The Kirkstone Pass Fells

2nd March 2014

It seems much longer than it actually is since I last set boot onto fell, within the last two weeks we had the sad news that my beloved Father-in-Law sadly passed away on 22nd February; my wife received the news as I was about to meet up with David Hall on a low level walk around Tarn Hows & Black Crag, seeing as I was around twenty minutes from our meeting point at Yewdale Tarn I continued to meet David where I informed him that sadly, I wouldn’t be joining him on our planned walk.

My Father-in-Law lived in the quaint village of Overton just outside of Heysham where he spent the remainder of his days in a simple two up two down Cottage. Colin lead a simple life but that was the way he liked it, if I could only describe Colin in one word it would be selfless & our world is now a sadder place without him.

This morning I find myself back in Lakeland, the forecast is pretty unwary as opposed to 24hrs previous, but this does not matter nor will it hinder my walk for all that matters is that I am back in Lakeland.

Today I am joined by good friend Raymond Greenhow, although today’s walk is our first together it’s not exactly the first time we’ve met as we un-knowingly walked passed each other last summer on a busy Scafell Pike summit, we intentionally had a walked planned sometime in February but with other commitments & the wet weather we have been experiencing the walk just kept getting pushed forward that was until today.


Wainwright Guidebook One & Two

The Far Eastern and Eastern Fells

-Red Screes

Red Screes, although in the midst of high country, contrives to appear more isolated from its fellows than any other of the eastern fells. It is independent and unsupportive, not buttressed by its neighbo


Ascent: 3,130 Feet, 954 Meters
Wainwrights: 4, Hartsop Dodd – Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike) – Red Screes – Middle Dodd
Weather: Overcast To Start Turning Very Wintery Mid Morning With Sleet & Snow, Highs Of 7°C Lows Of 3°C Feels Like -2°C Fresh Winds
Parking: Car Park, Cow Bridge, Hartsop
Area: Eastern & Far Eastern
Miles: 8.3
Walking With: Raymond Greenhow
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 6 Hours
Route: Cow Bridge – Hartsop – Hartsop Dodd – Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike) – John Bell’s Banner – St Raven’s Edge – Kirkstone Pass – Red Screes – Middle Dodd – Hartsop Hall – Brothers Water – Cow Bridge

Map and Photo Gallery


The Duke of Portland Boathouse, Ullswater.

Even though I was running slightly late I couldn’t resist a quick stop off at The Duke of Portland Boathouse at the head of Ullswater seen here in brilliant morning sunshine. I could be forgiven in saying that we were in a for a fantastically clear & dry walk, but in actual fact, my words couldn’t have been more further from the truth.

Best press on, Ray will be waiting.

Hartsop, Gray Crag & Hartsop Dodd seen shortly after leaving Cow Bridge Car Park. 08:14am 3°C

After my brief stop off I made my way to Cow Bridge passing through both Glenridding & Patterdale where early morning locals made their commute to retrieve the morning papers, other than these few people the place was virtually deserted as opposed to yesterday when the weather was much fairer both these Lakeland villages would have been in spring like hustle.

I made Cow Bridge dot on 08:00am & at first I couldn’t see Ray’s Car which would have helped had I asked him what car I was looking out for in the first place, I soon spotted Ray as he waved from from the other side of the car park which is divided by Kirkstone Beck, I only later realised after Ray informed me that ‘this side’ of the car park was free as the other side was owned by the National Trust, I figure I have only parked here on a couple of occasions to notice.

We strike up conversation immediately more so on the route & what the weather would have in store for us as Ray takes his dog Holly out of a cage set in the back of his car, Holly is a five year old Spaniel & is recovering from a recent hip operation after being pinned down in a boulder accident last summer, judging by how excited Holly was to get paw onto fell you wouldn’t think she had any previous injuries at all, Holly’s enthusiasm was infectious & full credit must go out to the vet who carried out the operation on her hip.

Photo opportunities were kept brief as Ray & I acquainted ourselves, that & the onslaught that the weather would throw at us over the next six hours.

We hook a left at the bend in the road & head through a sleeping Hartsop village, the air for now is morning fresh & the light is bright, a good start to tackle the steep ascent on Hartsop Dodd one ponders.

