BB0604  Hart Cragg via Dovedale

8th February 2006

It was a day of indecision.  For the previous three days BBC had been predicting not a cloud in the sky whilst MWIS's forecast had moderated from white-outs down to some cloud and perishingly cold winds with the chance of snow flurries.  Should we go high or stay low?  Should we redo BB0602, the low walk near Tarn Hows and see the views that Bryan had confidently predicted would be there had there been no mist?  Should we go to Angle Tarn as we nearly did on BB0603?  Or should we be brave and head up Dovedale onto Hart Crag, Dove Crag, Little Hart Crag and return by the Scandale pass and down Caiston Beck?  Or the other way round?  Or should we not go at all, as Stan had been secretly hoping?

Pete decided he was coming up and when he arrived at Kendal it seemed that BBC had been right all along.  Any lingering thoughts we might have had about Tarn Hows were eliminated when we were stopped by the police at Plumgarths roundabout.  Stan was preparing to use a funny handshake to get us out of trouble but it turned out that Bannerigg was blocked although we were let through to go to Troutbeck via Ings.  No way back to Tarn Hows after that.  

Arriving at the car park at Low Wood, just past Brothers Water it was obvious that BBC had got it right so off to Dovedale we trod having passed the time of day with a huge group of geriatric ladies and their dogs.  

Brothers Water looked splendid as the path eased along the west side.  At Hartsop Hall we headed up right into Dovedale, which is an absolutely delightful valley. The path was just right- steep enough to gain height reasonably quickly but gentle enough not to trouble the old ticker too much.  In fact there is a very nice "slipper" walk that could be done by going half way up the track and returning by the path in the valley bottom.

However it was far from clear how we would escape from the valley and from time to time we consulted the map to check that there really was a way up.

The valley swung round left to a hidden area and then all became clear.  

And steep.  

But fortunately some kind person or persons had put in the best set of mountain stairs I have yet seen.

Thoughtfully laid out with semi-ambulant steps so that even thought it was very steep, it was relatively easily to climb.




High Street

And as we got higher, we had excellent views back over the valley to see what had been achieved last week in BB0603. Coming out of the steep part onto the shoulder we realised that, actually, the BBC hadn't quite got it right and MWIS, as usual, was providing the more accurate prediction.  The clouds were gathering, the wind was rising and another decision was needed: to stick to the original plan or to just take in Hart Crag and then descend by the Black Crag, Gill Crag Ridge?

Acknowledging that Dove Crag would still be there another day we decided on the latter. Lunch was taken below the final ascent in an opportune wind free zone with views down to Morecambe Bay where a passing Kendalian told us an excellent if somewhat risqué joke about two Irishmen and a blow up doll.  As this area is part of the Fairfield round, it suddenly got busy and quite a few people were encountered around the top of Hart Crag.

Views South

Hart Cragg Summit

None of them however chose our way down and something went wrong.  It was probably because Stan stopped for a nature call and I took the lead down an increasingly steep and rocky incline.  After Stan returned, he and Pete pressed on but I was getting concerned about the exposure risk and spotted that if I traversed back a little there seemed to be a perfectly safe grassy way down.  I will swear that Stan saw me going off on this trail and called "See you at the bottom". Anyway, off down the track I went and quickly reached safety and made fast progression down the hill stopping only for two things.  Firstly, repeatedly (honest) to try and spot Pete or Stan, either alive or as crumpled heaps on what seemed like near vertical crags.  Secondly to take a phone call from the mother-in-law who wanted me to run her to the dentist!!!!

No sooner had the call finished than Stan appeared and then Pete, slightly ahead and to the left.  They reckoned that they were about to call for a search party for me and that Stan had been up and down the hill looking for me.  Well, it's good to know that they care.  Or was it because I had the car keys?

From then on, it was a straightforward ridge walk until we climbed a stile in order to drop down to the car park.  Although a well trod path, this proved to be just about the steepest non-rock descent I have ever been down and would have been an absolute killer had we done the walk the other way round.

No other incidents to report except to reveal the reason why Stan had half hoped the walk would be cancelled.  It was Joan's birthday and he was burning off an indecent number of brownie points (if indeed he had any) by having left her alone that morning.  Anyway when we dropped him off at home, we wished Joan a very happy birthday and told her we hoped she would enjoy the big surprise that Stan had for her that evening.

Don, 8th February 2006


Afternote:  Many months later, when checking off the Wainwrights, I was unable to find Hartsop Above How on the Anquet map.  However checking AW's Eastern Fells book made me realise that the descent on BB0604 had passed along Hartsop above How. This was submitted to the Adjudication Committee, validated and has now been retrospectively added to the walk's tally!

Don, 20th November 2007


6.1 miles

Height climbed:
2,569 feet


Hart Crag, Hartsop Above How

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  • BB0631  Coppermines
  • BB0630  Relocation, Relocation, Relocation
  • BB0629  Stone Arthur and a Mystery Plume
  • BB0628  Knocking off Wainwrights.  Oh! Plus Skiddaw!
  • BB0627  Blencathra and the Mungrisdale Round
  • BB0626  The Deepdale Round
  • BB0625  Les Garçons de la Botte
  • BB0624  The Crookdale Horseshoe and then some
  • BB0623  Selside Pike revisited
  • BB0622  Round the Dunny!
  • BB0621  The Malham Experience
  • BB0620  Newlands Horseshoe
  • BB0619  Old Man Succumbs!
  • BB0618  Kentmere Horseshoe
  • BB0617 QH2QH High Street (the length thereof)
  • BB0616 Thornthwaite Beacon
  • BB0615  Fairfield Horseshoe
  • BB0614  High Street Racecourse
  • BB0613 The Coledale Round
  • BB0612  Well, Well, Well, Wansfell and Troutbeck Tongue      
  • BB0611  Carlin Gill
  • BB0610  Whitbarrow, Yewbarrow and a history lesson
  • BB0609  Clough Head and Great Dodd
  • BB0608  The Corpse Road and beyond
  • BB0607  Grim Fell!
  • BB0606  A Bit on the Side.....
  • BB0605  Angle Tarn with Surprises! 
  • BB0604  Hart Cragg via Dovedale
  • BB0603  Islands in the Sky with Brocken Spectres
    (or High Street via Gardiner's Grind)
  • BB0602  Holme Fell, Black Fell and Electric  Eyes
  • BB0601  Ingleborough
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