Dove Crag via the Dovedale Valley

2nd October 2019

Within the cusp of Auntum the weather starts to turn unsettled with a months rain falling in some parts of Cumbria in just one day causing misery to those affected, rain at this time of year isn't unusual as one damp day follows another and before you know it the whole week is written off but not today, today is one of those rare Autumnal days where high pressure dominates much of the country and I was going to take advantage of it.

I didn't have much time to plan a walk so during my journey home from work last night I narrowed it down to two walks which I've been planning to do but have never got around to. In the running was Bannerdale Crag's East ridge followed by Nethermost Pike's East ridge which were both appealing but maybe not on a school day (especially Nethermost Pike East ridge) which commands a long strenuous day on the hill, so I had two walks left and Dove Crag via the Dovedale valley pulled at my heart strings slightly more for no particular reason after enjoying this same route almost two years ago to the day.

That was good enough for me.

Wainwright Guide Book One
The Eastern Fells
-Dovedale Here, in small compass, is a tangle of rough country, a maze of steep cliffs, gloomy hollows and curious foothills, gnarled like the knuckles of a clenched fist.

Ascent: 2,583 Feet - 787 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Dove Crag - Little Hart Crag - High Hartsop Dodd
Weather: Bright And Sunny Throughout. Feeling Brisk Across The Summits. Highs of 15°C Lows of 2°C
Parking: Car Park, Cow Bridge
Area: Eastern
Miles: 7
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Cow Bridge - Brothers Water - Hartsop Hall - Dovedale - Houndshope Cove - Dove Crag - High Bakestones - Bakestones Moss - Little Hart Crag - High Hartsop Dodd - Hartsop Hall - Brothers Water

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA11 0NZ
Grid Reference: NY 402 813
Notes: Found between Hartsop and Patterdale Cow Bridge car park is split into two by Goldrill Beck and is owned by the National Trust. The car park gives easy accses to Brothers Water the hamlet and Hartsop and of course a variety of eastern fells and valleys. Parking is free for National Trust Members but charges apply for non members.


Map and Photo Gallery


Silhouettes of Hartsop Dodd North ridge with Gray Crag in the distance from Brothers Water 2°C 8:45am

It was still dark when I left home and I was lucky enough to witness the sun rising into a cloudless eastern sky as I drove north along the M6. By the time I reached Cow Bridge the sun was reflecting over the stillness of Brothers Water and the fields were blanketed with a light frost which nipped at exposed finger tips, could anyone ask for a more perfect morning.

Even though I'm set for a lovely bright day heavy rain has been falling over the last few days which means becks will be swollen and the ground underfoot will be boggy so for the first time this season I add gaiters. It's tempting to add a pair of gloves too but I resist knowing once I get moving I'll start to warm up. Another car pulls up and reverses up alongside a youthful Goldrigg Beck and a lady climbs out and 'mornings' are exchanged over the car park, there are lots of options on where to walk from Cow Bridge and I never thought for one minute the lady might be heading into Dovedale too but I might be wrong.


Hartsop Dodd, Rough Edge on Caudale Moor and Middle Dodd from Brothers Water.
It would have been rude not to go down to the waters edge to take a few photos, after all this is one of my favourite views in the district made more special by this mornings clear blue skies.

Capturing the moment.

Brock Crags, Angletarn Pikes and The Knott from the Brothers Water South shore.
It's at this point I'm overtaken by the lady from the car park earlier.

Rising mist, Brothers Water.
Seen with a splash of sunlight over Caudale Moor's Rough Edge.

Passing Hartsop Hall.
I could have watched the mist and reflections all morning but it was time to leave Brothers Water behind and head for Hartsop Hall (now Farm) After our encounter with the herd of Cows last Saturday I bravely pass through another herd this morning who were gathered by the gate just behind the hall "come on ladies lets be having you" while always acting on the side of precaution.

Dove Crag, Dovedale.
I continued to follow the path into Dovedale and was starting to catch the lady up who then broke away right along an old mine path that passes below Gill Crag and Black Crag which then reunites with this path further into the valley.

Dove Crag, Dovedale.
With Hart Crag seen over in the right.

Approaching the old farm building, Dovedale.
That's Stangs and Stand Crags seen just above the old farm building which from here appear to blend into Dove Crag but they are actually half a mile apart.

Crossing Dovedale Beck.
This is one of three places where Dovedale Beck is crossed, it's also here the hard work begins.

Dovedale Beck falls.
I could hear the water falls well before I could see them and seeing that the path passes within close proximity anyway I left the path to take a closer look from a well trodden perch where recent heavy rainfall is reflected with a deafening roar accompanied by a fine spray much similar to what you'll find when visiting Aira Force Falls near Ullswater.

Dove Crag and Houndshope Cove.
The lady who broke away earlier re-appeared prior to reaching the second footbridge over Dovedale Beck but she was quite a distance back which meant we weren't walking on top of each others boots, I guess we both came here for the same reason to enjoy the solitude of Dovedale midweek and that was important to me if that makes sense.

Dove Crag now dominates the view.

This view was one of the main reasons I chose to walk through Dovedale, here the path ascends steadily towards Houndshope Cove before ascending steeply alongside the large outcrop in the centre of the photo via a fine rock staircase while Dove Crag dominates from the left.

Dove Crag close up.
The path isn't clear in this image due to the shade but it's right there to the right of the large craggy outcrop.

Looking back on Stand Crags over on the right with Hartsop Above How seen left.
While beyond a whole host of Far Eastern fells starting with Place Fell, Angletarn Pikes, Rest Dodd, Ramsgill Head, High Raise, Wether Hill, Loadpot Hill, Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike.

