strong> Hills: High Pike (Caldbeck), Carrock Fell
Classification: Wainwrights (120 and 121)
When: Monday 3 June
Who: Me and the mountaineering minion
Distance: 7 miles (or thereabouts)
Time: 4 hours
Weather: Cloudy but well above summits – and it didn’t rain! Very windy high up.
Post walk drink: Coke. Yes really. Malbec later on, though.
Post walk watering hole: A nice tea shop for the coke, the cottage we were staying in for the Malbec
Uses of the arse crampon: AWOL again.
Mishaps: None as such, unless you count a very early start!
After my soggy expedition up Souther Fell on the last day of May, there was no walking for a couple of days. Stuart arrived at the Salutation Hotel on the Friday evening, and on waking up the following day (when we were shifting to Glenridding for a couple of nights) we were both totally knackered. The weather on the Saturday morning was actually okay to start off with but soon clouded over and started to rain on and off. We settled for a pottering about day before heading to Glenridding and chilling out, and the weather was still iffy on Sunday when we had a nice day escaping the rain at a rather nice ruined castle (Brougham Castle) then went to a bird of prey centre which was very interesting although it chucked it down towards the end of the display.
The forecast for the Monday was, however, decent although it looked as though it was going to be very windy. I was also going to need to make a rather early start (well, for me) because Stuart had to go to Manchester for work, so I was dropping him off in Penrith at 8.30. I couldn’t get in to the cottage till about 4 so had quite a bit of time. It made sense to head for the Northern Fells (again) and after a bit of umming and ah-ing I decided to head for the far North of the district and do High Pike, with the option to add on other hills (well at least one other) if conditions allowed. I was parked up and ready for the off by 9.15 after a slight navigational issue i.e. taking the wrong minor road to start off with but I was still the first person in the small and rather rough parking area at Calebreck Farm.
The start of the walk follows a green track, which then joins a bigger gravel track which winds its way gently up the hillside towards the old mine workings. I felt pretty tired but it was easy walking and I was able to just put my head down and get on with it. It was very windy though so I tried to push the pace as much as possible.
Once past the mine workings, it was another easy pull on to the final approach to the summit of High Pike. For a decent sized hill this had not taken too much out of me and although tracks don’t look pretty they certainly help you gain height fast! The views were expansive although a bit hazy into the distance and the main impression I got was of a sense of space – you really do feel in the middle of nowhere. I faffed about taking the inevitable summit selfie and so on though it was too cold to sit around for very long. It certainly didn’t feel much like June!
The next decision was where to go on to next. It wasn’t even 11am yet and I had plenty of time, and although it was very windy the visibility was good and these hills are the sort of hills where there is not really anything to get blown off if the wind got worse. Plus although it was windy enough that MWIS would definitely refer to it as ‘considerable buffeting’ it was not in being blown over territory and certainly not in the category of the worst wind I have walked in – that dubious honour goes to my jaunt up Pen y Fan in dreadful weather where I managed to wreck not only my personal iPhone but also my work iPhone. Realistically my choice of add on hills was limited to Carrock Fell – Knott was too far away and I had it in mind to add it on to a different circuit anyway. Carrock Fell was the obvious one and also sounded an interesting hill for both historical reasons (Iron Age fort on top) and geological ones (it’s the only hill in England made out of gabbro, the rock which the Cuillin Ridge is mostly made of and which has a nasty habit of mucking up compass bearings). I headed off down an easy path and angled round towards Carrock Fell with good views in all directions… then hit the bog.
I am sometimes referred to as the Bogfinder General because I have an unerring ability to find bog even on hills which are not supposed to have any. There was a pretty major patch of bog en route to Carrock Fell, although certainly nothing like Central Fells proportions, and the angle of ascent was pretty gentle so it was simply a case of plodding through it. The final rise to the summit of Carrock Fell was much drier but the summit itself was so windy that taking photos was actually quite tricky! The views were good though, but it was far too windy to hang about so a fairly swift descent was made.
Once off the summit and over the bog, I picked up a gently angled path which cuts down towards the beck before crossing it and picking up the track I’d taken earlier on. This was an easy descent with some nice views back and by the time I got down to the beck the sun had come out! It was a nice walk back to the car and given I was still too early to get in to the cottage I went for lunch in a nice tea room then for a potter around Castlerigg stone circle which is somewhere I always try and visit when I’m in Keswick as it’s a place I have loved ever since I first visited it about 20 years ago. The post walk drink would have to wait until I was installed in the cottage and knew that Stuart was sorting out a taxi to get to Keswick so I had no need to make a return trip to Penrith!
All in all a good walk and a nice option for the day with some good views… though the weather was certainly not flaming June!