A Riggindale Round

29th June 2019

It's not that I don't want to get back into walking the Birketts it's not being able to pass up on a walk that suddenly creeps up on me more so when I'm coping with yet another stressful week which was when I had this idea to walk the Riggindale Round which of course includes the summit of my beloved High Street.

The forecasters had forecast a bright start which would slowly cloud over into the afternoon so I left home early and arrived at Mardale Head under partly cloudy skies not helped by a lingering haze which tends to dim any sunlight that was trying to break through. It was early and I know this kind of start can go one or two ways and already, it was starting to feel like the latter.

But It didn't matter I was in Mardale and about to set off on a round that never fails to disappoint, I had walked this round last September although back then I failed to include High Raise for some unknown reason but today High Raise was back on the agenda.

Wainwright Guide Book Two
The Far Eastern Fells
The ridge of Rough Crag and the rocky stairway of Long Stile together form the connoisseurs route up High Street, the only route that discloses the finer characteristics of the fell.

Ascent: 2,843 Feet - 867 Metres
Wainwrights: 5, High Street - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - High Raise - Kidsty Pike
Visting: Rough Crag
Weather: Intermitant Sunshine, Feeling Very Warm With a Slight Breeze. Hazy. Highs of 28°C Lows of 18°C
Parking: Car Park, Mardale Head
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 8.1
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours 40 Minutes
Route: Mardale Head - Rough Crag - Caspel Gate Tarn - Long Stile - High Street - Straights of Riggindale - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - High Raise - Kidsty Pike - Kidsty Howes - Riggindale Beck - The Rigg - Mardale Head

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA10 2RP
Grid Reference: NY 469 310
Notes: Probably one of the most scenic car parks in Lakeland found at the head of the Mardale Valley offering easy access onto the High Street fells plus many more. The car park during Summer can fill up quickly but with most car parks in Lakeland if you time your arrival early enough your always guaranteed a parking place. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Mardale Head with Harter Fell (Mardale) the top of Nan Bield Pass, Mardale III Bell, the Rough Crag ridge and High Street, 07:25am 18°C
I arrived in Mardale nice and early and stopped close to Rowanthreethwaite Beck to take a few photos. I wasn't expecting as much cloud cover having set my heart on a bright start but what the hey.

High Street's Rough Crag Ridge seen with Kidsty Pike and the Riggindale Valley beyond The Rigg.

Mardale Head.
It's great to see that Haweswater is returning to its normal water level.

Harter Fell (Mardale) and the top of Nan Bield Pass as I head towards The Rigg.

The car park was already half full by the time I arrived at Mardale Head and there was even a bicycle chained up to the deer fence but no sign of its owner leaving who I would later have a chat to on my return. Having parked up between two cars I kitted up behind my car and soon I was feeling the warmth from the sunshine as it broke through the cloud.

On paper it was looking to be a fine day on the fells but it's always worth packing a windproof which gets tucked just below the lid of my pack. It's already starting to heat up but I'm hesitant about the cloud cover approaching from the west but for now I'm going to enjoy the sunshine whilst it lasts. With my car locked I head out passing through the gated deer fence then turn right after following the wall towards the footbridge over Small Water Beck.

The same view taken from further up the path.
It wasn't only nice to be flanked by bracken but the Foxgloves too.

Starting the ascent on Swine Crag.
I could have gained ground much quicker by using a direct and much steeper path from below but on a morning as hot as today I didn't see much point in breaking a sweat so soon, besides there's plenty of time for that later.

From the path below Swine Crag.

I took this photo looking back on Haweswater with Speaking Crag extending out into the reservoir, it's looking a bit windy down there too.

Harter Fell (Mardale) from Swine Crag.
The ascent of Swine Crag is dominated by this view of Harter Fell so much so it was here I started to think about changing todays route for one that included a descent via Harter Fell north west ridge seen here as it descends towards Small Water and Small Water Beck below, in fact if conditions had stayed as fair as they were meant too I would have almost certainly changed my plans.

High Street (Long Stile) and (Short Stile) from Rough Crag summit.

With Swine Crag behind me I started to pick my way over Heron Crag then Eagle Crag just as it started to rain, it was typical Summer rain which came without warning with not even a grey cloud overhead, but rain it did leaving some pretty murky conditions in its wake.

Ahh bugger.

Blea Water and Mardale III Bell from Rough Crag.

High Street (Long Stile) and (Short Stile) from Caspel Gate.
It continued to rain on and off which actually came as a blessing as the morning temperature started to rise into the low twenties finding there was no need to add my waterproof as no sooner had I looked I'd dried out.

Looking down on Blea Water from the ascent of Long Stile.

