A Deepdale Horseshoe

8th October 2016

By the latter end of the week I still hadn't decided where exactly to walk despite having my 'to do list' at hand nothing really jumped out with the exception that I quite fancied a walk in Great Moss, an area of Lakeland which commands a descent forecast. With this I put half a route together which I couldn't finalise until the forecast had been confirmed, by which time I had received an e-mail from David who asked would I join him on a walk he had originally set out to do but was forced to abort after a mishap with his glasses, a sickener given the fact that he had taken the day off work given the clear and bright forecast.

It didn't take much convincing with my mind being taken up by work and more work so having someone decide for me where I was going to walk fitted in just fine despite the fact that I was only on these fells just over a month ago. I was feeling rather eager to cast my eye over Greenhow End and The Step which forms the head of the Deepdale Valley, a route that I'm hoping to take over the next few weeks before winter really sets in.

Todays walk takes in the familiar Deepdale Horseshoe in an anti-clockwise direction starting and ending in Patterdale taking in Arnison Crag, St Sunday Crag and the summit I was most of all looking forward to, Cofa Pike, from where we will be able to confirm that future walk, but today isn't just about eyeing up that route onto Greenhow End, today is about taking our time under an unseasonal warmth around one of Lakelands best known Horseshoes.

Wainwright Guide Book One
The Eastern Fells

-St Sunday Crag

Every walker who aspires to high places and looks up at the remote summit of St Sunday Crag will experience the urge to go forth and climb up to it, for its challenge is very strong, its rewards are equally generous, and altogether, this is a noble fell.


Ascent: 3,448 Feet - 1,051 Meters
Wainwrights: 6, Arnison Crag - Birks - St Sunday Crag - Fairfield - Hart Crag - Hartsop above How
Weather: Overcast But Mild To Start With Sunny Intervals, Cool Breeze Across The Summits. Highs of 18°C Lows of 8°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Patterdale School
Area: Eastern
Miles: 10.2
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 7 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Patterdale - Arnison Crag - Trough Head - Birks - St Sunday Crag - Deepdale Hause - Cofa Pike - Fairfield - Hart Crag - Hartsop Above How - Deepdale Bridge - A592 – Patterdale

Map and Photo Gallery


Patterdale C of E Primary School 07:40am 8°C

We're getting to that time of year now when it's still dark outside when I leave home for Lakeland which means it's around dawn by the time I arrive despending on location of course, the flip side to this can mean I get to see the sun rise and all the vivid colours it brings from the comfort of my car, this mornings sun rise didn't quite live up to expectation but there was plenty of promise in them there clouds if the forecasters were to be correct.

By the time I reached the top of the Kirkstone Pass dawn had broke but it was one of those mornings where the sun hadn't quite broke through leaving Lakeland under a shade of grey. I slipped the car into 3rd gear and let it coast down the pass letting the engine do the work rather than the foot brake, below the headlights of another car coming towards me but still a good distance away, we pass at the foot of the pass both drivers eyes fixed on the narrow road. Back in high gear I cruise towards Brothers Water whilst my foot hovers over the brake pedal, I guess I've seen many a sheep jump out from the hedge along this section of road catching me by surprise every time.

Cow Bridge is passed where I spot one walker using the back of his bumper to tie his laces, next it's Patterdale, one of my favourite villages in Lakeland arriving via the dog leg in the road not far from Goldrill Beck. The parking space just down from the White Lion Hotel are all empty which surprises me, as too are the ones just outside Patterdale Primary School one of which I take up after spinning the car around. There's only enough room for maybe two or three well parked cars which of course, can only be used at weekends or during the School holidays.

It feels quite mild as I kit up behind the car, the silence only disturbed when a local Landrover passes followed by a young chap walking to work whose footsteps I can hear from over sixty yards away before passing on the other side of the road with a 'morning' by which time I'm almost ready, it's ten-to-eight. A pair of Ravens squabble in the trees as I wait for David while looking towards Place Fell whose bracken covered lower slopes have started their Autumn retreat weeks ago, for now it's just me, my thoughts and a pair of bickering Ravens.

The noise of a car engine breaks the silence and as I glance towards its direction David has already pulled up behind my car and opens the door saying 'second time round' aye I laughed. It doesn't take long for David to boot up still opting to wear his summer attire of shorts and mid layer, sleeves rolled up of course. With the cars locked we strike out in the direction of the Patterdale Hotel and pass the noisy Ravens who by now are fighting it out so loud in a tree on the opposite side of the road we stop to look if one had broken its wing such the rabble, but I guess the Raven is an agile bird and seconds later they're squawking like the best of friends again. We hook a right passing through the car park of the Hotel and soon pick up the footpath behind and head west from where the steep ascent on Arnison Crag will follow.

