Crookdale Horseshoe Wild Camp

13th-14th August 2022

This walk is effectively called the Crookdale Horseshoe but it's based purely on a wild camp at Harrop Pike summit, the rest came later which just so happened to form the Crookdale Horseshoe. It was July last year when David, Rod and I walked from Shap Road Summit to Seat Robert via Harrop Pike, a summit that as it turns out, is admired by all three of us. Why plan a wild camp in the middle nowhere when there's hundreds of top locations to choose from and you'd be correct for thinking that.

The fact that Harrop Pike sits on the far eastern edge of Lakeland was one of the main reasons we choose to wild camp here, the isolation is attractive and so too is its rolling grassy flanks which contour this part of Lakeland for miles around. You can ask yourself how many people might visit Helvellyn, Blencathra or Great End each day and the answer would easily roll into three figures.

Ask yourself the same question about Harrop Pike and the answer would be less than ten. Could we be accused of being boring buggers? hell no. We, like thousands of others see things differently, isolation does not attract many but wild camping in the wilds of the far eastern fells is an experience to embrace.

Wainwright Guide Book
The Outlying Fells

The Yarlside Ridge On the north side is the Yarlside Ridge, rising from the road - summit of the A6 and continuing to the mass of Grey Crag at the head of the valley.


Ascent: 2,107 Feet - 642 Metres
Outliers: 6, Whatshaw Common - Little Yarlside - Great Yarlside - Lord's Seat - Robins Hood - High House Bank
Wainwrights: Grey Crag
Birketts: Harrop Pike
Weather: Very Hot Dry & Sunny. Highs of 29°C Lows of 22°C
Parking: Parking Spaces, A6 Shap Road Summit
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 11.5
Walking With: David Hall & Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL7
Time Taken: 6 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Shap Road Summit - Whatshaw Common - Little Yarlside - Great Yarlside - Harrop Pike - CAMP - Grey Crag - Bucks Crag - High House Head - Lord's Seat - Robin Hood - High House Bank - Crookdale Bridge - Shap Road Summit

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA10 3TE
Grid Reference: NY 553 706
Notes: The parking spaces are found about two and half miles south of Shap village at Shap Road Summit where a plaque stands in memorial to the drivers and crews who made the building of the A6 possible over Shap Fell at 1,350ft above sea level. There is room for around eight to ten well parked cars. Lookout for the Repeater Station and the many Electric Pylons which is where you will find the parking spaces. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Looking back on Shap Road Summit as we head for Whatshaw Common 15:40pm 26°C

Due to the sheer volume of traffic between junctions 27 and 31 on the M6 I was a staggering forty minutes late and I rang Rod and told the him that I'd meet them at Harrop Pike which would mean walking in on my own, something that I really didn't want to do as this walk had been planned for well over a year and this was the only weekend when everything had come together for the three of us. I'm not a fast driver and once the traffic cleared around the junction for the M55 I drove as fast as I could narrowing my arrival from being nearly an hour late, to forty minutes and I was grateful David and Rod waited for me in that staggering heat.

Everything had been packed the night before and all that I needed to do was transfer food from fridge to pack, then clip the lid of my pack down. We're all carrying roughly 4ltrs of water each, add your tent, sleeping bag, equipment and a heat wave we knew we were in for a tough walk in. After apologising, then thanking the guys I set about kitting up which comprised of lacing my boots and adjusting my walking poles, the quickest kit up ever If I hadn't forgotten to pack my Alpkit windproof jacket which there was thankfully room for in my used Berghaus 65ltr Trail pack that I'd bought from a friend at work who's son had used it for his Duke of Edinburgh Award last year.

Little Yarlside, Great Yarlside, Grey Crag and Lord's Seat from Whatshaw Common.

That's Harrop Pike in the centre of the photo with Lord's Seat over on the left. Tomorrow morning we will make a pathless descent via Crookdale Head and High House Head (out of shot) before the gentle pull onto Lord's Seat.

This is a great area to explore if your new to this kind of terrain from leaving the car to arriving at Harrop Pike we didn't see any other walkers. Even after long periods without rain and extreme heat parts of the grassy path lead straight into bog which we were forced to go around unless we wanted to lose a boot that is.

Little Yarlside as seen from Wasdale Mouth.
From here Little Yarlside appears the greater summit than Great Yarlside its parent peak, it's certainly the longer trek up.

Wasdale Head from Wasdale Mouth.
With Shap Pink Quarry seen over in the distant left.

Looking back on Whatshaw Common from the ascent of Little Yarlside.
That's High House Bank seen across the Crookdale valley, tomorrows final summit.

The wider view.
This photo also includes Robin Hood with Bannisdale Fell seen beyond.

Up next.
Great Yarlside.

Great Yarlside summit.