The Knott, Rest Dodd & Hayeswater Gill from our Hartsop Dodd ascent.

Conversation flowed as we took in the steep ascent only made difficult as we reached sporadic ice patches along the path, at this stage the snow line was above us yet we were already encountering difficulties with traction underfoot.

I & we hadn’t anticipated for this at such a low level.

Brothers Water seen below the Hartsop Above How, behind a snow capped St Sunday Crag together with Birks.

Here looking west towards Dovedale, Dove Crag (left) & Hart Crag (right) the ridge seen sweeping in from far right is Hartsop Above How.


Almost at the summit shoulder when I took this photo from well above the snowline.

Down there is a murky looking Ullswater & above our heads looks like the weather front that had been promised.

I have to hold my hand up as I made a school boy error in underestimating winter conditions on the walk as I left my spikes back in the car (intentionally) Not being a full on blithering idiot however I managed to tag along my ice axe – had I not, this ascent would have been much more difficult than it already was due to the frozen ground underfoot.

Ray was equally as cautious although he had packed his spikes, Holly tested his balance skills under the ice every time she came by to say Hello such where the slippery conditions underfoot.

Inside I was a little angry at myself for forgetting the spikes, had I had them I’m sure the ascent would have been much easier & at this stage I have to thank Ray for not putting his own spikes on just out of sheer courtesy.

The summit stone wall.
The start of the stone wall layered in snow which spans the whole ridge from Hartsop Dodd all the way to Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike) summit.

Hartsop Dodd true summit marked by this wooden stake found along the stone wall.

We paused at the summit momentarily as I took a few photos, within that small period of time our visibility was dropping rapidly as the cloud engulfed the summit ridge.

While at the summit the wind noticeably picked up bringing with it a frozen chill, Ray handed me a hand warmer that he took out of his pocket something of which I have never used before, the feeling of the warmth even through my gloves was more than comforting.

We press on along the ridge, still in conversation.

Here looking back at Hartsop Dodd summit & possibly the best visibility we would encounter over the next few hours.

As we took on the ridge to our next summit of Caudale Moor scenes turned wintery in what felt a matter of minutes. Ray at this stage was still wearing his fleece as a base layer, I hadn’t realised this through conversation until he downed pack & explained it was time to put his jacket on, with this, Ray whipped out a brand new lightweight waterproof Rab jacket, I could only look on in envy as the water,sleet & snow that was now presenting us beaded away while my own five year old Rab Latok soaked in – all that was thrown at it.

During the ridge crossing conversation slowed down as the snow underfoot took in depth as we punched through with every step making it a little tiring, needless to say however, spirits were still high.

Looking back towards Hartsop Dodd as the visibility closes in.

The stone wall along lines a route all the way to Caudale Head summit & can be used as a great navigational tool when the weather closes in such as today, Holly however was playing hide & seek as she jumped between both sides of the wall, only re-appearing after calling her name loudly over the wind, I guess Holly was in her element & didn’t let a little thing like, sleet, snow & bad visibility ruin her walk!

We persevered towards the summit cairn breaking through the snow with every tiresome footstep where I stopped with my back to the sleet to take a summit photo which sadly only resembled a patchy object through a smeared lens, the photo sadly did not make the blog.

After leaving the summit visibility was almost down to ten yards, here we left the comfort of the wall for a short cut west where upon we would re-trace back up with the wall sometime later, I noted to Ray that the summit Tarn was ‘somewhere over there’ as I pointed with my ice axe into a white void.

We soon picked the stone wall up again & followed it until we came to the cairn perched on top of the wall, an indication that the monument to John Bell’s Banner was close by. We discussed on whether we should make the slight excursion to the monument & agreed that we should considering we hadn’t seen anything other than ‘white’ for the last hour or so. On the way I took out my camera & wiped it with the only dry thing left on me, my neck gaiter.

John Bell’s Banner.

After a brief visit & another camera wipe down we pressed on back towards the wall which we followed deep in conversation, by now things were pretty damp, nothing escaped a drenching which left things pretty uncomfortable, noticeably the fingers in my gloves had been swimming around in water for the last half hour or so but nothing was mentioned.

