The Old Crown Round

27th April 2013

Every year I try to plan a few out of the ordinary walks if not just to mix things up a little from the circular rounds I tend to find myself in.

The Old Crown round is a long distant walk/run set out amongst the Caldbeck fells where the challenger will conquer four of The Crowns traditional beers served behind the bar, Carrock Fell, Blencathra, Skiddaw & finally High Pike.

The 2009 Old Crown Round fell race was won by Philip Pearson in 4hours 31min.
The winner in the ‘walkers’ category was Stephen Pottinger in 9 hours 11 minutes.

My route will be the new revised 2013 layout as opposed to the 2009 route which included Great Cockup as one of the Hesket Beers. The reason for this is that the farms situated below Dash Falls & the objections they raised with The Uldale Commons Committee, I cant comment on why these objections where made at this stage but I’m thinking it’s the problems created by the annual event itself & access gained to Great Cockup via the farms. 

Of course the route isn’t as simple as getting from A to B as many challenging ascents & descents occur along this arduous & challenging route.

The rules are you must complete the event in under 20 hours & if you wish to record your times you can log them specially & also be awarded a free certificate at the Old Crown after the walk has been completed, & not to mention a pint or two of the summits you have just climbed.

The Old Crown Round can start anywhere as long as the said beer tops mentioned are climbed, but you must finish where you started, it is common for the route to start in Swineside (Mosedale)

Today however we will stick to tradition & start our walk in Hesket Newmarket, home of the Old Crown Pub.

Our aim was to complete the route in under twelve hours.

Wainwright Guidebook
The Northern Fells



Ascent: 7,204 Feet 2,195 Metres
Wainwrights: 9, Carrock Fell – Bowscale Fell – Bannerdale Crags – Blencathra – Mungrisdale Common – Skiddaw – Great Calva – Knott – High Pike
Weather: Overcast To Start Snow Showers, Turning Brighter For The Latter Of The Walk, Highs Of 10°C Lows Of 2°C Feels Like -2°C Gust On Tops Between 30-45mph
Parking: Car Park Hesket Newmarket
Area: Northern
Miles: 25.2
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL4 & OL5
Time Taken: 12 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Hesket Newmarket – Carrock Beck Ford – Carrock Fell – Mosedale – Bowscale Fell – Bannerdale Crags – Foul Crags – Blencathra – Mungrisdale Common – The Stake – Skiddaw House – Sale How – Skiddaw – Blake Hill – Hare Crag – Dash Beck – Great Calva – Top of Hause Gill – Knott – Great Lingy Hill – Iron Crag – High Pike – Low Pike – How Beck – Wood Hall – Hesket Newmarket

Map and Photo Gallery



Miles Ascent

Hesket Newmarket – Carrock Fell

4 1,610 Ft

Carrock Fell – Bowscale Fell

3.2 1,374 Ft

Bowscale Fell – Bannerdale Crags

1.1 121 Ft

Bannerdale Crags – Blencathra

1.5 849 Ft

Blencathra – Mungrisdale Common

1.4 0 Ft

Mungrisdale Common – Skiddaw

4 1,732 Ft

Skiddaw – Hare Crag

1.35 0 Ft

Hare Crag – Great Calva

1.5 798 Ft

Great Calva – Knott

1.66 532 Ft

Knott – High Pike

2.3 161 Ft

High Pike – Hesket Newmarket

3.12 27 Ft
Total 25.2 7,204


The Old Crown Hesket Newmarket 07:00am 2°C

We made great time in arriving at Hesket Newmarket, so much so we gave ourselves time to explore the village green whilst unbeknown residents slept. Although I have seen the Old Crown in pictures I didn’t quite expect it to be so small with a narrow doorway, an almost two up two down feel to this iconic landmark.

We kit up on a large free car park situated a few yards from The Old Crown, here we silently gather our thoughts as to what lays ahead of us, there’s a brisk breeze so the jackets went on first, I lock the car with a sense of excitement & dare I say it; dread at the same time.


Hesket Newmarket village green.

See you in twelve hours or so…


Taking on the morning lanes.

Not long after leaving the village I realised that I’d forgotten my sunglasses & boot gaiters, do you want to go back Tim Asked…I was far too excited as to what laid ahead, nay sod it I replied, It’ll be ok.


Morning silhouettes from Pasture Lane.


Carrock Fell resides under whisps of broken cloud.

It appears Lakeland has had a covering of snow not hours earlier, appearing as hail in the valleys & snow higher on the higher fells. This was the last thing we expected with intentions on reaching our first summit of the day as we tried not to let this hinder our efforts.


Not too far from Carrock Fell summit.

The ascent from Carrock Beck is steep & laborious although as you can see here; it does even out a little after the hard work has been done. Shortly before I took this photo we were caught in our first snow shower of the day, something of which I still cant get my head around seeing that we are nearly in May.

