Apr 06 2012

Walk 46: Kid You Knott

Looking down Riggindale towards Haweswater

route: The Knott, Rampsgill Head, High Raise & Kidsty Pike from Hartsop
Date: 6th april 2012
distance: 7.3 miles
ascent: 2,494 feet
time: 5 hrs 05 mins
walkers: Dave, Graham, Leanne, Roger, Sandra & Simon

At Easter last year the Badgers spent the four day weekend walking the 52 miles of the Herriot Way and having a great time in the process. As that was such a success we had decided six months ago that we would do something this Easter too. Initially that was going to be the Dales Way but after considering our options, we elected for a weekend in the Lake District, and the log cabin was booked. Four walks were planned which would see us cover 40 miles and to the top of 25 Wainwright’s and we were all set, but we didn’t factor in the great British weather. Three days before we went and there were snow storms and bad weather with more forecast. Each time I looked at the Met Office forecast, it warned of severe wind chill, heavy rain and dangerous conditions on high ground which is exactly where we were going. Not to be put off I came up with a plan. The first part of this plan was to not tell L’Autobus of any of this to avoid their spirits being shattered before we got there. The second was a few more emergency routes further in the Far Eastern Fells as most of the bad weather was due in the West (where we had planned to walk). So, early on Good Friday we travelled from Yorkshire up to Cumbria with one eye on the weather and the other on the nice warm log cabin. We made a decision to go with the last minute route and to take each day as it comes rather than sticking to the original plans which I felt was the right thing to do. There is no point in being so stubborn we can’t change our mind should circumstances dictate. Part of the appeal of rambling is the freedom that comes with it, so it makes no sense to contradict that with a routine that doesn’t allow change. Our new start point was Hartsop and after we found the first car park full, we reached the second one to find a few spaces for us to park up and so our “Wainwright Weekend” began.

The early part of the walk was fairly gentle as we slowly climbed away from the car park and gained height in a civilised manor. We had an idea of what was coming though as all around us were big lumps of rock with Rest Dodd and Hartsop Dodd being two Wainwrights we had no intention of doing. There are so many in such a small area that at any time there may be five or ten that seem to be within walking distance but coupled with the ascent it makes it so tough to do in one day. As well as that the scenery is so beautiful why not leave a few to come back for another day?!

Beaky and Roger disappeared over the brow of the hill ahead of the rest of us as I noticed that the path crossed the gill and headed up the hillside. G went running off after them as I helped L’Autobus across Hayeswater Gill, which despite one or two slight scares, went pretty well. Once across, and with no sign of the others we began the long steep climb up towards the first of today’s intended tops. As we climbed we got our first glimpse of Hayeswater which would no dout be the first of many lakes we would have the pleasure of witnessing, providing the weather was clear.

The climb upwards continued at what seemed to be a steeper gradient by the minute. Up ahead Beaky and Roger waited patiently as G came to join us. Apparently when he caught the others earlier they were at a bridge and he had then climbed with them before angling across the hillside to try and spot us. As I reached G we waited for L’Autobus before we made our way to the two mountain goats and had a few minutes rest. By now we could see The Knott clearly in front of us and we had done most of the hard work as we joined a gravel path and began to skirt round the top. We stopped for a quick map check and I informed the others we could head straight up which was steeper or we could continue on the gradual path and loop round the back of the summit before cutting back at a greatly reduced angle. At times like these I don’t really need to wait for an answer as I know exactly what everyone is thinking and more importantly what Wu Tnag and Ramblo are thinking. For them the words steeper and reduced angle are all they would hear, and we skirted the top before reaching finally reach The Knott.

We took our pictures then sat for a sandwich and some of us took the opportunity to look at Hayeswater from high above. We spent a few more relaxing minutes at the top before we were joined by a few others walkers and we decided to leave them in peace. Beaky even managed to fit in some funky walking as we went.

Behind us we had a clear view of The Knott as we crossed the Straits of Riggindale where ahead of us we could see the highest of the Far Eastern Fells, High Street.

High Street wasn’t on our original route but seeing how close it was got us to thinking we could include it, especially as we had done the hard work in climbing to the ridge. It was agreed that we would see how we felt after taking in Rampsgill Head, High Raise and Kidsty Pike, and as we had to return this way we could decide then. With hindsight I believe it was the right choice, but it did cause some slight friction a little later. More of that later.

We reached a cairn which signalled a junction in the path, ahead was High Street and left was our three planned peaks. We turned left and followed a path that climbed gradually as the mist and rain closed in, and a few people began to tighten up hoods in preparation for the soaking. I left the path and angled away to the left after looking at Gordon for assistance and led the troops towards Rampsgill Head as the wind and rain began to batter us. Fortunately my trusty sun hat was ample protection as the wind blew it down over my ear and face and it acted like a shield. It is a constant source of amusement to the other that my sun hat is worn in all conditions but I prefer it to a cap or woollen hat that the others choose to use. Rampsgill Head came and went and I think we undervalued this due to the weather. We stood at the cairn for the usual pics and walked to the edge of the crags but we had no view up towards Ulswater. I am sure on a clear day this would be a totally different experience and one that was a little more enjoyable. Not that I am one to complain and I was still smiling away as we left Rampsgill Head behind and focused on High Raise that was next up on the agenda.

