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Patterdale & Kirkstone Fells / 2 days / 22 miles (36km)

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Date: 07 Oct 2009
Start / Finish: Patterdale.
Maps: Explorer OL5 & OL7: English Lakes NE & SE.

Day 1Ullswater & High Dodd to Caudale Moor12.4 miles / 4870 feet (20.0km / 1484m)
Day 2St. Raven's Edge & Red Screes to Hart Crag9.2 miles / 2510 feet (14.8km / 765m)
Angle Tarn

A 2-day solo circuit of the fells around Patterdale and the Kirkstone Pass. The outward route via the Ullswater shore path enabled me to climb one of my two remaining Dewey 500m tops of the Lake District en route, continuing to Place Fell, Angle Tarn, High Street and Caudale Moor. The return via St. Raven's Edge and the Kirkstone Pass was my first ascent of Red Screes from the eastern approach of Kilnshaw Chimney, continuing across the Scandale Pass to Hart Crag and descending the ridge of Hartsop above How.

The first day was typically autumnal, starting crisply cold and bright but clouding over to bring showers overnight, the second brought almost constant sunshine and clear views.

This was the second backpack undertaken on my recovery from plantar fasciitis in my right foot, and it was soon apparent that this condition would be very different from my previous injury/recovery scenarios: just when you think you have it licked it flares up again. This will probably take a lot longer to clear up, more research and consideration of options will be needed. Towards the end of the first day the walk became a real exercise in mental pain control when I suffered the most severe case of 'rubbing' I've ever known: since I discovered Bodyglide years ago this type of chafing problem became a distant memory, but on this trip for some reason it happened in new places around the base of my back in the hipbelt region. A rare use of the first aid kit in the tent fixed it perfectly for the second day.

Day 1 - Ullswater & High Dodd to Caudale Moor

Setting off in the clear crisp morning air, the undulating Ullswater shore path is a pleasant start to loosen up the muscles after the drive and there were good views over the lake. It was one of those days when I didn't know what to wear for the best: a cold wind but very warm in the sheltered sun, perhaps the sweat in the warm parts combined with a loose hipbelt started a rubbing movement that would cause the pain later. Anyway I was primarily concerned with the developing ache in my foot, disappointing after two pain free days.

Shortly after the footbridge below Scalehow Force I turned uphill to locate the path ascending towards the Dewey top of High Dodd, and I left it well before Low Moss to climb directly to the pair of humps at the summit, one of which was marked by a small pile of stones in a bag.

View towards Hallin Fell from the shore path
View towards Hallin Fell from the shore path (07 Oct 2009__10:06:56)
Ullswater from High Dodd
Ullswater from High Dodd (07 Oct 2009__11:04:10)
View from High Dodd
View from High Dodd (07 Oct 2009__11:08:31)

Easy grassy slopes descend to Low Moss where I joined the main path to the trig point on Place Fell. The cloud had gathered but the views were still quite clear, and I could see the Patterdale hordes snaking upwards in groups on the extensively pitched path from Boredale Hause, a highly popular route even on a weekday in October.

View from Place Fell
View from Place Fell (07 Oct 2009__11:49:27)

The next section from Boredale Hause to Angle Tarn and over the Straits of Riggindale to High Street and Thornthwaite Crag is another popular Lakeland highway, a fine easy walk even under the overcast sky and flat light.

Angle Tarn
Angle Tarn (07 Oct 2009__13:02:35)
Riggindale (07 Oct 2009__14:27:56)

From Thornthwaite Crag the descent on the steep eroded path to Threshwaite Mouth was a protracted affair, constantly placing my right foot to minimise the ache and avoid an unnerving gritty slide, but on the steep ascent to Caudale Moor I had to stretch upwards on a short rocky clamber: the movement of my pack caused a sudden searing pain on the skin of my back. I'd felt a mild soreness around the hipbelt region for a while but this was different, all I could do for now was to continue and try to avoid pack movement - I wasn't too far from the summit. I reached the cairn and quickly found a pitch for the tent.