We press on.


In the mist of things from Carrock Fell summit.

Winter had well & truly returned within the last twenty minutes – so much so that the hoods were up & the gloves were on, it was Tim’s first summit of Carrock Fell & only my second, needless to say we didn’t hang around too long after I took this photo.


Occasionally the cloud lifted to reveal…


Round Knott.

Round Knott was & is perfectly situated as our exit point of the fell plateau, here we passed Round Knott to our right & started to make the first proper descent of the morning.


Bearing down on the River Caldew during a rain/snow shower.

Ahead, nearly four miles up the Cumbrian Way lies Skiddaw, except right now Skiddaw lies under low cloud at the head of the River Caldew.

Here we descend 1,100 feet only to ascend Bowscale Fell’s north ridge gathering up around another 1,370 feet in ascent.

But first we have to cross the might of the River Caldew…where it all went a bit pear shaped for me.

But before all that, here’s a picture I took of Bowscale Fell from our descent.


Bowscale Fell distinctive glacial coombe under moody light, the summit is still yet to be seen.


Crossing the Caldew is easier said than done.

Tim & I look for the best place to cross without losing too much ground for our Bowscale ascent, just when you think you’ve found the perfect spot to cross we spot a rather deep rushing current well over knee high.

In my haste I start to get a little annoyed at the fact that every time I attempt to cross the Caldew, not just now but in all previous attempts I wonder up & down the river bank frustratingly looking for the safest & best place to cross.

Seeing as the both of us had previously took boot full’s of water my thoughts were, a little more wont hurt, I got a little more than I bargained for.

Tim, I’m crossing here, & without thought I wade in over the tops of my boots, this I have done before In many a river crossing but here where the current runs fast I soon find myself ‘walking’ rather than ‘hopping’ my way across, this gives the river time to fill my boots just before I reach the embankment on the other side I start to feel my nether regions & my pockets filling with cold water.

By now I am up to the tops of my thighs in River Caldew as I scamper like a drowned rat over the river bank, I am safe but cold & wet.

Told you I should have brought my gaiters I shouted over at Tim (who by now was still on the opposite side of the bank) Paul Tim replies… you was up to your knackers in it!

This was the result of pure impatience on my part, now I have to live with wet trousers (which took no time to dry) yet more time was needed to dry my soaked socks & boots…Four hours to be exact.

The wet feet didn’t exactly put me in good stead but there was nothing I could do about it, no point crying over spilt milk, Bowscale Pike here we come.


Carrock Fell from Bowscale Fell north ridge.

We found it hard to believe that we were on Carrock Fell summit a little under an hour ago, now it seems to be clearing up as predicted, it even looks like the previous nights snowfall is starting to melt.


Bowscale Tarn & Glacial Moraine from the north ridge.


Skiddaw marked a crude half way marker throughout the whole walk. Skiddaw & Great Calva (R) were our 6th & 7th summits of the day, which were a great deal of ascent & descent away which was a little daunting to say the least.

Avert the eyes!


No not that way! That’s High Pike way yonder, our 9th & final fell of the day.


Skiddaw & Great Calva from Bowscale Fell summit cairn.

Although my trousers were almost completely dry my socks at this stage still resembled the River Caldew in full flow. The temperature had lowered & a cool brisk wind buffeted the summit top, here my feet went from cold & damp to frozen, concern was growing about what to do next…pull on a fresh pair of dry socks into a wet boot? that isn’t going to work is it.

A little down hearted I now have to rely on the pure heat of my body to dry those socks & indeed boots, best press on then eh.

On a better note at least the weather seems to be getting clearer as the morning sun burns out any morning mist.


Bannerdale Crags & Blencathra as we leave Bowscale summit.

Although Bannerdale Crags (L) isn’t officially on the Old Crown Round itinerary we decided to include it into todays walk & let Tim claim a brand new Wainwright.


Blencathra stole the limelight from here on in, it was so difficult not to be captured in her gaze.


Blencathra marvelled under a recent dusting of snow under morning sunlight which was a pleasure to witness.


Not forgetting Bannerdale Crags & Bannerdale’s east ridge as we make for the summit.


Blencathra from Bannerdale Crags summit cairn.


Blencathra from the secondary summit cairn.

I think I can speak for the both of us when I say how mesmerising Blencathra seemed this morning, the blue skies, the light dusting of snow was enough to steal hearts.


A close up of Blencathra’s Foul Crag with Sharp Edge forming down the left side.


Sharp Edge as we take on the slight descent to Glenderamackin Col.


A close up of two climbers on Sharp Edge, if it looks exposed that’s because it is.


‘The Sharp Edge Shuffle!’

Trust me I know how that feels! But in my opinion the best bit is yet to come, the scramble to the top of Foul Crags (R)


Tim checks out Foul Crag from this rocky outcrop vantage point.


