A Riggindale Round

7th February 2020

Without so much of a break from the dreary weather we have been experiencing as of late I'd been on the look out for a break in the forecast and that break came a day before the arrival of Storm Ciara. I had a vast choice of where to walk with bright sunshine forecasted over much of the UK but only one walk came to mind and that was 'A Riggindale Round' a route that I know and love so well I just couldn't resist its urge.

Despite the bright forecast high winds have dominated the Lakeland fells over the last few days and today, with Storm Ciara just around the corner those winds are set to strengthen reaching gale force at times which dominated my walk and also nearly saw me running for cover on the summit of Rampsgill Head where at times I struggled to think what to do next let alone to try and keep upright.

The high winds may have dominated my walk but did little to take away the enjoyment I take from this route, a walk that I've been repeating since day one and a walk that I hold close to my heart, I've always had a connection, a special bond with High Street and despite the elements best efforts, I had another fine day on the hill.

Wainwright Guide Book Two
The Far Eastern Fells
The ridge of Rough Crag and the rocky stairway of Long Stile together form the connoisseurs route up High Street, the only route that discloses the finer characteristics of the fell.

Ascent: 2,843 Feet - 867 Metres
Wainwrights: 5, High Street - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - High Raise - Kidsty Pike
Visiting: Rough Crag
Weather: A Bright, But Very Cold And Windy Day On The Fells With Winds Exceeding 50mph Plus. Highs of 7°C Lows of 4°C Feels Like -8°C
Parking: Car Park, Mardale Head
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 8.1
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL6
Time Taken: 4 Hours 40 Minutes
Route: Mardale Head - Rough Crag - Caspel Gate Tarn - Long Stile - High Street - Straights of Riggindale - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - High Raise - Kidsty Pike - Kidsty Howes - Riggindale Beck - The Rigg - Mardale Head

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA10 2RP
Grid Reference: NY 469 310
Notes: Probably one of the most scenic car parks in Lakeland found at the head of the Mardale Valley offering easy access onto the High Street fells plus many more. The car park during Summer can fill up quickly but with most car parks in Lakeland if you time your arrival early enough you're always guaranteed a parking place. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Harter Fell (Mardale) The Rigg, Wood Howe, Rough Crag, Riggindale and High Street above Haweswater 9.00am 4°C
As always I was tempted to stop on route to Mardale Head where I took a few photos of the Rough Crag ridge and High Street. As you can see from the surface of Haweswater it's looking pretty blustery down there already.

Mardale Head.
Only the higher summits of Harter Fell, Mardale III Bell and High Street are blessed with early morning sunlight, the rest of the valley will have to wait until the sun climbs higher which isn't helping the morning temperature making it feel much cooler than it actually is.

Mardale III Bell, The Rigg, Rough Crag, High Street, Riggindale and Kidsty Pike seen over Haweswater.

Looking back on Harter Fell (Mardale) as I head towards The Rigg.

I'd only been wearing my base layer whilst taking photos from the road and I was pleased to get back in the car with its heater ramped up to full but I knew this was short lived and once I arrived at Mardale Head a few moments later the first thing I did whilst lacing up was add my jacket and neck gaiter which for sometime has laid dormant at the bottom of my pack. Opposite me are two walkers who are just about ready to leave and across the roof of the car a 'morning' is shared, they set off towards The Rigg so I allow a short time to pass just so I'm not walking in their shadow.

With my car locked I left the car park and crossed Mardale Beck, the lads have just disappeared in the distance but I suspect it won't be the last I'll see of them, or at least I thought. Within the shade of Swine and Heron Crag(s) I am sheltered from the wind and soon I start to heat up but I know things will start to cool down once I'm in the windchill.

Kidsty Pike and Riggindale.
With Kidsty Howes seen far right.

Views over Haweswater towards Low Raise, Castle Crag, Measand End and Bampton Fell.
It wasn't long before I was experiencing the affects of the windchill and soon my body temperature returned to normal. I was itching to get into the sunlight but I have to climb the steep ascent of Swine Crag first.

Looking down on The Rigg and Haweswater.
About half way into the ascent of Swine Crag this fine viewing platform presents itself not far from the path where the wall levels to take in the lay of the steep ground. It's a favourite view of mine which I always return to, that's when I remember that is.

