I purposely kept the middle week of August free from family and holiday commitments with a view to a little wander somewhere. The question was where to go? I decided that the Far Eastern Fells in the Lake District was likely to be less busy than most other parts. It also seemed like a good idea to leave the car at the car park at the end of Haweswater, where I could be reasonably confident that it would be safe.
I delayed the journey up by a day to take advantage of a more favourable weather forecast. The road to the head of Mardale was quite wet attesting to heavy rain earlier in the day. However, by mid-afternoon the rain had cleared.
After parking the car and a quick change of clothes, I walked up the path to The Rigg. In 2008, I camped just inside the woods. This time I decided to pitch outside the fence on a reasonably flat patch of short grass, gently shooing away a couple of sheep.
While it’s a nice little spot, it is quite close to the main path. However, it was late enough that there were only a few people who passed by. It was still quite windy, so the shelter that the trees provided was welcome.
Camp at The Rigg
A little wander towards Riggindale revealed a small spring which provided me with some water. Dinner was an excellent Kung Po Chicken from Fuizion Food. After eating, I explored around the woods and down to the lake shore.
A gusty breeze was hissing through the trees. I decided an early night was in order, so I climbed into my sleeping bag and drifted off to sleep.
The morning brought a change of weather. I was woken by flashes of golden sunlight through the trees. Although I was shaded from the full rays of sun, shafts of light still made it through the tall trunks of the pines.
Riggindale in the morning sun
Before breakfast I had a little wander and took a few photos. Then it was time to pack and head back down towards the car park. The plan for the day was to head up to Nan Bield Pass, then High Street to Wether Hill and camp somewhere around Gowk Hill.
The view back to Haweswater from the Small Water path
The track up to Small Water was easy. I kept turning around to take in the view back towards Haweswater. There is a profusion of waterfalls to admire on the streams from Blea Water and Small Water. I’ve never been to Small Water, but it was a delight, almost the perfect tarn. I noticed a small flat area just by the mouth of the tarn that might be suitable for a tent and made a mental note to return some day.
After passing the famous shelters on the northern shore of Small Water, which are still in good condition, the path rises steeply to Nan Bield Pass. At the col there is another larger shelter, although roofless. On either side there are attractive views back down to Haweswater and to the Kentmere reservoir and the Froswick/Ill Bell/Yoke ridge.
The first peak of the day was Mardale Ill Bell, which was easily reached in a few minutes. While I was having a look around the summit I was joined by another walker who was up from Manchester for the day. He accompanied me to High Street and we engaged in a pleasant conversation for a while.
At trig point on High Street, he decided to stop but I carried on until just above the Straights of Riggindale, where I had lunch. A loose stone from the dry stone wall provided a convenient seat, while the wall itself provided shelter from the breeze.
I was a little surprised at how many people seemed to be about. There was a steady stream of walkers not just on High Street but particularly between the Knott and Kidsty Pike, some of whom, I guess, must have been doing the Coast to Coast.
After lunch it was up to Rampsgill Head, drinking in the views, particularly down the impressive Riggindale, a place I must explore some day. At High Raise, I skirted the summit as there were some people having lunch and I didn’t want to intrude!
View north from High Raise
Just before Red Crag, I decide to change plans. On the eastern side of the ridge is Longgrain Beck leading to Measand Beck. With no paths marked, I thought this would be an interesting place to explore and likely to be unfrequented.
The initial descent to Measand Beck reminded me a bit of Dartmoor. There was no track to follow, just tussocky grass. I spied a green patch before the valley deepened. It was a where a track crossed the beck, but it was quite marshy.
From that point, the valley deepened appreciably. I contoured around the northern side following a few intermittent sheep tracks. As the valley turned to a more easterly direction, I decided to descend and follow the beck. The slope was much steeper than it appears in the photos and I took care contouring down. It was a relief to reach the bottom.
After about half a kilometre following the valley bottom, with some small waterfalls, cascades and the occasional stunted tree, the valley widens dramatically. The beck divides into two at a water slide and at the junction where the stream merges again there is a large patch of green rough pasture and some broken down drystone wall sheep pens.
This looked ideal for a camp, even though it was only mid-afternoon. Although I approached quietly, a number of grazing sheep took flight. On the other side of the beck, there are a couple of hummocks, which look like they might be drumlins left over from the last ice age.
Although the grass was a bit lumpier than I had anticipated, it was a superb place to camp. I was fairly sure that I wouldn’t have any intrusions to my isolation. Occasionally the wind dropped and a few midges gathered, but generally the breeze kept them at bay. I had a leisurely late afternoon and evening doing next to nothing.
Camp at Measand Beck
To my surprise, I could get a mobile signal, so I texted home and checked the weather forecast. The forecast for the next day was a sunny morning but showery in the afternoon. My plan for the next day was to walk to The Rigg in the morning and pitch the tent somewhere before the rain arrived.
Morning dawned sunny. There was no particular hurry, so I took my time over breakfast and packing. I was away just before 10 o’clock. I followed a faint track along the northern side of the valley. It was quite wet in places. In several places some wire fence panels had been stacked. It would be a great shame if the wilderness feel were spoilt by a fence.
Last view of Measand Beck valley
Just before the steep descent to Haweswater, on the map, the path crosses the beck. I assumed it was where the land rover track crossed so I hopped across a few stones. However, there is a bridge a few hundred metres downstream. Doh! The walk down to Haweswater is delightful, following the edge of a ravine with some lovely waterfalls and pools. I took my time exploring and taking pictures.
Measand Beck waterfall
On reaching the lake shore I turned south. There is a path around virtually the whole of Haweswater, but the section from Measand Beck to The Rigg is by far the best, especially in a southerly direction. It was a relief to be walking on a defined and well made path. The sun was now beating down, but the trees provided some welcome shade. The breeze also provided some relief.
Haweswater looking north
Just below Whelter Crags the path climbs a small headland, providing good views both up and down Haweswater. As I was descending I came across a heavily laden walker who asked me whether he was on the Coast to Coast path.
Haweswater looking towards The Rigg
My intention had been to investigate the promontory just north of Riggindale Beck for a place to camp, but someone had beaten me to it. Somewhat disappointed, I nosed around the woods a bit further on, but it wasn’t a very inviting place to camp as the ground was uneven and there were a number of fire rings.
I crossed Riggindale Beck and sat down for some lunch. It was still sunny and there was no sign of rain. Even so I didn’t hang around for too long (although I took a picture of a dragonfly). I had to get back to the car to get a new canister of gas before camping.
After picking up the gas, I headed back to The Rigg. Instead of camping where I had before, I headed to the northern side and to the western edge of the trees. There is a lovely sheltered, secluded pitch behind a wall and under a couple of pines, with just enough flat ground for a tent, ideal for hiding away.
The view from my stealth pitch
The promised rain didn’t arrive until early evening, so I just sat back and relaxed. Even then the rain was fairly light. By mid evening it was gone.
After a good night’s sleep, I awoke to a beautiful sunny day, although the trees prevented the sun’s rays from reaching me. I took a few photos, had breakfast and packed. There were a couple of camper vans at the car park. I suppose that’s one way of enjoying the great outdoors, but I much prefer wild camping. All in all, it had been a pleasant little trip largely away from the August crowds.
A tranquil dawn