Walking the Birketts, Red Screes by Hartsop Round

11th May 2019

The following day I had arranged to meet David and Rod for a Birkett walk taking in Middle Dodd, Red Screes, Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd, four summits covered in a little under six miles starting at the bottom of Kirkstone Pass close to Caudale Bridge.

It was set to be a lovely day (mind you so was yesterday) even so I stuck to wearing long trousers after yesterdays snowy encounter on Helvellyn. The walk starts road side and passes below Middle Dodd's steep north ridge via Kirkstone Beck then Caiston Beck. With the steep ascent on all our minds we de-layered and tried to make the ascent as comfortable as possible each knowing we were in for a tough one.

I feared leg burn after spending five of the last seven days on the hill but my legs reacted well as did the lungs. With the shoulder reached layers were re-added due to the cool summit winds whose temperatures either plummeted or rose depending if the sun was hidden, or free from cloud. Next we ascend steadily towards Red Screes via Smallthwaite Band and reached the summit under clear, but chilly skies. After a walk around Red Screes Tarn we descended passing the top of Scandale Pass then made the short ascent onto Little Hart Crag where we broke for lunch.

It was all down hill from Little Hart Crag most of which was done under glorious sunshine and we left the cool summit winds behind for warmer valley temperatures, with one of the best views over Brothers Water and beyond we arrived at the ancient settlement in the grounds of Hartsop Hall and double backed below the ridge crossing Kirkstone and Caiston Becks before arriving back at the cars in glorious sunshine.

The Complete Lakeland Fells
By Bill Birkett


-Middle Dodd

The path becomes better defined as the ascent progresses. Nearing the top it bears right before rising to the summit cairn of Middle Dodd. This is a stirring viewpoint with an excellent prospect over Ullswater to St Sunday Crag and to Fairfield.



Ascent: 2,652 Feet - 808 Metres
Birketts: 4, Middle Dodd - Red Screes - Little Hart Crag - High Hartsop Dodd
Weather: A Dry Bright Day, Feeling Warm In The Sunshine And Cool Over The Summits. Highs of 16°C Lows of 8°C
Parking: Roadside Parking, Kirkstone Pass, Caudale Bridge
Area - Group: Eastern C/FAR
Miles: 5.6
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 5 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Kirsktone Pass - Kirkstone Beck - Middle Dodd - Smallthwaite Band - Red Screes - Top of Scandale Pass - Scandale Tarn - Little Hart Crag - High Hartsop Dodd - Caiston Beck - Kirkstone Pass

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA11 0NZ
Grid Reference: NY 401 112
Notes: Around 150 yards south of Caudale Bridge two laybys either side of Kirkstone Pass can be used to park up to four cars on each side of the pass. Parking is free but please be advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment especially through the Summer months.


Map and Photo Gallery


Middle Dodd from the base of Kirkstone Pass.
Birkett had suggested to start the walk at the bottom of Kirkstone Pass just south of Caudale Bridge, I arrived finding Rod already there kitting up behind his car soon followed by David who arrived shortly afterwards. We agreed our timing today couldn't have been better as up to 2,000 cyclist will be racing along the Lakeland roads and passes tomorrow on the 2019 Fred Whitton challenge where riders race through Lakeland covering 3,900ft over 114 miles.

Crossing Kirkstone Beck with the ascent of Middle Dodd on mind.
From the lay by we head right through a gate onto open fell side then follow a narrow path which first crosses Kirkstone Beck via this wooden foot bridge followed by Caiston Beck via a wooden walk way.

Looking down Middle Dodd north ridge over the Kirkstone Pass towards Hartsop Hall, Brothers Water, Hartsop above How, Hartsop Dodd, Brock Crags, Angletarn Pikes and Place Fell.
The sunlight was pretty patchy at first with lots of high cloud cover mixed in, this kept body temperature down during the extremely steep ascent of the north ridge where we de-layered soft shell jackets before the start of our ascent.

The north ridge takes form as we arrive at the summit shoulder.
Not to mention a view you could never tire of more so this morning with the ever changing shade caused by the scattering of mass cloud high above.

