Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, Dove Crag & Stangs

23rd September 2023

Despite having the time off last weekend, I didn't make it to the lakes due to the poor weather, but I still managed to enjoy a local walk over Counting Hill and Winter Hill last Sunday. Like many other local walks, this one didn't make it to the website. When I emailed David and Rod about today's walk, I had no idea that we'd actually walked through Dovedale almost one year ago next weekend, which I found pretty uncanny. I wonder if returning to the same places is related to the seasons, quite possibly. This walk found its routes well over three years ago, as so many times we have walked the ridge from Little Hart Crag towards High Hartsop Dodd, from where you get spectacular views over Stand Crags and Stangs, all three of us uttering the words 'we really need to plan a walk over Stangs' and after years of saying it, here we are.

I proposed an anti-clockwise route, first travesing the Hartsop above How Ridge, up onto Hart Crag, over to Dove Crag, from where we will descend onto Bakestones Moss, which is where we would leave the crowds behind before making a high-level traverse across Hunsett Cove. It was from this cove that we spotted a path that led directly from Bakestones Moss towards Stand Crags, but us being us, we wanted to explore as much of the area as we could and included the steep grassy north ridge situated directly below the south aspect of Dove Crag's summit, from where we would gain Stand Crags and Stangs. It's been a while since we went off piste to do some exploring in an area of Lakeland which hasn't changed since the last ice age.

Wainwright Guide Book One
The Eastern Fells

Hunsett Cove

It is believed that Hunsett Cove was once the crater of a volcano. Huge boulders litter the cove, many having gardens of lush vegetation on their massive tops. Some of these blocks have been artificially detached: there is evidence of former quarrying nearby The cover is grand territory for the explorer.


Ascent: 2,659 Feet - 810 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Hartsop above How - Hart Crag - Dove Crag
Visiting: Gale Crag - Stand Crags
Weather: A Bright Start Becoming Overcast By Late Morning. Highs of 15°C Lows of 9°C Freezing Level Above The Summits
Parking: Parking Spaces, Deepdale Bridge
Area: Eastern
Miles: 8.1
Walking With: David Hall, Rod Hepplewhite, Louise Hepplewhite & Calva
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 6 Hours
Route: Deepdale Bridge - Gale Crag - Harstop above How - Hart Crag - Dove Crag - Bakestones Moss - Hunsett Cove - Stand Crags - Stangs - Dovedale Beck - Dovedale - Hartsop Hall - Brothers Water - Cow Bridge - Low Wood - Deepdale Bidge

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA11 0NS
Grid Reference: NY 399 414
Notes: There are limited parking spaces at Deepdale Bridge with spaces for around half a dozen well parked cars. Due to the popularity of the fells around the Deepdale Valley parking here can be difficult after mid morning, my advice is to arrive early and you shouldn't have any trouble parking. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Morning sunlight breaches Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass.
Conditions were looking great as I drove over Kirskstone Pass so much so I couldn't resist pulling over for a quick photo of Red Screes seen here illuminated in morning sunlight.

Arnison Crag with the Yew Tree Cottage (Deepdale Bridge) below 8:15am 9°C

We had arranged to meet at 8:15am, and I arrived around 8:00am to find David's car parked up, minus David. I was right, figuring that David had taken Calva up the lane towards Lane End to stretch Calva's legs before we all arrived. David soon returned and was surprised to see that I'd arrived in a brand new Peugeot Expert van that I was testing for work, and we both imagined how good it would be to kit it out into a camper.

Moments later, Rod and Louise arrived, and Calva performed his rendition of the 'zoomies' for Louise having never met her before, and I'm sure Louise was smitten before she had the chance to lace up her walking boots. Both David and Rod have chosen to wear shorts, but for whatever reason, I'm wearing my Montane walking trousers because, in the week that I've missed I obviously think that winter has arrived! It's a cool, bright morning and much milder than what the forecasters had predicted, with the temperature already climbing as we locked the cars and carefully crossed the stepped wall to join the grassy track towards How End.

