A Newlands Round from Little Town

11th April 2012

It’s the first Bank Holiday of the year & I’m sat watching my TV while some divert ruin’s seven months of training in the Cambridge – Oxford boat race, my 12 year old Son emerges from his bedroom looking like a twenty first century solider, with his Xbox Bluetooth ear piece knotted around his head, why aren’t you up the lakes Dad? 

Four days away from the fells especially on a Bank Holiday was my seven months of brutal training rolled into just one afternoon, of course not, but I do think I had slight sulk on that afternoon, did I say slight?


Work & family commitments saw me drop out on Lakeland & I can’t thank my brother Andy enough for getting me rather drunk on the Sunday evening. It was a much needed gathering which ended sometime Monday morning with a hangover to boot.

Just like the Moon pulls on the Earths atmosphere & creates tides the globe over, my tide sat this one out it lapped at my drunken skewer, although spending time with the whole family was just fantastic, Lakeland pulled at me & I could do nothing about it.

But the hurt wouldn’t last for long as I knew that mid-week I had a walk planned, a walk in fact, that had been penned since last August. Today I shall be meeting up with Shaun Church, a friend of whom I have got to know over the past few months who actually lives in London, yet has an equal passion for the Lakeland fells as I do & as many a reader. A few emails had been exchanged the fortnight previous just so as I can get a feel as to where Shaun wanted to walk, I know Shaun’s fitness can equal mine because right now, Shaun is also in training for the Coast to Coast this June. “I have barely touched the North Western Fells” Shaun told me in an email; while at the same time in the back of my head I was also planning to return to Robinson & Hindscarth, I just didn’t know when.

So who could blame me for taking Shaun on an 8.5 mile tour of the North Western Fells?

Wainwright Guidebook
The North Western Fells

Only a minority of the walkers who traverse the fine ridge between Dale Head and Robinson turn aside for a visit to the intermediate summit of Hindscarth, this lying half a mile off the direct course across a simple but uninteresting plateau. Comparatively few too, climb the fell for its own sake; those who do invariably ascend from Newlands along the only natural line of approach, the ridge of Scope End, Steep-sided and narrow chested, and richly carpeted in heather, this ridge is a beauty.

Hindscarth is a twin to Robinson. Both were created in the same upheaval and sculptured in the same mould. They turn broad backs to the Buttermere valley and go hand in hand together down to Newlands, their ridges reaching the valley at the beautiful watersmeet near the little church.


Ascent: 3,359 Feet, 1,024 Metres
Wainwrights: 6, Robinson, Hindscarth, Dale Head, High Spy, Maiden Moor & Cat Bells
Weather: Overcast At Times With Sunny Intervals, Turning To Blustery Wintery Showers PM, Highs Of 10° Lows Of 6°
Parking: Chapel Bridge Car Park, Newlands Church (FOC)
Area: North Western
Miles: 8.5
Walking With: Shaun church
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken:  
Route: Newlands Church – High Snab Bank – Robinson – Littledale Edge – Hindscarth – Hindscarth Edge – Dale Head – Dale Head Tarn – High Spy – Narrow Moor – Maiden Moor – Cat Bells – Skelgill Bank – Little Town – Newlands Church

Map and Photo Gallery



Newland Cuties.

I arrive at Chapel Bridge after meeting up with Shaun at the Little Chef on the A66 around 7:30am. This was great in the fact that we are both a quarter of an hour early, a quick handshake & some small chit-chat, then see’s us both on our way for Newlands.

The car park at Chapel Bridge was almost deserted all except for one car, given it so early & its mid-week I hardly expected to see any cars at all.

Shows what I know…

We catch up briefly as we kit up on the muddy car park, I for some reason chose to kit up in the middle of the tarmac road, if just to avoid the mud underfoot… How odd I can be, here’s a bloke about to get caked in mud for the day; but chooses to avoid a few puddles? Weird’O!

Its a little breezy & there’s a chill for certain, we both start the walk in jackets with a beautiful squalling blue sky above our heads, this wasn’t to last, or if it did, it came back after being interrupted by low slung cloud & brief hail storms. It certainly was a day of mixed half’s, but the light these unseasoned skies provided, was magnificent to the keen eye.


After crossing Newlands Beck over the narrow pack horse bridge are we met with the beautiful sixteenth century Newlands Church, back then the Church also doubled up as a school.


