Ard Crags to Barrow via Rigg Beck

18th November 2017

It's that time of year when we have to start planning a walk around the forecast and not to mention the shorter daylight hours, with this David and I planned to take full advantage of the daylight hours and take in Skiddaw via the Ullock Pike ridge but this had to be put on the back burner after realising that the A591 was closed between Millbeck and Dodd Wood.

With this we set about thinking about a plan B walk and David came up with this route which links Ard Crags with Sail via Rigg Beck, a route that is doable on paper but not one I would of ever thought of myself "It's steep" David explained between the two summits but nothing that we're not used to.

From the col inter-link Sail we would take in the easy ascent over Sail summit before continuing over the classic Causey Pike ridge where we could take in views of Skiddaw, and its cloud topped summit. Sometimes its the last minute walks that always turn out to be the best and today was certainly that.

This is Ard Crags to Barrow via Rigg Beck.

Wainwright Guide Book Six
The North Western Fells

-Causey Pike

The knob of the summit would itself be enough for identification in most views: repeated four times in lesser undulations as it is, like the ;legendry sea-serpent, the top is quite unmistakable.


Ascent: 2,980 Feet - 884 Metres
Wainwrights: 5, Ard Crags - Scar Crags - Causey Pike - Outerside - Barrow
Visiting: Stile End
Weather: Overcast With Some Bridght Spells. Brisk Across The Summits. Highs of 7°C Lows of 6°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, Newlands Valley Road Just Outside Stair
Area: North Western
Miles: 8.4
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL4
Time Taken: 5 Hours 45 Minutes
Route: Newlands Valley - Rigg Beck - Birk Rigg - Ard Crags - Rigg Beck - Scar Crags - Causey Pike - High Moss - Outerside - Low Moss - Stile End - Barrow Door - Barrow - Newlands Valley

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA12 5UF
Grid Reference: NY232 821 (Uzzicar Farm) - NY 233 021 (Stonycroft Gill)
Notes: There is a choice of parking spaces along the Newlands Valley between Uzzicar and the holiday cottages at Stoneycroft. The first car park is found just past Uzzicar Farm (if approaching from Braithwaite) on the left hand side, here you find ample parking with room for around eight cars with further spaces found just after the bridge over Stonycroft Gill but these spaces are sparse with room for just one or two cars. Parking at both sites is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Barrow from Stoneycroft Gill 08:20am 7°C

We arrived at the parking spaces between Uzzicar Farm and the holiday cottages at Stonycroft Gill at around 08:15am and parked easily before starting to kit up behind our cars. The windy theme continues into the weekend along with that arctic air which makes the 7°C feel much colder than it actually is. Although the sun should be rising right about now the light is dark and moody and one could be forgiven to thinking that it's 4 o'clock on a Winters afternoon as we cast eye over Keswick whose street lamps are still lit.

"Fancy a coffee in Costa instead" we joked.

With the cars locked we strike under low light and cross the bridge over Stoneycroft Gill, we still have a good mile to walk yet before we reach Rigg Beck which will stretch the legs if nothing else.

Views over Newlands towards Little Town High Crags and Maiden Moor.

Ard Crags from Birk Rigg.
After reaching the bridge at Rigg Beck we opted to gain Ard Crags via Birk Rigg instead of the familiar Rigg Beck route which is quite a steep rise even before the ascent on Ard Crag begins. Our alternative route over Birk Rigg might have been steadier in ascent but underfoot the grass had been churned by cattle and was hard work to walk through as with each step boots sunk up to the boot laces, despite it being hard work we still favoured our alternative route even if today it was much harder than we thought it would be.

Views over Rigg Beck towards Causey Pike and Sleet Hause.

Knott Rigg, High Snockrigg, High Crag, High Stile and Red Pike (Buttermere) from Aiken Knott.
We had been weather watching for much of our ascent sometimes stopping to chat while casting eye at the above cloud which showed huge promise (well for now anyway) The cloud was clearing all around us with the western fells looking the clearest while behind us and further north, Blencathra was lit up in beautiful morning sunlight.


