After our day out on Cat Bells, we were keen to get back to the Lakes for another walking adventure. This time, Daddy and the dawgs were coming with us which left us with a dilemma – where to take our reactive Rocky on a bank holiday weekend. Ideally we needed a fell that was not too high for little legs, and not too far to travel for a day trip. At 357 metres and just off the A591, High Rigg fit the bill perfectly.
We parked up at a United Utilities car park in Legburthwaite, postcode CA12 4TQ – with bonus free parking due to the machine being out of order. After the obligatory toilet stop and Rowan ensuring his walking socks were as high as he could possibly get them, we made our way through a gate at the back of the car park onto a wide track that led back to the A591. To our right through the trees, St John’s Beck gently flowed towards Smaithwaite Bridge and to our left, open fields were flanked by the Helvellyn range and Great How.
On reaching the road, we turned right and walked a short section along the A591 until we reached a gate and ladder stile on after we crossed the bridge. The gate was unlocked so Rick passed through with the dogs, but Rowan, ever the little adventurer, opted to climb over the stile.
Following the path through the trees, we reached a fork, the sunlight breaking through the tree branches highlighting our would-be sign post.
We took the left hand track which quickly began to climb steeply. As we walked, we found our way blocked by fallen trees, casualties of past storms maybe, meaning we had to clamber through, over or round.
After a quick climb, the path levelled out and we could see the tree topped cliff of Wren Crag. It was a lovely stroll, in gorgeous sunshine, climbing through more fallen trees before we started to trudge upwards again.
It wasn’t long before the path levelled out, so we stopped for a sit down – the trees offering welcome shade, whilst we admired the views around us and Rowan perused the map (good lad!). The stands of trees were magical – like little homes for sprites and fairies. Across the valley, on the opposite side of Thirlmere, Raven Crag rose out of the tree tops. There is an iron-age hill fort on one of Raven Crag’s subsidiary tops which must have amazing views. We will find out one day.
We continued along the path. The majority of the climb was behind us now but every now and then, we walked alongside rocky sections where Rowan could indulge his love of scrambling up rocks. I had to be quick on my toes (not something that comes naturally) to keep up with him when he decided he “wasn’t taking the easy route”. Not that he needed me behind him ready to catch him. Looking back, we could see Castle Rock. Maybe the boy will tackle that one day.
We were now on top of the ridge and for such a modest height, the views were expansive. Behind was Thirlmere, Great How and Raven Crag. Ahead was the Skiddaw range and Blencathra.
The undulating path led down to a break in the wall then climbed again to a wide hummocky landscape, meandering its way onwards – a really brilliant place to explore.
Crossing a stile, we then followed the fence to reach a small tarn where the some people, the first we had seen that day, had stopped to have some lunch.
It was a beautiful spot, but we didn’t linger. Instead, we pressed on passing through another wall. Notice how Rick is breaking the no carrying on adventure days rule, and how happy Rowan looks about it.
The path led us down a steep grassy slope where Rowan and Rick found a sheep skull and bones. (Cue my imagination in overdrive – maybe werewolves?) We climbed a section of broken down wall then followed it to another tarn where we skipped over a marshy section of ground to begin following the wall again, the furry pair leading the way briefly.
By the time we reached the corner of the wall, we could see the last climb to the summit ahead. High Rigg can be climbed very quickly, but much less interestingly from its north side, so knowing we were nearing the summit and more people, we put the dogs back on the lead and climbed to the rocky top for a bit of dinner. The mutts were trying their best to cajole treats, but had to make do with their biscuits. Rowan was still very proud of his big man’s flask, and he certainly enjoyed his hot chocolate when the clouds came over cooling the temperature enough for him to want his jumper and coat.
After a quick picture with the ice cream cone, with Great Dodd in the background, we began to make our way down. The way was grassy and steep – so steep in fact, that Rowan slipped forwards, sprawling onto his belly. He was fine and found it all very funny (as did we), but it was a good time to remind him to lean back a little when he was going down, and if he felt like he was slipping, trying to land on his bum. He developed his own technique though, and just slid down on his bum. Ahead and to our right, the clouds cast pockets of shadow over Blencathra.
We quickly reached the road at the foot of High Rigg and turning right, we found St John’s in the Vale Church.
From here, we simply followed a wall and bridle way back to the car park. It was still a stroll of just over two and a half miles and the heat made going slow. But Rowan’s spirits were still high as he treated us to his Dr Grant pretending to get electrocuted impression.
The glorious views didn’t let up on the way back. Glancing behind we could see Blencathra’s ridges leading to the broad summit. To the side were crags and gills gorged into the fell side, with ruined buildings standing sentinel in the fields. And of course, the lovely Herdwick sheep.
As we neared the end of the walk the path climbed a little, becoming narrow as it hung above St John’s Beck. This was probably the hardest part of the walk due to being nervous about Rowan’s tied legs slipping on the narrow path, but he carried on like a trooper. Soon the path widened again to join the section from the start of the walk that led to the ladder stile and gate on the A591 – but not before giving a tree in its furry green coat a hug!
What I really like about walking the Wainwrights is the fact that you can end up on fells that you wouldn’t normally visit. And maybe this is one of them. Wainwright walking and Rocky’s reactivity had brought us here today, and it really was a beautiful walk and so quiet for a bank holiday Sunday. The route itself meandered across the top of the ridge, sometimes grassy, sometimes rocky, sometimes marshy but always interesting and providing brilliant views. All in all, we walked just under six miles and climbed 567 metres. If you like the look of this route, you can find it here. Rocky must have – he didn’t react to anyone!