Walk 132

3 May, 2008

12.0 mls, 19.31 km

3100 ft, 944.9 m

Mardale Head

07:55 to 13:11

Lake District

Ample free parking at Mardale Head

Mardale Head, Rough Crag, Long Stile, High Street, Straits of Riggindale, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, High Raise, Low Raise, Long Grain, Measand End, Haweswater lakeside path, Mardale Head

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Walk Report:

I was feeling a bit nostalgic for the Far Eastern Fells this weekend, so decided to head over to Mardale Head and walk up to High Street along the ragged ridge line of Rough Crag. I’d tried to walk this route last September, before I left on my Offa’s Dyke walk, but torrential rain and a broken pole sent me scampering back to the shelter of the car before I got half way along the ridge. The weather this weekend looked quite promising, so I put together a long-ish walk taking in one or two surrounding Wainwright’s and a return to the car along the shoreline of Haweswater.

High Street via Rough Crag
Haweswater and Rough Crag from the road

High Street via Rough Crag
Rough Crag – the start of the climb – seen from across Haweswater on the road

Tex Gore was off walking in Scotland this weekend, so I was on my own when I arrived at the car park in Mardale. As ever, the car park was not empty and I was about the 10th car to arrive. As I was getting myself sorted, I was approached by a young guy who asked me if I had walked in this area before. I replied that I knew the area quite well and he proceeded to unfold his map on the bonnet of my car. He explained he was looking for the eagle that nests somewhere in the vicinity and could I suggest a long walk that would give him an opportunity to spot it.

Having spent a lot of time in this part of the Lakes last year, I felt qualified to show him one or two different routes around the nearby fells. He explained he had all day and plenty of energy, so I suggested a long circuitous route up to Nan Bield, over High Street, then along to High Raise, Wether Hill and then return along the lakeside path.

12 months ago I would have shrugged my shoulders and left him to his own devices, but now I was able to point out all the hills and all the tracks up to them. I was able to give him estimates on how long walks would take and tell him how tough particular ascent routes would be – all in all I felt like I knew this part of the Lakes like my own back yard. It’s a wonderful feeling – a feeling of belonging – and a feeling of knowledge.

High Street via Rough Crag
The path leading to Haweswater

On the OS Landranger series (1:50K), Rough Crag is used to describe the whole of the ridge rising from the Rigg, all the way to Long Stile, just below the summit of High Street. On the OS Explorer series though (1:25K), the ridge is shown as having a number of distinct crags before Rough Crag; namely Swine Crag, Heron Crag and Eagle Crag. For simplicity I am just describing the whole ridge as Rough Crag.

High Street via Rough Crag
This is the path up the side of Rough Crag, from the Haweswater path, leading to the old wall on the ridge line.

There is a rough narrow path that angles up the side of the eastern end of Rough Crag and joins the old wall at the spine of the ridge. I remembered the old twisted tree beside the path from the last time I was up here. This time I managed to avoid it getting entangled in my pack.

High Street via Rough Crag
The path from the side of Haweswater meets the old wall. The wooded top of the Rigg beyond

High Street via Rough Crag
The path winding its way up to Gatescarth Pass. My car in the car park below

It’s great to gain some height over not a lot of distance and be able to look down on your car far below. I could see a couple of new arrivals taking to the various paths leading from the car park, although none of them seemed to be heading y way.

The weather was still overcast and the wind was gusting quite fiercely in places. I had to stop after a while and put my coat on, just to cut out the wind chill as much as anything. I knew this would make me sweat more, but you can’t eat your cake and have it can you?

High Street via Rough Crag
Nan Bield, with Small Water just visible

High Street via Rough Crag
Blea Water and High Street

The tarns of Small Water and Blea Water looked fantastic. Deep blue, almost black water nestled in their bowls high up on the fells. A perfect spot for a wild camp later in the summer maybe.

High Street via Rough Crag
Approaching the high point of Rough Crag

High Street via Rough Crag
Rough Crag summit (628m) with High Street behind.

The ridge has a number of ups and downs, but I soon came to the little cairn that marks the high point of Rough Crag. The view from here is awesome. The tarn of Blea Water nestles in the bowl of hills created by High Street and Mardale Ill Bell and you’re surrounded by craggy hills and ridges.

High Street via Rough Crag
Short Stile (left) and Kidsty Pike – the hollow between them is called Sale Pot, the head of Riggindale Beck springs from the back wall.

High Street via Rough Crag
Approaching Long Stile and High Street

High Street via Rough Crag
Blea Water

High Street via Rough Crag
Climbing Long Stile towards High Street

High Street via Rough Crag
Blea Water

The last climb, up Long Stile to High Street is quite steep, but the path is clear and easy to follow and it doesn’t take long to reach the grassy summit of High Street. I found the little patch of snow just below the lip of the summit of High Street. I’d seen this from the road as I drove in and was quite surprised to see snow still lingering even in this sheltered spot.

High Street via Rough Crag
Snow still lingering on Helvellyn too

High Street via Rough Crag
Looking down High Street towards the Straits of Riggindale

High Street via Rough Crag
Rough Crag and Riggindale

High Street via Rough Crag
High Street and Long Stile

As I approached Kidsty Pike I could see lots of fell runners crossing High Raise and running across towards me. There was an orienteering flag and stamp just below the cairn on the summit and they were all heading over to get their cards marked, before haring off towards the Straits of Riggindale. I can only shake my head at fell runners, mad sods the lot if them.

High Street via Rough Crag
High Raise summit cairn and shelter

I took shelter from the wind on the summit of High Raise and sat for a few minutes eating my raisins and a flapjack bar. The rest of the walk, down to the lakeside path, was exposed and likely to be quite windy, so I took the respite while I could.

High Street via Rough Crag
Low Raise impressive cairn

High Street via Rough Crag
Whelter Bottom and Haweswater

Although the map shows no path along this section of the walk (from Low Raise, and along Long Grain) I managed to follow a farmers quad bike track all the way down to the footbridge at Fordingdale Bottom. This is peat country and the walking could get a bit wet underfoot I imagine, but today wasn’t too bad. In my Inov-8’s I got wet feet of course.

High Street via Rough Crag
Measand Beck and Fordingdale Bottom

High Street via Rough Crag
The path beside Haweswater

High Street via Rough Crag
The path beside Haweswater

High Street via Rough Crag
The path beside Haweswater

High Street via Rough Crag
The path beside Haweswater, Birks Crag forms the backdrop

High Street via Rough Crag
Looking back along Haweswater

High Street via Rough Crag
The path beside Haweswater, Speaking Crag sticking out into the lake

High Street via Rough Crag
The path beside Haweswater

High Street via Rough Crag
Riggindale Beck

High Street via Rough Crag
The path over the Rigg is lined with small standing stones – very neat

The return path beside Haweswater was a lovely as I remember it being when I did the Coast to Coast and the weather had improved significantly from this morning. I managed to remove my coat and if I could have been bothered to stop again a little later I could have removed my fleece too.

I met dozens of people coming the other way now, although I think only one group of three, semi-reluctant parents with a keen teenage daughter, were actually doing the Coast to Coast.

As usual the car park was jammed and the cars spilled for half a mile along the Haweswater road. I love arriving early!

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1 thought on “High Street via Rough Crag”

  1. Well done on the whole site. I use it to reminisce on the walks I’ve done, but not recorded as meticulously as you, and for information to bag the final few 2000’. I particularly like the parking info., – after a long drive from the south in the early hours of Saturday morning it’s reassuring to know where you can park and get on with the joyous stuff.

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