High Hartsop Dodd

High Hartsop Dodd, from Hartsop Hall.

Date completed: 21st July 2018.

Seven years ago today (21/7/11) I was having a lot of fun on walk 39 climbing Nethermost Pike, not too far away. So I have done 110 walks in 7 years since that date, or about 15.7 a year.

Scandale Tarn

Scandale Tarn, seen from Little Hart Crag in the day’s few minutes of mist

Weather conditions: Good for walking, dry, still and a comfortable temperature. Cloudier and duller than of late, though. Some higher fells nearby (like Dove Crag, for instance) were covered in raiments of cloud all day: I had a hint of mist up on Little Hart Crag for a few minutes, though that was all.

Summits bagged: Arnison Crag (1424 feet above sea level, number 155 of my second round), High Hartsop Dodd (1702’, no. 156), Little Hart Crag (2091’, no. 157).

Arnison Crag was first bagged on walk 23, 19/8/10. The other two were first bagged on walk 5, 9/9/09: see the commentary below.

Brothers Water

The shore of Brothers Water. Middle Dodd is the fell in the background; to the left can just be seen the Kirkstone Pass road.

Start and end points: Started in Patterdale, finished in Ambleside. I started the walk at 10:20, which is when the 09:25 #508 bus departure from Windermere railway station (it takes its time…) dropped me in Patterdale, and ambled into Ambleside 4 hours and 45 minutes later. In the summer, several buses an hour return from there to Windermere.

Note that a shorter version of this walk is available by getting off the bus at the Cow Bridge car park, near Brothers Water, and starting there. This would omit Arnison Crag, and turn the walk into a 7-mile, 3-hour expedition.

Distance walked: Bearing this in mind, the full walk is 10.75 miles approximately.

Total ascent: 2700 feet approximately.


Pub at end: There are many pubs in Ambleside. The first one you pass when you drop into town is the Golden Rule, and this is definitely worth patronising. Leave another few minutes from there to get to the bus stops on Kelsick Road.

Route: As with walk 148 two weeks ago, this bags you three of the more obscure fells in the canon and is pleasant walking in very attractive countryside, but never gets particularly exciting. All the climbing is concentrated in two intense bouts of upwardness, one at the very start which contains about a third of the overall ascent load and bags you the first of the three fells, and the remainder about halfway through, which gets you the other two. So in that respect it’s fairly democratic. Views are good in a kind of local sense, but not particularly extensive. The ground beneath your feet is dry and the paths generally of good quality.

Arnison Crag from below

Approaching the summit of Arnison Crag

As noted above, starting in Patterdale, with Arnison Crag, is optional, but worth it for the extra variety and the view of the head of Ullswater, which you would not get with the shorter version of the walk. The bus will drop you outside the Patterdale Hotel. Go back down the road a couple of hundred yards and turn right up the lane opposite the telephone box, then take the signposted footpath. Don’t go through the gate to Glenamara Park, but turn left instead, following the wall up the hill. On the approach to the summit of Arnison Crag (pictured), turn left, and the summit will be attained after some very mild scrambling. This took me 35 minutes from the bus stop.

If the weather is poor I would go the same way back down to Patterdale. But if not, head along the ridge path, past the secondary summit and down to Trough Head, which is the very obvious valley where Arnison Crag ends and Birks begins. Here, drift left in the general direction of the first hump on the ridge of Hartsop above How, ahead. For most of the year it will be a pathless, but easy descent from here down to the lane above the farm of Wall End. In summer however, bracken will impede progress. At this time of the year head a bit further along and descend via the path that is visible through the bracken ahead, coming down off St. Sunday Crag.

New trees in Scandale

The rash of new trees in Scandale. Low Pike above.

Either way once at the lane head left, past Wall End and then turn right through the fields by the self-catering cottages (the grounds of which are marked as private, so bypass them), coming out at Bridgend. There is then a bit of following the road to be done, as it goes round the butt end of the Hartsop above How ridge, but it’s safe and straightforward, with no need to actually battle with tarmac. Stick on the roadside path and you will be taken down to the shore of Brothers Water, a good place to have lunch.

From here, take the lane to Hartsop Hall then bear left, following the sign to Scandale Pass (see the picture at the top of the page). Once through the field, gird your loins for the climb of High Hartsop Dodd, which is certainly steep, although there are many less pleasant ascents in the Lakes. The path is decent, and it’s really just a matter of taking your time and keeping putting one foot in front of the other. Like Arnison Crag, the whole slope from base to summit took me about 35 minutes.