Arnison Crag is just up ahead.
We pick up the footpath behind the village and head out through Glenamara Park soon coming to a stop at the familiar stone wall at the foot of Arnison Crag, I guess you could say that what this stone wall is to Arnison Crag, is what Hole-in-the-Wall is to Helvellyn, well not quite but you know what I mean. It's a steep yet steady ascent which ascends firstly over rough stone which soon eases out over smooth grass all the while maintaining that steady ascent where despite this being October, it's mighty mild right now, phew I think the jacket will have to come off soon.

Breaking formation to turn direction before returning to the 'V'
It was becoming difficult to walk and chat such this mornings conversation about future projects for 2017 (tis the time of year) which saw us stop at what seemed like, every few steps. After that there's not much that'll disturb a conversation with the exception of the moment when this large flock of Geese flew over.

Views over Glenridding towards Ullswater, Glenridding Dodd, Gowbarrow Fell and Great Mell Fell in the disance.

The Southern tip of Ullswater from Arnison Crag summit.

The steady ascent continued all the while keeping with the familiar wall until the summit path branches away towards the left when all that is left is the last push towards the summit cairn and possibly, one of the finest viewing platforms in the district, Arnison Crag summit.

Unfortunately our view didn't extend as far as the High Street range whose summits are beneath a curtain of local cloud which is slowly making its way along the ridge in the direction of Thornthwaite Crag which is starting to break up, happen it won't be there for long anyway. Despite the numerous stops to chat we had reached the summit well within the hour and I was starting to overheat so I decided to delayer my jacket whilst continuing our chat, by the time we were ready to leave however, the sweat had started to freeze against my back which saw me add my jacket again, there's just no happy medium this time of year.

Gavel Pike in the distance (shaded pointy summit) seen over Trough Head and Birks.
We're heading onto Birks next which will involve a very steep climb from Trough Head via the stone wall seen further to the left, happen I'll feel like taking my jacket of there too.

Views from Trough Head towards Sheffield Pike, Glenridding Dodd and Gowbarrow Fell who's summit is enjoying a spot of sun.
I guess it's time to pull our socks up, stop yapping and get on with the steep ascent onto Birks, but before I do, here's a photograph from Trough Head looking towards Gowbarrow Fell.

And here's another photo looking towards Place Fell.
I've walked this route many times but mainly in descent having already gained the summit of Birks. From Trough Head we pick up a ruined stone wall and steadily begin the steep ascent towards Birks. With walking poles at shoulder height we cross the stone wall first from left to right, then right to left further into the ascent, soon the gradient eases as we follow a grassy singular trod which first heads away from Birks summit before a sharp turn left at a familiar stone cairn from where the summit cairn lies just a couple of hundred feet away.

St Sunday Crag and Gavel Pike from Birks summit cairn.

After moments Birks summit cairn is reached as two walkers head out into the distance having spent the last few minutes here themselves. Not so much David and myself as I tap the cairn, speak a few words, before heading out towards our third and possibly grandest summit, St Sunday Crag.

A solitary cloud covers Helvellyn summit with views over Striding Edge, Nethermost Pike and Nethermost Cove.

Nethermost Cove and Ruthwaite Cove.


The Far Eastern Fells from St Sunday Crag summit cairn.

With our views over the Grisedale Valley getting clearer by the minute we began our ascent on St Sunday Crag via the north east ridge stopping every now and again to enjoy the views. It feels some time since I last enjoyed the ridge which when I think back actually extends all the way back to September 2013 which left the last pull towards the summit feeling almost 'new like'

We managed to get the summit to ourselves with only the two walkers we had seen back on Birks who by now were behind us and making steady progress towards the summit, up ahead our next summit of Fairfield awaits but between ourselves and it, is Cofa Pike and just another summit I was looking forward to reaching.

I think they call my syndrome glutton for punishment.

The views just keep ketting better, here's Nethermost Pike East ridge seen with Helvellyn and Striding Edge.

Cofa Pike and Fairfield.
We were met by a cool breeze which stayed with us until we dropped a little height before crossing over the top of Deepdale Hause, here we take a peek into the head of the Deepdale Valley and imparticular, Mossydale from where we figure out a route onto Greenhow End and eventually The Step, for a future walk that I had been talking about doing for some weeks now. Despite having some great views over the valley it was agreed that the best view would be from the 'Hart Crag side' where it just so happens, we'll be visiting a little later.

Views back over Deepdale Hause and St Sunday Crag from our ascent on Cofa Pike.

Here's Seat Sandal above Grisedale Tarn with the unmistakeable Great Gable in the distance.
Despite our long range views it looks like we are about to lose the light as cloud starts to arrive from the east.

Fairfield from Cofa Pike summit.
We follow the singular stoney track which twists and turns steeply towards Cofa Pike and soon topped out at the summit cairn which I tap with my walking pole as I walk by, summit time was brief despite the lure to reach here which had somehow been tinged with the sudden lack of light caused by a mass of cloud which extended over Fairfield and its satellite summits. After leaving the summit cairn we descend on the Deepdale side before starting the equally steep last push towards Fairfield summit where instead of using the familiar path which eases its way over the summit shoulder we take an abrupt left and climb steeply towards the summit cairn.

