Kirkstone Pass walk

The first walk of many in 2006. This walk covered Hartsop Dodd, Caudale Moor (Stony Cove Pike), St Ravens Edge and Red Screes.
Red Screes Summit
It was mostly intended to figure out how hard the walks were in a book I got for Christmas – “Walking the Wainwrights” and to test my fitness properly. Originally the route was to be longer, but curcumstaces didn’t allow, more on that later. A side aim was of course to take many pictures!

The route is 10 1/2 miles long, with 3500 feet of ascent and features 3 Wainwrights and a pub.

The Start
Starting from a car park just past Hartsop Village on the Kirkstone Pass (coming up from Ambleside) there was ample parking for this time of year – summer might be a problem. The intial stages simply invlove walking the short distance into Hartsop and heading towards Hartsop Dodd – which towers over the Village. THe footpaths here are pretty clear and its just a case of following them accross a small bridge over the stream. Note to self – take picture of hll before starting!

Hartsop Dodd (618m)
Brothers WaterThe climb of Hartsop Dodd chosen was pretty much the steepest there is – from the village you can follow a wall steeply up until you branch left up a path to the summit. Its very steep and fairly hard going, but not technical and afforded specatacular views of the valley we were climbing out of. Once up there, you can see a huge amount of the surrounding area – Right accross to Helvellyn, as well as High Street, Rest Dodd and St Sunday Crag amongst others. More importantly, you can see the path to Caudale Moor / Stony Cove pike running along side a wall.

At this point I had stopped a couple of times to get my breath back, but the weather was good, no cloud and excellent visibility and the day was looking good. It took us about an hour from the car park to the top.

Caudale Moor / Stony Cove Pike (763m)
Path up Caudale MoorThe second Wainwright of the day, a fairly easy walk along and up the ridge from Hartsop Dodd. The path runs along a large wall, so the route is sheltered and easy to follow.

This was an easy part, there was some ice and snow but it was not a problem. As soon as we set off along this route, the cloud closed in leaving us without any views, but not so much as to make navigation difficult. Once up to Caudale Moor, the top was hard to find, as there are so many cairns on such a large moor that its guess work, especially in reduced visibility.

An obvios path leads down gently to St Ravens Edge from here, which we followed.

St Ravens Edge (593m)
St Ravens EdgeThe path takes you through St Raven Edge, where you can either go over it or stay down a little lower. I stayed on the low path to save energy, some of the others ran off up it. How I hate people fitter than I! After St Ravens Edge, the path turns sharply down hill towards the Kirkstone Pass Inn. The descent is a little tricky in places, where I had to scramble a bit. Everything was still in cloud, but we arrived safley at the Inn, grabbed an outside table and got started on out lunches, with the help of Beer / Hot Chocolate.

Red Screes (776m)
Red ScreesRed Screes is big, and steep if you climb it from the Kirkstone Pass. Straight away the path turns into narrow rock steps whic are not great for the confidence in cold wet conditions. After about half way up, the footing was getting a little icy in places as well – which left me a little nervous. Soon after this, we took a right branch on the path and started to encounter some scrambling…..

Me and Will ScramblingThe problem is I have never climbed before and might have a little bit of vertigo. 2000ft up the side of a cold mountain is not the best place to learn Scrambling, but there seemed to be no option! We found routes that allowed us to bypass some of the worst scree in the steep bits, but there was one section where I climbed some scree with the nagging thought that I was about to slip down the side of the mountain. These bits done, the last 10 mins of the ascent was a nice trek over some snow and ice to finr the large summit cairn and windbreak.

At this point the cloud lifted a little and I got some good shots in while the adrenaline faded away.

Now the problem was that our original route could not be completed before dark (2 more peaks and 13 miles overall) so we chose to descend down the Scandale pass to cut down to 10.5 miles and maybe get done before dark.

From the top of Red Screes we descended aiming to pick up a path which crossed the Scandale Pass.

Scandale Pass
The Scandale Pass led pretty much back to Hartsop, a fairly ok but rocky path. We tramped down this in the failing light trying to keep away from the icy pathces. We just made it to the flatter ground at the bottom as trhe light went, with about 1.5 miles of flat paths back to the car. These led us past the back of Brothers Water and to the car. From the moment we joined this my legs were causing severe pain – making this the least good part of the walk.

All in all a very tiring day, but satisfying. I think I dmaged my left thigh a bit on the climb up Red Screes as it hurt constantly all the way back after this. I lack flexibilty and tend to lean back when I am walking as well – neither of which helped, but both can be fixed with due attention.

Craig has also got a blog post on this walk here. Some of the pics are his as well – all pictures open in a new window on flickr.

3 thoughts on “Kirkstone Pass walk

  1. Pingback: Craig Rigby - the weblog.. » New Year Lake District Walk

  2. Thanks for the description and pic of Red Scree. I went up it in September having not done much more than walk to the pub before and it was quite a challenge and quite hairy in places. Its hard to appreciate how high it is from the long distance shot though.

  3. I climbed red screes on valentines 2011, was incredible , as my usual walk is a mile or so in the countryside of Cheshire! What a challenge , and achievement , made a snowman at the summit!! Looking over at the frozen tarns was surreal!! Looking at it tonite (June 26 2012! I get butterfly’s!! Will do it again I’m 50 next year, a nana , and bring on scarfel pike !! :) ) love it all

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