I crouched down low as the gusts of wind persisted. Sneaking out from the temporary cover of a rocky outcrop, before making a rapid retreat. I was trying to make my way up Knott Rigg from Newlands Hause, while the weather gods were trying to blow me off the ridge to my death!
I had set out earlier on Easter Saturday for Honister, having taken the entire Good Friday off to rest, with my cold still raging following my long and tiring walk to Clough Head and the Dodds via Fisher’s Wife’s Rake on Thursday. Getting off the 77A bus at Honister with a few other walkers, my target for the day was the Newlands Fells of Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson, Knott Rigg and Ard Crags.
Beginning the walk at the altitude of Honister Hause was very much the easiest way up Dale Head, with 356 m of the 753 m already beneath me! An intentional allowance for my current condition of cold and blocked ears. In ideal conditions my plan would have been a Full Newlands including a return to Catbells, Maiden Moor and High Spy… Next time!
My bus companions were also all heading up Dale Head, rather than the alternative options of Grey Knotts or Fleetwith Pike, and I made my usual slow start at the rear of the group. The weather forecasts was looking better than the last few days – dry and with good visibility, but so far the ascent was leading up into thick clouds above.
Soon up to speed, I passed both groups of walkers ahead, bidding good morning as I pressed on with the ascent – As easy as Wainwright had said fifty years ago “you reach the summit before feeling you deserve it!”
With Dale Head’s large summit cairn straight ahead I was surrounded by clag, hiding any of the views down into the Newlands valley, or across to neighbouring fells. Mentally marking down Dale Head as one to return to in better weather on my second round sometime in the future, I soon carried on westwards, along the Hindscarth Edge ridge towards Hindscarth.
Barely on my way, a brief thinning of the cloud opened a tantalizing window down into the valley below, a breath taking view, rapidly snatched away by the next incoming cloud. Suddenly less inclined to move away from Dale Head’s summit, I cautiously proceed while the clouds toyed with me! A few more windows of fabulous views had me contemplating a return to the summit of Dale Head, before I opted out of the game and continued on to Hindscarth.
As I made my way along Hindscarth Edge, a view also opened ahead to Fleetwith Pike and then down to Buttermere, while ahead my objective, curving round to the right was obvious. A pleasant walk in ever improving conditions soon saw me gain the 727 m summit of Hindscarth, now offering all round views back to Dale Head, into the Newlands Valley and across to Robinson.
I took a slow wander around Hindscarth’s multi cairned top, heading north to see the long ridge leading down to the valley, before resting up a bit in the wind shelter.
Despite my cold, I was feeling a lot better and was happy to continue on for Robinson. Similar in character to the walk from Dale Head to Hindscarth, the path along the top of Littledale Edge was a pleasant affair with views down into the remote valley of Little Dale.
I arrived at Robinson’s 737 m summit just before a large group approaching from the north, and was happy to grab a seat in the shelter for as rest and some lunch. Refreshed, nourished, and feeling as good as I had done since I had arrived in the Lake District, and now with some sunshine too, I took off for my next destination – High Snockrigg on route to Newlands Hause.
Although probably just considered a lump attached to the side of Robinson, High Snockrigg appears to be more of merit when looking up from Buttermere, so despite its non Wainwright status, I was happy to take a little detour to the 526 m fell top and glimpse the views to Rannerdale Knotts, Crummock Water, Whiteless Pike and the larger North Western fells beyond.
Carefully navigating the bogs at the col, I was quickly atop the summit before continuing the descent down to Newlands Hause – The high point of the pass connecting the Newlands Valley with Buttermere.
The path led down beside Robsinson’s best side, its north face with impressive crags and waterfall of Moss Force. My destination was never in doubt with the small parking area at the hause full.
From Newlands Hause my plan was an ascent of Knott Rigg and then Ard Crags before a long walk back to Keswick. I began my ascent of Knott Rigg as the afternoon wind began to pick up.
Despite several minutes pondering my options, while the vicious westerlies pushed me towards the edge of the ridge, I reluctantly and very disappointedly admitted defeat, tucking tail and turning back for Newlands Hause with not a clue about what I would do next!
I later calculated that with my body weight plus rucksack, it would have taken 70 mph gusts to blow me off my feet, rather than the 40+ mph I was enduring, but I couldn’t help but grudgingly admire the weather gods’ efforts in preventing me reach my 4th Wainwright of the day!
Illness, bad weather and now wind! Things weren’t exactly going my way at the moment. I stared at the map. A long walk down the road to either Newlands or Buttermere. I opted for Buttermere as it was closer and there would at least be a bus to take me back to Keswick at some point. Despite some initial concerns about walking along a popular motoring road, there was little problem in walking alongside the road on the edge of the fells as the road led steeply down into pretty Buttermere.
Within half an hour, I had reached the village. Rannerdale Knotts was a tempting prospect from here, but I had my fair share of disappointment for the day and didn’t want to risk anymore!
Despite the poor finish, it had been a good days walking. Knott Rigg and Ard Crags would just have to wait for another time.
Heading back to my B&B for some rest, the plan was to take it day by day, seeing how I felt and what the weather had in store for my final two days in the Lake District.
Time: ~ 5.5 Hours
Altitude: High: ~753 m/ 2470 ft
Low: ~ 110 m / 361 ft
Distance: ~ 8.5 Miles / 13.5 Km
Wainwrights: 3 – Dale Head, Hindscarth, Robinson.