Views over Deepdale towards St Sunday Crag, Gavel Pike, Latterhaw Crag, Cold Cove and Birks.
We left the grassy field and began to rise as we passed through How End before leaving the woodland behind. Soon the views started to open out over the Deepdale valley towards Gavel Pike and beyond, and while we were taking in the views, it was probably a good time to de-layer.

Looking back over How End towards Arnison Crag, Little Mell Fell, Place Fell and Boredale Hause.
It's been about three years since I last walked the Hartsop above How ridge and I'd forgotten about all the 'up and downy bits' before the ridge is gained proper.

Views into Deepdale with Hart Crag seen left, Link Hause centre, Fairfield, Cofa Pike and Deepdale Hause seen right.
The cloud's been sitting on top of Fairfield's summit all morning and will shortly disperse, for now at least.

Gale Crag appears.
With Hartsop above How summit seen further down the ridge.

Hart Crag, Deepdale, Link Hause, Fairfield, Cofa Pike, Deepdale Hause and St Sunday Crag.
After more 'ups and downs' we reach the base of Gale Crag but had to stop to take in the incredible views into the Deepdale Valley and beyond.

Views towards Hartsop above How, Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Link Hause, Fairfield, Cofa Pike and Deepdale Hause.
We finally arrived at Gale Crag summit where we were treated to more fantastic views this time including Hartsop above How and Dove Crag seen over on the left.

Hartsop above How ahead.
It wasn't long after descending Gale Crag that we crossed paths with a chap who had bothy'd in the Priest Hole (cave) below Dove Crag summit. He explained he didn't have a great sunset or sunrise (the cave being too low), but he did have the place to himself, which can be hit and miss given its popularity.

It's the small things...
Just four fell walkers and a Whippett enjoying the views.

Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Link Hause, Fairfield and Cofa Pike from Hartsop above How summit.
We continued along the ridge and crested Hartsop above How summit from where the views continued to amaze.

The view over Dovedale towards Stangs, Stand Crags and Dove Crag.
It was great to see Stangs and Stand Crags from the ridge where we confirmed our plan of action first by descending Bakestones Moss (flat area on skyline) then to traverse a high line of Hunsett Cove seen right then descend towards Stand Crags, summit then weave our way over the humps and bumps that make up Stangs in the foreground.

Views towards Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Link Hause, Fairfield, Greenhow End and The Step.
Before descending Hartsop above How we took some time to take in the views, the bright sunlight adding to the occasion.

Off we go.
In this photo Dollywagon Pike is seen beyond Deepdale Hause over on the right.

Fantastic mountain viewing towards Hart Crag, Link Hause, Fairfield, The Step, Greenhow End and Dollywagon Pike.
Not forgetting Houndshope Cove left, Link Cove right and Cawk Cove seen far right.


I'd been taking snap shots of Calva all morning, but this one was my favourite, looking like he's about to pounce.

Hart Crag dead ahead.
Unfortunately the bright sunshine was about to come to an end as cloud began to roll in from the west.

Here comes the cloud.
With the incredible views we'd already had this morning, if someone were to tell me to pack up and go home, I'd go home a happy boy; anything else would just be a bonus.

As we begin our ascent on Hart Crag I pause to look back on the Hartsop above How Ridge.
Louise led the way as we left Hart Crag's grassy base towards the zigzagged rocky path while the cloud continued to thicken.

Hart Crag summit.
The youthful Louise had created a gap, leaving David, myself, and Rod in tow as we picked at the zigzaggs before emerging on the summit shoulder where Louise was waiting for us. Beyond the the summit cairn darkening skies and something that we all hadn't felt in months: windchill.

Dove Crag from Hart Crag.
We lingered about the summit while adjusting to the sudden drop in temperature. Calva began to shiver, and exposed skin was beginning to feel the effects of the windchill. Of course we're all equipped with extra layers, but you've got to remember, we're three stubborn buggers, and it's still September and therefore we'll suffer the cold!

Looking back on Hart Crag and Link Hause.
We descended Hart Crag and stopped so David could add a fleecy jacket for Calva. Calva's gratitude seemed to spread across his little face. Rod shared out some fruit pastels while all four of us were pulling down sleeves or zipping up jackets - no extra layers though.

