Walk date – 26th March 2022
Distance – 6 miles
Weather – mostly warm and sunny, some long cloudy spells, almost no breeze
The dry and sunny weather continues so, after making a start on some of the garden tidying work yesterday, we took ourselves off for a walk over a couple of fells in the northern group today. As its a sunny Saturday and likely to be busy we decided to take a walk in one of the quieter areas of Lakeland. With the exceptions of the ever popular Skiddaw range and Blencathra the rest of the northern fells seem to attract fewer walkers than many other areas. Perhaps they lack the rugged machismo of other fells or maybe they are considered boring or too awkward to get to by the majority of visitors. Whatever the reason it is always possible, even in the busiest holiday periods, to have a quiet walk over these ‘Back o’ Skiddaw’ fells of which, at 2159’/658m, High Pike is one of the highest and probably the most northerly. We had hoped that the entire walk would be done in bright sunshine but it was not to be when a bank of heavy and slow moving cloud drifted across the sun just as we reached the summit of High Pike and remained over us until we arrived at the summit of Carrock Fell. That was the only niggle though and the walk across from Miton Hill to Carrock Fell summit, far from being the usual bog-hopping affair was firm and dry underfoot. Now that was a bonus!
Quaker Hill – Sunny Bank – West Fell – High Pike – Drygill Head – Miton Hill – Round Knott – Carrock Fell – Carrock Beck – Quaker Hill
Carrock Fell from the start of the path, a former mine track, on Quaker Hill. Carrock Beck flows between the bushes in the dip. No breeze to speak of and its a lovely warm morning so we’ve left our thicker jackets in the car but we do have our lighter weight windproofs with us, just in case. Very few walkers around at the moment. The bend in the path opens up to …..
….. this view of the next part of the route. Miton Hill, part of Carrock Fell, is over on the left, High Pike in the centre and West Fell, a subsidiary ridge of High Pike, is over on the right.
The various paths on West Fell become clearer and it won’t be long before we turn off this track and begin the climb up West Fell.
Almost at the point where we turn off and head up West Fell’s grassy paths. The main track carries on and leads up to the various levels of the old Driggeth Mine.
The view back to the path junction as we begin the climb. J is still wearing his long sleeved t-shirt layer, mine has already been removed. I was so warm that it just had to come off when we reached the junction.
Drygill Head as we reach the top of West Fell. On the extreme left of the shot, on the slopes of Miton Hill, another old mine track is just about visible. That one can be accessed about a mile along the the mine track we started out on before we diverted up West Fell. It crosses Carrock Beck and carries on up the steep slopes of Miton Hill, eventually joining the path we used to cross from Hare Stones to Miton Hill. Its shown quite clearly on our route map above.
To the right of Drygill Head is High Pike. The gouged out area on its slopes has the intriguing name of Red Covercloth. We have a stretch of level walking, more or less, ahead of us now. which will give us the chance to cool down a little after the frequent brow mopping climb up West Fell. Its very warm now with only the occasional hint of a breeze.
Approaching the old mining area where there is a variety of paths for walkers to choose from.
Some mining spoil still lying around the upper workings of the former Driggeth mine. The Driggeth mine, first worked in 1790 and then intermittently until 1966 when mining finally ceased, yielded lead with a high silver content, together with copper and barytes.
Quite a long but shallow trench so we wondered if it had been part of initial exploratory workings or just a narrow vein of some mineral worthy of being excavated.
Moving on from the upper workings now and heading for the steady pull up to High Pike summit. J now down to short sleeves and rolled up trouser legs. We begin to see others out walking – a cyclist pushing his bike and a pair of walkers coming across behind him.
I took a look back across West Fell from the climb, we saw the cyclist take a lower path and ride off to the right of the shot. The other two who were behind him have temporarily disappeared.
West Fell and Carrock Fell (and a cloud!) from the climb. There is a large and extensive lump of cloud out of shot over to the right.
