This was a walk in a (relatively) little frequented part of the Lakes. Once up on them, the heights are broad and views expansive and the climbs are gentle.
The initial climb up to Carrock Fell was brutal though, the slope not only steep but also covered in deep clinging heather.
I had approached the start via Mungrisdale and turned left up the road to Swinedale at Mosedale. I parked on a grassy area at NY 332 327 with its “No overnight parking” sign. I had Jet with me and we walked back along the road past Swineside before turning left to battle with the long heather on the south flank of Carrock Fell. It was a beautiful morning.
I did not find the path shown on the 1:25000 which terminates around 350m. But after 30 minutes or so of purgatory I eventually picked up the path from Mosedale. For most of the rest of the day there were then tracks or fainter trails to follow. There were glorious blue skies and a chill breeze, though some fair weather cloud developed during the day.
On the approach to the top of Carrock Fell there are the remains of an Iron Age fort and a later building.
The other claim to fame is that Carrock Fell was climbed by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins in 1857. Although I had made a relatively early start, I was soon joined by a fell runner and his dog who had come from the direction I was about to go.
So it was off to the west and over the two bumps of Round Knot and Miton Hill. From here the cairn on High Pike was easily visible as was a motorable track that contoured its slopes.
Not far beyond Miton Hill we met the track and followed it around the head of Drygill Beck which cuts into the plateau here. We then took the bridleway up the broad south ridge of High Pike and looked back to Carrock Fell.
We were soon at the top.
Once upon a time, Trail Magazine ran a poll to determine the 100 best mountains in Britain. High Pike featured there and you can see why. The views are expansive with Blencathra (in the photo above) and Skiddaw to the south, the Irish Sea to the west, the Solway Firth and Scotland to the north and the Pennines to the east. Today the views to the north and the east were obscured by haze.
Because it is so prominent, it has been used as a beacon. The cairn is made of the stone from a shepherd’s cottage that used to stand on the summit. There is also a memorial bench that bears the inscription “In memory of Mick Lewis who loved all these fells”. Mick Lewis died in 1944 aged 16.
Sir Chris Bonington lives in Caldbeck which lies to the north of this hill.
The next target was Knott at 710m, but I was going to go via a very circuitous route, So having looked again at the views and something to eat and drink, we descended the same way and followed the motor track over Hare Stones (where a poor cairn marked the top 15 metres off the track). The track forms a part of the Cumbria Way but we left it to follow a faint track to Great Lingy Hill. The rises were almost imperceptible. There was a nicely constructed, if small, cairn here and a view towards Great Sca Fell which was to be the way we would go.
and to Knott, our target for later in the day.
But first we aimed for Point 609. On our way we met a man (with his collie) going the opposite way. He was conducting a bird survey. My original intention had been to make a bee line from point 609 to Great Sca Fell. However when I saw the steep drop into Roughton Gill I changed my mind. That was OK because along the top of the drop was a track that took us around the feeder streams. It then turned the wrong way so we went west and there was then about a kilometre of pathless moorland to cross to get to the top of Great Sca Fell.
This was the view north from Great Sca Fell. The prominent hill in the distance is Binsey, one of the subjects of my 10th April 2016 blog.
North was the direction we were going to go even though Knott was now south. I had determined on an out and back trip to Brae Fell, remote Wainwright which I thought I may as well bag since I was in the vicinity. So we dropped to the track to the north east and avoided Little Sca Fell. The way was, well, obvious!
The views from Brae Fell were almost as good as those from High Pike. We rested here a while and had lunch in the sun out of the breeze.
It was time to move on. We were probably now at our furthest from the car. So it was back along the scar of the track and this time I did not avoid Little Sca Fell and we were back at Great Sca Fell in no time. Skiddaw looked a lot closer.
Knott looked shapeless. It was a short drop off Great Sca Fell and then a long drag up Knott. Being another flat topped hill, there was a lot of foreground before you could see Carrock Fell and High Pike to the west
Blencathra to the south
and Skiddaw to the south west
Why Knott as an objective? Well, because it is another Marilyn of course.
Time continued to march on. The next and final set of tops were Little Calva and Great Calva. They were not easily seen from the top of Knott but soon came into view. Great Calva had a nice pointy shape from here.
On the rise up Little Calva the path became wet and this was a sign to come. We cut up to the fence. The top of Little Calva lies a way back to the south west. Goodness knows what it must be like after a wet period. But we had to indulge in some bog hopping despite recent relatively dry weather. There were a few candidates for the highest point, including a feeble cairn. All were visited.
Another wet path cut off the corner of the fence and then it was a short haul up to the scruffy cairn at the top of Great Calva.
Now Blencathra was just across the valley. No dramatic cliffs on this side, but nonetheless an unusual but interesting perspective.
There was a nice shelter at the top so we stopped for some more refreshment whilst looking at the views. Since meeting the guy doing the bird survey I had passed just two others and seen a further three in the distance. So this was indeed a quiet part of the Lakes.
The way off Great Calva followed a trace of a path not marked on the map down its eastern slopes. The heather was so thick that sometimes the path was obscured until you needed to put a foot forward. But it was a speedy way down to the Cumbria Way where it crossed Wiley Gill.
Now it was just a case of following the valley for 3 kilometres until it turned south east. The car was not much further along. The valley was a little busier as people had found spots by the river to splash around or have barbecues.
The walk was about 13 miles (20k) and involved around 3,200ft (970m) of ascent. All in all 6hrs 15mins including stops. I must visit again.
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