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E-mail - karl@karlswalks.co.uk


A round from Mardale Head

6th-7th January 2024

6th Route - Mardale Head - The Rigg - Rough Crag - Caspel Gate ( About 2.5 miles 2400ft ascent )

7th Route - Caspel Gate - High Street - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - High Raise - Kidsty Pike - Kidsty Howes - Mardale Head ( About 6.5 miles 1750ft ascent )


On the Monday morning after I returned from my wild camp and walk over Crinkle Crags and Bowfell I woke with a slightly aching shoulder which I at first dismissed as just a sign of getting old but over the next few days the discomfort increased and by Friday I was in quite considerable pain so arranged to see the doctor who diagnosed a trapped nerve in my neck and recommended a visit to a physio.

Andrew has a friend who runs a physio business so I booked myself in, and a week and two quite painful visits later I was a lot better but was still a bit worried whether I would be able to carry a rucksack so Just before Christmas I ignored the dreadful weather and walked from Swindale up to Selside and Branstree and back with my day pack and apart from getting absolutely soaked and blown from pillar to post my shoulder felt fine. The next test would be to see if carrying a pack with camping gear would be ok but the weather all over the holidays was awful and so it was at the end of the first week of January when it finally settled allowing me to plan a short walk and a night on the fell.


I only took the one picture from my walk from Swindale and this is looking down through the rain to the valley from the path away from Swindale Head.

As it was back to work for me on the Monday I only had the weekend available for my camp and to make life a little more difficult Emily had to be driven back to University on the Saturday morning so it was an early start from Lancashire to Leicester and after safely delivering Em it was back up the motorway to a very busy Mardale Head where I arrived around half past two and got a car parking spot from someone who was heading home.

From the car park there is not much of a warm up before you have to start climbing the ridge towards Rough Crag.

Kidsty Pike catches the last of the sun.

As I'd driven along above the valley of the Lowther there was a fantastic inversion which if I could have found a safe space to stop I would have taken a photo. The same inversion was now creeping along Haweswater.


And before long had virtually covered the lake.


Looking back along the fantastic roller coaster of a ridge.


The inversion has sent tendrils up the Gatescarth Pass and up to Blea Water.

The last of the sun over the pass.

I'd really wanted to get up on to High Street before camping but I'd spent so long looking at the inversion that it was nearly dark when I reached Caspel Gate tarn so decided to stop just above it The breeze was very cold so I quickly got the tent up and dived inside for a warm drink.

Plenty of frost on the flysheet. But a very comfortable pitch and plenty of layers meant I had slept well.

Looking back to Rough Crag and the tarn from my pitch.

The sun rising behind Harter Fell.


Looking up to the final climb to High Street.

No sooner had I packed up and started climbing a bank of low cloud drifted over.

Which covered Harter Fell. The breeze from yesterday evening had dropped so Blea Water was like a mirror.

As I neared the top I entered a eerie silent twilight world.

The last few yards of the climb has been stepped which were very slippery this morning.

On to High Street and the sky does seem to coming lighter.

And within a few minutes views were restored (Crinkle Crags in this case).

I'm heading for The Knott which is the small hill in the centre of the photo.

The Nab and Steel Knotts separated by Ramps Gill from The Knott.

Helvellyn has gained a cloud cap.

From The Knott a clear path heads across the frozen grass to Rampsgill Head.


Super view over to a now clear Helvellyn and the fells roundabout from Rampsgill Head.

Next top along is High Raise which has caught the sun and lost most of it's frost.

Great Gable makes an appearance in the far distance.

The view across to Kidsty Pike and High street is almost monochrome.

But the view back to High Raise is a lot more colourful.

Looking down into Riggindale from Kidsty Pike. I don't think the south side of the valley in the lee of the Rough Crag ridge will see the sun at all today.

Kidsty Pike from the descent to Kidsty Howes.

On the rough and eroded path down through Kidsty Howes.

Nearly back to Haweswater now.

I diverted from the path to take a photo from the shore.

Harter Fell with the dip of the Nan Bield pass to the right.

A final look along a very still Haweswater from the car park.

Oh.. and the shoulder. never felt it !



Previous walk  - Crinkle Crags, Bowfell and Rossett Pike - Next walk - A short walk and camp below Codale Head