Saturday, 11 January 2014

A Tour of Hayewsater

GPS Track
Date: 11/01/2014
From: Brothers Water

Parking: Free parking at Brothers Water
Start Point: Brothers Water
Region: Far Eastern Fells

Route length: 12.5 miles (20.1 km)
Time taken: 05:21
Average speed: 2.3 mph
Ascent: 1238m
Descent: 1242m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Angletarn Pikes (567m), Brock Crags (561m), Rest Dodd (696m), The Knott (739m), Rampsgill Head (792m), Kidsty Pike (780m), High Street (828m), Thornthwaite Crag (784m), Gray Crag (638m)

Other Summits: Angletarn Pikes South Top (565m),

Other points of interest: Riggindale, Hayeswater, Thornthwaite Beacon

Route: Brothers Water, Dubhow, Boredale Hause, Angletarn Pikes, Angle Tarn, Cat Crag, Brock Crags, Satura Crag, Rest Dodd, The Knott, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, Straits of Riggindale, High Street, Thornthwaite Crag, Gray Crag, Filter House, Hartsop, Brothers Water

Not to be confused with the much larger Haweswater, Hayeswater stands isolated at an elevation of nearly 425m, hidden between the fells of The Knott and Gray Crag, nestling just the south east of the Hartsop valley. For us, it would provide the focal point of a long, semi-winter Lake District day out, the kind of day where the sky is blue and the scenery is a dazzling white. We were exceptionally lucky with the weather, given the battering the country had received during the storms at the end of 2013. A developing finger of high pressure would give us a break from the rain and, despite some clouds, our chosen day was fantastically clear with light winds and a light dusting of snow which made for some nice snaps. I think so at least.

