Friday 22 March 2013

Mountains and Stuff Part III

Day three (Tuesday) dawned and it looked nice and bright and even a bit sunny, so once again I headed off over the Kirkstone Pass and parked up at the village of Hartsop.

When planning my attempt to finish off the Wainwrights, I looked at all the remaining peaks and grouped them into achievable one day walks. One of these was to walk from Hartsop up onto the High Street range and bag three peaks, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike and High Raise.

Another was also to start at Hartsop and pick off Brock Crags and The Nab, which can only be approached from the saddle to the south between it and Rest Dodd as unusually it is private land and sits inside a Red Deer Sanctuary, so the only permissive access is via the saddle Rest Dodd is a peak I had first climbed in 1997.

In fact I had climbed it on the very walk with Steve and Neil that I made my decision to bag all the Wainwrights. We had again started from Hartsop and climbed The Knott (2423'), Rest Dodd (2278') and then traversed over Satura Crag to Angletarn Pike (1857'). None of us actually had a copy of the relevant Wainwright Guide (Far Eastern Fells) that day, as we were using Steve and Neil's knowledge of the Lakes to navigate and had the OS Map if we got lost. On the way to Angletarn Pikes, I had asked if Brock Crag, a few minutes diversion off the main ridge from Satura Crag was a Wainwright and they both agreed it wasn't, so we carried on.

Of course on checking the guide book, It is included, so I had missed a very easy peak that would have only needed a ten minute detour to bag! Hence my need to climb it again, I had reckoned that it would only be a half day trip even if combined with The Nab.

When planning on the Monday night, I came up with the idea of combining both walks into one long day as once I was up on the ridge, I might as well take advantage of the height I had gained.

So bright and early I set of from Hartsop along the well surfaced bridleway that leads up onto High Street, so well surfaced in fact the first half mile to an intake house is actually tarmac!

Leaving Hartsop with Gray Crag ahead

The climb from Hartsop is long and hard in the final stages, despite the good path, being 2 miles and with 1850' of ascent. Also the first objective of the day, The Knott (2423') can't even been seen until the last stretch before up to the dam at the Hayeswater Reservoir.

The Knott from the approach to Hayeswater

Just before reaching the reservoir, the path crosses the stream and zig zags it's way very steeply up the slope to the ridge below The Knott. This afforded great views of the frozen reservoir:


This stretch was hard work as it's very steep and the snow was very soft in places making the going difficult. On reaching the ridge, the views westwards towards the Helvellyn range were spectacular and I made use of a feature on Anne's new camera that she had leant to me to capture it, a neat panorama feature. You just hit the button and rotate around until the indicator tells you to stop, the camera stiches it all together and stabilises the image:

Looking westward from the ridge below The Knott

Climbing the ridge towards The Knott the previously cold but bright weather started to change as the wind increased and the cloud started to lower. By the time I had reached the wall corner where you can either turn right to climb to the summit, carry straight on towards High Street or turn left towards the top of Rampsgill Head the cloud was completely covering me.

As there was no path to the left and the ground was covered in snow, I decided to carry on the well defined path towards High Street, knowing that just before the Straights of Riggindale, the narrow saddle leading to High Street a major path led off to the left and went over Rampsgill Head passing close to the summit. This is the course of the old Roman Road that traversed High Street and is a bridleway these days, so should be easy to follow.

And indeed it was, so I turned back to head north and for a few minutes the cloud lifted enough to see the distinctive top of Kidsty Pike:

Kidsty Pike
Shortly afterwards I turned left off the path for a couple of hundred yards to reach the top of Rampsgill Head (2581') a fairly uninspiring place, now back in the cloud but it was at least my 136th Wainwright and my first of the day.

Rampsgill Head

From there I quickly regained the main path only a few hundred yards away and then headed off to the right and walked the short distance to the top of Kidsty Pike (2560'), to get number 137. I then retraced my steps back to the main path and continued northwards along the ridge to the Summit of High Raise to bag my 138th Wainwright.

High Raise

The weather by now was pretty unpleasant, so I didn't stay long and traced my steps back the way I had just come. At a junction I had the choice of following the main path again or cutting the corner by going straight over the top of Rampsgill Head again, so I turned right and walked over the summit for the second time that morning. I then headed straight towards the wall corner near the top of the Knott. On arriving I decided to climb The Knott as it semed silly to go within two minutes of the summit and not do it. The cloud was now lifting again and I was there and back in under five minutes.

I then headed off the main path following the wall that leads straight to Rest Dodd, this proved quite tricky as the slope is steep with large stretches of ice. I stopped near the bottom in the shelter of a large convenient boulder out of the wind for lunch.

I then climbed the steep slope up to Rest Dodd, in hindsight this was unneccessary as looking at the map later I realised I could have remained on the main path on the broad ridge, that heads from The Knott towards Satura Crags as it is possible to reach The Nab (my next objective) from there, bypassing Rest Dodd altogether. Indeed the original Wainwright shows the route to The Nab as only being via this route but these days there is a path straight off the top of Rest Dodd.

However after reaching the summit this path turned out to be very steep and covered in extensive sheets of ice. So I took the safer option of dropping down to the saddle between Rest Dodd and Satura Crag and then round to the northern side where the broad saddle leads across to the Summit of The Nab.

This too involves a very steep descent from the saddle over snow rather than ice, so although very tricky it was possible, even though it took a long time.

The saddle to The Nab is notorious as a dull trudge over very boggy peat hags but today it was a breeze, being frozen solid. As a result I was soon standing on the summit at 1887', Wainwright number 139:

Top of The Nab, the prominent summit just right of centre is Rest Dodd,
showing the steep descent from the saddle to the right.
To the left of centre is The Knott and the crags leading away
to the left are Rampsgill Head,
High Raise is just out of shot to the left along the ridge.
Of course by now it was in brilliant sunshine!

Heading back across the saddle, I tackled the steep ascent back to the ridge, at one point I had to get my ice axe out and cut steps up the steep snow slope, very "old school" but necessary as I was unable to bring my crampons after discovering they don't fit my boots. There were two women I met coming from The Nab as I climbed it and I saw them stop at the base of the slope for a while then climb the slope increadibly quickly so I assumed they had stopped to don crampons. I eventually got back onto the ridge:

Gray Crag from the saddle between Rest Dodd and Satura Crag

Back on the main path I soon caught up with the two women and discovered what they had actually used were "Micro Spikes" a very neat walking crampon system that uses a rubber band round your boot linked underneath with chains that have a number of short spikes, very quick to put on and take off and much lighter than crampons. And clearly very effective given the speed with which they had climbed the slope.

I soon left their company and turned left off the ridge to Brock Crags (1842'), it took a little longer than the five minutes I was expecting as there are numerous tops and I climbed two "false summits" before finding the real one, Wainwright number 140. Unfortunately this is where the photos stop as the camera battery needed recharging.

Acording to Wainwright, the easy way off Brock Crags is to just follow the old wall straight down to Hartsop, so I did. What he didn't say is how perilously steep it is! luckily having been in the sun, there was no snow but the still frozen ground under the grass was tricky enough and it was so steep I ended up with bruised toes and eventually lost one big toe nail as a result!

At the bottom of the slope there was a short detour to pick up the tarmac track to the inlet house in the valley and then back to the car.

A very rewarding day, 11 miles, 3400' of ascent, seven summits and five new Wainwrights bagged!

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