Summit of Caudale Moor

The summit of Caudale Moor (and the guy who gave me some sunscreen). Froswick and Ill Bell are prominent in the background.

Date completed: 15th September 2012.

Weather conditions:  Really beautiful for most of the walk – no kidding. Best conditions since February, and best summer conditions in nearly two years. I could complain about the stiff breeze, and the fact that it did cloud over a bit in the afternoon – but I’m not going to.

Fells climbedHartsop Dodd (2028’, no. 204 – ten to go!), Caudale Moor (2502’, no. 205). With these two fells, I completed Wainwright’s Volume 2, The Far Eastern Fells.

Gray Crag, from Hartsop

Gray Crag, from Hartsop (and some very chiled-out cows)

Distance:  7.87 miles.

Total ascent:  2325 feet.

Start and end points: Started at Hartsop; the #508 bus drops you at the end of the lane. This bus only runs on weekends from late March to late October, and daily in the six-week school summer holiday. Ended at Ambleside bus station.

Pub at the halfway point: There was no ‘pub at end‘ today in the sense that I didn’t go in one, but obviously Ambleside has plenty of them to choose from (although so far, I have to say, I haven’t yet found a ‘pub of choice’ in that town).

Dovedale, from Hartsop Dodd

The classic view of Dovedale from Hartsop Dodd. Fells on the skyline, from left to right, are Little Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield.

This walk, however, had the luxury of one halfway, that being, the Kirkstone Pass Inn – at 1481 feet above sea level, the highest pub in the Lakes, and one of the highest in England. It has been serving travellers here for over five hundred years, and that’s about how long it took to get service at the bar. Oh, I’m only kidding. That it was so busy today was testament to the weather but also that it’s an interesting and atmospheric place to have a beer. If you follow the same general timetable of the walk as me, you would be here about 1pm and thus could buy lunch here.

Incidentally do be careful on the road here: it is busy and most cars come past too fast. I imagine it is quite easy to step out of the front door of the pub without due care and attention and then get run over.

Scene in Hartsop

Literally the first thing seen as I stepped off the bus at Hartsop this morning. Not a bad view…

Route card: Click here to download a route card which includes an elevation profile (how hilly the walk is), waypoints with grid references, and a summary map. Route card for Walk 66: Kirkstone

Route: This is not a hard route to describe, nor to follow. The only slight difficulties will be on a couple of points coming down off St Raven’s Edge, and these are momentary awkwardnesses. The rest of the route is very straightforward, even if the ascent of Hartsop Dodd is a steep one.

Clouds to the west

Clouds covered the district to the west – but who cares, I wasn’t in the west. The fell visible is Harrison Stickle, seen from the side.

To get started on said ascent, come up the lane from the bus stop, through the impossibly idyllic little village of Hartsop to the car park, and follow the sign for ‘Pasture Beck’. Cross the stream, then bear right up the hill – there is no path at first, but one emerges after you go through the gate visible above (mind that wire!).

Once up on the main ridge of Hartsop Dodd, the rest of the climb is easy – and if the gradient looks fearsome, just take it slowly. There is no cause to rush this walk. The views are excellent so there are plenty of reasons to stop and look around. Although you’ll still be annoyed, like I was, that the very prominent ‘cairn’ you see ahead as the ground levels out a bit isn’t the summit – in fact it’s not even a cairn, it’s the end of a wall.

The Troutbeck valley

Troutbeck valley, seen on the descent from Caudale Moor. This walk just kept giving and giving… Sour Howes is the most prominent fell, Windermere also visible.

Once you’ve reached the summit cairn of Hartsop Dodd, the wall defines the route to Caudale Moor, and will take you all the way to that summit; but it is better to bear more to the left, sticking close to the edge of the slope down to Threshthwaite, to admire the view of that valley (and, possibly, see golden eagles – see the ‘commentary’). This is perfectly safe in good weather, though in mist, stick to the wall.

Once you’ve reached Threshthwaite Cove, bear back to the right, swinging back towards the wall which will then guide you to the summit cairn – Caudale Moor has a very flat summit so it is worth pointing out that the cairn is a few yards to the right (east) of the wall.

St. Raven's Edge

Walkers on St Raven’s Edge

Consult the summit notes in Wainwright for guidance here, as you don’t want to follow the wrong wall down. The one you need to reach Kirkstone heads off at right angles from the one you’ve followed up from Hartsop Dodd. It heads in the direction of Red Screes, westward.

This takes you all the way down to, and over, St. Raven’s Edge. At the highest point of the edge begin to bear right, and you will immediately see the Kirkstone Pass Inn just below. Don’t rush the descent, however much you need a beer – there are a few awkward moments.

It is possible, of course, to terminate the walk at Kirkstone Pass Inn and catch a bus from there – at least, when the #508 is running. But the descent to Ambleside is really very easy and gives you a chance to walk off your beer and food.

Sheep above Hartsop

Another picture of a sheep admiring the view – Hartsop village below.

Head down the tarmac road called ‘The Struggle’ until reaching a very obvious path (with signpost) on the left, just before the road goes slightly uphill again. This path then leads all the way into Ambleside town centre, becoming tarmac again at Middle Grove but remaining mostly free of traffic. You could inspect Stockghyll Force (clearly signposted) on the way down as well, if you want.

