Wandhope via Addacombe Hole

4 07 2019

Wed 15 May 2019
Since peering down into the abyss once from the summit of Wandhope, I’ve always been fascinated by the coombe or hanging valley of Addacombe Hole. I noted at the time that a path bravely set off down a little ridge at the edge of the hole but was put off by the steepness above and below the hole. Recently, since my hip improved, my ambitious streak has started up again and I suddenly decided it had to be done!

Click on photos for full size – all my manual film camera

The forecast was good for this particular day so I decided that was the day to go for it! It was pretty hot in the morning but I was worried I might not get parked so I left it until early afternoon – by then, it seemed even hotter!

I drove into Newlands valley and around the foot of Causey Pike where there is a nice little quarry hole to park in at the start of the Rigg Beck/Sail Pass track. This is a tight little valley and I thought it would be hot and airless but, on setting out, found that I soon gained enough height to access a slight cooling breeze. Every little stream I passed though, I had a swig of the cooling water and ‘soaked my buff’ (to put back on my head and cool it)…

The few people I met were coming back from their walks as expected… They were probably surprised to see me setting off out into the hills with no rucksack but I’ve given up carrying anything in the Lakes except a flask/water bottle carrier and my camera.

It’s getting on for three miles along Rigg Beck and I kept my pace slow to stay cool. Just as I reached the summit of the path, there was a really bad bog which ended up soaking my feet through – all the rest of the route had been bone-dry.

The path passes under Causey Pike, Scar Crags, Sail and Crag Hill (Eel Crag).

Rigg Beck Track & Scar Crags

Looking back to start from pass summit

As I rounded the corner of Sail, the path dropped quite a bit and I lost a lot of height. Addacombe Hole also hove into view looking very high, strenuous and steep. It looked like it would be hot work…

When I reached the beck which comes down from ‘the hole’ I had a good study… it looked like you could go up by the beck and cross the waterfalls at various places – I wasn’t sure how steep or safe it would be though. In the end, I chickened out and just started up the plain hillside to the left of the beck. I noted a couple were just coming along the Rigg Beck path behind me.


Addacombe Beck Gill

The couple never appeared on the continuation of the path so I wondered briefly whether they had gone up the beck and were also heading for ‘the hole’. However, when I got higher, I saw they were sensibly sunbathing at the bottom by the water! When they saw where I’d gone they seemed quite fascinated and were taking photos – it does look very full-on from below.

I have to admit that the ridge to the lip of the hole wasn’t as steep as I thought and I’d still kept the nice, cooling breeze. I noted that the slope generally has bracken though which would make it twice as arduous – some bracken grows several feet high and it is generally very thick. I was glad I was doing the walk in spring…

I kept to the edge of the ridge to see what the waterfalls looked like and decided that, if you went to where the becks split at the foot of the largest and craggiest waterfall, you could very easily get up the right-hand beck. At one point there was also a wide grassy rake coming across the top of the waterfall to my ridge which looked okay.

When I reached the lip of the hole, rather than immediately continue up the now-defined ridge, which had a lovely path on it, I naturally had to go for an explore of the coombe. I also hoped to find more water to supplement my meagre supply (which I hadn’t started on yet).

The interior of ‘the hole’ was delightful and contained a sheepfold (the sheep had left on my arrival), spectacular backwalls – especially under Crag Hill where there were very many crags and, joy of joys, a spring!

I sat briefly in the sun by the spring, re-soaked my buff to put back on my hot head, had a good drink and then thought I’d best set off up. I noted the top of the ridge looked exceedingly steep! I also noticed that various paths looked to have come up via the waterfalls before I left so I think I’ll try that next time – especially if the bracken is up.

Ard Crags from lip of Addacombe Hole

The narrow grassy ridge had a great path zig-zagging up it around the various rock outcrops. Nowhere was it scary but it was very steep and I kept having to stop for a rest. I have to admit that my head isn’t very good heights-wise yet after my couple of years of not doing much hillwalking due to my worn-out hip so I was a bit tense. There is no danger however.

my shadow to prove I really was there!

The last 100 feet or so really were exceedingly steep and I was pretty out of puff by the time I reached the summit. I was even more tense too as my imagination had been running riot a bit – I’ve always struggled mentally with very steep!

The ridge scores a bullseye for the summit cairn. I had a little sit to get my breath back and then looked down the path again to see whether it looked intimidating – it does a bit I think but it would be okay as a descent.

It was truly great to be up on this plateau again – it’s very many years since I was up here. There were tempting paths setting off for tempting fells in all directions. I’d been toying with the idea of doing the lovely ridge to Whiteless Pike and coming back all the way along the Rigg Head path – you can drop down the other side of the Squat Beck col.

In the end, I stuck to my original plan to go onto Crag Hill and Sail and then descend the Sail Pass path back to Rigg Beck. I hadn’t been on these hills for years either and they’re favourites of mine. It was an easy stroll up to Crag Hill and I took the path which sticks to the edge of the coombe for views to ‘the hole’ and my ascent ridge (which now looked spectacular).

Addacombe Hole – my ridge start on the right

This path is best for photos… I noted again that I was still a bit uneasy being so near the edge of the crags – I’ll definitely have to get out more and work on this. One way I can tell when I’m a bit nervous is that I grip my precious old camera really hard in case I drop it!

Wandhope – showing how steep my ridge was!