Sunrise over Branstree.
With Selside Pike seen over on the left.

Views towards Gatescarth Pass, Adam Seat and Harter Fell (Mardale) from Swine Crag.
Note how the sunlight illuminates the Drumlins below Harter Fell.

High Street and Rough Crag from Eagle Crag.
By now I would have expected to have seen the two lads who had left the car park just before me but they were nowhere in sight, in fact, despite the car park being half full I seemed to have the whole Rough Crag ridge to myself, not that I was complaining mind.

Here looking towards Mardale III Bell North, and North East ridges.
With the top of Nan Bield Pass seen centre left.

High Street and Rough Crag ahead.
Short Stile can be seen just off to the right.

Clear blue skies as I look towards the North Pennines.
Taken from a cluster of rocks close to Rough Crag summit.

Long Stile and High Street from Rough Crag summit.
With a strong Winter sun climbing over my left shoulder I arrived at Rough Crag where my suspicions were confirmed that I had the ridge to myself, not only that as I scoured Harter Fell to the south, Mardale III Bell to the west and Kidsty Pike to the east I couldn't see another soul.

High Street, Long Stile, Short Stile and Two Penny Crag.
Instead of continuing ahead I veer left and take the faint track towards Caspel Gate.

Blea Water below Mardale III Bell.

Long Stile and High Street as I approach Caspel Gate.

High Street, Long Stile and Short Stile from Caspel Gate Tarn.
This really is one of Lakelands beauty spots, a hidden gem but so many ignore the tarn on their way up onto High Street.


Harter Fell from Caspel Gate Tarn.
The tarn itself doesn't have a name, well not according to any maps but it is commonly known as Caspel Gate Tarn.

The mighty Rough Crag from Caspel Gate.
I was blessed with firm ground around the tarn where I didn't even manage to wet the caps of my boots and now, as the wind starts to strengthen it's time for the last push on High Street via Long Stile.

Kidsty Pike seen over Riggindale.
Todays final summit.

The Rough Crag ridge from Long Stile.
With Branstree and Selside Pike in the distance.

Mardale III Bell, Harter Fell and Branstree from the top of Long Stile.
I always enjoy the ascent of Long Stile and this mornings ascent was no different. The head wall above Blea Water gave protection against the winds which could be heard well before they were felt. By the time I'd climbed to the top of Long Stile I was starting to overheat but with a few yards forward into the wind I soon cooled down, with this, I step back towards the cairn and gather myself which usually means tucking things in and pulling stuff up. Feeling 'sorted' I walked back into the wind towards the summit Trig Point.

The clearest of views over the Eastern fells from High Street summit.
I couldn't ignore just how clear the air was once I had gained the summit with views as far as the eye could see I felt like a millionaire in a showroom full of Ferrari's

High Street summit Trig Point.
More than just a concrete column this Trig Point magnifies so much to me.

Epic views towards the West.
Here we have Pike O'Blisco, Cold Pike, Crinkle Crags, Bow Fell, Esk Pike, The Scafells, Lingmell and Great Gable seen over Gray Crag and Dove Crag.

Brilliant clarity over the Eastern fells.
In this view we have Birks, Gavel Pike, St Sunday Crag, Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn, Catstye Cam and Birkhouse Moor with Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd in the foreground.

The Straights of Riggindale.
I hung around High Street summit then descended towards the path overlooking Hayeswater where the fabulous views just kept coming, here we have three of todays summits with Knott, High Raise and Kidsty Pike seen ahead, the bulk of fell seen far left is Rest Dodd with an appearance of Great Mell Fell just above,

A Close up of the Dovedale, and Deepdale fells.

The wider view.
With Hayeswater making an appearance below.

The Straights of Riggindale.
Approaching, are the first walkers I've seen since setting off from Mardale Head over two hours ago.

Gray Crag dominated the view with spine tingling air clarity beyond,

High Street from the Straights of Riggindale.
I pass the two walkers with a smile and a 'morning' was shared before sighting the chap you see in the photo sat next to the summit cairn on Short Stile. By now the wind continues to gather in strength and I'm about to get a taster of things to come.

The bulk of Caudale Moor and Stony Cove Pike seen beyond the Gray Crag ridge.