The same view taken as I head for the grassy col linking Hart Crag with Dove Crag.
Initially I had planned to include visiting the Priest Hole but I made the decision against this after encountering wet slippery rock during this mornings ascent. The Priest Hole can be tricky to reach due to a series of rock and grass ledges which have to be negotiated, as you can see from the shadow in the lower right of the image this same rock doesn't get to see much sunlight which right now will be wet and greasy, it just wasn't worth the risk after so much heavy rain.

A close up of the Coniston Fells and Lingmoor Fell seen beyond the Heron Pike to Great Rigg ridge.
That's 8 miles away as the crow flies.

Here less the zoom which now includes the Bowfell Group, Green Gable, Great Gable, Kirk Fell, Scoat Fell (if you squint) and Pillar.
What an amazing view.

The same view taken as I head towards Dove Crag summit.
The frozen pool in the foreground showing how temperatures are starting to fall below zero overnight.

Looking back on Fairfield and Hart Crag taken just below Dove Crag summit.
I very nearly changed my whole route after seeing this view to include Hart Crag, Fairfield, St Sunday Crag before descending into Deepdale via Gavel Pike, it really was one of those 'should I' moments but I thought against it knowing the spectacular views I'll receive once I descend High Hartsop Dodd.

Coniston Water, Windermere and Morecambe Bay from Dove Crag summit.
I was walking against the traffic as I ascended the last few yards towards Dove Crag encountering folk walking the Fairfield Horseshoe of which on a day like today I was pretty envious of.

A host of Far Eastern fells, summits and ridges from Dove Crag summit.
With Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd in the foreground which is where I'm heading next not before a quick visit to Scandale Head.

Not the worse view in the world to keep me occupied as I head for Scandale Head.

What a difference a few feet makes.
While off path on route to Scandale Head I passed this pool which unlike the pool on t'other side of Dove Crag wasn't frozen but found roughly at the same elevation.

Little Hart Crag from Scandale Head.
I had made a pathless descent towards Scandale Head while admiring the fantastic views over Scandale with a glistening Windermere beyond. It was now time to descend to Bakestones Moss which I do directly from the cairn, this descent can be quite steep in places with no obvious path to follow in places while negotiating rock and boulder, I guess what I'm trying to say is take your time here.

Little Hart Crag, Scandale Tarn and High Hartsop Dodd seen during my descent.
I could have retraced my steps slightly and picked up the more obvious path which links Little Hart Crag with Dove Crag found further north but anyone who knows me knows I like to do things direct even it means a little re-ascent through Bakestones Moss will be required in order to link up the path bound for Little Hart Crag.

Little Hart Crag from Bakestones Moss.
Although wet and boggy the re-ascent to link back up with the path was relatively painless as I spot what appeared to be a solo walker standing on Little Hart Crag summit who I might pass during my ascent if they're heading this way.

Dove Crag, Hart Crag, Hartsop Above How, St Sunday Crag and Helvellyn from Little Hart Crag.
I don't pass the solo walker who I assume must be heading for High Hartsop Dodd instead.

Little Hart Crag summit.
It's gone midday now and my stomach is telling me it wants me to put food in it but I think I'll annoy it a bit longer until I've descended High Hartsop Dodd.

Gale Crag (Hartsop Above How) Place Fell, Brothers Water, Angletarn Pikes, Rest Dodd, Ramsgill Head, High Raise, Wether Hill, Loadpot Hill, Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike.
Now to take on the wonderful High Hartsop Dodd ridge while having a quiet chat with a friend whose ashes were scattered here a few years ago.


Looking back on Little Hart Crag towards Scandale Head, Dove Crag and Hart Crag.
What an amazing day to be out on the fells.

A close up over Stand Crags towards Dove Crag and Hart Crag.
Not far from High Hartsop Dodd summit now.

Commanding views over Brothers Water towards Place Fell, Boredale Hause, Angletarn Pikes and Brock Crags.
I had spotted the solo walker walking back along the ridge who I pass just below the summit while they were taking a break, as it turns out it wasn't a solo walker but a young mother carrying her baby in a baby carrier, we stop to chat and within minutes I am asked "was I from Wigan" I of course reply with a yes while laughing "is my accent really that broad!" The girl is also from Wigan, in fact just a couple of miles up the road from me who was staying at Limefit Holiday Park while on holiday collecting her Wainwrights, it was great to meet you Kate and little Lucy.

Taking in the epic views during my descent.

Dovedale with Dove Crag and Hart Crag domineering the skyline.
You might just be able to pick out the stone farm building I passed this morning seen lower right and the path the lady took which passes through the bracken then towards the trees.

Stangs, Stand Crags, Dove Crag and Hart Crag as I pass through the old settlement while heading towards Hartsop Hall.

Stangs, Stand Crags, Dove Crag and Hart Crag.
By now I was walking in the heat of the midday having just enjoyed a quick bite to eat not far from the base of the ridge, with my belly fed I started the short walk back to Brothers Water where once passed Hartsop Hall I noticed that the herd of cows that I passed earlier were enjoying the sunshine in a nearby field.

Gray Crag, Hartsop Dodd and Rough Edge on Caudale Moor from Brothers Water.

Gray Crag, Hartsop Dodd, Rough Edge on Caudale Moor and Middle Dodd from Brothers Water.

With the sun on my back I walked back to Brothers Water passing many a walker out for a stroll, the most bizarre thing I did see was two Chinese ladies dressed head to toe in Victorian dresses who at first,,,scared the be-jesus outta me before I realised they were just costumes and not ghosts!

Cow Bridge is soon reached and I took delight in taking my time while kitting down under warm October sunshine.


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