Robinson via the North-East AND North Ridges

19 09 2016

Sun 11 Sep 2016
After a peaceful week of walking in the easy Ireby/Uldale areas of NW Cumbria, I thought it was time for a more exciting day. I think I’ve been avoiding the proper mountains of late as I’m having a lot of trouble getting up them due to chest problems. The latest diagnosis is suggesting COPD! 😮 😦

Click on photos for full size/resolution – none were taken on the day

Still, if I take my time during the ascent, despite nearly coughing to death at some point during the climb, I eventually stop coughing and choking and reach the summit. It’s just getting a bit dispiriting…

I set off mid afternoon from the carpark near the Little Town bridge where I was surprised you now have to pay to park – £3. On the way past the church, it being Sunday, I called in briefly to avail myself of the home-baked cakes and a coffee – very nice 🙂

I then followed the usual road up to the Littledale valley and the start of the steep slog up the side of High Snab Bank. Although I paced myself and concentrated on using my leg muscles rather than my lungs and taking proper deep breaths, I still ended up starting to cough my insides out near the top of the ridge. All the way along the ridge I coughed and spluttered – luckily there weren’t any other folk around or I’d have driven them mad!

robinson-snab-bank

Around the three fun rock steps, I met people descending the hill at the end of their ‘Newlands Round’ – I was quite amused to see how much of a meal some people make of descending the rock steps. They’re only about 20 feet high and very mild scrambling indeed if they are dry, which they were this particular day. In the wet they’re quite tricky to descend.

robinson-from-snab-bank

This at least gave me an excuse to stop several times on the steep ascent above the rock steps to time how long they were taking – I was surprised to see that the four of them (two couples I think) took twenty minutes each!

By the time I reached the flattening of the path as it reached the huge summit plateau, I’d finally stopped coughing and could breathe again. I went for an explore along the western side of the plateau as I was dying to have a look at the splendid and fearsome-looking north ridge – a route I’ve had my eye on for years. I hadn’t been on Robinson for quite a few years now despite it being a favourite of mine and I was wondering whether, in the light of my more recent Munro and Scottish scrambling, I’d still think it looked fierce.

robinsonsharpened
The North Ridge is on the right-hand side of the out of season photo below – pretty steep at the top! (Robinson is the right-hand mountain)

The north ridge finally hove into view right at the end of Dalehead Crags and I saw two sheep sunbathing peacefully on a slightly flattened area of the almost-vertical ridge. I could see grassy routes down to them, albeit very steep ones, and then the ridge got much steeper and I wasn’t sure after that.

I clambered down towards the sheep trying not to upset them – I was sure you could rake left off the ridge for the very steepest section and rejoin it lower down. From what I could see you could but the sheep were now starting to get upset so I went back up for the summit.

I’d originally been going to continue onto the next peak of Hindscarth and descend by the fun and lovely Scope End. But, since I’d looked down my north ridge, I was now getting very tempted to do that instead.

In the end, although I was sad to turn my back on Hindscarth and only bag one hill, I decided that exploration really is the name of the game and, if there was a route I hadn’t done, now was a great time to do it!

I headed back to the west of the plateau and refound the top of my exciting ridge. I was glad to see the sheep had now left their grassy spot so I wouldn’t have to disturb them. I noted there was a slight cairn at the top of the ridge so I’m not sure whether I’m the first to use it or not but I can’t find anything via Google about it.

I descended to the sheep’s original spot with ease – it was just steep grass and not too narrow. Below that however, I appeared to have two choices… I could either go right down exceedingly steep grass into a scree gully descending the whole mountain or I could go left across a grassy shelf with sheep grazing on it (the route I’d suspected was there).

I chose left and headed down slowly – partly so as not to upset the sheep too much and partly because it really is damned steep! The fellside went down in steps with small areas of crag below each shelf. A lot of the time I had to sit down and get handholds of rock for safety as I approached some of the shelves.

Eventually I was nearing a shelf which looked to have crag below it running for quite a way in each direction – luckily it had a sheep on the edge. Sheep are very useful and I often use them for route-finding on unknown steep and craggy slopes. Basically, if you pause for a while after they’ve seen you, you don’t panic them into an unwise descent and you give them time to take their normal route off the ledge.

The sheep looked up in horror at the fact that someone was descending her normally unfrequented section of hillside – I’m pretty sure that’s why all the sheep on the fell were found down this slope, although many of them lurk around the summit for sandwiches and the like. She whistled a couple of times to warn her compatriots that there was a silly bloody human coming down their side of the hill and set off to the left along the ledge.

I let her get off the ledge and then followed cautiously to the lip of the shelf to peer over – you couldn’t get straight down that’s for sure. I followed her route cautiously and it took me down to straightforward ground and just steep grass again.

There were some scree chutes to cross but they were minor and stable and easily avoided and I picked my way downhill until I reached the flattening of the north ridge. From here it was very plain sailing on a pleasant grass ridge all the way gently down to the road.