Rampsgill Head and High Raise from The Knott summit.
Although the wind had been a constant reminder to this point, I hadn't really been affected by it yet during the approach to The Knott I was hit by what could only be described as a wall of high wind. There isn't much ascent required from leaving the path to reaching the summit cairn but boy it was a battle. Once the cairn was reached I struggled to keep upright and was being tossed about like a feather in a storm, funny thing is, this photo makes conditions look peaceful but I can confirm they were anything but.

Looking back on The Knott during my ascent of Rampsgill Head.
I left The Knott and crossed paths with the chap who was seen descending High Street earlier, he was measuring wind speed with a device while struggling to stand up. that told me he didn't need a device! On any other day I would have stopped but instead, I pass within a whisker of his pack without exchanging a word, we wouldn't have heard each other anyway such the roar of the wind.

Rest Dodd and The Nab.

Views towards Rest Dodd, Brock Crags and Angletarn Pikes.

High Raise seen beyond Rampsgill Head.
Despite continuing to take photos I am struggling to keep on my feet, thoughts turn to nothing except the battering I am undertaking while the only thing keeping my walking poles attached to me are my wrists, rational thinking is difficult but one thought domineers, do I drop down into Rampsgill or do I continue? I fear the wind is being funnelled over the top of Rampsgill and dropping down will be much worse so I continue making sure I keep a wide berth should I get caught from a sudden gust.

Rampsgill Head summit.

I arrive, a little disheveled at Rampsgill Head summit, still battered by the gale force winds but slightly less but not much. I wasn't to know at this point but on reading the fell top assessors report from Helvellyn later when I got home summit winds were reaching in excess of 50mph with gust of 60mph.

Gust at 40mph plus once picked me up and threw me twenty feet a few years ago, how it wasn't repeated during the ascent of Rampsgill Head I do not know but I am thankful it didn't.

Onwards towards High Raise (Martindale)
The saving grace from todays summit winds will be the long grassy col at the head of Rannerdale Beck so stubbornly, I head for High Raise.

Stunning views from High Raise (Martindale) summit.

Low Raise from High Raise (Martindale) summit shelter.
I was right the grassy col did provide shelter to a point where I could feel the suns warmth on my face, normality returned which put me in good stead for the ascent on High Raise and I only stopped to take a quick break once the summit shelter was reached, it felt like heaven within those stone walls and I could have sat there all day listening to the wind roaring just inches above my head.

Looking back on High Raise (Martindale) as I cross the sheltered col at the head of Rannerdale Beck.

Short Stile and Two Penny Crag from Kidsty Pike summit.
The crossing between High Raise and Kidsty Pike was pleasant but that's not to say the windchill didn't nip at exposed skin nor cause my nose to stream, both where evident. There was a relative calm on Kidsty Pike as the wind roared below the summit rocks. Riggindale not only looked uninviting but it felt uninviting too. I took just the one photo before starting the descent on Kidsty Howes.

Kidsty Howes comes into view as I near the end of the ridge.

Selside Pike, Branstree, The Rigg and Haweswater from Kidsty Howes.
With firm conditions continuing underfoot I reached Kidsty Howes in good time whilst treating myself to a Ginsters sausage roll washed down with long gulps of fruit juice from my bladder pack all the while the wind eases and once again I can feel a little warmth from the sun on my face.

Short Stile, Kidsty Pike, Kidsty Howes, Black Crag and Riggindale.

The ground underfoot turned wet and soggy as I approached Bowderthwaith Bridge and it felt ashame to get my boots wet after 8 miles of frozen turf but it couldn't be avoided and I managed to swill my boots free of bog in Riggindale Beck before crossing the footbridge. The ground firmed up again as I traced through the standing stones while above my head it was starting to cloud over. The Rigg was soon reached where I stopped for a few moments on the viewing point over looking Haweswater Reservoir.

The tempreature dipped and it remained cloudy all the way back to Mardale Head where the sun would break through the cloud leaving streaks of light over the surface of Haweswater. I pass a couple and their young baby while crossing the footbridge over Mardale Beck and smiles are exchanged. The car park is much busier than I'd left it this morning and by the looks of it the two lads I'd seen at the car park earlier are still out. I start to kit down as my ears return from the ringing they'd recieved back on Rampsgill Head and with that I can feel pins and needles tingling over my face but surely these are just the signs of a grand Winter's day out on the hill.


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