Hindscarth via Littledale Rake

30 09 2017

Sat 16 Sep 2017
This is a report of my new route up Hindscarth, my second time of trying it and Richard’s first experience of it – I’ve named it ‘Littledale Rake’.

Littledale Rake (R Wood)

Photos a mix of my film and Richard’s digi as marked

I’d looked at this route for years now and wondered whether it was possible. Now I have a bad hip and can’t guarantee to reach the summits, my focus is shifting to trying out different routes rather than focussing on just getting to the top. This meant that, earlier this summer, I didn’t see any reason why I shouldn’t have a tootle along to look at the rake and have a go at it – if I didn’t get up the hill it didn’t matter and I’d have had an interesting walk.

The rake turned out to be entirely feasible, in my opinion good fun, and I could see others had used it before. It was pretty safe despite raking up above a very large and vertical crag, pretty solid but the rock was fairly slippery, even in dry weather. However, although you have a distinct possibility of your feet slipping, so long as you keep a handhold there isn’t really any danger. I’m amazed Wainwright himself never tried it and wrote about it.

As it was a Saturday we left it quite late in the hope that some fellwalkers would be leaving the carpark but, unfortunately, everyone was still parked up and we had to find alternative parking. We then set off past Newlands Church (which does teas on a Sunday) and followed the farm track to the farm under Scope End.

Maiden Moor across Newlands from the foot of Scope End

The path is followed as if you were going up Scope End but, as that path turns off steeply uphill on your left, you continue on the lovely and gently rising grassy track ahead. This is an old mine track and is grassy and lovely. Robinson soon appears looming around the corner – a beautiful fell and one of my favourites.

Looking back round Scope End (both my photos)

The path is indistinct for a section near a mine level (there are some interesting quarry holes above) and I wrongly took us on the lower path here. We soon found it was heading down to cross the beck to the main path under Robinson’s High Snab Bank and so I had to drag Richard steeply back up the fellside to the correct path which was now more obvious. He had a little grumble…

Mine level and interesting quarry excavations (my photo above, Richard’s digi photo below)

More Robinson shots (Richard’s above, mine below)

The path is then good all the way to the foot of the rake – it is actually going to the little reservoir below the waterfalls of Littledale. Near to the reservoir, the path gets very wet and boggy but I’d seen a faint line above this raking up to join the rocky start of the rake. The rake starts just above the reservoir and, on Richard’s profile photo below, heads up to the top of the first slight levelling above the vertical crag by the falls.

Littledale Reservoir and dam (both R Wood)

Our sketchy path headed through heather and some loose rocks to join the rocky foot of the rake. This was very rough going and had Richard grumbling and hanging back. Last time I’d just gone straight uphill on fairly bouldery ground from the reservoir and can vouch for the fact that this path is much better.

I stopped at the first rocky section and waited for Richard, proudly standing aside to point out the lovely start of my exciting rake – he looked distinctly unenthused but said nothing. The weather had been pretty wet and the rake was very wet – this meant the rock was very slippery indeed – I told Richard that soon, there’d be a huge vertical drop below him (unseen) and to take care and keep a handhold. I clambered carefully up the first rocky steps and he followed…

He was lagging behind so much on each section that I decided he’d make an excellent illustration for a series of photographs so snapped away with the old Zenith – he looked even more unimpressed – neither of us really like being photographed but I don’t mind if it’s ‘action shots’ really as they’re very illustrative for my blog.

We soon came to what I call the spooky bit round a little corner – the path appears to have a ‘hole’ in it here but, if you stop and study it, there’s a choice of two routes. One is for purists like myself (and probably safer) and goes along a very narrow channel in the rocks. There aren’t really any handholds other than heather so, on slippery and wet rock, you really need to be careful. The other option I think is more dangerous as it’s on grass and much nearer the void!

Richard, after a quick and dubious look at where I’d gone, took the grassy ‘void’ route. Either way, there is a steep but very short section of slippery rocks sticking out of grass which needs to be ascended to reach plain grassy slopes above. The photo is of Richard ascending this final ‘difficulty’.

From here, it’s just steep grass up to just above a wall on the edge of the crags. Richard made heavy weather of this so I asked him what was wrong. He said he was knackered, thought nothing to my route except that it was hard work and awkward and that he wasn’t going up the hill.

I pointed out the various options to him, the first of which was to continue along the grass into Littledale itself, cross the beck and then take the main Littledale path back out of the valley under Robinson.

Littledale with Hindscarth above (R Wood)

However, I also mentioned (cunningly), that he could accompany me a little further up a pathless grassy ridge to the top of High Crags where he’d join the main path and could go back down the lovely Scope End straight to the car. I mentioned this as I thought that, once on the main path, I had a chance of persuading him up the hill after all!