Dove Crag summit.
Dove Crag summit was soon reached, and we weren't surprised to find walkers stopping to add extra layers and even drink from flasks. It was another summit where we didn't hang about, not because of the chill; we had a task at hand and were raring to get at it.

Views beyond Bakestones Moss towards Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd.
We left the main path at the first corner in the wall and took a short cut over the shoulder of the fell before arriving at the path bound for Bakestones Moss. It was from here we would be able to plot out our traverse over Stand Crags and Stangs beyond.

Stand Crags (centre) Stangs and Hartsop above How beyond.
We left the path and descended towards the flat area of ground below.

Hunsett Cove below Dove Crag / head of Hogget Gill.
In order to gain the ridge seen leading off to the right, we first take a high line over Hunsett Cove, aiming for the scree slope seen centre.

Scree slope below Dove Crag.
Rod and Louise led the traverse, and in what seemed like no time we had arrived at the scree slope. It's not very often that you get to see these fortresses of rocks from any other angle than from the cove.

Stand Crags (far right) and Stangs (left)
We began our descent of the ridge quickly realising that steep rock would not allow a descent left and therefore we descended right at the end of the ridge.

Lunch with a view.
It was lunch time, so before we explored Stand Crags and Stangs, we found shelter from the wind and took in the views. The black dots you see on the path below are a trio who kept stopping to look at a map; we presumed they were looking for the Priest Hole, who, as they passed below, happily disposed of a crisp packet without a thought. I have neither time nor words for people who do this. Rod collected the crisp packet and put it in his pack to dispose of later.

Stand Crags.
Access to the summit is easy, but please be advised to respect the sheer cliff edge to the right.

Hogget Gill from Stand Crags.
With Little Hart Crag seen beyond.

Dove Crag and Hart Crag from Stangs.
We left the summit of Stand Crags and enjoyed the views from the various small hills that make up Stangs.

Hartsop above How from Stangs.
We made a point of ascending and descending all the hills; the last and most important hill is from where we will begin our descent back to Dovedale.

Dovedale from Stangs.

Looking back on Stand Crags.
Our exploration metres are bouncing at the moment, just as Louise informs us how she and her friend gatecrashed a private party in Barcelona last week only to be thrown out by security. It certainly gave us a laugh.

Dove Crag and Hart Crag from Stangs.
We continue along the humps and bumps until the final hill is reached.

Descent into Dovedale.
Although steep in places, we descend to the right of the scree before the slope steepens alongside a narrow stream. See if you can spot the hole in the wall below which the stream actually flowed through.

Stand Crags, Stangs and Dove Crag from Dovedale.

Silence ensued as we descended alongside the narrow stream, each of us concentrating on where we were putting our feet. We had left the cold mountain air behind and had descended into a warm afternoon. David delayered again once the hole in the wall was reached. Water coursing from a three-foot drop in the wall left slime-covered rock, and we descend carefully throwing our walking poles forward so they don't hinder. Just three feet, I know, but three feet of slime. Poles gripped back in hands, we continue our descent until the footpath is reached proper.

A group of walkers are not far behind, who we had seen from Stangs earlier. We stop to photograph one of many waterfalls in Dove Beck before continuing our descent, each of us tip-towing through a plateau of quagmire. Soon after the footbridge over Dovedale Beck is reached and after we crossed it, we let the walking group pass us. We still had over two miles to go as Hartsop Hall is reached just as sunlight breaks through the thick canopy of clouds above. It doesn't last, but the mildness of the afternoon continues as Brothers Water is passed along with families who picnic on its shores below.

Cow Bridge is reached where we hook a left for the narrow footpath through Low Wood, where two runners pass us from the opposite direction. Tree routes do not get much light through here as cars and bikes pass below. Murmurs from Goldrill Beck below between the silence, but predominently the sound of traffic and smell of two stroke's accompanied us back to Deepdale Bridge. The walk had a 'day of two halves' to it; this morning's sunshine certainly was a treat, but when the clouds arrived, intrepidity took over, and we explored to our hearts content.


Back to top