The Hayeswater Fells from Hartsop

10th November 2013

Despite the Far Eastern fells being amongst my favourite within the district Gray Crag has always escaped beneath the radar, this could be for a number of reasons, the main one being is it’s a little out of the way unless your main intention is to visit its grassy ridge.

I remember it was three years ago since I was last on Gray Crag & to this day I can still recall the pull the fell gave me, indeed Gray Crag maybe the sole reason why I first fell in love with ridge walking.

Todays walk almost had that winning the lottery feel to it more so because of the unusual clear weather creating some of the best clarity & clear conditions that I have witnessed for this time of year.

This is The Hayeswater Fells from Hartsop.


Wainwright Guidebook

The Far Eastern Fells

-Gray Crag:

A lofty ridge, bounded by exceedingly steep flanks, extends northwards from Thornthwaite Crag with a slight curve to the west, and culminates high above Hayeswater Gill in a level platform from which on both sides, falls precipitous crags spilt by deep gullies. This is Gray Crag, a prominent object in the Hartsop Landscape.


Ascent: 2,600ft, 793 Meters
Wainwrights: 4, The Knott – High Street – Thornthwaite Crag – Gray Crag
Weather: Bright & Sunny, Highs Of 10°C Lows Of 2°C
Parking: Car Park, Hartsop Village
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 7.6
Walking With: Tim Oxburgh
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Hartsop – Hayeswater – The Knott – Straights of Riggindale – High Street – Thornthwaite Crag – Gray Crag – Hayeswater – Filter House – Hartsop

Map and Photo Gallery



Gray Crag, Thornthwaite Crag & Pasture Beck taken just outside Hartsop 07:45am 3°C

Hartsop was quiet as Tim & I arrived, besides one other walker who was just about ready to leave towards Pasture Bottom we had the car park more or less to ourselves.

We soon found our spot & proceeded to kit up noting the chill of the morning air, for now the sun is casting shadow here in Hartsop se we layer up accordingly…or I do anyway, more on that later.

The ground underfoot has a glazing of white frost & the puddles lay frozen, no sooner have we left the car was I reaching for the gloves & hat that I left tucked in the lid of my pack, its chilly but a nice chilly because we knew what we had in store which kinda takes the cold out of the air, it wont be long until we are marching in the sun.


St Sunday Crag & Gavel Pike get treated to the morning light first.


Meanwhile as we headed towards Hayeswater by Hayeswater Gill Tim & I were still in the grey.


Snow capped Eastern Fells.

The vista soon opened up revealing a stark contrast between sunlight & the snow capped summits of Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Fairfield & Helvellyn.

The ridge running parallel still in shadow in the foreground is Hartsop Above How.


High Street’s West ridge taken from Hayeswater Dam.


Rest Dodd & The Nab from the ascent of The Knott.

We take on the steep ascent from Hayeswater as the summit of The Knott ebbs closer, it’s a tough old ascent come to think about it, one of which doesn’t seem to get any easier no matter how many times you’ve climbed it.

The frozen ground was a delight to navigate so much so my weight was easily held over the frozen infamous bogs that litter the base of the fell, here my weight held with the only caution being the black ice invisible to the naked eye that coated the path.


Rampsgill Head & High Raise taken just beneath the summit of The Knott.

A steep ascent yes but which was done in relatively good time considering the steepness of the climb.

It didn’t take long from the frozen ground beneath our feet to turn to a glossy white powdery snow which crunched with every footstep, dare I say, we were blazing trails in the fresh snow as it had fallen the previous evening.

Finding your winter feet never felt as good.


I just cant get that man to wear trousers.

After cresting the shoulder of The Knott we left the path by the wall & took in the last few yards towards the summit cairn, here the sun blazed with astonishing brightness like the moment someone shines a torch in your face.

We both adopt the sunglasses as here Tim coolly demonstrates.


High Street from The Straights of Riggindale.

It’s not very often I am lost for words, but here is my favourite fell of them all with a light dusting of winter snow on one of the most perfect days of the year.


Short Stile summit cairn.


Sun, snow & shadows.


High Street summit Trig Point.

Ascent by the wall was most definitely the right choice which gave the last few yards a terrific advantage more so given todays conditions.