Cat Bells & Scope End from High Snab Bank.

After a small up-heave along the narrow lanes do we then pass the seventeenth century farm house of High Snab Bank interrupted by the pine trees in this photo. Shaun & I discussed the route, do we follow the path ahead & stick to the to grassy flanks & head for the head of Littledale or do we gain the shoulder of High Snab via a grassy track that skirts the pine trees?

Well as you can see from the photo we took the path up along the pines, its a great little track that will have you on the ridge in no time, but its also quite steep too. I’m sure as we did, would you feel the benefit of a ridge walk as apposed to the low slung valley.


The lovely sheltered valley of Littledale, ahead to the left of the photo are Littledale Crags, settled beneath the crags is small reservoir & dam of which little is known about.


Here’s a close up of the Dam & Reservoir, it really is tiny. In my ignorance I did get told what the Dam was built for but its long since been forgotten.


The lovely ridge route that incorporates High Snab Bank with Blea Crags is almost coming to an end, the crags mark the start for some small scrambling to be done.


Blea Crags.


Ok I admit, this isn’t the best photo of the Blea Crags & I’m sure I didn’t know what I was thinking or where I was standing when I took it, but it does show how steep the rock is. There is a path in small parts, the rest of the climb is left to your own ingenuity.

The climb was real fun but careful footing was needed as the rock was still damp, so it was a trust your judgement & most certainly, trust your footing few minutes.


It almost looks like we’ve reached the summit at this point, but we have around 500yards to blaze as yet.

So what does the summit plateau look like then?


It looks like 500yards of plateau bliss!


Looking back at a cloud topped north, & north western Lake District.


Robisnson’s Summit where a small shelter lies on a shoulder of rock.

This photo wasn’t just adjusted to black & white for effect, this was the only point when throughout the whole of the walk did the cloud come in & obscure surrounding views.


Not long after the cloud broke did we witness Scales & no-doubt Threlkeld; taking a huge soaking from some nasty looking clouds ahead.


With great spirits we head down this lovely ridge named Littledale Edge, to our right is the colossal mass of Fleetwith Pike that incorporates much of the Honister Pass, to our left ahead sits Dale Head, & out of shot is our next destination of Hindscarth.

It is here I pick up on the wonderful light capturing the scree on Fleetwith Pike.


Promising blue skies await ahead as we leave Littledale Edge to take in this gentle grassy incline to reach Hindscarth’s summit.


Not so much blue as we look west over Littledale Edge towards the Buttermere Fells.


With chinks of blue sky, looking north is a little clearer.


 Hindscarth summit shelter with our summit number three behind; Dale Crags.


The cloud may be low & obscuring views but it sure was dramatic, here looking in the direction of Pillar & Kirk Fell.


Hindscarth Edge with the summit of Dale Head looming.


Fleetwith Pike from Hindscath Edge.

As we passed the flanks of Fleetwith Pike, I just couldn’t help but stand in awe at the beautiful effect the light was having on the scree.


Even in shadow the scree looks outstandingly stunning.

I cant help but think if the road users by-passing the Honister Pass could capture the effect & colour of the scree as we could from up here? I guess not, because normally that scree is as any other scree is, dull grey.

But not today…


Shaun overlooking Newlands (I guess its pretty hard not to)

This is undeniably my favourite valley in Lakeland, old memories are buried here that changed me from a sight seer/keeping fit type of guy, into fell walker.



This valley was part of my first big solo ‘lone walk’ in my walking career. Walking from Skelgill at the base of Cat Bells & taking, what was back then, two brand new summits of Maiden Moor & High Spy it was after those three summits did Newlands first capture my heart as it did then, & still does now.

Walking out of the valley that day after only three solo summits was one of the proudest moments in my walking career. To this day I will always regard Newlands, as not just a favourite valley in Lakeland, but a place where I cut my teeth walking solo.


Looking back at the High Stile Ridge & Buttermere, the views are opening up just nicely.


We arrive at the summit of Dale Head simultaneously as three other walkers, the first people we had seen upto now. I could only utter the words to Shaun “I hope I’m still alive, never mind climbing mountains when I’m their age”

The elderly gent introduced himself first by asking would I mind I take their picture at the summit, I of course obliged hence our summit pose.

We chatted briefly about our routes & it turned out they had come up from Honister & was heading in the same direction as us as in Dale Head Tarn & eventually Cat Bells, some time & miles away as yet.

