20090911_High Street Circular Walk
When : 11th September 2009
Who : Me and my sister Janet
Where : Lake District, Cumbria, England
Map : OS Outdoor Leisure Map No.5 – The English Lakes – North East
Start + End Point : 404,134
Approx Distance : 10 miles, 16 km
Parking : Just off the A592 (Kirkstone Pass Road) at Cow Bridge, a little to the north of Brothers Water near the hamlet of Hartsop.
Summary : High level walk starting near Brothers Water and including Boredale Hause, Angletarn Pikes and Angle Tarn, Satura Crag, The Knott, Straits of Riggindale, High Street, Thornthwaite Beacon, Threshthwaite Mouth, Pasture Bottom, Hartsop Hamlet and back to the car near Brothers Water.
It’s seems a long time since we did this walk, being over a year ago now, but much stays firmly in the memory as it was the first of three superb days of walking. We’d taken the Friday off work to make it a long week-end and we set off from The Midlands quite early to successfully beat the rush hour traffic jams around Birmingham, helped by using the M6-Toll Road. Further north, although quite busy, we pretty much sailed past the potential hold ups of The Potteries and The Manchester conurbation and we found ourselves turning off the M6 at the Kendall turn and up & over The Kirkstone Pass in brilliant time. Certainly early enough to attempt a decent length walk, especially looking at the weather. I’d got several ideas in mind depending on timings and conditions; this walk being the longest and highest of the options. We squeezed into a parking spot at Cow Bridge near Hartsop, just off the A592 and quickly donned walking boots, perused the map, hoisted rucksacks and set off full of the joys of spring … ermm … I mean autumn, it being September.
The start was surprisingly easy considering this is The Lake District, remaining pretty much flat for quite some way, at first crossing Goldrill Beck over the bridge just driven over to reach our parking space to follow the A592 for a few hundred yards (south eastwards) and then turn left into a side road towards Hartsop. Only, rather than head into the hamlet, after a very short distance, we took another left turn into a minor road cum track. This too stayed on the flat heading north on the valley bottom sandwiched between high fells rising up on both sides.
Driving over The Kirkstone Pass is spectacular, but being out in amongst it all on foot is just fantastic; there’s an extra level of connection that just can’t be had behind the steel and glass skin of a car, and if you get some sunshine rather than rain on your back even better. The walled track carried us forward at a nice pace and we chatted away happily admiring the views whilst getting closer to the foot of the fells. It’s quite remarkable how the steep craggy slopes end abruptly at the valley floor, highlighted where small streams cascade down the hillside; none more evident than where angle tarn beck plunges down from on high.
A little way past Dubhow, a path branched right off the bridle-track we’d been following and immediately started to rise quite steadily; very quickly giving some superb views along the Deepdale Valley up towards The Fairfield group of fells. Looking back from where we’d come was equally as pleasing, with glimpses of Brothers Water nestled at the foot of shapely fells. But it was onwards and upwards for us with the broad slopes of Place Fell/Patterdale Common ahead of us.
As we climbed, views opened up over Patterdale Village and Ullswater, backed by The Helvellyn Massive – Absolutely wonderful!, hopefully a portent of tomorrow’s planned walk. We were in danger of spending more time taking photo’s than actually walking! The path then swung around to the right to reach Boredale Hause. This is a relatively low area below Place Fell, I’m tempted to say it serves as a cross roads of paths, but it’s much more than that; with multiple paths heading off in various directions, looking a bit like a seven legged spider sprawled across my map.
In mist I could imagine navigation could be quite awkward here. Today however, route finding was a-piece-of-cake, conditions being absolutely perfect and after taking a short refreshment stop we pressed on taking the path heading south on an attractive and inviting path rising under Rake Crag and later Stony Rigg. Views continued to be stunning, in all directions and we couldn’t resist a short but steep pull up onto one of the tops of Angletarn Pikes to maximize the panoramas – Brilliant!
The next staging point became visible – Angle Tarn. This is such a pretty spot – well worth the walk just to see it itself. We didn’t stop to explore its shapely shoreline though, instead following the clearly visible path around its eastern side and then heading steadily up and away across the fell to Satura Crag and our next short refreshment stop. I think we needed it too; it’d been quite strenuous uphill stuff for some time now.
I really can’t say it enough, the views were still fantastic, some evolving from what we’d seen before, but new ones opening up as we pressed on … always something new, epitomising what I love about The Lake District; wild and lonely, beautiful and awe inspiring but with a degree of intimacy and scale where you can still feel you belong. A new view that came next was of Hayeswater tucked away between the ridges of The Knott/Straits of Riggindale/High Street to the east and Thornthwaite Crag /Grey Crag to the west.
It was really quite warm and we’d done a fair bit of climbing by now and I could certainly feel this in my legs on the pull up the side of The Knott as the gradient steepened. This was replaced by a much easier section as we headed out onto The Straits Riggindale.
This fantastically named ridge affords some fantastic views; To the west over Hayeswater and a series of ridges and to the east, the Riggindale valley itself stretching down to Haweswater Reservoir bounded by two ridges. I believe the most southerly of these ridges (which are very craggy in a craggy landscape) is home to the one remaining Golden Eagle in England, its mate having died some time ago. (Some years ago we were lucky enough to see the eagles whilst we were walking in Borrowdale near the Shap Fells, but there was to be no repeat viewing this time, despite scouring the landscape and skies all around as we passed by).
From the low point of “The Straits” a double path headed up at a reasonable gradient and we put our heads down to make the final climb up to the summit of High Street following the line of a fairly ramshackled stone wall. Considering this was the pinnacle of the walk, the broad top of High street is quite non-descript and after taking a couple of photo’s near the isolated trig’ point we headed off taking care to pick the right path across to Thornthwaite Crag and its quite remarkable beacon.
I suppose it’d be about a mile from trig point to Beacon and more down than up, marking a change in the walk as we were now past the highest point. Time was pressing on and there were still several miles to go. I liked the silhouetting of the massive Thornthwaite Beacon perched on its rocky base, a natural plinth. To the south yet another new view opened up, looking down the length of Windermere disappearing into the afternoon haze.
We really had reached a change in the walk, the remaining three miles or so now to be all downhill and boy-oh-boy the route dropped VERY quickly (to Threshthwaite Mouth), down a loose stony path. I think Janet probably struggled more than I did, but after all the climbing done, the downhill came as a bit of a shock – very hard work. Threshthwaite Mouth is a high col or saddle between the tops of Thornthwaite Crag and Stony Cove Pike. Our route was to turn north, taking another rough path descending steeply into the quiet valley of Pasture Bottom, bounded by steep craggy ridges on both sides. After a while the path started to ease in gradient although still strenuous to walk on.
After a good days walking, the valley seemed to drag on a bit, perhaps it was as simple as being a tad tired, but perhaps our mind set had changed having left the high ground and feeling like the walk was drawing to an end. After crossing a ladder stile the route became much easier and we were soon passing through Hartsop and then back to the car at Cow Bridge.
A short drive (probably less than 2 miles) brought us to Patterdale Youth Hostel, our destination and accommodation for the next couple of days and so brought a brilliant days walking to an end.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings ….
Next walk :- 20090912_Helvellyn via Striding Edge Circular Walk.