A Riggindale Round

19th May 2024

We've had a run of proper summer sunshine accompanied by abnormally high temperatures for the time of year, which, after a damp spring, couldn't come soon enough. I must admit that the present weather is still not what I expected for May, which is usually warm, mild, and sunny. Is it too much to ask for some consistency?

Work was work, and by the time the weekend came I had the choice of walking either Saturday or Sunday. Given how busy I've been, a Saturday morning lie-in, accompanied by gardening and dog walking duties would set me up for a return to Mardale come Sunday.

After last weeks earlier than usual start, and given how nice today's forecast is, I thought I'd set the alarm for 4:30am, and by 5:30am I was heading north Mardale bound while the sun climbed steadily into an eastern sky. By the time I arrived at Haweswater, nothing stirred and all was well.

Wainwright Guide Book Two
The Far Eastern Fells
"A striking range in grandeur and wilderness"

Ascent: 2,539 Feet - 775 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, High Street - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - Kidsty Pike
Visiting: Rough Crag
Weather: Hot & Sunny, Light Breeze Across The Summits. Highs of 24°C Lows of 12°C
Parking: Car Park, Mardale Head
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 7.3
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours 20 Minutes
Route: Mardale Head - Rough Crag - Caspel Gate Tarn - Long Stile - High Street - Straights of Riggindale - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - Kidsty Pike - Kidsty Howes - Riggindale Beck - The Rigg - Mardale Head

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA10 2QT
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 you're always guaranteed a parking place. Parking is free.


Map and Photo Gallery


Mardale III Bell, The Rigg, The Rough Crag Ridge, High Street, Riggindale and Kidsty Pike 12°C 7:15am

The surface of Haweswater was like a millpond, with just the odd fish rising breaking the surface. By the time I crossed the bridge over Rowantreethwaite Beck, the cars and vans parked at Mardale Head came into view, and I was shocked, given how early I was and how many there were. After stopping to take this photo, two more cars passed me, which was the nod to get a riddle on. I jumped back in the car and arrived at Mardale Head shortly afterwards managing to secure the sweetest of parking places at the side of a stone wall that I used to lace up. 

The occupants of the two cars that arrived before me were still kitting up as I did a final sweep of the boot, making sure I hadn't forgotten anything, suntan spray included. I bloody hate how it seems to get everywhere, or maybe my aim is just off. With the car locked, I headed towards the deer gate, and in doing so, I left the world behind for a few hours.

Harter Fell (Mardale)
Under the clearest of skies I passed through the second deer gate before crossing Mardale Beck whose surface glistened in the morning sunshine, from out of nowhere a young lad approached and in the time it had taken me to put my camera away he'd already passed me. I was probably twice this lads age and there was no way I was keeping up with him.

The Rigg and Haweswater from Swine Crag.
Funnily enough the young lad stopped to take some photos and in doing so I overtook him before beginning the steady climb towards The Rigg where, flanked by ankle high bracken I continued towards what I consider to be one of the finest photo locations in the whole of Lakeland.

The view over Riggindale towards Kidsty Pike and High Raise.
Sometime earlier I'd spotted the young lad heading through Riggindale towards Kidsty Howes and no doubt, Kidsty Pike thereafter. By now the heat was rising all I needed to do was let my body regulate the heat but all it wanted to do was ooze out sweat!

A splendid view of the top of Nan Bield Pass and Small Water.
I tried to zoom in on the wildcampers who'd set up just below the crags below Small Water. To the right of the crags I spotted two more tents. First come first serve I suppose but too close for comfort for me.

Blea Water, Long Stile (High Street) and Short Stile from Rough Crag.
Cooled by the lightest of breezes I crossed the ridge accompanied by the sound of a lap wing somewhere in the blue above my head. Accompanying the lap wing was another bird whose call sounded like a rusty gate hinge.

High Street reflections.
With the descent of Rough Crag behind me I veered left and followed a narrow grassy path towards Caspel Gate Tarn sighting a walker below at Blea Tarn before they disappeared from view. The refelections at Gaspel Gate Tarn were equal to those I'd seen at Haweswater hours earlier, it was so tranquil just me, the lap wings and a rusty gate hinge.

Looking back.
Here towards Branstree, the top of Gatescarth Pass and Harter Fell.

Blea Water reflections.
With Mardale III Bell and Harter Fell in the distance.

High Street summit.

From the summit of Rough Crag I'd watched a solo walker top out on Long Stile before looking back on the ridge hands on hips. There was no sign of him or her when I arrived at the cairn. I pulled my T-shirt down which always finds its way half the way up my back, I'm told to fasten my packs waist straps but that just pushes my gut out nowadays! I arrived at a deserted High Street summit and found no one in approach.