Looking back on Causey Pike from Ard Crags.
I never tire of this wonderful view back along the Ard Crags ridge, not far from the summit now.

Addacomb Hole and Eel Crag (Crag Hill) from Ard Crags summit.
With Ard Crags summit reached under bright sunshine we hung around while absorbing the view before beginning the steep descent towards Rigg Beck. It was here that David mentioned the first time he did this descent there was no path at all but over the years a faint path can now be followed.

It's as steep as it looks but manageable even in damp conditions.
We steer towards the centre of the valley just were the path runs through a dark patch of ground before ascending steeply towards the green patch of ground seen in the top centre of the photograph, here we will pick up the traverse path towards a col which divides Sail and Scar Crags.

Views through the Rigg Beck valley towards Causey Pike.
With Ard Crags over on the right.

Causey Pike from Scar Crag summit.
We climbed back into the wind and soon we were feeling the brunt of the windchill once more, David adds gloves while I hold out a while longer. Just below the col an elderly gent starts to descend towards us and asks "could he get to Buttermere from here" explaining that although he climbed Sail previously he had returned back via Eel and Wandope...We of course guided the chap who said he was meeting his wife back at the Fish Inn, Buttermere. We had a short chat before the chap thanked us and set off for Buttermere.

Outerside, Barrow and Causey Pike seen shortly after leaving Scar Crags summit.
It's definitely time to add my gloves now, wowzers I can't feel my fingers!

Looking back on Scar Crags, Sail, Eel Crag (Crag Hill) and Coledale Hause.
Now that we had gained height patchy summit cloud wandered over but thankfully never reached as far as Causey Pike but that wasn't the case for Grisedale Pike and Skiddaw whose summits had remained under cloud for the best part of the morning.

Wonderful light display over High Snab Bank, Scope End, Hindscarth, Dale Head and High Spy from Causey Pike summit.

High Crags and Maiden Moor seen over Little Town.
We were starting to see more and more walkers by now most of whom had ascended via Rowling End, Causey Pikes steep north east ridge. We hung around sharing the summit with a couple while viewing the light show over the Newlands valley which sadly was about to come to an end.

Views over Stoneycroft Gill towards Stile End, Barrow Door and Barrow.
I can't visit this area of Lakeland without being reminded of the moment I got airborne and was tossed around fifteen feet from the path landing next to a sheepfold some two years ago, we can laugh about it now but back then it was a pretty scary moment.

Bassenthwaite Lake, Kin, Skiddaw and Blencathra from Outerside Summit.
It might look nice and peaceful now but a large group are just about to appear over the ridge.

Looking back over Low Moss towards Outerside.
No matter the season the descent from Outerside summit can always be a little tricky with only a very narrow and sometimes rocky path to follow, throw in some mud, roots and wet rock and your looking at a descent that can match anything the bigger fells has to offer, as always after rain we took our time down here. We crossed Low Moss (seen in the foreground) before deciding to pay a visit to Stile End before todays final summit of Barrow.

Lunch with a view.

We descended Stile End and crossed Barrow Door then took in the easy ascent towards Barrow summit, it's always a busy place especially on blustery days such as today and we arrived at a virtually deserted summit with the exception of the couple who had just left. We could have ate lunch back on Stile End summit but decided to wait until we reach Barrow where we dropped a few feet and found a cluster of perfectly situated boulders overlooking Cat Bells and Newlands with distant views beyond.

We could have sat there all afternoon but we knew we had to re-shoulder before beginning the descent of Barrow via the north east ridge.

Braithwaite, Skiddaw and the Vale of Keswick from Barrow.

By the time we were half way down the ridge the sun had come back out and this time remained out until we would arrive back at our cars. Our route back to the Newlands Pass would be via a path alongside the trees at the far end of the ridge, from there it's just a short stroll back onto tarmac and back into reality.

The woodland below was home to dozens of Pheasants which we had seen earlier this morning but not so many so close up, views opened out over Uzzicar Farm towards a crowded Cat Bells summit but the valley remained quite below just as you would expect once the Summer crowds have all gone home.


Back to top