ash trees

Near Long Lea farm, between High Pike and Faulds Brow.

Date completed: 8th April 2015.

Weather conditions: A perfect spring day. Larks were singing, daffodils blooming, lambs frolicking, etc. Hazier in the afternoon, so I didn’t get the full effect of the views (particularly from High Pike), but never mind.

Summits bagged: Souther Fell (1713 feet above sea level), Carrock Fell (2169’), High Pike (2157’) and Faulds Brow (1125’).

Hikers and Knott

Hikers on the slopes of High Pike. The summit behind is Knott.

The first three are in Wainwright’s volume 5, The Northern Fells, and each was being bagged today for the second time, making them numbers 13-15 of my developing second round.

Faulds Brow, from volume 8, had not been bagged before and is therefore number 299 of the full round of 330.

Start and end points: Started at Scales. The regular X4 and X5 Penrith-Keswick buses stop here. Finished in Caldbeck. This is served by daily buses, connecting to Keswick and Carlisle, but only in the summer (Easter to late October).

I started a bit later today, arriving at Scales at about 11.55 (11.21 departure from Penrith rail station) and got to Caldbeck by 6.30pm (my timetable for the walk is given below). The 73 bus to Carlisle currently departs Caldbeck at 7pm, from outside the little village shop and petrol station.

Ewe and lamb

Definitely spring. Always a high point on the cuteness scales.

Distance walked: 14.25 miles approximately.

Total ascent: 3050 feet of ascent approximately.  (Both approximations come from adding   various figures given in Wainwright’s chapters, but feel about right to me.)

Pub at end: The Oddfellows’ Arms, Caldbeck. In volume 5 Wainwright notes that when the local mining industry was at its height there were six public houses in this village but now there is only the one. It is decent enough, served a good pint and there is also a fairly substantial restaurant area.

Route: This is a walk with three distinct stages, and the first (Souther Fell) or last (Faulds Brow) could easily be omitted. Each, in its own way, was worth doing, however. I found it a satisfying walk, it’s mostly easy — though the ascent of Carrock Fell is a notable exception.  Views are very good throughout; not so much of Lakeland, but of the Pennines and north Cumbria for sure. Two bonus points are that apart from one patch between Carrock Fell and High Pike, it’s generally dry, and paths stay in existence rather than petering out into nothingness.

Sharp Edge

Sharp Edge, Blencathra

Starting with Souther Fell seems a bit of gratuitous bagging and I suppose it is, but it does at least mean you don’t have to spend the first four-and-a-half miles walking on tarmac. Still, if you really can’t face it, use the narrow by-road at the base of the fell to get from Scales to Mungrisdale. (Either way your first problem will be to cross the A66: please take care here.)

To climb the fell instead, take this road from the buildings of Scales for a few hundred yards until there is a sign on the left saying ‘Blackhazel Beck’ (and, probably, parked cars); this path goes up Mousthwaite Combe. At the top of this, don’t turn left like everyone else — they’re going up Blencathra (see picture above) — but go right and enjoy your solitary, straightforward climb of Souther Fell.

Head straight over that summit and down to Mungrisdale. Towards the bottom you need to deviate to the right as there is no right of way through the fields down there. In the revised edition of volume 5 Chris Jesty suggests the path needed is hard to find but I spotted it easily enough, just after an awkward rock step down. This brings you down to the by-road (mentioned earlier), where turn left. At the Mill Inn — a hard place to pass at lunchtime on a sunny day — cross the beck and use the path next to the village hall to cut out the big bend in the road. Then just follow the road from Mungrisdale north (signposted Caldbeck); unfortunately there is no real alternative to road walking at this point.

On the ascent of Carrock Fell

On the ascent of Carrock Fell. Blencathra in background.

Stick on the road until it starts going beneath the boulder fields which spill off Carrock Fell until passing the farm of Stone Ends on the right. Looking up you will see the obvious Rake Trod, which is palpably the only way up through the crags, and the path to it is fairly clear. (The ‘crater’ you pass here is the remnant of the old Carrock End Mine.) The ascent of Carrock is a stiff one, there’s no denying it, but at least there are a few miles of easier walking to come after it.

From the summit of Carrock, with its ancient fortress, High Pike is clearly visible (if it isn’t, you probably shouldn’t be up here). The path to it gives two miles of very easy but, at a couple of points, boggy walking.

Rest at High Pike’s summit, with its stone seat, and spectacular view, then decide if you need to add Faulds Brow to the day’s summits. If not, you may as well descend to Nether Row (see page High Pike 9) and go straight to Caldbeck. But though I felt a bit resentful about having to do this last climb (see the commentary), it was worthwhile first for its view and second for the final walk to Caldbeck, so let’s do it.

Oliver on High Pike summit

Oliver the dog on the summit of High Pike. The peak in the background is Longlands Fell.

In that case go down to Fell Side instead (High Pike 8), which means bearing to the left-hand of the two clear paths that combine at the ruined summit cottage and just following it down — a very easy descent on grass. Other tracks (old mining roads) are crossed, but ignore them and you will come down to Fell Side eventually.

