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High Street from Haweswater

Rough Crag, High Street and Kidsty Pike

sunny 8 °C

The drive over from Shap to Haweswater in the pale winter sunshine revealed that the eastern rim of the Lakeland Fells still held some remnants of snow from the recent cold weather. High Street's eastern crags in particular were patterned liberally with white which shone brightly in the morning sun.

Despite the calm and mild conditions which prevailed in the Eden Valley, I was greeted at the head of Haweswater by a blustery gale though strangely, the sky was still clear. Leaving the car, I set off through the gate below the brooding bulk of Harter Fell which rose at the end of the valley, lines of snow clinging to its craggy slopes. I followed the path around to the right along the shore of Haweswater, where the wind was blowing the surface into white capped waves, before climbing gradually to a copse of trees which gave expansive views down the length of the Lake.

From here I crossed the stile and headed up the slope behind, effectively doubling back and following the steep path up to the left of the ridge and presently passed back above where I'd left the car. The way now was a steep and relentless climb as I gained height towards Rough Crag which is really the east ridge of High Street though its top feels more like a separate summit. A fine spot this, a small rocky platform high above Riggindale on one side and the dark waters of Blea Tarn on the other.

Sheltering from the wind on its far side, I recalled the last time I'd been here. An equally gusty day of grey overcast and snow flurries when even the hardy Lakeland sheep had sought shelter behind the stone walls. Today the wind was not at all cold. Onwards along the broad ridge passing a small Tarn before beginning the final climb up to High Street. The path led uphill steeply in a series of easy rocky steps gaining height rapidly and after the hard work I'd made of getting up Rough Crag it was surprisingly soon that I was trudging up an easy angled slope of soft snow to reach the wide summit plateau.

The highest point of the fell is marked by an Ordnance Survey column besides a half broken down wall which runs the length of the summit ridge. This wall I followed north a short way, the wind now at my back, before stopping for lunch by one of the wall's many gaps. This wall was clearly not going to impede the peregrinations of the local sheep and I wondered if it dated back to Roman times when a road was built along the flat summit of High Street giving the fell its current name.

As I tried to figure how the chariots made it up here to trundle along this road, my eye was caught by the drifts of snow running off to the distance besides the wall for miles while the rest of the fell top was almost clear. The view to the west was impressive too and Helvellyn dominated here, its white garb declaring its 3000 foot elevation though hardly any snow lay on Skiddaw or the distant western fells.

Down then to the col known as the Straits of Riggindale where I decided that, as nothing wet was falling on me, which itself was unusual for the Lake District, I'd head on as far as High Raise instead of following the shorter path to Kidsty Pike. I set off over the nearby summit of Rampsgill Head and on across the open empty fellsides. This really is wonderful walking country and I appeared to be the only person this side of the Straits of Riggindale as the slanting rays of the sun reflected off scattered snowfields and lit the valley below with a soft light.

High Raise has a small stone shelter where I was able to have a rest and a snack in total isolation. There's no sign of modern life up here - apart perhaps from a very distant view of Penrith to the north - and thats only if you stand up. There's a certain quality about these fells. Perhaps they lack the drama of the rugged hills further west but they also lack the crowds!

So I began the last leg of my walk - back across the grassy plateau towards Kidsty Pike where the ground fell away steeply and the depths of Riggindale were revealed below. The path from here led back down the grassy eastern slopes of Kidsty Pike before descending more steeply, the last section into Riggindale itself - a wonderfully unspoilt valley bordering the western shores of Haweswater - before I followed the trail over a footbridge and back to the copse of trees overlooking the lake where I'd turned back up the ridge earlier today. A short walk in the gathering evening brought me from here back to the start point at the car park.

Pete Buckley

Essentials >>> Up 810m >>> Down 810m >>> How Far? 14.1km >>> How High? 828m/2718ft
Riggindale

Riggindale


High Street Ridge

High Street Ridge


Haweswater

Haweswater

Please visit my walking routes homepage or the table of contents below for more walks in the Lake District

Posted by PeteB 09:16 Archived in England Tagged mountains lake_district walking hiking foot

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