Tuesday, 16 October 2012

High Street Circular

High Street Circular

7 Miles

No, I don't mean Next or Topshop... in fact even the thought of the average high street makes me shudder. A place only to be ventured into through absolute necessity, the expedition having been postponed until the last moment. Far too many people. No, the High Street I was looking forward to lay above Haweswater. The walk had been undertaken by a contributor to a Cumbrian magazine. The forecast was good, so, having consulted the OS map, we decided to try it out for ourselves. Moreover, it would enable us to take in three Wainwrights! Our starting point was Mardale Head. There were over 50 cars parked, but it was a weekend and the tops were clear, so it was hardly surprising that lots of people would be about. (However, so many fewer than a car park serving the average high street.)

Taking the western lakeside path to The Rigg, we were brought to the ridge that buttressed High Street. Initially, the path rose steeply and we gained height quickly. After 500 metres or so, the gradient lessened. We had wonderful views all around: looking down on Haweswater, Kidsty Pike and Harter Fell. We headed onwards and upwards towards the pimple-like cairn on the skyline above us. The path undulated along the rocky and grassy path. To my surprise, we passed several people. Fitness levels must be improving! Eventually, the classic teardrop-shaped Blea Water came into view - beautiful and still. At Caspel Gate, we passed a small tarn to our left. Craggy ground had given way to grassland and a way down to Blea Water was an option, but it wasn't our objective on this occasion. To our right, we had a super view down Riggindale Beck. The imposing steeper ground of Long Stile rose above us.

Long Stile
The map was put away to enable us to use our hands to scramble up the rocky path where necessary. We paused every now and again to soak up the views and look down the ridge we had already walked up. It seemed that quite a few people were walking up the ridge today. The last few metres of the climb up to the cairn was a wide, steep path covered with loose stone.
Blea Water from Long Stile
It was a mere 200 metres or so south to the trig point, which stood next to a low wall. It had taken us just two hours.
High Street trig point - 828m
After the usual photographs, we found a good spot for our coffee break next to the ground- level remains of what had probably once been a bothy . The top here was broad and flat. You could imagine horses being raced up here. (High Street - otherwise known as Racecourse Hill) There were wonderful views all round and our next destination was clear in superb visibility. There was no wind. Most surprising was the view of Morecombe Bay.

Ill Bell with Morecombe Bay in the distance
We headed off south-eastly and joined a clear path to our next Wainwright - Mardale Ill Bell. It was a gentle down and up to the prominent summit cairn. It was surrounded by rocks which gave the appearance of standing on end. We dropped down just below the cairn to a sheltered, sunny spot for our lunch. We were able to enjoy good views of Harter Fell and contemplate the next part of our walk, which was clear.
Mardale Ill Bell cairn - 760m

We followed a rocky, steeper path quickly down to Nan Bield Pass. A substantial wind shelter was located here. Had we wished to cut our walk short, or needed an escape route, we could have quickly dropped down back to Mardale Head from here. 

Wind shelter at Nan Bield Pass

As the weather was still fine, we continued up a rocky ridge to the summit cairn on Harter Fell. On the way we had a brillant view of Small Water which had eluded us earlier.
Small Water from Harter Fell ridge
Before long, we reached the small high point of Harter Fell. Broken, rusting, fencing was incorporated into the summit cairn.    
Summit cairn - Harter Fell - 778m

A fence, with a stile, carved up the summit. Staying on the cairn side of the fence, it was a gentle descent along the fence to twin cairns. These were similarly 'adorned' with ironwork. Our well-defined route followed the fence until it joined the Gatescarth Pass at a gate. We turned downwards. The rocky and uneven byway was clear, and views of the ridge we had climbed earlier in the day was illuminated in the afternoon sunshine. The byway was quite steep at times and it was important to watch where we planted our feet as we picked our way over loose stones. Gatescarth Beck, running parallel to the byway, provided a watery, musical accompaniment on our descent. Very soon we were back at Mardale Head.

The car park had cleared somewhat. Whilst a lot of people had been out walking, at no time had we felt crowded out on the fells. This had been a High Street walk that I'd happily return to.


No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know your thoughts here...