Red Screes and Smallthwaite Band from Middle Dodd summit.
Gaining Middle Dodd seemed to take a while this morning owing to how many times we stopped to chat, there's no rush I suppose as I try to convince the guys it really did snow on Helvellyn yesterday which had all but melted by now.

High cloud dramatics causing large shadows over Little Hart Crag, Hart Crag Dove Crag, Hartsop above How, St Sunday Crag and Fairfield.
I'm really fond of these cloud displays which I feel transform the look of the fells, long may they last through the day eh.

Looking back on Middle Dodd from Smallthwaite Band.
With the ascent of tough ascent of Middle Dodd behind, and probably due to the amount of stoppage time spent chatting we started to feel the affects of the summit winds causing us to add soft shells before continuing towards Red Screes summit.

Middle Dodd from the top of Smallthwaite Band.

Views of the top of Scandale Pass towards Scandale Head, Bakestones, Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield.

This view includes the Little Hart Crag, seen in the centre of the photograph.
We're heading over Scandale Pass next but while Red Screes is just feet away...

Red Screes summit and shelter.
It's lovely and bright but very breezy and a touch on the cool side.

Red Screes Tarn.

Descending towards the top of Scandale Pass (centre right)
Having left Red Screes we started the slight descent to the stone wall which we keep to our left as we continue towards the top of Scandale Pass. It was here I reminded the guys of a memorable navigational error I made back in the early days where I found myself 'misplaced' in low cloud, the cloud broke briefly and I found myself looking down on the Kirkstone Pass Inn from which I was able to gather my bearings and make my way towards this point thereafter, I can't pass this wall without giving that error a thought these days, good times.

We're almost at the top of the Scandale Pass as views over Little Hart Crag begin to open out.

Before we ascend Little Hart Crag.
We make an unofficial visit to Scandale Tarn found off path over on the left.

A close up of Little Hart Crag from Scandale Tarn.
The west, and official summit is seen over on the left which is higher than the east summit by just eight feet.

Dove Crag and Hart Crag from Little Hart Crag summit.
With a snow free Helvellyn seen over on the right.

Red Screes seen descending into Scandale from Little Hart Crag.
Seeing as it's lunch time Rod suggests we find shelter from the wind and stop for lunch.

Lunch with a view of Scandale and Scandale Tarn.
With High and Low Pike(s) forming part of the east flank of the Fairfield horseshoe seen on the right.

Dove Crag, Stand Crags, Hart Crag and Fairfield from the High Hartsop Dodd ridge.
Cloud had gathered as we started to pack up lunch but the sun soon broke through as we made our way towards High Hartsop Dodd in what was now, warm afternoon sunshine.

Hartsop above How, Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Brock Crags and Brothers Water as we follow the ridge towards High Hartsop Dodd.

Light and Shadow over Dove Crag, Strand Crags, Hart Crag and Fairfield.
Either it be from the Dovedale or from High Hartsop Dodd everytime we peer over Strand Crags we always comment on how much we want to have a look around this area but never get around to make the arrangements.

Little Hart Crag from High Hartsop Dodd summit.
The sun continued to shine and we stopped to observe a number of paragliders over Helvellyn while some were as far south as Fairfield with numbers amounting to around 19 it was the most paragliders we'd seen in the air at anyone time.

Brothers Water featured heavily in todays walk non more so than during the descent of High Hartsop Dodd.

In this photo Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes and Brock Crags appear in the distance.


We interrupt our descent and wander over to the 'High Hartsop Dodd' Bluebells.
Which occupy a rather large area of the High Hartsop Dodd north ridge on the Kirkstone Pass side.

Looking back on High Hartsop Dodd steep North ridge.
With the base of High Hartsop Dodd north ridge reached I for one kicked my feet into the back of my boots and took great pleasure in walking the last half mile back to the cars with the comfort of soft green grass underfoot. The bridge over Caiston Beck was crossed where Rod thought he'd spotted a young Lamb in trouble which turned out to be sunbathing and had not well erm... died, which just about sums up our great moods as we glance over towards Middle Dodd steep north ridge all thinking, not again for a least a another year.


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