As we approached the summit one walker left for The Straights of Riggindale pausing only to snap a few photos.

I take a walk over to the summit Trig Point & leave my hand on the Column for just a few moments just like two friends would shake hands, moments later I leave my signature fell for Thornthwaite Crag.


The Ill Bell Ridge moments after leaving the summit of High Street.

Again we couldn’t decide which side of the stone wall to walk on to take the best out of the crossing in between High Street & Thornthwaite Crag so in the end we go half & half sticking to the Roman Road before crossing the stone wall with views of Pasture Bottom & Thornthwaite Crag.


This time the Ill Bell Ridge seen without the zoom.

In the distance we can’t quite make out whether we are witnessing the remnants of a cloud inversion or just a heavy coat of frost over towards Morecambe Bay, either way the background is most certainly as beautiful as the foreground (or at least we thought)


Hayeswater, Gray Crag, The Knott & Rest Dodd from the High Street Roman Road.


Thornthwaite Crag from The Roman Road.

It was now time to hop over the stone wall & take in views of Thornthwaite Crag & the top of Hayeswater Gill.


Here looking back on High Street from Thornthwaite Crag.


Thornthwaite Crag Beacon.

We arrived at the summit much the same time as another walker who nestled down besides the stone wall to drink from his flask…Although it wasn’t really that cold I was in quite a bit in envy right there, as my flask got left behind.

Note to self, remember to bring flask it is no good in the boot of the car.


A distant Windermere as seen from Thornthwaite Crag.


Gray Crag offering one of thee most pleasant ridge walks in the whole of the district.


Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike) together with Threshthwaite Cove as we take in the slight descent towards Gray Crag.


Thornthwaite Crag, Threshthwaite Cove & Caudale Moor from Gray Crag.


A host of  Eastern Fells taken from Gray Crag.


The Knott as it towers above Hayeswater.

For prosperity note just how steep the flanks of Gray Crag are by noticing the wall to the right of the picture as it suddenly drops from the fell…some poor fellow had to build that so next time you’re in work & the coffee machine has ran out of Latte spare a thought for that fellow!


Thornthwaite Crag & Caudale Moor taken from Gray Crag summit cairn.

It was now time to make the steep descent back to Hayeswater Gill, in doing this we pass dozens & dozens of walkers all heading for Gray Crag summit…int it lovely today was the topic of the day.


Bearing down on Hartsop within the shadow of Hartsop Dodd, the Eastern fells providing the grand scenery for our descent.



Crossing Hayeswater Gill.

The descent was steep which is common to the fells around Hartsop, back within the shadows again we cross the path we had used just a few short hours earlier & descend further to Hayeswater Gill, we are now on the other side of the gill to make our final mile back into Hartsop.


Early lunch from the Pump House besides Hayeswater Gill with views towards The Knott.

We decide on rather than eating an early lunch back at the car, why not de-shoulder packs & eat lunch in the comfort of a mid morning sun which is exactly what we did.


Pasture Bottom.

We retreated back down the path towards Hartsop as Tim noticed a bench sat just off the pathway, I’m trailing as I take photos but I can see from where Tim is coming from, not long after shouldering packs we de-shoulder once more, the reason couldn’t be more obvious.


Gray Crag & Pasture Bottom moments before returning to the car park at Hartsop.


Lunch time at the Kirkstone Pass Inn.

Ordering two pints of Tirrel whilst watching eager walkers ascend & descend Red Screes from the comfort of a bench under the gaze of a midday sun.

As I approach the Kirkstone Pass Inn I say rather quickly ‘pint Tim?’ by the time the words had left my mouth we were already parked up at an over crowded car park.

People come & go mostly sight seers with their DSLR’S as they bear down on Ambleside, tis a nice view I say to myself but not a patch on what we have just left behind, ok I’m being sarcastic but I’m still telling the truth.

The smell of Sunday Roast wafts across the road each time the bar door is opened, this is our queue to exit, we simply do not have the funds to devour such a meal, so with the Tirrel washed down with slices of ham sandwiches we make our way back over the Kirkstone Pass & I don’t care If I have a Sunday driver in front of me, take your time savour it because days like these are rare.


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