By now I had started to notice a guy behind me who was walking at a good pace, had I not have stopped off at Caspel Gate to take photos I may have kept my lead on him but we met below Long Stile where we stopped for a chat "you didn't capture me falling ar@e over tit did you on your camera" I laughed! "no pal" before we started to share our routes which as it turned out he was also walking the Riggindale Round. The rain also gets a mention as did my bleeding knee which I'd caught on a sharp rock while taking photos from Rough Crag summit "looks like we're both in the wars bud" "aye not half" It was probably best I cleaned up the dried blood so I de-shoulder leaving the chap to get a healthy lead on me.

High Street summit Trig Point.

I passed two more walkers in ascent on Long Stile but I couldn't keep up with my fellow walker who I met up with again at the summit after passing a solo walker who had set up an antenna and was talking to someone through a CB Radio.

The low light and murk continued but it was still incredibly humid so I decided to take a quick break behind the wall while a cool breeze blew overhead. Soon two more walkers appeared who sat to take a break followed by the second chap I'd passed back on Long Stile, my fellow walker had left ten minutes earlier and by my reckoning he should be passing over the Straights of Riggindale by now.

The Knott, Rampsgill Head and High Raise (Martindale) seen beyond the Straights of Riggindale.
With Short Stile seen over on the right.

Looking back on Short Stile and High Street from the Straights of Riggindale.
With Caspel Gate and Harter Fell seen towards far left.

Closing in on The Knott.
It started to get a little brighter after passing over the Straights of Riggindale from where I watched my fellow walker ascend The Knott, it was here I had one of those D'oh moments it being the first time on this round I hadn't mentioned the direct path from The Knott onto Rampsgill Head but it looked like the chap had found it without me having to mention it finding no sign of him ascending Rampsgill Head as I started to make the easy ascent on The Knott.

Rampsgill Head and High Raise (Martindale) from The Knott.
You might be able to make out the path I was referring to seen leading towards Rampsgilll Head summit far right.

The view over Hayeswater towards Thornthwaite Crag and the Gray Crag ridge.
With Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike) beyond.

Looking back on The Knott from the ascent on Rampsgill Head.
With Fairfield, Dollywagon Pike, Nethermost Pike, Helvellyn, Catstye Cam, Whiteside and Raise in the hazy distance.

Rampsgill Head summit.
Ok it's time to head over to High Raise from which I can see my fellow walker is about to summit.

High Raise (Martindale) Red Crag, Steel Fell (Pikawasa) and Arthur's Pike in the distance.
Cor blimey it ain't half murky and very humid.

Low Raise from High Raise (Martindale)

I had spotted my fellow walker who by now was on route to Kidsty Pike, we wave over the grass col as I start my ascent on High Raise passing a couple who after a friendly 'Hi' get nothing in return, perhaps they hadn't heard me as I spend a few moments wandering around the summit as they arrived "this haze looks in for the day" nothing, when manners cost nothing.

The view over towards Rampsgill Head with High Street and The Knott in the distance.

And back towards High Raise (Martindale)

High Street and Mardale Ill Bell from Kidsty Pike summit.
By the time I had reached Kidsty Pike my fellow walker had just left but had given me a quick look before I gained Kidsty's summit. By now the sunlight was really sporadic and the humidity, intense. It might look like a scene from Winter but I'm burning up right now.

Descending Kidsty Pike summit for the lovely ridge walk to Kidsty Howes.

Mono view over Caspel Gate towards Mardale III Bell and the top of Nan Bield Pass.

Descending Kidsty Howes as views open out over The Rigg towards Selside Pike and Branstree.

The intense humidity continued and the few who I did pass in their ascent of Kidsty Howes were struggling in the heat of midday at a time when the sun decided it would join us.

Which is typical as I near the end of the walk (rolls eyes)

I follow the Riggindale standing stones back towards The Rigg.

Kidsty Howes and Kidsty Pike seen domineering over the Riggindale valley.

Swine, Heron and Eagle Crag (s) from this ruined sheepfold, Riggindale.

Back at the familiar wooden sty taking in the view over Harter Fell (Mardale)

Even though the sun was now shining and having enjoyed a fabulous day on a set of my favourite fells todays conditions certainly weren't for the camera yet these are all too familiar conditions confined to the Lakeland fells for this time of year and although I didn't get to see any long distant views the haze kind'a left the fells looking mystical as my surrounding summits and ridges blended into one.

It's all to easy to forget that photos aren't the only thing you take away from Lakeland and it's only after days like today where this mornings few sudden downpours, each only lasting two to three minutes are the memories that last much longer than any murky view would.


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