20110923_Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk_Newlands Valley
When : 23rd September 2011
Who : Me and my sister Janet
Where : Newlands Valley, Lake District, Cumbria, England
Distance : Approx 10.7 km (6.6 miles)
Heights climbed : Approx 770m (2527ft)
Car Parking : Just outside Little Town, small car park near bridge over Newlands Beck.
Summary : The first of three circular walks in the superb English Lake District, Starting in Little Town in the Newlands Valley, walking to the top of Robinson, then a bit of a drop and rise to the top of Hindscarth before dropping back into the Newlands Valley, having a mug of Tea at Low Snab Farm (at the foot of the mountain) before returning to the car and a drive round to Borrowdale via Newlands Hause (pass), Buttermere and Honister Hause (Pass).
If you click on a pic’ and it should launch as a larger image on my flickr photostream.
You can go straight into the text below that describes the walk, but if you want you could go see my earlier diaries of “20110923-25_Lake District Long Weekend – An Overview“ and “20110923_Pre-amble to Robinson-Hindscarth Horseshoe Walk“ which both give a bit of back-ground to the weekends walking.
So, we’d arrived at the car-park at Chapel Bridge just south of Little Town and got ourselves ready for the walk, hoisted ruck-sacks onto our backs and set off crossing the small road bridge and then almost immediately turning left into a tarmac’d driveway. After a few hundred yards the track divides; one route turns left, south, towards Low Snab, but our route was to carry straight on (westwards) but not before stopping briefly to read the plaque on the wall of the chapel/old school house attractively positions within dry-stone walls and a group of trees just starting to turn to their autumn colours.
Although overcast, conditions were dry and our pace was reasonably good taking advantage of the level terrain and tarmac surface. As pleasant as the surrounding are here in the valley bottom, my gaze was constantly being drawn to the view on our left. The nearest fell (Scope End) sticks out into the valley here abruptly rising towards the skies. This would be our descent route off Hindscarth later in the day but our current route was to rise up Robinson via High Snab Bank and this ridge line could be seen slightly set-back and to the right of the scene. The step of Blea Crag rose up into the cloud base and we hoped this would lift as the day progressed; I like the sense of achievement of reaching the tops but it really is so much better if you can get some views along the way.
The driveway, curving round to the left, led us up to the oddly named Low High Snab where we’d gained enough height to afford some views back over The Newlands Valley. We’d sufficiently warmed up enough by now (it hadn’t rained either), to stow our waterproofs in our sacks and then continue onwards the walled track, now pretty much contouring on the hill side heading into The Scope Beck Valley. After a short distance, where the right hand wall turns directly up the fell side, we chose to turn right (leaving the track), to climb steeply on a grassy path cutting a very visible line through an extensive area of bracken, passing a stand of conifer trees along the way. The views behind us rapidly opened up, giving an excuse for several “breathers” as the exertion levels rose. It didn’t take long though to reach the top of the ridge (“High Snab Bank”) and the grassy, pretty much level path, made for some easy walking with views in all directions although the temperature had dropped enough for us to put coats back on.
Ahead of us, the ground now climbed steeply although not difficult underfoot, that was until we reached a particularly awkward crag line necessitating the use of hands to clamber up, I guess what you’d call a mini-scramble. One problem was what to do with our walking poles which sort of just got in the way – Perhaps we should of stowed the on our sacks to help! There might have been a different, less-difficult route, but I didn’t see an alternative path circumventing the way we took, but anyway we made it and the route continued it’s climb fairly uneventfully from this point on.
As with most walks of this nature, the climb can be a bit of a slog at times, especially in cloud restricting the view, but luckily the cloud base rose as we did, a cool stiffish breeze helping keep some views open, all we had to do was negotiate the several “false tops” until we reached the broad summit. Although the high tops around us were still shrouded in the uniform grey and uninteresting clouds, we were rewarded with some decent enough views to have made it all worthwhile. I think we’d been very fortunate, as it could quite easily have gone the other way and fogged in on us.
The wind was quite chilly though, so we didn’t hang around very long before moving off again, at first to the south but then swinging left to descend quite quickly picking up a path down the side of a wire fence. This was leading us down to the broad saddle of Littledale Edge. The wind was quite stiff and decidedly cold but not so much that it prevented us admiring the views over to Scarth Gap and up Gatesgarthdale to Honister Pass. I tried to capture some sun-bursts breaking through the cloud cover like huge spot lights lighting up the fell sides, not easy in the cold blustery conditions! …. Still, I like some of the resulting images.
Once we started to climb from the low point of the saddle, the path diverged, the most distinct path heading up towards Hindscarth Edge and Dale Head, but our route (on the less distinct path) swung around to the left cutting diagonally up and across contours on the way to the broad summit of Hindscarth. Thankfully we were slightly sheltered from the wind on the rise across the fell making the going relatively easy despite the added exertion of the climb. The respite was quite short lived though, because as we crested the top, the ‘breeze’ picked again. One good result of this was that the cloud that had been hanging around the top all day, had been blown off the top and allowed us to get some half-decent views. This was most notable to the north as we started to drop off northwards along a lovely ridge. A horseshoe shaped shelter cairn allowed us to take a refreshment stop and enjoy the vistas in relative comfort.
