Kirkstone Pass: Circular Walk

Posted by Swaledale Outdoor Club on 2009-09-27

Sunday 27th September saw three intrepid walkers set off from Richmond, Len, Mike and myself for a programmed “moderate” walk on High Street. We met Gina at Kirkstone Pass and so started a walk which Mike didn’t think was moderate and it didn’t include High Street. So much for a programme! What did follow was a very pleasant walk enjoyed by all parties, and with mist on the upper fells probably made the best of cloudy day!
A stiff climb from the pass brought us quickly on to the summit of Red Screes at 2,541 feet a climb of just over a thousand feet. Harry Griffin, the Lakeland writer and Guardian columnist used to regularly write about Red Screes which he could see from his home in Kendal. It was one of his favourite fells for a bit of snow and ice climbing, especially if you could drive up Kirkstone Pass. Having achieved a reasonable height we then descended via Scandale Pass and Caiston Beck to Brothers Water losing over 2,000 feet within the first couple of hours, not your normal start to a Lake District walk! To compensate Alan gave couple of short talks about Lakeland Barns, especially the traditional Bank Barn. We often think of the Yorkshire Dales landscape as being dominated by barns, but in fact the Lake District National Park has more barns, it`s just that they don’t brag about it!
We entered Hartsop or Heartstop as Gina referred to it, one of the loveliest of the areas villages and at this point decided not to extend the walk up High Street, but to have a leisurely lunch. We then took the long valley of Threshthwaite Glen heading up into Threshthwaite Cove. On the way we followed a heron until eventually Len got a photo, but we didn’t see any deer which are quite common in this location, having a sanctuary on the adjacent Nab.
We passed under Raven Crag, one of the hardest crags in the Lake District, which was developed in the 1980`s especially by the local climber Pete Willance. The climbs on the crag have all been named on a car racing theme. Len was keen to try “High Performance” at E5, but had forgotten to pack his rock shoes! “Running on Empty” seemed more appropriate as the valley steepened to the col and the final scramble up onto Caudale Moor at 2,502 feet the second highest point of the day. We descended in mist to the Kirkstone Pass Inn for a refreshing pint and enjoyed an informal folk session by a group of local singers.
An unusual walk, starting at about 1,500ft and then up to over 2,500ft near the beginning of the day, with a low point at 500ft for a mid-day lunch stop and then back up to 2,500ft near the end. We also saw some lovely quiet valleys, not on the beaten track and finished at a pub, always a good move!

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