All the way down I kept looking back round in awe at the ground I’d descended – it looked monstrous! Anyone else ever used this ridge?

robinson
The (usual) North-East ridge ascent is the one on the left, my North Ridge descent is the one down the front picked out by the sun with the craggy top

As I reached the Newlands Pass road, I could see there were still very many people driving up and down the road – not what I needed for an already-polluted chest. After wading the beck and crossing the road, I continued slightly up the side of Knott Rigg to take sheep tracks way above the road where the air was clean.

These took me to the farm at the foot of Knott Rigg’s steep northern ridge where there was luckily a footpath back across the valley to the end of High Snab Bank. The footpath has notices on at present saying the bridges are down but I couldn’t find any which were missing. The route was a bit boggy in places though…

As I came back out on the road leading up to Little Dale, I found I was just below the farm of High Snab Bank and decided I wasn’t yet ready to return to my car. I fancied an amble up Little Dale itself below High Snab Bank and Robinson’s north-east ridge.

There is a lovely path all the way to the dam and I enjoyed my ramble until, just short of the dam, I found a bad bog and went into the muddy water over my boot tops – a shame after I’d kept my feet dry all day. I decided I didn’t want muddy insides to my boots so had a quick wade in the dam where the water was clean to rinse the insides out.

From the dam, a beautiful old mine track runs levelly under Hindscarth’s northern ridge to join Scope End. I romped back along the track in the evening sunshine until I reached the Goldscope mine workings where I clambered up to the first to have a look.

The mine shafts seem to have been blocked by large and jagged boulders – whether that was just a collapse of the vertical rock wall above or deliberate I’m not sure. But the first one had a superb rocky rake across the cliff above it which made a lovely clamber. I nipped along it and then descended back to the track.

Very shortly after, there is a short scree slope to another mine working. This was much more dramatic and well worth a clamber up to see. There was one shaft which looked to have been blocked off again but, just after that, a huge declivity – not deep but very wide – below the crag.

From here I contoured round above the crags to join the Scope End path and descended that to the farm and the track back to Newlands Church. A superb day out!

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14 responses

26 09 2016
fedup

Sorry to hear about your chest problems Carol 😦

I think I’ve looked at a possible route upyour North ridge before but never tempted it.

Last time i was there I think it read £3 ‘DONATION’ – I ignored it, the same as the bucket near the mountain view cottages under Thornythwaite Fell. If that car park is full then there is usually plenty near the old purple house.

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29 09 2016
mountaincoward

I couldn’t remember where else the parking was as I haven’t been for ages. As it was mid afternoon when I arrived (and the only way I got a parking place waiting till then), I actually only paid £2 – I felt a bit guilty though…

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21 09 2016
tessapark1969

Sorry to hear about the chest problems. Don’t like the sound of your descent much though like the sheep navigational aid idea!!

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21 09 2016
mountaincoward

The sheep thing is very useful – they all know their ‘heaf’ or area very well so, if you don’t panic them, they’ll take their normal route down.

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20 09 2016
underswansea

Very fine report Carol! Looks like lovely country. Good job dodging the sheep. Nothing like mud over the tops of boots. Did it make a nice sucking sound when you pulled your boot out of the mud? Sorry to hear about your breathing problems. Bob

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20 09 2016
mountaincoward

no it was very wet mud – it just poured merrily in and then I was slithering around on it – yuck!

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20 09 2016
Blue Sky Scotland

Sorry to hear about your chest problems as I know what that’s like. I was on steroids and two inhalers last winter then in and out of hospital for tests but it cleared up in the spring so I’m hoping it doesn’t come back with colder conditions again. Not nice struggling for breath or being unable to sleep at night properly. Looks a nice outing.

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20 09 2016
mountaincoward

I have to say I’m breathing slightly better this week now it’s cooled down from that muggy weather. Not necessarily when I’m out walking but I’m certainly managing to sleep through the night this week which is lovely. Don’t think it’s a good long-term prognosis unfortunately though…

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19 09 2016
McFadzean

Nice walk. That £3 parking fee has wound me up, though. It’s not too long since you could park anywhere in the Lakes for free. There should be a mass protest with people pouring super-glue into the machines or setting hem on fire. We shouldn’t have to accept this robbery, because that’s what it is.
Cheers, Alen

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20 09 2016
mountaincoward

The ones which wound me up the most is when the Forestry Commission started charging people for every single parking area in Whinlatter Forest! 😐

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19 09 2016
Gaslight Crime

Still to do that one, JB

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20 09 2016
mountaincoward

Better going up than down I think if you have the energy – but it is exceedingly steep.

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19 09 2016
Paul Shorrock

Nice one Carol! I’ve never done that North Ridge, though it’s quite clearly defined on checking the map closely – ho-hum, that’s another one for the ‘tick list’ then 🙂

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19 09 2016
mountaincoward

I think, if you have the puff (unlike me nowadays), you’re probably better to ascend the ridge and then you can see what you’re doing and choose a better route.

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