Further down the path we heard Holly barking & Ray instantly knew she’d stumbled upon people, indeed she had, a couple taking shelter behind the stone wall with would you believe umbrellas perched above their heads, I asked were they heading up or down to which they replied down.

There’s only us daft enough to be out in this Ray joked, we left them in the comfort of their thermos flask & proceeded to squelch down the fell side where we would pick up St Ravens Edge somewhere through the rain & cloud.

Even the Kirkstone Pass Inn didn’t escape the low cloud.

After crossing the top of the Kirkstone Pass we down packs, Ray took out some shortbread & I gave my sodden gloves the slip by putting on a dry pair, how I struggled with my frozen fingers…

By now the rain had stopped leaving a brief respite before the ascent on Red Screes which we took on in great stead chatting almost all the way to the summit, here we shared our plans for 2014 & even some bucket list plans that have since escaped our radars.

We passed a couple during our ascent with two dogs, they weren’t moving nor up or down just standing there debating what move was next, we passed on our pleasantry nods & continued with our ascent through the snowline once more towards the summit.

Just beneath the summit my left foot fell through what I thought was only a few inches of snow, I felt a tweak as I lifted my boot then suddenly collapsed to the ground in excruciating agony realising that my left calf had cramped up so much so I let out a few unsavoury words.

Ray took my arm & lifted me as I placed my left leg back on the ground, the pain had subsided but the calf muscle was still very taut & sore to walk on, more than 24 hours later as I type this the pain has not fully subsided.

I hopefully didn’t let it show too much.

Red Screes summit trig point.

Red Screes summit trig point.

We crested the summit as more snow & sleet arrived combined with a howling cold wind. We first passed the shelter & got a little shock after realising that a couple were; for obvious reasons taking shelter, they were cheery enough despite their surroundings. Holly smelled the pasta the woman was eating so briefly we joined them in the shelter, I knelt down to hold Holly as Ray struck up a conversation with the couple, we soon left them to their lunches however as I got up, I again was reminded that my calf muscle had not fully recovered as I let a out a silent sigh followed by a arrghh.

All very British & unseen of course!

Descending Smallthwaite Band in search of Middle Dodd.

Middle Dodd summit cairn seen unfortunately through a smeared lens.

Descending Middle Dodd by any means.

Staying upright during our Middle Dodd descent was almost impossible due to the wet snow. Here we again took out our ice axes & shuffled our way down be it by foot or arse…mostly the latter.

Keeping to the path was also difficult within the low cloud & sleet, we drifted on & off the path many times all the while keeping the main (when seen) ridge line in sight, I’m sure I speak for the both of us when I say we were glad to be out of the cloud & off our arses once the descent was over.

The stone barn (still in use) found close to Hartsop Hall.

Hartsop Hall.
We squelched our way through Hartsop Hall me dreaming of the warm flask of coffee I have in the boot of the car, the rain had stopped & the winds had died down making the last mile a pleasant if not wet walk back to the car.

Brothers Water.
We passed Brothers Water as Ray showed of some of Holly’s party tricks, I was somewhat impressed at her figure eights & go seeks (Ray would drop a treat someway back without Holly noticing when on command of ‘go seek’ Holly sniffed her way back to her well deserved treat) However Holly’s personal favourite party trick was…

Go fetch the stick.

We arrived back at Cow Bridge which by now had just a few more cars parked up, most of which were occupied by sight seers not wanting to leave the comfort of a warm car & who could blame them.

Ray & I proceeded to down kit, nothing escaped the drenching as layer by layer got thrown into the boots of the cars, my boots steamed as I pulled my wet socks out of them a sure un-sightly sign of a good day on the fells.

My flask was left until last, I needed the comfort of warm socks which I stretched over my wrinkled feet & toes. Ray bid me farewell as he placed Holly back in her cage ready for the journey home, with a hearty handshake we bid farewell until next time.

I was left with the task of drinking a whole flask of coffee to myself as I started the car to let a warm heater take hold of the pins & needles that now engulfed my face & hands. Large droplets of rain hit the windscreen from the tree above & right there, that moment I wouldn’t have swapped that warm mug of coffee for anything.

Well, maybe a hot shower…

In Memory of Colin Capstick 1944 - 2014


Back to top