more colourful in the afternoon sun as we descended the lethal (in my opinion) path. Its covered with loose gravel and small stones and you feel as though you are walking on ball-bearings. I took to walking over the grass, and a little lower down the stones beneath J’s boot slid away under him, tipping him over but, fortunately, landing him rucksack first on the grass banking. Luckily no physical damage ensued although the rucksack and the seat of the pants needed a bit of dusting down.

The old mossy roofed barn sitting in the shade of the trees …..

….. and the newish water intake building sitting below an imposing Gray Crag.

Looking towards Thornthwaite Crag along Pasture Bottom where its very much brighter than it was when we started out …..

….. followed by a view of the full length of the Gray Crag – Thornthwaite Crag ridge.

Back at the stock pens with the car park just beyond. Other than the two fell runners we’ve met nobody during our walk down and the car park still looks very full so I guess most folks are still out on the fells, and why not as its turned into a lovely afternoon with lots of daylight still to make use of. As for us, we could at last shift out of low gear, take the brakes off and let the legs walk freely over the last couple of hundred yards back to the car where packs were hoyed into the boot, a bottle and a half of fruit juice swiftly polished off., followed by a nifty bit of car manoeuvring out through the car park to get us on our way home where a nice cup of tea will go down very nicely.