Including stopping to chat (which we often do as it's the only way to put the world to rights) it had taken us the best part of two hours to reach Great Yarslide by which time the heat was peaking at 30°C plus.

The initial plan was to walk an 'out and back' to Wasdale Pike summit but after checking our timings we thought it best we leave Wasdale Pike for another day and continue onto Harrop Pike.

Lakelands best mile.
Was the name I gave the area between Great Yarlside and Harrup Pike after my first visit ten years ago. Ahhh whats the second I hear you ask? Well that would be the ridge linking Loadpot Hill to High Raise which is probably a lot longer than a mile.

Harrop Pike comes into view.
Unbelievably we're still bog dodging!

Harrop Pike...
...and home for the night.

Harrop Pike obelisk 18:40pm
We had only walked three miles but the heat and the weight of our packs made it feel more like ten. We arrived at the summit and although no one spoke of it could not wait to de-shoulder then choose where we were going to pitch up for the night.

The view towards Burnt Tongue, Nabs Moor, Scam Mathew and High Wether How.
Ok guys who's pitching where?

Harrop Pike camp.

We each found our own pitch sites almost within tent strings of one another, great for company crap for anyone who snores! After pitching up we treated ourselves to a well deserved meal which in my case was washed down with Fruit Berry Lucozade. Our view over the Mosedale Valley directly faces High Street - the little pointed top in the gap belongs to Long Stile of High Street. Venturing left we have Harter Fell and to the right, Branstree.

If Carlsberg did views eh?

After our meal.
We broke camp and headed for Grey Crag while taking in a long distant view towards Black Comb, the Coniston Fells and in the foreground, Shipman Knotts.

Looking back on Harrop Pike.
The light was just wonderful.

Sun setting over Harter Fell (Mardale)
With Kentmere Pike and Brown Howe veering left and venturing further out is Thornthwaite Crag.

Harter Fell (Mardale) and Tarn Crag (Longsleddale)
We probably waited too long at Grey Crag before realising the sun was going to disappear behind the fells a good ten minutes before the actual sunset so we rushed back to Harrop Pike but it was too late, the sun had dipped behind Tarn Crag, still a cracking site to see.

Sunset from Harrop Pike 20:46pm
Even though the sun was setting we would experience its afterglow all the way towards 23:00pm

High Street afterglow 21:48pm

Harrop Pike summit 22:30pm
Owing to zero light polution the sun's afterglow was still present nearly two hours after the sun had set.


Star Gazing.

Not only had we seen a fabulous sunset but we also had clear skies which allowed us to view the Perseid Meteor shower which peaked between 22:00pm and 23:00pm. We had to allow our eyes to adjust to the darkness and then one by one more and more stars started to become visible. I saw the first meteor streak across sky and within a millisecond bounced off the atmosphere. Minutes later we were all seeing the meteor shower along with the International Space Station and dozens and dozens of satellites streaking across the night sky.

In between the meteor shower the moon rose into the eastern sky appearing in blood red which (please don't quote me) we thought was due to a layer of haze in the lower atmosphere. As the moon arched from east to west it changed into a brilliant white so bright it actually cast shadows across our camp. In this light David said "we could easily walk back to the car without the need for a head torch" we all agreed and along with the sunset, star gazing and meteor shower which were amazing highlights of the night.

What happened next kinda spooked us and for you to understand you need to know the area, the lay of the land and what, and what does and doesn't graze here. David was mid-speach when I heard something, I rudely asked David to shush because whatever I could hear sounded like a herd of horses galloping.

We fell silent looking at each other with "what the hell is that" written across our faces. Rod said "it's getting closer" and that was it, spooked or not spooked I stood up, flicked my head torch onto its highest setting followed by David and Rod. The galloping peaked then faded and seconds later it was gone. Puzzled we tried to come up with what could make such a distinctive noise starting with the obvious, horses or ponies? As far as we are aware there are no horses or ponies in this particular part of the district. I came up with Deer which are very popular in the far eastern fells but we tended to agree, that Deer are more a graceful runner than galloper.

Whatever it was had us a tad spooked for a while and guessing well into the night.

Sunrise 05:20am 17°C

Around 23:10pm we turned in for the night after agreeing to set our alarms for 04:00am to do some more star gazing. David doesn't need an alarm and was awake first and the noise of him opening the zip on his tent woke myself and Rod because we were up next. We were surrounded by the lights of Penrith, Shap and to the south, Kendal. To see those lights was amazing but the sky had lightly clouded over by now and through the cloud the stars were only just visible. The temperature had plummeted to a comfortable 12°C and after coming from a warm sleeping bag, I shivered slightly.

The lights of Shap Quarry looked the nearest followed by the road linking the M6 with the A6 where car headlights looked so close you could touch them. Oddly when viewing the lights of towns or villages their lights would shimmer and we wondered what caused it, possibly valley mist but we couldn't see any, At 04:20am we agreed to go back to our sleeping bags and I for one couldn't wait after finally finding that 'comfortable' sleeping postion minutes before waking up.