My psychology looked to be paying off as, by the time he’d had a rest with the slow and steady plod up to the ridge (I went slowly deliberately), he looked at the lovely flat path under the ridgeline in the direction of Hindscarth and said he might as well accompany me along that section. I said we could have a break for a hot tea and snack before the final, easy pull up to Hindscarth and he could rest further and then maybe go on up the hill.

The weather conspired against me here as the shower I’d seen coming for us from Skiddaw soon hit. It rained quite heavily and the shower lasted much longer than I thought it would. Richard soon started to feel cold – I told him to walk on the spot to keep warm. He did for a minute or so and then gave up and continued to look dismal. He asked if I was still going for the hill and I said that, as it was just a shower, I probably was. I said though (in order to keep him there), that if it didn’t clear up soon, I’d head off back down with him. He stayed but there was almost a continuous commentary from him that it was still raining and didn’t look like it would stop soon and was I still going up the hill?

I tried delaying tactics like pointing out the lovely view across Robinson to Crag Hill and Sail and that they were in lovely sunshine. We took some photos of the atmospheric conditions which kept him a bit more occupied but he was still wanting to go back.

My photos…

Robinson’s beautiful nose (above) and atmospheric weather over Newlands (below)

Richard’s photos…

Better weather over Crag Hill and Sail

Down the ridge to Scope End

Finally, it stopped raining and I pointed out that it was a lovely, easy zig-zagging path up the final, short section to Hindscarth summit and why didn’t he continue. He did – great!

We were passed by several people on the final ascent as I can no longer race people up hills – at one time, no-one would have got past me. I was far from tired but my leg was pretty grumbly. I did notice that some of the ‘racehorses’ soon slowed down during the ascent and that we almost caught them up for a while.

I was hoping to continue onto Dale Head and take the old mine track under Gable Crag back down to the valley but could see more prolonged bad weather was on its way. It’s only a short and easy walk round onto Dale Head via the lovely and interesting ‘Hindscarth Edge’ – I hoped Richard would be tempted by the look of it. However, when we reached the summit, moments before the bad weather hit, he looked at Dale Head and said he ‘wasn’t going all over there’ – I pointed out it was only about a mile and soon reached but even I was losing my resolve as I could see the weather was going to turn horrid.

The weather hit and it was pretty horrid so I said we might as well head back down. Rather than Scope end I said I’d like to go back down to Littledale to try to get photos of the rake from the path the other side of the gill. He agreed to this and we set off down the good path. My hip was terrible down here as any muscle power I ever had for braking on loose scree and slippery slabs had now gone for my right leg so I had to edge down very carefully and slowly using only my good leg.

We reached the col where we’d had coffee and found another grassy arm heading down for Littledale’s beck – it even had a sheep track on it. We followed the path until we were past any craggy sections and descended the easy but tufty grass to the beck. The beck was a bit harder to cross than I thought it would be – not helped by my one leggedness – but we got across dryshod.

Heading back to Littledale (R Wood)

Above the waterfalls (my last photo)

We then had a break by the narrows above the waterfalls as I needed to change my film and we fancied more tea and snack. It had stopped raining again by now and there were large boulders to sit on. The beck below us, just above the falls, was in a very interesting gorge – we both took photos but I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for mine as I didn’t get very far through the next film. We then set off down the great track beside the falls.

Skiddaw the weather maker!

The crag below the rake!

The track was wet and slippery and I was so slow I didn’t stop to take many photographs but just continued steadily down while Richard snapped away. To say we’re both pretty lame nowadays, he seems to do far better than I do now.

The Rake

Looking back at the rake

We were soon on the easy track out of the valley where it started raining again – there is a lot of tree cover though so we didn’t really get any wetter. We were soon back at the car and then off to the Coledale Inn for some superb food. I’d really enjoyed my day!



8 responses

2 10 2017

Some great photos, although Richard does not look too happy in the action shots!


2 10 2017

LOL – he wasn’t really. I can’t understand why as I think it’s a really ace route and will probably always use it now. He seems to have gone right off any kind of scrambling nowadays – even very mild like this.


1 10 2017
Blue Sky Scotland

Some lovely mountain photos Carol. I find it amazing (and rather comical I have to admit) that you seem to be getting bolder (rock.climbing, scrambling etc) at an age when most folk are slowing down in adventure pursuits if they’ve been doing it a while. It will be skydiving and caving in another five years time.


1 10 2017

That’s the thing I’m finding most annoying about the hip – now I want to do stuff, I can’t! 😦


1 10 2017

Oooooh….. that would be a relatively local one for when I am back in Allonby. Will DEFINITELY have to try it out. It looks like great un!


1 10 2017

You’ll have to give me a shout if you’re doing it and I’ll give you a guided tour if I’m around 🙂


1 10 2017
Gaslight Crime

Terrific photography.


1 10 2017

Thanks – I like the ‘actions shots’ best 😉

Liked by 1 person

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