Outline of Route
Cow Bridge, Hartsop - The Knott - Rampsgill Head - Kidsty Pike - High Street - Thornthwaite Crag - Caudale Moor - Hartsop Dodd - Cow Bridge (Grid ref. NY 403134)
Total Distance 9.6 miles, Total Ascent 3200 feet, Equivalent Distance 16.1 miles
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Details of Route
Both the car park at Cow Bridge - at the northern end of Brothers Water - and the parking area in Hartsop village are free at present. From Cow Bridge take the main road and then the side road to Hartsop village. About halfway through the village on the right there is a cottage with an outside spinning gallery: a fine example of vernacular architecture. Keep going past the parking area, and follow the public bridleway, signposted "Hayeswater". (Photo from Brothers Water) Directly ahead of you is the spur of Gray Crag with Hayeswater Gill flowing down to the left of it. Having avoided any paths to the right which lead to Pasture Bottom, the valley to the right, now follow another path to the right and a bridge which crosses Hayeswater Gill. Alternatively, keep to the left of the gill and cross the footbridge just past the filter house. Continue up this valley with the gill on your left and cross it again by the Hayeswater dam (photo). The water is often quite choppy but not on one occasion (photo). From here there's a well-trodden path zigzagging up the fellside. At the top of the ridge, when you come to a junction of walls, follow the one that goes up to the crest of The Knott. There are fine views from here, to the west, of the Fairfield and Helvellyn ridges (panorama) and north to Martindale (photo).
Leave the fell top going east, down by another wall and continue up the fellside opposite - no path - to the grassy flat top of Rampsgill Head. Keep going to the unmistakeable peak of Kidsty Pike. The view from here over Riggindale and Haweswater is magnificent, the ground tumbling down a thousand feet and more below you, leading your eyes across the valley to Rough Crag and Long Stile (photo), the eastern ridge of High Street, well worth exploring another day.
The path from here, west, down to the Straits of Riggindale (photo of Kidsty Pike) and (photo of Riggindale) is well-trodden but it's worth leaving the path here, the old Roman road, and keeping to the edge of the cliffs when walking up to the top of High Street (photo of the east ridge). From here you can look down upon Blea Water (photo), the deepest tarn in the district. There's a fine springy turf covering the flat summit of High Street: they held horse races up here in days gone by.
Follow the Roman road to the south and bear to the right to reach the tall column of Thornthwaite Beacon. The views to the north (photo) and northwest (photo) from Thornthwaite are excellent. Here is a complete panorama seen from the top of the summit wall (photo). Hayeswater nestles in the valley to the right just before you get there, and from the beacon you'll get an impressive view of Lake Windermere stretching down towards Morecambe Bay. There's a steep, slippery descent from here down into Threshthwaite Mouth (photo of Troutbeck), avoid in snow, and a similarly steep, rocky ascent to be clambered up onto Caudale Moor - if you haven't yet got your hands dirty you will here. The summit of Caudale Moor is flat and uninteresting so continue along the northern spur, along by a wall, to Hartsop Dodd. Along this ridge two of my favourite peaks, Catstye Cam just to the right of Helvellyn and Kidsty Pike across on your right, are seen showing fine profiles. There are good views too, down into the valleys on either side, Dovedale looking particularly lovely, with Hartsop Hall at its entrance. Continue down the ridge (photo). Those following Wainwright's guide may be puzzled to come across a high, barbed wire fence blocking their route and a signpost saying "Footpath" pointing back in the direction from whence they have come (postscript - this notice now points down to Hartsop which is, I suppose, an improvement of sorts). At this point the ridge has to be abandoned. Turn to the right and follow the path down and back into Hartsop.
Rev. 02 September 2014