Distant views of the Martindale and High Street Fells from Fairfield summit.

Feeling a tad out of breath we arrived at the summit cairn and found that we had the summit to ourselves with the exception of two walkers who had sat down some distance away although beyond the cairns we could hear advancing parties all heading this way. Over head cloud blocks any warmth from getting through and this is reflected by how cooler it feels, much more than it did back on St Sunday Crag as I billow warm air into cupped fists.

Okay, no point hanging around lets head out towards Link Hause.

That's more like it...sunshine over Link Hause.
We're back in British Summertime, everyone strip to your shorts, apply the sun cream and...oh wait...it's looking a bit cloudy over there best keep our clothes on.

Zooming in on Windermere from Link Hause.

Descending Link Hause as Hart Crag dominates our view.
It may not look it in the photo but this part of the walk was the busiest with walkers mostly heading towards Fairfield possibly as part of the Fairfield Horseshoe where hi's and hellos are passed, it's great to see such nice and courteous people while out on the fells, it's just such a pity that not everyone thinks the same.

Hart Crag summit.


Lunch with a view.
After the briefest of summits we head back north slightly and pick our lunch spot overlooking The Step and Greenhow End which confirms our ascent from Deepdale onto Link Hause, it's a route that I'm especially looking forward to doing hopefully before winter sets in, I guess calculating a route on a map is good too but there's nothing like seeing it in the flesh.

Hartsop above How.
Which is where we are heading next.

Descending Hart Crag via the East Ridge.
Fed and watered we re-shoulder and soon re-join Hart Crag steep east ridge which can be tricky and slow which is why today we decided to descend much further right, away from the path where we descended steeply via grass and not crag, a route that I wanted to try after my slow descent only last month, which seemed to take much longer than it should have, today we found the alternative much easier underfoot and not to mention, much quicker too.

Zooming in on Hartsop above How.

Here stopping to look back over Link Cove towards Hart Crag (left) and Scrubby Crag (right) with Link Hause in the centre.

Just below the summit of Hartsop above How looking back on Hart Crag and Fairfield.
The sun had returned and I found it too hot to walk in my soft shell which gets tucked neatly below my pack lid. It's always fair walking along the Hartsop above How ridge and today was no different especially when we get to see the wild grasses in their Autumnal colours all the while walking over baked mud, very bizarre for the month of October but great all the same.

Hart Crag, Greenhow End and Mossydale from Hartsop above How.

Views over Deepdale towards a sunlit Birks, Arnison Crag and Place Fell.
It's just bonkers, is this really October!

One final shot looking back along the ridge towards Hartsop above How, Cofa Pike, Fairfield and Hart Crag.
Blimey, it's looking like a mighty steep ascent out of Mossydale onto Greenhow End from this angle.

Place Fell seen with Angletarn Pikes as we start our descent down to Deepdale Bridge.
Just look at the colours of the wild grasses enjoying the warmth of the err...October sunshine.

Almost back at Deepdale Bridge now as we arrive back where the trees grow.

Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd taken after crossing Deepdale Bridge.
Rather than take the road back to Patterdale we continue east towards Beckstones and Rooking which offered a greater alternative to road walking.

Place Fell seen from Beckstones.
Taking note of the grey cloud just o'yonder, which thankfully, never amounted too much leaving the fells still under lovely afternoon sunshine.

Sheffield Pike from Goldrill Beck.
I'm not sure if it's just me who hadn't noticed during previous visits when we spotted quite a lot of coins on the river bottom which had been thrown from the bridge, although we weren't sure why although I did get that 'look' from David as if he was trying to say go on lad, get in there's some silver down there.

Back in Patterdale.

If it wasn't for the waft of a Sunday roast being cooked as we made our way past the White Lion we could have been forgiven for walking back into Patterdale feeling like it was the height of summer at a point when I too, wished I worn shorts. The Patterdale Hotel is passed next where folk sup from pint glasses under the unseasoned warm sunshine as we make our way back to our cars which I'm thinking, are baking inside.

A large coach is parked close to the entrance to Side Farm as I note the driver who is yawning away arms stretched out as we unlock our cars and start to kit down. Our Greenhow End walk has been reckied and will be confirmed over the next few weeks before spotting a long line of walkers heading from the direction of Glenridding were I mutter "I bet they're heading for that empty coach waiting over there"

How right I was, the coach driver starts the engine and is soon about to leave as the walkers start to board the coach after throwing thier gear into the hold. A slight panic ensues as I hurry around closing my boot while making sure I hadnt left anything behind, I shake hands with David, start my engine and put my car into gear making sure I beat the coach out of Patterdale.


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