Leaving the Youth Hostel in Ambleside, bound for the Kirkstone Pass, we did not believe that the forecasted dry day could be possible as we were greeted with a gloomy, grey and overcast morning; the kind of morning that would make you want to turn back and return to the warmth of a cosy bed. Luckily, these conditions did not last long and by the time we were ambling along Cross Lane, the clouds were already starting to break, illuminating the high fells of Fairfield and St. Sunday Crag across the valley. It was the kind of sight that puts a spring in your step and, after a steepening climb, we reached Boredale Hause, a popular meeting point of several paths and the odd location for the ruins of a small church.
Gray Crag in the early morning light
Angletarn Beck tumbles down the hillside beneath Lingy Crag
Dove Crag, Hart Crag and St. Sunday Crag start to see the morning sun
The Hartsop valley and the path up to Boredale Hause
Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd
Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield
Boredale Hause
The first target of the day (for two of us at least), was to be Angletarn Pikes, a fell named after the nearby Angle Tarn (not to be confused with the Angle Tarn near Rossett Pike). The path up is easily followed and as we we climbed, we reached the snow line. The thin dusting was enough to paint the picture of a winter wonderland without the challenges or difficulties that a deeper layer would have presented. There are two peaks on Angle Tarn Pikes, hence the plurality of its name and it is the more northerly of the two that gains the bragging rights over its neighbour, being a measurable two metres higher at 567m. Despite this though, views from the smaller peak to the south are more satisfactory, taking in the entirety of the picturesque Angle Tarn.
The path up towards Angletarn Pikes
The sun shines over High Street and Caudale Moor
The summit of Angletarn Pikes overlooks the Hartsop Valley
Angle Tarn from the south top
Dropping down and around Angle Tarn, we made our way across the boggy outfall towards Brock Crags. At this point, the path became more indistinct as we made out climb up to the summit so we set our sights on the cairn and walked in a more or less straight line to the top, dodging the bogs and rocks where necessary. Interestingly, the summit as described by Wainwright in his guide is some eight metres lower than the true summit of the ridge, a short distance to the east. A small tarn separates the two summits.
Angle Tarn and The Nab
The tarn outlet at Cat Crag
Angletarn Pikes from Brock Crags
We were joined momentarily by some red deer
The cairn on the Wainwright summit of Brock Crags looking towards Hartsop above How, Hart Crag and Dove Crag
The shapley Gray Crag guards Pasture Bottom
After taking in the view from Brock Crags, we dropped back down to the ridge at Satura Crag, a rocky face overlooking the valley of Bannerdale and met the main walkers path that circles the north side of Angle Tarn. From Satura Crag, our next port of call would be Rest Dodd, the high point of a ridge that stretches down to the floor of Bannerdale via The Nab and Nab End. To my surprise, the 100m climb up Rest Dodd was probably the most tiring of the day, the summit being further away and steeper than anticipated. Combine this with some deepening snow and no path resulted in some heavy legs by the time we reached the summit.
Hayeswater and High Street
Rest Dodd stands on the horizon
High Street, Thornthwaite Crag and Gray Crag overlook Hayeswater
A view back towards the Helvellyn range
Rest Dodd is often bypassed by most as they head towards High Street along the well established path. Even the most hardy Coast to Coasters would probably give it a miss. Indeed, Wainwright described the fell and having little interest. The fell does however, have an impressive view of Rampsgill Head and the valley of Ramps Gill which make the climb worthwhile. As we descended to the col between Rest Dodd and The Knott, we were finally greeted by the sun which had so far not shined quite far east enough. All of a sudden the fells became an even more dazzling white and I regretted not having brought a pair of sunglasses.
A well built cairn marks the summit of Rest Dodd
Rampsgill Head
Ramps Gill valley and the ridge leading from Pooley Bridge
Rest Dodd is illuminated by the sunshine
At the head of Ramps Gill
Thus far, the scenery had been hugely impressive but the best was yet to come as we contemplated the climb towards The Knott. A trio of mountain summits lie in short distance to each other, forming an almost triangular plateau at the northern end of High Street with each summit providing a stunning view in a different direction. The first would be The Knott followed swiftly by Rampsgill Head and Kidsty Pike. After our off-piste excursion to Rest Dodd, we cut back on to the welcome flatness of the main walkers path as it curls beneath the summit of The Knott before splitting off and making a short climb to the summit.
Ramps Gill and High Raise
The crags of Rampsgill Head
The large summit cairn on The Knott
High Street and Thornthwaite Crag from The Knott
Like the fells we'd visited previously on this walk, the actual summit of The Knott contains little to write home about, a round grassy dome topped by an unsuitably large cairn. An outlier to Rampsgill Head, The Knott looks inferior to its parent mountain unless viewed from Gray Crag to the south where the fell takes on a much more impressive conical shape as it rises out of the valley. The view along Hayeswater, between High Street and Gray Crag, and the simplicity of the climb from the walkers path do however, make this a fell worth visiting. And visit it we did. But not for long as the second of the fell three-parter was a mere few minutes away.