You’d better go first said the gents wife, we’re much slower than you… Don’t count on it I muttered’‘


On leaving the summit we head down to Dale Head Tarn and…



Its exactly 11:57am & while I gaze upon this reflective quietness I briefly think about the hustle & bustle of everyday life…


Newlands from the top of Newlands Beck.

With a quick bite to eat over & an ever descending older couple we shoulder packs again & head for the last up-heave of the day, High Spy.


From a little higher up I took this photo of the Esk Hause Fells incorporating from (LtoR) Bow Fell, Esk Pike, Great End, Broad Crag, Scafell & Green & Great Gable.


And a little closer.


Broad blue skies greet us as we reach the summit of High Spy.

We pass many fell walkers descending down to Dale Head Tarn as we pass the midday mark, these groups of walkers were just one of many we were to encounter along the High Spy ridge.

As we make our way to the summit beacon the walkers you see in the photo leave, it looks to be a young mother & her two sons, we only catch them up slightly as we near the summit of Maiden Moor.

Got a good set of lungs for young un’s I mutter!


Maiden Moor (L) & Derwent Water as we descend Blea Crag.

Despite the fact that I have done this walk more times than I care to remember, the view today is truly memorable (anything is better than clag) which is just what I got on most visits.

This perks me up immensely but this is only momentary, as I descend the path off to the left I slip over mud, as disastrous as I looked with my arms wailing in the air it was at this point I knew had done damage to my left knee ligament.

The slide caused me to lurch forward with my right foot (almost causing me to do the splits) I try to recover & keel backwards compressing my whole bodyweight on my left knee joint, for anyone reading this who may have already know what it feels like to experience ligament damage will know a knee ligament is like an elastic band -  stretch the band & let to go resume normal size & strength, in that millisecond of the fall I just knew my knee ligament had stretched and not retracted fully.

I say nothing & dust myself down but after only a few yards or so I let out to Shaun I may have done some damage, I do not limp, nor does it hurt me, but the swelling is now gathering at the top of my knee cap.

I walk on thinking not to think the worst.


Looking back on ground covered from the small stone cairn at Maiden Moor summit.

To the right we have our first fell of the day of Robinson, centre we have Hindscarth & far left sits the bulk of Dale Head.

Out of shot engrossing the north western fells is a huge cloud full of Hailstone, and its heading right for us…


Oh dear.


Derwent Water & Cat Bells.

We batten down the hatches for around fifteen minute’s, the hail shower pelting our hoods & freezing our hands, we again pass dozens of ill-prepared walkers drenched from head to toe in their jeans & wellington boots, young kids & not to mention their parents looked on, pretty demoralised at the passing shower.



Queuing to leave the summit.


Looking back on ground covered.

In the right of the photo we have Robinson, then Hindscath, sadly Dale Head is out of shot behind Maiden Moor (foreground)


Compelled to have all six summit shots, here we have a gathering around the summit cairn!


Skiddaw, Keswick & Derwent Water from the summit of Cat Bells.

We briefly had a discussion on whether to summit Cat Bells at all, with my knee playing heavy on my mind & the pair of us looking like drowned rats, it could of been an easy decision to leave this summit behind & head down the eastern flanks but that wouldn’t be the right way of doing things as a fell walker, we both agreed we should finish the walk entirely.

The fell least of all that I thought would play in any hard going was Cat Bells, but how we were both proved wrong, not just the fact that there were scores of families still heading up of which we could do nothing about: it was the under-lined fact that the descent down from the summit crags was one of the greasiest hard going descents that I have had for a very long time, a family fell? yes of course but while those last few crags to the summit are covered in hail they still proved an obstacle, a danger even, it took us both more time to descend Cat Bells at this point than it did to descend any other fell we had experienced that day, couple this with my un-certainties of hardly any trust in my knee support made for some grave footings.

As with most things the descent from Cat Bells was duly forgotten & not spoke about again, the knee? is healing nicely with more than a helping hand from three 400mg Ibuprofen tablets every three hours, its that uncertainty that plays on your mind & I can assure you there is no one more happy than me to know the knee damage wasn’t as bad as first thought.

We arrive back at Chapel Bridge car park looking like two blokes who’s had a bloody good day out on the fells, we chat as we pack our gear into the boots of our cars & with a smile & a hardy handshake we depart.

Until next time….


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