I nodded off knowing I was going to be getting up in an hours time and it was the soundest hour I'd slept all night. 05:20am came and I heard David rustling about and Rod and I unzipped our tents at roughly the same time. The darkness was replaced by grey clear skies leaving the hill side in a mix of browns that all blending into one. David shipped gear from inside his tent to the outside like it was some kind of tardis. To the east the sky was a fiery red just waiting for the sunrise to rise above Dufton Pike across the Eden Valley.

Sunrise over the Eden Valley from Harrop Pike 05:40am
In between pitching down I would wander over to a high point where I'd left my camera and took dozens of photos although this one was my favourite.

Surveying our descent from Harrop Pike via Crookdale Head 06:34am

After tents and equipment were neatly folded into our packs and we were almost ready to break camp but there was time for some breakfast first. After a quick breakfast we shouldered our slightly less heavier packs before taking one last look to make sure nothing had been left behind. By now it was 06:15am and the plan now was to descend from Harrop Pike by following the fence line (between Harrop Pike and Grey Crag) over Crookdale Head - our main destination being a small grassy hill that Bill Birkett named High House Head. Aside the fence to our right there was no path to follow and we had to make many a diversion around the boggy areas all the while maintaining a bearing on High House Head.

I took this photo of David and Rod who were surveying a route around a particularly boggy area which was buried in long grass with High House Head just beyond (out of shot)

Robin Hood and High House Bank from Lord's Seat.
After negotiating around the boggy area we picked up a quad track which lead directly over the summit from where we had a great view over our final two summits of Robin Hood and High House Bank.

Great Yarlside (left) and Little Yarleside (right)
Taken between Lord's Seat and Robin Hood.

We spot a herd of Deer while ascending Robin Hood.
I spotted three Deer which quickly turned to a good half dozen who ran and indeed sprang across the fell side right in front of our eyes, it was a magical site and when they'd disappeared I asked the guys did you hear them running? We all said the same reply, it was deadly silent which brings me back to what on earth did we hear last night?

Lords Seat, Harrop Pike, Grey Grag, Harter Fell, III Bell and Yoke from Robin Hood summit.
We soon arrived at Robin Hood summit where sadly we couldnt take in the magical views for too long because the summit was covered with flying ants and flies for that matter.

High House Bank from Robin Hood.
With the valley of Whatshaw Common and the Crookdale Valley over on the left and the Bannisdale Valley over on the right.

Looking back on Robin Hood, Little Yarlside and Great Yarlside.
The sun continued to climb and soon the temperature was back in the mid-twenties again. It felt gruelling and on a personal level I had to dig deep to ascend High House Bank which was probably due to completing the Mosedale and Coledale Horseshoes during the week.

Views into the Borrowdale Valley from High House Bank.
I found my stride and after shouldering three false summits it was worth it to see this view into Borrowdale from High House Summit

Descending towards Crookdale Bridge.

We left High House Bank to descend back into the Crookdale Valley at Crookdale Bridge but before David spotted a fox at the other end of the summit, it only looked a young un and too far away to properly identify as male or female but what a site. We turned north and began a pathless descent via Hazel Bank before Crookdale Bridge came into view.

After crossing the Crookdale Beck (which we would have quite happily fallen into!) we ascended by the stone wall seen in the centre of the photo.

Looking back on Crookdale Bridge and Hazel Bank 09:20am 26°C

Just 300ft of ascent was required to ascend from the Crookdale Valley but in the rising temperatures and after a total ascent of over 12,300ft total ascent over the last five days that 300ft felt like 1,000ft. Conversation returned and we began to talk about the highlights of the walk of which there were many. How can you top such a gorgeous sunset, a sky full of stars, a meteor shower followed by an amazing sunrise. It's simple you can't.

The sound of traffic travelling along the A6 brought us back to reality but it was a good reality. Drinks waited for us in our respected cars and even though no one spoke of it, I'm sure we were all looking forward to de-shouldering our laden packs. With sweat dried foreheads we left Crookdale behind and passed through a gate which lead us directly back to the A6. A line of super cars travelling west broke the silence followed by three super bikes travelling east before silence returned just as quickly as it was broken.

With cars reached we de-shouldered packs and unlocked our cars which, were surprisingly still cool inside. Even more surprisingly the drinks we had left for our return had stayed cool too and my last bottle of Lucozade didn't touch the sides. I squeezed the 65ltr pack in between a plastic tray where I keep my walking boots and where I keep my walking poles. I'd normally dust my equipment down after each walk but I purposely didn't and the same dust my equipment had collected on Pillar's High Level Traverse was still with me on the Crookdale Horseshoe.

What a week.


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