Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Kidsty Pike To Harter Fell And a Soaking.

The Remembrance Sunday walk to Great Gable was a walk with my brother and as stated, it's purpose was not the walk but the commemoration. Today was Monday and a pure walk day with my colleague Steve. Sunday was beautiful weather and what comes after beautiful? We woke to rain commencing at our start time of 08.30hrs and set off. Steve would usually leave the route for me to pick and we had recently been on Kidsty, but from a Glenridding walk. Neither of us had actually walked up it (though I've had a previous grass slide on the way down) so I suggested we put that right on this day 12.11.12. The weather deteriorated en route to Mardale car park where incidentally there were Road Closed signs at the head of the dam, I believe because of a water main being installed, going to the Hotel. We still got access to the car park, parked up and apart from one other car which promptly turned and left without getting out, we made the decision to bracket ourselves in the 'couple of idiots' category. Still, we've been in this category twice this week weather wise and if you didn't walk on rainy days my boots would be nearly new looking; as it is I am coming up for needing a new pair.

Hawswater, oh what a beautiful day.

They came, they looked (through the windscreen), they left after two minutes.
It seemed pointless taking the camera in such horrible weather and I hid it under clothing. I should know better but with the conditions and the blockage on the road I didn't think this long dead end would get a visit from naughty boys. We headed for the path going east on the north side of the reservoir, crossing Mardale Beck and taking the shortcut over The Rigg at the base of Rough Crags and headed for Kidsty Howes, leading to it's pike. For those that don't know this area, this is the scene of the sunken village of Mardale, sacrificed when the Water was extended by the Dam construction to feed Manchester, along with Thirlmere. When in drought, which definitely was not going to be today, you can walk the streets of the village, seeing the foundations including the church and cross over the pack horse bridge. It is a 'must do' for lakes visitors. The dam itself was an engineering marvel at the time, being the first hollow buttress dam in the world. Sad that such an engineering marvel displaced a whole community and regarded at the time as progress.
 We started up the grassy embankment of Kidsty Howes, looking across to Riggindale and Rough Crag, the former nesting area of England's only golden eagles, sadly there is just the one now; one day, perhaps he may find another mate. As we headed up the wind increased substantially. You went to place a foot and were pushed off the planned footfall by this invisible, though ever present force. This route is not an edge and is a wide grassy bank, so still safe in these conditions. With our heads down and face turned as far from the wind's onslaught as possible to shelter from these liquid needles that stung our faces, we reached the summit cairn and continued on for the High Street path. Our route turned us into the wind when we reached this but what can you do about it? Nothing but walk on and we lowered our heads even further and cracked on for the primary trig point of High Street, hoping for some shelter by the wall to eat our bait. No such luck as the wind was coming down the wall length and not at 90 degrees to it so this was not to be our haven of rest for a food stop. This is not my most walked area but I still know it and the only suitable place for a respite from this onslaught of wind and rain I knew to be the built shelter at the head of Nan Bield Pass. This is high on three sides and has a seat, albeit stone slabs, but would be a luxury on this day. We broke into a jog to warm the blood as we headed for the lower summit of Mardale Ill Bell and dropped even further to the shelter. Before a food intake and now in some protection, we donned further clothing and a change of gloves to keep warm and after 15 minutes there, we had a decision to make. Was it the easy short route of Nan Bield Pass or the longer 'up and over' Harter Fell and Gatesgarth pass we would take? I started this by saying we were a couple of idiots, confirmed by the fact in all this we saw no other human being on this popular route. Yes, we took the Harter Fell path, subjecting ourselves to a little bit more 'character building' pain. We got to the top, saw nothing and headed down Gatesgarth meeting only one other and he was protected, enclosed in a digger cab doing path repairs. We dropped out of the cloud and saw the reservoir below us, making it back to the car. We looked at each other and just laughed the laugh of 'well, that was interesting'. We quickly changed as you can't sit in a pub dripping all over the floor and knew the Mardale Inn to be shut down so we decided to give The Hawswater Hotel a try with our custom.

Heading for Hawswater Hotel, looking back up the valley showing The Rigg promontory

Looking across the resevoir to Kidsty Howes.

I was hoping they would have at least one cask beer on but apart from keg beer it was just bottles. We had one Deuchars Pale Ale, refrigerated, which they served in a Magners glass and charged £3.50, top whack, for this privilege.

What should have been a good beer, but served too cold, in the wrong glass, for top money.
One pint (well 500ml) and we were off in search of a better, cheaper drink. The beauty of this Hotel is it's isolated and stunning location so one more photo for those who don't know it. They would get more custom if they sold proper beer.

The view from the Hotel, across Hawswater, looking to Bampton Common.

We headed for Bampton but had to continue to Askham and The Queens Head. It was Jennings Cumberland Ale which Steve plumbed for and I had a Black Sheep. It seemed over with too quickly so a half of Black Sheep later (Steve had a pint) and we were satisfied. A good though taxing day of 14kms with 990m ascent and plans laid for Thursdays walk. Bring it on.

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