It had to be done; We had to move off again and start losing height, which is always a struggle for me as I like being up on the high ground!
The descent off Hindscarth though is down a ridge heading north with a distinct but not overly eroded path with great views all the way to the very end.
- To the east there’s the upper reaches of The Newlands Valley and across to the High Spy, Maiden Moor and Cat Bells Ridge.
- To the west, there’s Robinson, seen across the bowl of Littledale and the ridge we’d climbed earlier in the day including Blea Crag and High Snab Bank.
- Also to the west, beyond the Hindscarth ridge is the mass of the North Western Fells which today were looking very dark and foreboding with an entirely separate feel to the rest of the surrounding hills and mountains.
- And, to the north, a huge view right down the Newlands Valley to The Skiddaw and Blencathra massifs, a glimpse of Derwent water and Keswick all framed by closer fells such as Cat Bells and Causey Pike – Superb !
As we followed the lovely winding path down the ridge the afternoon sun decided to show itself, casting shadows and warming up the colours, from the browns of bracken, to the multicolored hues of the rocks, purples of heather and lush greens of the valley bottoms.
This is what we’d come for: –
- YES the sense of achievement on reaching the tops.
- YES to the high rugged scenery.
- YES to the time spent with my sister (hopefully she feels the same way too).
- YES to the camaraderie of meeting fellow walkers (although very few met today).
- And YES to just the sheer beauty of the place! I just love it here!!!
Up until now my knees had stood up to the rigours of the day quite well, but as we dropped through some of the steeper crag-lines, I could feel the strain a little (see my earlier diary for an explanation) and was now very glad I’d walked with two walking poles, as they helped enormously, and then all too soon we were down, reaching the intake wall as Scope End meets the farmland of the Newlands Valley and Low Snab Farm in particular.
I’d already reminisced with Janet about a walk I’d done many years before, where the farm served mugs of tea from their back door, and I’d wondered if they were still doing this all these years later. So upon reaching the intake wall, we turned right, followed the path round in a curve and reached a track where it emerges from the farmyard. Lo and behold, there perched on the dry stone wall was (painted on a piece of lakeland slate) a sign saying “POTS OF TEA” …. and that did sound rather inviting.
As we walked past the farm buildings, a lady (of mature years) appeared from the back door and she was delighted when we asked if tea was being served. She directed us back up the drive to a set of plastic table and chairs in an open barn cum storage shed cum work-shop (probably the messiest “cafe” I’d ever sat in. The tea promptly arrived on a tray and the lady stood chatting for a while, before pulling up another chair for her to continue with the almost completely one-sided conversation. I think we got her life story, the changing state of farming, what her offspring were doing with their lives and that most English of subjects – The weather. I guess we must have been there about half-an-hour before raising ourselves for the final mile down the farm drive to meet our outward route at the old school house/chapel and then back to the car park.
The final part of the day was to drive round to Borrowdale and the youth hostel at Longthwaite near Rosthwaite. Just because I love the route, I chose to take the road over Newlands Hause (a Pass) passing Moss Force (waterfall) on the way, before dropping down to the little chapel on the outskirts of Buttermere Village. From here I took the road left past Buttermere Youth Hostel along the northern side of Buttermere Lake to Gatesgarth Farm and then the spectacular rise up through Gatesgarthdale (we’d looked down on here from above during the walk). However, before the climb, at Gatesgarth Farm we made an unscheduled stop to pick up a hitch hiker (obviously a hill walker) … it turned out he had been unable to keep up with his group on their walk and had dropped down off the hills to pick up the little bus that runs through here – only he’d missed the last one, stranding him on the wrong side of Honister Hause Pass! Honister Hause (in my opinion, one of the best passes in the Lake District you can drive over) is not a route to walk, especially at dusk, so we played The Good Samaritan (poor analogy really, but you know what I mean) and he jumped in the back seat of the car with his ruck-sack.
At the top of the pass is the famous, still working, Honister Slate Mine and another Youth Hostel (descriptively called Honister Hause Youth Hostel). The descent is superb as well and soon brought us to the head of Borrowdale at Seatoller, and it was then only a matter of minutes before we dropped off our impromptu passenger and then turned off down a narrow drive to reach Borrowdale Youth Hostel by the banks of the River Derwent.
Unfortunately, we were too late to book for their evening meal, so this necessitated a walk up the lanes to Stonethwaite, where the hotel/pub (The Langstrath Country Inn I think) managed to squeeze us in to their restaurant for a satisfying meal and a well earned pint of excellent beer; A really good end to a day on the fells.
I hope you enjoyed my scribblings and photo’s …. If you’d like to comment on my diary or any of my pic’s please feel very welcome.