One bright May evening, after a business appointment at the HQ of a supermarket in Penrith, I exited the M6 motorway at Shap and drove down the narrow lanes to the north eastern end of Haweswater, following its southern shore to the car park at Mardale Head. Whilst others were departing the fells, I changed into walking clothes and headed upwards with just a few hours of day light remaining.
This was only my second outing with my new Richo Theta S 360 camera, I was eager to use it. On this occasion the camera was tripod mounted, a method I would later avoid in favour of a monopod spiked into the ground. First stop, second photo, the junction just beyond the carpark gate, then the foot bridge over Mardale Beck, and along the path to the forest edge at The Rigg, shunning the many paths that offered more direct path to Rough Crag, for I wished to walk up and along it's spine.
Rough Crag is a summit on a spur that leads up High Street's western flank. An easy ridge walk that offers plentiful views down upon Blea Water to the south and over to Kidsty Pike to the north. It was the only place on the route where I saw another person; a fell runner steadily climbing Rough Crag behind me then shooting past near the summit whilst I stopped to take photos. The light of golden hour drawing close, blue skys with a hint of cloud, it was going be a beautiful evening. A mental note, Blea Water looks ideal for a night's wild camp.
Then on to High Street, the main summit of the massive, and named after the Roman road that runs over the flat peak. The road ran between the forts at Brougham (Brocavum) near Penrith and at Ambleside (Galava), taking a route that avoided the boggy, forested valley floors. The summit is also known as Racecourse Hill due to the horse races and fairs held on the plateau in the 18th and 19th century. Today there is a Ordnance Survey triangulation pillar marking the high point.
High Street from the Straits of Riggindale
Tracing the footsteps of the Roman Legions, I headed north along the Straits of Riggindale, then west to the flat summit of Rampsgill Head, unmarked and unremarkable as a Nuttell. Kidsty Pike offers a more airy feeling, its craggy summit rising steeply above Riggindale, and marked by a walker's cairn. A good place to linger, but not that evening. The golden orb of the sun was already low and would soon disappear behind Rampsgill Head. I did not fear becoming benighted, a torch lay in my pack and the paths were clearly defined. The next day I was due for an early morning meeting in Nantwich, leaving me with many more miles to cover that evening once back on tarmac. So I ran eastward down the gentle slope to Kidsty Howes, then quickly descended to the shore of Haweswater whilst the sky darkened and a crescent moon appeared. An easy path crossed Riggindale Beck, looped round the nose like headland of the Rigg, familiar territory, than back on a path I had walked a few hours previous to a near dark Mardale Head.