The ridge between Sail and Crag Hill was as delightful as I remembered and I had a quick break on Sail’s grassy summit by the now dried-up summit tarn. I also had a study of Wainwright’s ‘Tower Ridge’ up the face of Crag Hill – apart from the very steepest section, it doesn’t look too bad so I could see me having a bash at that sometime soon. Will help get my head back to how it should be hopefully…

There is an unofficial path cutting the made zig-zags on Sail but I was good and stuck to the proper path – it’s all about erosion control after all. I was soon down on Sail Pass. I’d been arguing with myself all the way down to the pass as, although I’d originally been going to descend the right-hand side to Rigg Beck, I could equally well descend the more exciting left-hand side to the Stoneycroft Mine Track and just walk back around the end of Causey Pike. I’d ruled Causey Pike out as I didn’t fancy such a steep descent at the end of my day.

I’d also been toying with the idea of adding Ard Crags to my day as it’s a short ascent from Rigg Beck. In the end, I descended right and did just that.

The Rigg Beck side of Sail Pass is very easy. It officially goes well past the high point of Rigg Beck in favour of Buttermere but I noticed that a path snuck off down to the high point on grass before the bottom. The path up Ard Crags looked really short and easy but it seems a bit longer than it looks and tired me quite a bit. I was delighted to be back up there too though – lovely ridge.


Addacombe Hole from Ard Crags – my route goes right-to-left up the green then craggy ridge

I wondered whether I should go to Knott Rigg and back (one of my mother’s favourite fells) but, in the end, decided it was pretty late and I should really go back for my breakfast/dinner/tea. It was 1830 and I’d only had 3 small biscuits so far for the day.

I had a quick sit and admire of the view and then set off back along the lovely ridge to the steep descent at the end. This must be equally as steep as descending Rowling End off Causey Pike but is quite a bit shorter.

I tried to get a photo of the steep end after I’d descended but I was pointing right into the sun that way and it was just a featureless bulk. I’d also tried earlier to get a photo of the Addacombe Hole ridge from Sail but that was also into the light and would have been the same unfortunately. Definitely the best place to get a photo of the route from though…

Nice light on the way back out via Rigg Beck…

Looking back to Ard Crags

It’s a very short walk back to the quarry hole from Ard Crags descent and my legs were thankful when I reached the car. As it’s on the way back, I went to the Coledale for my tea – always great food there and nice to get a pint of lime and soda 🙂

Stats: 7.5 miles, 3115 feet of ascent, 4.5 hours

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21 responses

10 07 2019
tessapark1969

Blimey that ridge looks steep. Looked a good day though.

Liked by 1 person

11 07 2019
mountaincoward

It is steep but it’s actually okay and would be fine to descend. The other route I’m putting out soon was steeper and horrible!

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5 07 2019
Alli Templeton

Carol, you’re amazing, setting out on a trek on your own through this admittedly breath-taking but rugged terrain armed only with water and a camera! It looks a very worthwhile adventure though, judging by your fabulous photos, so peaceful and wild. I know what you mean about heights though. I’m no good at all with them. I get terrible vertigo, so my head was spinning just reading about you being so near the edge of those crags! Great stuff, and without doubt more pictures for your calendar. What a set of views… 🙂

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5 07 2019
George

I love the Coledale fells, but have never ventured that way yet. I think you’ve planted the seed of an idea.

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5 07 2019
mountaincoward

It’s a good, direct route. If you take your time, it’s not that strenuous really. Wait till you see the other route I tried on Wandhope though – probably the next post – was ‘orrid! 😉

Liked by 1 person

5 07 2019
George

I wait with baited breath 🙂

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5 07 2019
mountaincoward

I had virtually no breath left by the time I reached the top of it!

Liked by 1 person

5 07 2019
Blue Sky Scotland

Never visited that place but it looks good. The Newlands Valley is a bit special.

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5 07 2019
mountaincoward

It’s a good ridge and I can’t imagine why more people don’t use it – but I suppose they’re generally doing the Coledale Round…

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5 07 2019
chrissiedixie

I have to say that ridge does look rather steep!

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5 07 2019
mountaincoward

It was but it was pretty good. Wait till you see the other ridge I tried on Wandhope – probably coming next!

Liked by 1 person

5 07 2019
chrissiedixie

🤣

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4 07 2019
treksandtors

Such a different way up to this fell. I seem to remember running back up to Ard Crags from Sail Beck after to leaving my camera at the summit, Not for me was it an easy ascent!!

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5 07 2019
mountaincoward

ah – but you had added stress! that definitely tires you more…

Liked by 1 person

4 07 2019
Stuart Templeton

An excellent post – I really enjoyed reading about your adventure. it sounds like quite a walk! As always – I love you photos, that old Zenit does you proud!

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5 07 2019
mountaincoward

Thanks Stuart – unfortunately, my old scanner seems like it’s dying nowadays and is putting scan lines on all my photos! Looks like I’ll end up having to buy a new one 😦

Liked by 1 person

6 07 2019
Stuart Templeton

Ah is that what that is – I thought you had matt textured prints!

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6 07 2019
mountaincoward

no they’re all gloss. I think I am going to have to get a new one 😦

Liked by 1 person

6 07 2019
Stuart Templeton

Ah looks like it, or maybe see if you can do anything with the settings? Thankfully they’re not as expensive as they used to be (unless you have a posh one). I feel like a twit though – I confidently claimed to Alli that is was a textured print 😀

Liked by 1 person

6 07 2019
mountaincoward

that doesn’t make you a twit as you didn’t know the scanner was on the blink or that they weren’t matt prints! It disturbs me that it’s so noticeable though 😦 They’re about £50 for a new one so not bad at all. I’ve googled the problem extensively and it looks like a new scanner is the only option as it sounds like dust on the scanner head and the unit is sealed and not designed to be opened and cleaned.

Liked by 2 people

6 07 2019
Stuart Templeton

It didn’t detract from the photos – they’re superb!

New one it is then! 😀

Liked by 1 person

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