Gray Crag & Pasture Bottom
Gray Crag & Pasture Bottom (07 Oct 2009__15:54:18)
Pitch on Caudale Moor
Pitch on Caudale Moor (07 Oct 2009__16:59:54)

Once settled in the tent I peeled back my clothes and my base layer was at first stuck to the offending spot: I eased it off and the patch was tacky and extremely sore to the touch, I couldn't lie on it. Out with the first aid kit: I cut a large piece of wide dressing strip and applied some Savlon cream from the tiny tube I always carry. Trying to position it on my back in the awkward confines of a LaserComp tent was quite an operation, but I held my breath and pressed it home. It worked a treat, I couldn't feel a thing, even the next day with my pack on (back home it turned out to be an accurate placement: I pulled it off to reveal a horrible crimson red weeping sore over two inches across). There were other sore patches but I just applied Savlon to those and that was enough. I can only imagine that my hipbelt was too loose when I set off, allowing movement of the pack and consequent rubbing on the sweaty skin.

Day 2 - St. Raven's Edge & Red Screes to Hart Crag

A chilly night with a few showers brought the worst condensation I've experienced so far in the tent despite the light breeze, in fact I was awakened by a couple of drops landing on my face, but the fells were generally clear at dawn and I set off in comfort in the early sun. Some wet peaty bits of the path SW towards the Kirkstone Pass were flanked by bags of stone in readiness for judicious paving, although it didn't seem particularly gloopy to me (then again I'm used to the North Pennines and wild Wales). St. Raven's Edge is itself a Dewey top and from the cairn there are good views into Patterdale and across to Red Screes.

St. Raven's Edge
St. Raven's Edge (08 Oct 2009__09:01:45)
View north from St. Raven's Edge
View north from St. Raven's Edge (08 Oct 2009__09:16:41)
Red Screes
Red Screes (08 Oct 2009__09:17:20)

I descended to the Kirkstone Pass car park and jettisoned the rubbish in the litter bin: weight-wise every little helps when the towering east face of Red Screes looms ahead. At the boulders near the foot of the mountain a climbing instructor was roping up for a lesson and a couple of walkers had already set off on the pitched path. This was my first ascent from this side, a very steep climb largely on the pitched paving but later giving way to a more interesting section on natural rock. Part way up I was surprised to see a waymark, but then I remembered there is actually a right of way up here. The rock ends abruptly at a cairn leaving a short grassy stroll to the trig point and nearby small tarn with superb views.

View north from Red Screes
View north from Red Screes (08 Oct 2009__10:50:58)

I walked NW along the edge a short way to soak in the views and turned westwards to pick up the thin path descending to Scandale Pass and on to Scandale Tarn. There are two onward paths to Dove Crag here: I took the more northerly one around Bakestones Moss, cutting off the corner as I approached the ridge to head directly for the cairn overlooking Brothers Water. Hart Crag is a short walk further, a rocky ascent leading to a subsidiary cairn and the highest point being the second cairn.

View from Dove Crag
View from Dove Crag (08 Oct 2009__12:30:12)
View from Hart Crag
View from Hart Crag (08 Oct 2009__13:13:13)

The return route departs directly from the summit, a steep rocky descent easing to a long and enjoyable walk over the undulating rise of Hartsop above How. It was a long time since my last visit here and that was in ascent, the sharpness of that steep rock surprised me and once again it was a case of constant vigilance and careful foot placement to minimise strain. The path eventually arrives at the wood in Deepdale Park, a case of following the woodland path through the trees in blind faith to a stile on the far side, where a permitted path crosses the field to the farm track and gate at Deepdale Bridge by the telephone box. A short walk alongside the road completes the return to Patterdale.

View across Link Cove
View across Link Cove (08 Oct 2009__13:22:43)
Greenhow End
Greenhow End (08 Oct 2009__13:31:29)
Approaching Hartsop above How
Approaching Hartsop above How (08 Oct 2009__13:38:09)