Here, consult the map to help get through the network of roads and paths between Fell Side and Faulds Brow. Turn right at the first road, then use a bridleway past Long Lea to cut a corner. Go through Parkend then, past a cattle grid, turn right, past the farm of Faulds and up the last substantial hill of the day to a crossroads where turn right (signposted Carlisle). Faulds Brow is now visible ahead as a slight rise in front of the TV mast — you can see its cairn. Take a path on the left, which does not stay clear but there are no hazards of any kind to prevent you accessing the summit and sitting down to enjoy a well-deserved rest, and its view of the Caldbeck and Uldale fells (from left-to-right: High Pike, Knott, Great Sca Fell, Brae Fell and Longlands Fell, with Skiddaw rising massively behind).

Whelpo Beck

The final walk alongside Whelpo Beck.

To descend, just head straight for the road, bearing right a bit to hit the top of the Whelpo road (to the right of the prominent white-painted farm of Paddigill). Descend down this road until it reaches the bridge, but don’t cross it, instead use the path on the left bank of Whelpo Beck. This gives a final flourish to the day as it passes the old mill of The Howk in its beautiful gorge (festooned with wild garlic on the day I came), and thence into Caldbeck. Here, turn right, then left at the junction with the main road to enter the village centre for the pub, shop, tea rooms and bus stop.

My approximate timetable for the walk was as follows:
11.55: left Scales
12.40: Souther Fell summit
1.25 Mungrisdale
2.05: Stone Ends (begin ascent of Carrock Fell)
3.00: Carrock Fell summit
3.45: High Pike summit
4.25: Fell Side
5.30: Faulds Brow summit
6.30: Caldbeck.

Skiddaw viewed from Carrock Fell

View from the summit of Carrock Fell. Skiddaw rises behind the headwaters of the Caldew, known as Skiddaw Forest. The dark peak in the middle distance is Great Calva.

Jet-lag commentary: It’s been a fine Easter so far. Last week I was lucky enough to be in California (San Francisco) for work purposes, where the weather was very fine — I even avoided that city’s notorious fogs. But it’s certainly no worse here in the UK. And I’m not at work this week so no excuse not to do a walk. The only downer has been my jet lag, and I did this walk on about 4 hours’ sleep the night before — but slept very well after it, which itself is a good advert for the benefit of physical exercise in beautiful landscapes.

The whole point of this walk was to pick up Faulds Brow. Looking at its location on the map and the description of it in the book, this was, like Clints Crags, one of those where (in advance) I cursed Wainwright for having included it in the list and forcing those irritating purist types, like me, to haul themselves miles just to bag it. This was particularly true when looking at the winter bus timetable where there was absolutely no hope of getting to Caldbeck, at least, not without having to stay over there one night and walk back out the next day. But the summer timetable does, at least, still include the #73 ‘Caldbeck Rambler’ bus so now was the time to bag it.

Mountain rescue helicopter

Mountain Rescue helicopter, with Blencathra in the background

Therefore, I designed this walk, one that picked up a selection of other Wainwrights as well to add to my second round, as well as enjoy for their own sakes. I still can’t quite rate Carrock Fell as highly as Wainwright seems to — it is different from its fellow Northern Fells, yes, and a good hill, but not a great one — but the walk as a whole was very worthwhile. And having visited it, yes, OK, Faulds Brow is probably worth a bit of time if only for its good view and the final descent into Caldbeck, past The Howk, a real unexpected surprise.

As I came over Souther Fell before lunch, there was the constant sound of a helicopter buzzing around Sharp Edge to the west (see picture): almost certainly Mountain Rescue. This reminded me of my commitment to raise money for my local fell rescue team by climbing Kilimanjaro in July. I haven’t set up the sponsorship arrangements yet but when I do I hope you might be willing to support me in this endeavour.

299 done now, so my next walk — which may be on Friday (tomorrow as I type this), though I haven’t completely decided yet — will bring up number 300.

High Pike from Fell Side

Looking back up the slopes of High Pike, from Fell Side

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5 Responses to “Walk 94: Scales to Caldbeck”

  1. […] the last few days and I’m off work for the week. No excuse at all to avoid walking therefore. Walk 94 saw me in the north-east of the District. I bagged three Northern Fells for a second time (Souther […]

  2. Hazel Edwards said

    Drew, Carrock Fell is my nemesis!! We did this one last year and I ashamedly admit that I only got halfway up and then had to turn back. It felt very steep, with precipitious drops on the left as we climbed up. I am determined that one day I will conquer Carrock fell, but might need to discover a different route up! x

    • Drew Whitworth said

      It is a steep one… I think if you curve round more to the north the slopes are gentler, or come in from the back after having done High Pike first…

      • Hazel Edwards said

        Thanks Drew, we are staying at Troutbeck just off the A66 on May 7/8, so will get the maps out and have a look as you suggest. Will let you know how we get on 🙂

  3. Hazel Edwards said

    Meant to say that we loved Souther Fell and the views on the way up, we might well do this one again but instead of turning left, will continue to Blencathra through the Col.

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