Where Eagles Dare commentary:
The eleven fells I had left (as of this morning) are grouped into five very obvious combinations: thus, I have five walks to go. There will be 70 walks on this project – or 73, if you count each two-day hike as two separate walks.

Raven Crag above Threshthwaite

Raven Crag above the valley of Threshthwaite. Thornthwaite Crag in the background.

There are no longer any real back-up plans, nor are there many spare days coming up – September – December is definitely my busiest time at work, always has been, always will be, which is why so few walks have been done at this time of year.

So what a relief it was that this morning dawned gloriously. The sun came down, the sky was stubbornly blue, and even a stiff wind on the tops – and a slight clouding over on the home stretch – could not change the fact that this was definitely the best conditions in which I have walked since January, and the best summer walk since going up Fellbarrow two years and two weeks ago (walk 24). I had to beg for some sunscreen from the nice bloke I met on top of Caudale Moor (see picture at top); yes, I know I should have brought some but we’ve hardly become conditioned to expect it. Mind you, it was almost as soon as I put it on that the clouds started coming in. Never mind. As I said above, I’m really not complaining about the weather today.

Angletarn Pikes and Place Fell

Angletarn Pikes (and Place Fell in the background) from Hartsop Dodd

The views on the way up Hartsop Dodd, and on the walk along the ridge to Caudale Moor, were magnificent, and I got photos of several fells in the vicinity which were better than anything else managed previously (to wit:  Angletarn Pikes [see here], Brock Crags, Dove Crag, Little Hart Crag, Red Screes, Sour Howes, Thornthwaite Crag and Wansfell – phew – all of which, you can now see, have new photos from today on their fell pages).

View of Wetherlam

View from the final descent above Stock Ghyll. Wetherlam in the background.

Nor could the walk be described as difficult or strenuous in any way. With the sole exception of two awkward steps on the descent from St. Raven’s Edge, there was nothing troubling at all. I left Hartsop at just after 10, was on the Dodd’s summit at 11, Caudale Moor’s at 12, the pub by 1 (and there’s a luxury – as Wainwright says in his Red Screes chapter, how many fells ‘serve alcoholic beverages at 1480 feet?) and Ambleside bus station at 2.30. Had I not missed a connection in Preston by 10 seconds (not really the train operators’ fault – it is just a tight connection, and sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t), I would have been home again at 5pm. Instead I was back by 6. A thoroughly good and satisfying day.

Golden eagle in Threshthwaite Cove

First sighting of the golden eagle, in Threshthwaite Cove. Not such a good photograph but a more conclusive one than the one below.

But the real bonus of the day came at 11.40am just below the summit of Caudale Moor. You’ll have seen the photo below if you read my other blog (Being 42) and read my enthusiastic reaction to this otherwise blurry and awkward shot. This is, I believe – and I have quite a few other photos which make it pretty conclusive – one of the only golden eagles in England.  As I came round the side of Threshthwaite Cove today I saw this large bird, clearly a raptor, swoop through the Cove and up onto a promontory of rock that was well-lit by the sun. Although the bird was no longer visible to the naked eye (at least, not to mine), I had got a fix on the promontory and was able then to zoom in with the camera and capture a few shots.

Possible eagle, above slopes of Froswick

Not such a conclusive shot, but a better photo generally: the slopes to the right are those of Froswick.

The more I took, and especially once home and I could compare it to pictures like on the RSPB’s page, the more I am convinced that this is, indeed, a sighting of probably the rarest bird in England. There are quite a few golden eagles in Scotland – about 440 breeding pairs according to the RPSB (there would be more if they were not often illegally poisoned by the owners and gamekeepers of grouse moors) – but just this one pair in England (possibly by now there are more than two, but the reports are ambiguous). They nest in Riggindale, about a mile from Threshthwaite, between Kidsty Pike and High Street (a picture of that valley is on the Kidsty Pike page).  I think the other shot above, of the bird over the slopes of Ill Bell, is also one, but that’s less conclusive. Still, it’s a hell of a spot, and one I’m very proud of.

Froswick and Ill Bell

Froswick and Ill Bell

(While we’re on the bird theme, who was St, Raven, who gave his or her name to the edge of rock above Kirkstone Pass? Kind of a cool name, very goth, don’t you think?)

That’s another Wainwright volume done: from Sallows, my first, to Caudale Moor, all the 36 fells in Wainwright’s volume 2 (the most in any volume) are now done. It’s a fine part of the world, hard to reach but for that reason, wild and lonely, and with superb views almost everywhere. Definitely worth a visit, in fact I would go so far as to say I’m beginning to favour this area of the Lakes over others. And now only nine fells to go, four walks to do. Only one of the remaining fells (Lonscale Fell) is over 2000 feet. Should be easy. But please encourage me to finish by visiting my sponsorship page at Just Giving – I am doing this to raise money for Mountain Rescue, remember, and would appreciate your support if you are enjoying following my progress.


3 Responses to “Walk 66: Above Kirkstone”

  1. […] in the morning: and there haven’t been too many of those. I took the opportunity to get in walk 66 which took me from Hartsop to Ambleside, above the Kirkstone Pass road, bagging Hartsop Dodd and […]

  2. […] from September 16th 2015 (not 15th, admittedly: glorious though….); 16/9/14 (beautiful!); 15/9/12 (great, and almost the first really fine day of a lousy […]

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