I've been here before when it's been this quiet but it was blowing a gale in the middle of Winter. I couldn't leave without placing my left hand on the summit trig point before drawing it back making sure it left a scratch on my wedding ring.


High Street summit trig point.

A view of the Eastern fells beyond Hayeswater below.
I left a deserted High Street and took the path parallel to Hayeswater below as opposed to descent via the stone wall. I'm really fond of this view and while in descent I was planning walks on some of the fells in view that I haven't visited in a while.

The Knott, Rampsgill Head, High Raise (Martindale) and Kidsty Pike seen beyond the Straights of Riggindale.
Even though the path alongside the wall looked inviting I kept my bearing and its view over Hayeswater as I'm passed by the young lad I'd seen back at Mardale Head earlier. By now he was shirtless and dare I say, his milky white skin was being frazzled by the heat and breeze. We nod from afar and like a whippet he disappeared over the shoulder of High Street within minutes.

High Street from The Straights of Riggindale.
I know I said I was really fond of the Haweswater view from Swine Crag earlier but here's another view I can't get enough of. Spoilt for choice you see.

High Raise (Martindale) and Rampsgill Head from The Knott.
Heat intensifying as I walked the short distance from the Straights of Riggindale following the wall until The Knott appears. It was along this wall was I passed by a chap on a electric mountain bike, despite the help from the motor this guy had done exceptionally well to make it to The Knott, the determination in his face said it all. Well done that man.

Rest Dodd and The Nab from The Knott.
This view takes me back to the Summer of 2016 during my Walking the Wainwrights in 30 walks project. I'd left David on the flanks of The Knott while I headed off to climb Rest Dodd as an out and back. On my return David laughed "you sounded like a steam train coming back, all I could hear was this puffing and panting then you appeared round the corner" Good memories from a great project.

Looking back on The Knott and a host of Eastern fells.
Officially I'm on the last ascent of the walk, the gentle ascent of Rampsgill Head from The Knott.

The view over Ramps Gill towards Rest Dodd and The Nab.
Here's two more eastern fells that I haven't climbed in a while so watch this space.

The Eastern fells from Rampsgill Head summit.
I broke the shoulder of Rampsgill Head and arrived at the summit moments later swapping grass from patchy stone. I only spent a few moments at the cairn before wandering off path to take in the view in to the Ramps Gill valley below. While doing this a second mountain biker catches my eye as he crosses the summit while waving his right hand to wave, I wave back while checking if it was the e-bike guy. It wasn't.

Kidsty Pike close now.
I left Rampsgill Head summit and walked off path passing between three small pools disturbing hundreds of grass flies who buzzed at my calfs, at one point I was getting a little creeped out when the grass appeared to move in waves upon waves of flies. Thankfully no bites.

High Raise (Martindale)
As I make my way towards Kidsty Pike.

High Street, Mardale IIII Bell, Stony Cove Pike, Gray Crag (ridge) Stony Cove Pike and Caudale Moor from Kidsty Pike.
I soon arrived at Kidsty Pike's summit in the heat of mid-morning only the slightest of breezes cooling me down. I sipped at my bladder packs bite valve at free will taking long sips of fruit juice until I had to stop through lack of air. Cool breeze, body quenched another of my favourite views, all of life's troubles, forgotten about.

The view back to Kidsty.
I left the summit and began my descent with two walkers appearing at the shoulder who I nod and smile at as we pass but I get nothing in return. Further down the ridge I count nine in ascent including two ascending hands on hips in the increasing heat.

The Rigg, Selside Pike and Branstree East ridge from below Kidsty Howes.

Randale Beck.
After passing the nine I continue my descent passing three more pairs of walkers one pair on the narrow rocky path of Kidsty Howes asked 'does it level out soon' I didn't have the heart to say no instead replying with "just take your time" The steep decline of grass lead me towards Randale Beck where I passed a younger couple, sadly the girl did not look like she was enjoying herself, her boyfriend doing his best to encourage her.

Riggindale, Kidsty Pike and Kidsty Howes.

The heat intensifies and just like last week, it felt like it was burning holes through my T-shirt. I had planned to be back by midday; being back before the heat peaked was an added bonus. I pass a couple paddling as I crossed Bowderthwaite Bridge where I forgot to soak my buff which I'd been using to wipe the sweat away, probaably best I continued. I passed the Riggindale standing stones then through a copse of trees and a creaking gate.

The air was much cooler within the trees and I could feel the difference as soon as I emerged back into the light. Haweswater reflecting Pines from The Rigg and dust underfoot as I descend back to Mardale Head fearing car park chaos. Haweswater is glistening in the sunshine and reflects sun spots across its surface. Car park just beyond, folk lingering in soft conversation, car windows down, and kit down by the wall. 


Back to top