High Raise was merely half a mile away along the ridge and one thing I have noticed since we started Wainwright “bagging” is the fact that lots of them are close together, and it is possible to visit a few once the height has been gained. We walked through a patch of snow, no doubt left from earlier in the week and soon approached the rocky summit to find three people all set up with a big aerial and listening to the weather forecast. Now I don’t know where they were going but I could have told them what the weather was like on High Raise, it was wet and windy! L’Autobus joined us and ducked straight into the shelter built next to the cairn and even stayed there as we took the summit pictures. Then after a sarnie it was time to brace the elements once again as we retraced our steps for a while, before veering off to Kidsty Pike.

Once again there was only a fraction over half a mile to our fourth and possibly, final peak of the day and as I walked with L’Autobus I told them we would be there in no time. They didn’t believe me, but I have learnt that it is surprising how quickly you can reach landmarks when walking at a reasonable speed. Many a time something has seemed far away for us to reach in 10 or 15 minutes and this was no different. Kidsty Pike was another place that would be totally different in better conditions and although the mist had lifted a little we didn’t have full views of the surrounding peaks and valleys.

We stood on the edge, trying to get close enough to appreciate the drop, without being too close in case a big gust of wind took us over. There was certainly no chance of us sighting the sole Golden Eagle to live in England, as he would be safely tucked away somewhere to stay dry. In fact the weather had maybe improved or it was possible that I was acclimatised to it by now and we decided our time here must come to an end, and we headed back to the cairn to make our big decision. As we retraced our earlier steps we had a view, or some may say we didn’t have a view of the top of High Street

I knew what the girls were thinking as they had suggested as much as we left Kidsty Pike. I also knew what Beaky and Roger would be thinking, which would leave myself and G as the casting votes. Personally I was more than happy to go on. High Street was within our grasp and although the girls may have felt tired, they would have had no problem making the short ascent to the trig point. My worry was that once we reached High Street, then Mardale Ill Bell and Thronthwaite Crag would be seen as easy possibilities too. I was sure we could all do those, but would the girls feel like they were enjoying it if we went on? I have no doubt that after doing them they would be proud of their efforts and pleased they had gone on, but until that point it would affect the mood of the group. On the flip side turning for home now would no doubt mean Roger and Beaky felt a little cheated and that we should seize the opportunity whilst there to visit the peaks so close. My mantra has always been and will continue to be that everyone needs to be happy which I appreciate isn’t always possible, but if in doubt we have to go to the slowest or with the people who want to head for home. It is hard to appreciate when you are fitter and stronger than the others what they may be feeling and I know how that feels. If L’Autobus aren’t in attendance then I become the weakest of the group, and whilst I am happy to go on, I know I can’t do it at the same speed as the others. I think that is the reason I had a foot in both camps, I was capable of going on but I sympathise with those who want to call it a day. In the end there was only one choice to make and we called it a day and made our way around The Knott and back towards Hayeswater, where we regrouped for the final descent back to the car.

The difference in conditions down here was very noticeable with the rain having stopped and the temperature a good few degrees warmer. When high above on the ridge I had joked with Graham about this so called wind chill factor (obviously I am aware of it should anyone think I am totally stupid) and joked there was no such thing. This raised a few laughs and this was proof that it does exist, but I suppose you had to be there to appreciate the joke. After loosening the clothing a touch due to the increased temperature, we began the final one and a quarter miles which was all gradually downhill as we followed the tarmac track back to the car.

Ramblo was suffering with her knee and had been since the top, which no doubt also played a part in the earlier decision to come down. Her faithful sidekick Wu Tang walked alongside her and the two of them were yapping away. I joined in from time to time and especially had to join in when conversation turned to route planning. I apologised for even mentioning the possibility of doing High Street, which had caused a difference of opinion, no matter how small or quickly people moved on from it. I jokingly told them if they weren’t careful I would have to revert back to being a dictator and simply picking a route and sticking to it, especially if this democratic approach would cause problems. The conversation was all light hearted and we were full of smiles as we caught up with the others who were waiting for us by a gate up ahead.

We strolled the final few hundred yards back to the car in one group whilst discussing the post walk plans. As usual we felt we should take in a pub before heading to the temporary weekend headquarters and unpacking. Today was our third walk in the Lake District and the first for 11 months. In that time I had forgotten how much more in your face it seems when compared with the Yorkshire Dales or Peak District. Everything happens so much quicker, with the climbs being bigger and the walking seeming harder. There is undoubted beauty in all three National Parks and I am sure people have their favourite as do I. I will hold back from making a public announcement on which it is just yet. Besides, there is no need to rank them or score one higher than the other. They are all wonderful places and all have their own unique charm and characteristics, just like the pubs we visit after a walk. Most will no doubt serve a local ale or two which gives each one a local feel. I however, don’t like bitter, so all pubs are equally sought after, mines a lager please and better not forget the team nibbles…

Sir Edmund


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