Riggindale. Rough Crag on the left, Kidsty Pike on the right.
Last Saturday. My in-laws had offered to mind the children for the day: TBH and I could get out for a rare days walking together. You may have noticed from recent posts that I like to be up and about. A bit of an Alpine start is just my cup of tea. Not so TBH. But I can be patient, I waited until 7.30 before giving her a gentle wake up hug. It was already light!
She wasn’t best pleased.
“You woke me up!” she grumbled.
“Did I? I thought you were already awake. You moved.”
It was only a little white lie. Nick Lowe knows his stuff: sometimes you gotta be cruel to be kind.
I leave the decisions about the type of walk we opt for to TBH. I thought she might fancy a gentle teashop type walk. A bit of a stroll. Read the paper over afternoon tea. But on the contrary, she suggested the Kentmere Horseshoe. Then backtracked when she realised that might entail an early start.
“Something like the Kentmere Horseshoe only shorter.”
The forecast suggested that the Eastern Fells would be the best place to be. I suggested a Riggindale Horseshoe – Rough Crag, High Street, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike. Actually, I secretly hoped we’d have time to divert to High Raise and then Low Raise because the latter would give me another ‘new’ Birkett for my tick-list.
It was sometime after that 7.30 wake up call when TBH emerged for breakfast. Then she remembered a phone call she needed to make. And a few things she needed to look up on the internet. Oh – and we were out of bread, so if we could just stop off at a supermarket on the way out.
We picked up a hitchhiker on the outskirts of Kendal and having dropped him off in Shap we finally parked at the end of Mardale at around 1 o’clock. In the afternoon! Madness!
It was another fairly overcast day, although over in the Pennines it looked like the hills were bathed in sunshine. We had patches: spotlights, little areas illuminated for a while.
As we climbed steeply onto the Rough Crag ridge I found myself following those spots of brightness with my camera. I felt they really added something to the views.
It’s a cracking ridge this. I’ve walked it at least a couple of times before, most memorably with a party of sixth-form students from Loreto College in Moss Side when I was a trainee teacher, half a lifetime ago.
It seemed to take us an age to reach the high point on the ridge, by which time it had become apparent that my plans were in tatters. Far from adding High Raise and Low Raise, it was clear that we would probably not have enough light to complete the circuit of Riggindale.
Not to worry. The quality of our outing would compensate for its brevity.
And what’s more, the only feasible escape route, aside from retracing our steps, would take us, via a faint trod, down to Blea Water, which I don’t think I’ve ever visited before.
Riggindale Crag, our intended route.
Branstree and Harter Fell.
Harter Fell again.
I shall make no apologies for including two very similar photos – my eye had been drawn to Harter Fell all afternoon. From the nose of Rough Crag we’d looked into it’s long snow-filled gullies. From Blea Water it looked steep and imposing. Solid. Massive.
Anyway, I can’t decide which one I prefer.
Blea Water had been the other big draw. The crags behind were impressive and, even from a distance, clearly festooned with long trails of ice.
At the dam we chatted to two birders who had stopped to smoke a roll-up each. Did we see the eagle? We didn’t. It had been sat on the far hillside apparently, across Riggindale. We’d have been lucky to pick it out.
Oh well, next time. When we come back to have another crack at the horseshoe. And High and Low Raise. A bit earlier in the day.