Scandale wall

Wall dropping down to Scandale Pass. Red Screes in cloud ahead.

Once up, simply carry on and the double summit of Little Hart Crag will be attained another 20 or so minutes later. The bump on the right, as you approach, is the higher of the two. This is the last of the day’s summits, but 40% of the overall walk mileage remains between the summit of Little Hart Crag and Ambleside, and there’s not a great deal to see on the rest of the way. Nevertheless this is an agreeable descent down Scandale, easy underfoot and on the knees, and on which it is impossible to go astray.

To reach it, keep going over the summit of LHC and loop round past the little Scandale Tarn, dropping down to the summit of Scandale Pass. Here, turn right over the ladder stile and simply carry on all the way down the few miles of Scandale, noting what is clearly an attempt at reforestation, if all the trees in little plastic protectors are anything to go by.

Dew on the grass

Dew on the grass near Scandale Pass

Go past High Sweden Bridge (which you don’t need to cross) and this will take you into Ambleside. Keep going down hill when given the choice and you will pass the Golden Rule, where have a pint, then go out its back exit and you will drop down to Ambleside town centre.

Ninth anniversary commentary: It was on 19th July 2009 that all this started with that ascent of Walla Crag. Of course, on that day this hadn’t arrived in my mind as a fully-fledged project, even to bag the main 214, let alone then add the Outlying Fells and for good measure decide to do them all a second time. But by the end of that first week in the Lakes, the first four walks and thirteen fells, I decided to set out on the full round.

Walk 5, the first one after that week, then nearly derailed the whole thing, being, as I know I have said before on here, a disaster of multiple forms. The lack of any photos from that day has meant that since, the fells on the walk seemed like a kind of black hole in my attempts to depict the District as attractively as I can on these pages. And I remember very little about some parts of the walk if truth be told.

Entrance to Deepdale

On the descent of Arnison Crag, looking up Deepdale

This was certainly true of the second two fells on today’s walk, Little Hart Crag and High Hartsop Dodd. My first visit to these two marked the point at which what had been a reasonable day started going wrong. There were some bad memories to exorcise (and exercise) therefore. And seeing as last time I came at High Hartsop Dodd purely from the back, from which I barely remember it feeling like a separate summit, I also decided I owed it a proper ascent despite the warnings in the book about its steepness. Wainwright comes this close to saying, ‘if you must…. descend it, but don’t climb it’.

High Hartsop Dodd from the back

High Hartsop Dodd tries its hardest to appear separate. Angletarn Pikes in the background. Note the two walkers on the nearer bump.

But that would have been unfair on the Dodd, particularly as I’m trying my best to do all the fells by a different route from the first time. So up the slope I went. OK, yes, it was certainly steep but at least the path wasn’t eroded and difficult and, taking it slowly, I actually found it a fairly reasonable climb. There are many worse, even among fells of similar stature (from my last 12 months I give you Wandope from Sail Beck, for example (walk 136)). And High Hartsop Dodd does look like a separate fell from three sides and — as this picture here shows — just about, from the back. So today helped me assign it its rightful place among the canon.


Another view of the reafforestation efforts in Scandale

Scandale was a nice easy walk down, too, although a bit long and monotonous. Adding Arnison Crag at the beginning was somewhat artificial but made for a more interesting walk, and bagging it then means I can bring a bit more variety to my future expedition up St. Sunday Crag. I still have over half the Lakeland fells to bag a second time but the whole District is broken up in my mind into a series of little slices. Why should all my walk routes be logical? I did it like that when I was younger, more disciplined. My anarchic side is coming back to the fore as I age. Expect more of this illogicality.

Sheep and Sheffield Pike

The day’s obligatory sheep portrait. Sheffield Pike provides the backdrop.

The two-month spell of, mostly, hot and sunny days seems to have come to an end (in time for the school summer holidays) but all that means is that the weather is now more what we consider typical for July. I’m still at work for another couple of weeks so there are no chances to return to Cumbria for a little while but I’m working on Joe again to accompany me in August. It’s a good way of distracting me from the lunacies of the wider world, even when the fells are obscure. The three-quarter mark (165 fells on the second round) approaches and should be reached in September. Three more years to go, then, at the current pace.

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