There’s a little more to this shot than meets the eye as it looks as though we were at the summit in unbroken sunshine but, as we approached the trig column, that extensive bank of cloud just mentioned drifted across the sun, everything turned dark and the temperature suddenly dropped a few degrees. We hung around for about fifteen minutes hoping the cloud would drift away during which time I took about half a dozen summit area shots none of which turned out to be usable. After taking a few other shots of the views from the summit we began to make our way down to the Hare Stones junction when a slight break in the cloud came along and lit up the summit area again. So I made a quick dash back up and got the sunny summit shot I had been hoping for. The cloud drifted back across the sun and we remained in the shade of it until we reached the summit of Carrock Fell.
A few shots taken from the summit while we were waiting for the sun to put in an appearance. Making up the skyline view are Lonscale Fell, Skiddaw Little Man and Skiddaw …..
….. to the right of the skyline across the sunlit ravine are Great Sca Fell and Little Sca Fell …..
….. and further to the right are the Great and Little Sca Fells again with Brae Fell on the extreme right.
Carrock Fell as we pass over Drygill Head. We’re still in the shade and the long sleeved layers have been put back on.
A look back at High Pike, now in full sun, as we approach Hare Stones where will pick up the path leading to …..
….. Miton Hill where we are still under that annoying bank of cloud.
Still sunny back on High Pike as we begin the short climb up Miton Hill. Everywhere, except right here, is in sunshine.
Up on Miton Hill now from where I took this view of Carrock Fell and, over on the right, Round Knott. We’re still under the cloud but, on the plus side, the entire walk across was done on firm dry ground which, for this place, is quite remarkable since its usually a wet and boggy crossing for the most part.
We crossed over to Round Knott so I took a few shots from there. Here’s a skyline view of Knott, also in the shade, although a patch of sunlight has managed to brighten up Great Lingy Hill …..
….. but Bowscale Fell and Blencathra remain under the same bank of cloud as us …..
….. a look along the Cumbria Way path alongside the river Caldew down there in the valley …..
….. and finally a look at the next section of the route up to Carrock Fell summit.
The cloud begins to slowly drift away and brighten things up a little as we make our way over. Knott, Great Sca Fell and Great Lingy Fell are the main beneficiaries at the moment.
The impressive cairn on the summit of Carrock Fell flanked by Blencathra on the left and the Skiddaw range on the right. A couple of walkers have just left and there are a few more sitting away from the summit area enjoying a break and the views. We’re still under the cloud and there’s a little more breeze up here so we drop down and find somewhere to take a break. While we were doing so a large party of walkers arrived, arranged themselves around the cairn and settled down to what would likely be quite a long refreshment break.
The cloud drifted off to annoy someone else so we had the sunny views back again. The walking party group, having arranged themselves all over the summit area, were now difficult to avoid including in any further shots so I had to be content with just this one.
By way of compensation our entire route from High Pike over Miton Hill and up to the summit is now in full sunlight, its just a pity that it was so dull when we walked across it.
To the east, just below the summit area, are the remains of the old fortifications and settlement so I dropped down a little to get a shot of them. When I got back to the summit the walking party was still in residence and more walkers were arriving so we decided to take our leave and begin the descent.
We initially took an off path traversing route to avoid the very steep descent path from the summit but we eventually joined up with it a little lower down. Even so the descent was still quite steep which J’s plated ankle does not like one little bit. Here we have reached a gentler gradient and are making our way towards Carrock Beck. The cloud cover has returned so we’re back in the shade.
Typically the cloud drifted away again and the sunlight returned just as we reached the crossing over Carrock Beck …..
….. so we are almost at the end our our walk. From the footbridge we have only to walk up the hill to the green salt bin up there to where the car is parked just around the bend.
Back at the car and a look along Mosedale before we take our leave. There were no cars at all when we arrived this morning now there are several, it became even busier the further along we went and by the time we reached the Mill Inn at Mungrisdale the long line of vehicles parked bonnet to boot along the narrow village road was staggering. If the occupants of every vehicle had made a beeline for the pub the landlord would no doubt have been rubbing his hands in glee.