The climb to the top of Foul Crags & summit bound.

This was possibly thee best part of the days climbing, we hit a steady pace as prospects of the summit lay ahead of us, this climb came & went but wasn’t forgotten easily.


The Saddle from Foul Crags.

Ahead lies the summit as we take in the summit plateau more commonly known as The Saddle, ahead over to the right from the summit sweeps Gate Gill Fell Top, it really was a pleasure to be up on Blencathra today.


Blencathra summit silhouettes.

It was a little disappointing we didn’t get the summit to ourselves but we’re not the only ones up here today…Tim is asked to take a summit photo as the guys pose, I however try to avert my eyes away from Skiddaw’s pull.

We aim to double-back a little across the Saddle where we take on a little descent ‘down the back’ of the fell until we reach the path for our 5th summit & personal favourite, Mungrisdale Common.

But until then lets take advantage of being on this wonderful fell. 


Skiddaw & Skiddaw Little Man from the frozen summit Tarn.

Exit left for a little descent.


Mungrisdale Common, Skiddaw & Great Calva.

There’s seven miles & 2,530 feet of ascent until we reach Great Calva (the dark fell centre right) We discus while we have already had a couple of quick breaks on where to eat lunch & rest up for a while, it is finalised we will do this at Cloven Stone which is somewhere in-between our next two summits.


The northern fells as we squelch across Mungrisdale Common.

I am often asked which is my favourite fell in the Lake District & Mungrisdale Common ranks fairly high in the pecking order, the first time I visited here It seemed as if I had the whole northern fells to myself, a truly grand feeling which thankfully stuck.

Not today however as Tim & I have company, over to our right & out of shot is a lone walker, ahead of us (in a dip) are two more walkers & behind us are three more walkers, in all that’s eight walkers all heading for the same summit, but sadly not the same seclusion.


Skiddaw from Mungrisdale Common summit cairn.

Out of shot is the two other walkers who reached here first, now we recognised them from the summit of Blencthara, we share a brief smile.

Here our route ahead is laid before us, but as mentioned we need some down time as aches start to creep in, we do this at a quiet spot named Cloven Stone which lies south west of the summit cairn


Cloud gathering high over north west Lakeland as Derwent Water comes into view.


The Cloven Stones.

We ease down our now aching limbs & tuck into our lunches, here we discuss no matter how good the rest may seem that we need to keep down time to a minimum to stop joints ceasing up, it is here I come up with the bright idea that we run to Skiddaw House & indeed on any descents that our knees can take.


Great Calva looms closer but not before the mighty ascent of Skiddaw.


Skiddaw House with Carrock Fell in the background.

We took on the descent from Cloven Stone to here with a jog-on witch I thoroughly enjoyed stopping just shy of the Stake.

With the ascent on Sale How/Skiddaw now under way this was the times the sore limb affect took hold, more so on me than Tim, especially around the tops of my thighs.

We press on & upwards over slippery muddy ground.


Skiddaw beckons.

The ascent via Sale How was a little testing, I didn’t cope perticularly well with the conditions underfoot but thankfully as I reached the summit top it evened out a little to ease some pressure of my thighs. Right now I was waiting for that ‘second wind’ to kick in, sadly it made me wait until I reached the top of Skiddaw.

Sale How marked exactly the half way mark which was hugely satisfying for both mind & body.


The Derwent Fells & a host of southern fells from Broad End Col.

As with any ascent taking on Broad Crag Col was somewhat satisfying for us both, from here on in we had good track underfoot with fantastic conditions, the smiles were back as we made our way towards the summit.


Bassenthwaite Lake & the Ullock Pike Ridge as we make our way across the summit.

I couldn’t help but laugh as Tim commented on the last time we were both on Skiddaw’s summit well other a year ago, I’ve never wanted to hold a blokes hand more so than I did whilst on the summit of Skiddaw.

Tim referring to the fierce 65mph + gales that nearly blew the both of us off our feet back on that day, so much so Tim & I didn’t hold hands, but unwittingly, we did knock shoulders through no fault of our own…good times!

Today however the wind was as peaceful as you could want, you could drop tissue paper up here & let it stay around long enough for you to pick it up.


Celebrating on Skiddaw’s summit.

But not us, each lad taking turns to have his picture took whilst sat on the trig column was at the height of ignorance when not just us, but other walkers wanted to enjoy the summit too.

Skiddaw was our landmark summit yet without going over & telling the guys to sod off which could of ended in a volley of swear words I let it go, nothing was going to ruin this day.

After I took this photo we made our way to the north cairn when before the slight descent I decided to tie in my walking pole whilst crouched on the ground, here the lads walked pass me while I lock eyes momentarily.

Were off for another run, that’s if I can get Tim of his arse!