The main footpath between The Knott and High Street
Rampsgill Head, as the name suggests, forms the headwall of the valley of Ramps Gill, one of the feeder streams of Ullswater. It is also the meeting point of a trio of ridges, the one we had climbed from the west encompassing Rest Dodd and The Knott, a long ridge leading towards the north and the ridge of High Street heading off directly to the south, over the Straits of Riggindale. Interestingly, as a result of the subsidiary top of Kidsty Pike being classed as a separate fell, Rampsgill Head occupies a very small area given its relative size.
Admiring the scenery
The summit of Rampsgill Head overlooking Hartsop
A view down Ramps Gill from the summit
As mentioned previously, the subsidiary summit of Kidsty Pike lies a short distance to the east over a few undulations. In terms of the tight trio of fells, Kidsty Pike really is the best in terms of appearance, drama and the view. The summit sits on top of a perilous rock outcrop, almost appearing to want to fall down into Riggindale at any minute, a scene that stretches out in front of you. The peaked summit is best viewed from the Straits of Riggindale, a narrow section of the High Street ridge at the head of the Riggindale valley.
The pointed cairn on the summit of Kidsty Pike
The head of Riggindale
The summit cairn
The full glory of Riggindale
After the excitement of Kidsty Pike would be the straight forward climb up over High Street, following the route of the old Roman road. The Roman road crossed the fell on its journey between the forts at Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith and at Ambleside (Galava). Paths run either side of the wall all the way to the summit but make sure to stop off at a noticeable cairn on the left for a great view of Riggindale and Kidsty Pike. After a number of minutes of plodding up the hill, we made it to the trig point at the summit. The flat plateau at the summit of the fell was used as a venue for summer fairs by the locals in the 18th and 19th centuries. People would gather every year on 12 July to play games as well as horse racing. The summit of High Street is still known as Racecourse Hill and is so named on maps. The last of the summer fairs was held in 1835.
Kidsty Pike
The cairn to keep an eye out for, High Street is in the background
Fairfield over Gray Crag
Another group head towards the summit
Sharing a joke at the trig point
A large wall crosses parallel to the path and gave us the perfect opportunity for a break. After completing High Street, the main spell of climbing was done, other than a brief climb up Thornthwaite Crag, it was literally downhill all the way. The summit of Thornthwaite Crag lies little more than a kilometre away from High Street and we reached it in no time, once we'd been recharged by some sandwiches and Jelly Babies. Thornthwaite Crag is topped by the most magnificent of columnar cairns, Thornthwaite Beacon. The 14ft tower can be seen for miles around. Revisiting Thornthwaite Crag crag brought back fond memories of a walk I did in the summer of 2013, visiting the fells around Kentmere. It's fair to say the weather was a bit of a contrast to this walk.
Windermere catches the afternoon sunlight
Thornthwaite Crag lies a short distance away from High Street
Thornthwaite Beacon
The sun on Stony Cove Pike almost resembles a painting
In terms of climbing, that really was it. There was however, one more fell to visit on our way back down to Hartsop, that of Gray Crag, standing alone at the end of a long, high ridge leading down from Thornthwaite Crag. The stroll down the ridge gives perfect views of High Street as well as the more impressive face of The Knott. A visit to the edge reveals the full length of Hayeswater also. By now, the sunshine had melted much of the snow on the lower fells, particularly the ones we had visited in the morning.
The ridge leading down towards Gray Crag
The sheltered valley of Hayeswater Gill
We crossed the summit of Gray Crag, pausing for a moment to peer down the steep sides towards Pasture Beck. In essence, Gray Crag is the tip of the narrow grassy northern ridge of the adjoining fell of Thornthwaite Crag, characterised (like many of the Far Eastern Fells) by very steep flanks with crags and gullies which fall away towards Hayeswater and Pasture Beck. It was the final peak of the day as a steep descent would take us down the the filter house at the end of Hayeswater and eventually back to the car via a long service road.
A look back along the ridge towards Thornthwaite Crag
The cairn atop Gray Crag
Hayeswater and High Street from the summit of Gray Crag
The ridge would carry us down to the valley floor
After the knee-aching climb down the face of the ridge, we reached the path above the filter house, a nice wide and ultimately less-steep path than the one we had just walked down. A mile or so of walking through the hamlet of Hartsop was all that separated us from the car and a quick ride back down the struggle to Ambleside.
Hartsop and the eastern fells
A classic stone built barn
Hayeswater Gill
Pasture Beck beneath Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd
This was a very pleasant walk, made all the more scenic thanks to the combined effect of early winter snow and the tremendous undulations of the far eastern fells. When viewed on a map, the area looks like a giant has grabbed several handfuls out of the High Street ridge, gouging out a number of bowl shaped valleys. The classic U-shaped valleys show off the enormous power ice and gravity, creating the steep sided fells that we can see today. This was my second time walking in this area and its fast becoming one of my favourites and I already have my sights set of some more of the interesting routes in this area. Riggindale Crag anyone?