Tim munches on chocolate raisins…do you want a pint with that mate

The Cumbrian Way runs horizontal across the valley & this is where we needed to be, here it felt as though time was slipping away so the running down slope made up for this in many ways.

It’s Great Calva next (the dark brown fell foreground) & then Knott (the lighter coloured fell centre left) High Pike, our last fell is out of view now so we best trot on as they say.


Looking over ground covered.

Here, looking towards Bowscale Fell, Bannerdale Fell, Blencathra & Mungrisdale Common as we descend Skiddaw.


Ascending Great Calva through the quagmire.

Both Tim & I took serious enough nosedives between here & leaving Hare Crag, Tim unfortunately ran himself into a swamp up to his tackle & had to all four himself out.

I however took a dive via my right leg down a deep boggy crevasse hidden beneath the heather, here I lurched all my body weight forward whilst my right leg stuck fast at the knee resulting in a both hand forward drop in the mud.

Did you ever miss-kick a football as a kid & feel that energy disperse into nothing? same thing happened here, thankfully a small stream close by had me cleaned up in no time & we were soon on our way, slurch by slurch, foot by foot.


Looking down the throat of The Glenderamackin Valley all the way to Dunmail Raise & beyond.

A.W describes this view as a geological severe that ran north to south of the district, A.W aptly named it, The Trough.

Read more on The Trough in A.W’s Pictorial Guidebook Five, The Northern Fells Great Calva 10


Knott & Carrock Fell seen from Great Calva summit cairn.

The end was in site all though not literally the prospects of our last two summits were inching closer & closer.

Here we eat the last of our breakfast bars, fruit & anything we can get our hands on, were going to need all the strength we can muster for the last legs of the journey.

Limbs by now just didn’t ache, they were painful so taking a couple of pain killers with our hydration helped heaps & bounds.


High Pike & Carrock Fell from Knott summit.


Great Calva & Skiddaw from Knott summit.

We head east momentarily before taking on Lingy Hill & Miller Moss.


High Pike from Great Lingy Hill.

High Pike may only be a mile away, even as the crow flies but between us & it was Miller Moss, the the worst of the Moss was behind us what lay ahead was a single path stretched through heather with High Pike in wait.


The Cumbrian coastline glistens as we make our 9th & final ascent on High Pike.


High Pike summit trig point under a warm & watchful late afternoon sun.

After 22 miles & 7,200 feet we had almost finished what we had set out to do over ten hours ago.

Tim holds out his hand & I decline, not until we are back at The Old Crown my friend.


Elation at High Pike.

We may not of had our summit spots on Blencathra & Skiddaw, but it was as if High Pike had waited for us.


Late afternoon back in Hesket Newmarket.


The Old Crown Hesket Newmarket.

It was time for our celebratory pint but before we can celebrate we must freshen up, we do this back at the car park as what seems stink lines emit from our over-due bodies. Tim has brought a full wardrobe change but as ever this was something that I had over looked.

The chances of me setting foot in a bar looking & smelling like a sewer rat were pretty slim, so I do my best to scrub up applying half a can of deodorant as I run my water from my bottle over my face & through my hair.

Tim hands me a spare pair of shorts he had brought & I slip them on…good god I didn’t know my legs were so white, tie this in with a sweaty sock line…well you can guess the rest…

The bar is small & busy, we get a few smiles as if the locals knew what we had done, a smile is good. At the bar two people make way for Tim & I & I am quickly presented by the barman, err, err I’ll have… whilst quickly scanning the bar for Carrock, Blencathra, Skiddaw & High Pike but the Hesket Beers are no where to be seen…

Do you have any of the Crown Round Beers I asked? sorry no, replied the barman…WHAT!!

I do not ask why because he is busy & just wants me served, err Ill have a pint of Helvellyn then, he tips the glass & proceeds to pour, damn he says…the barrels gone.

We’ve got Sharp Edge he says, is that a light ale I ask? aye I’ll have a pint of that.

With a smile he hands over our change, we have a quick look around to sip at our pints & rest our weary limbs but nothing – which I’m kind of glad about as my body odour no matter mixed with Calvin Klein was laying heavy on my mind as most folk’s are eating.

Lets step outside Tim, there’s a bench with our name on it & just like the bench perched upon High Pike we also claim the one outside The Old Crown.

More & more people flock The Old Crown as they spill on to the pavement, local dog walkers look on in amazement as this once quaint village pub looks a little city like.

We both remark on how we would carry on our celebrations at home with pints in the comfort of our own settees, the only problem was Tim & I had no beers left in our fridge back home.

That’s no problem Tim replied, we’ll call in at Morrison’s Penrith & get our beers there. So that’s where we ended our day, in the beer aisle with white legs & stink lines, in Morrisons Penrith.

What an enormous sense of achievement though.


Back to top