Carrock Fell, High Pike and Knott

Another fine day was promised as I set out from Mosedale End farm, heading up the quiet road to Stone Ends where I’d start my ascent up Carrock Fell.

The fells “back o’ Skiddaw” are, in the main, rounded, grassy hills. Carrock Fell is the exception. According to Diana Whaley’s A Dictionary of Lake District Place-Names, it’s name derived from the Cumbric carreg (rock, stony place), means “rocky height” and that is a good description of this fell composed of volcanic rock, including, uniquely for Lakeland, gabbro, an igneous rock that’s also found in the Black Cuillin mountains on the Isle of Skye. The fell is also known for the ruins of an iron age fortress that surround its summit and was climbed by Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins, an adventure described by Dickens in The Lazy Tour of Two Idle Apprentices. (I managed to download a Free Kindle version from Amazon)

I’d had a good night’s sleep and ready for a good walk. The owners of the farm were busy, it was lambing time, and the fruits of their labour were clearly evident in the fields

The farm stood at the foot of Carrock Fell and I’d considered a number of routes up, including a direct ascent from the village. However, talking to my landlady I decided that the more popular route from Stone Ends, about a mile up the road, was a better bet. Talking to someone later who I met on the summit who’d come up from the village, I think I’d made a wise decision.

Approaching Stone Ends

Reaching Stone Ends the path up the fell, skirting the crags, was visible.

I started to make my way up. The path climbed gradually at first but became steeper as I ascended, skirting the rocky crags.

As I cimbed I could see someone else coming up behind me. He was making good, steady progress and I wondered how long it would take for him to catch me! Well, catch me he did about three quarters of the way up, and we stopped to chat. He’d retired early from local government in the south of Scotland, living just over the other side of the Solway, and was now working as a walking guide. Lucky fellow! he was originally from Hull and was a Rugby League fan, so we had quite a lot in common and had plenty to talk about as he joined me on our journey towards the summit.

It was windy on top, but the temperature was pleasant and it was warm in the sun.

On a good day it’s possible to see for miles over the Solway to Scotland. However, long range visibility was poor so our northern neighbour was hidden in the murk.

Looking towards Skiddaw

The remains of the fortress, the foundations of the walls, were clearly visible, though. It would have been a hard existence up here, wild wet and windy for much of the year but it would have been a commanding position, on the edge of the fells overlooking the coatal plains. The fort is supposed to have been built by the Celtic inhabitants of this region – the Brigantes. It’s also supposed to have been attacked and destroyed by the Romans. It would have been hard work charging up the steep sides of the mountain so they must have been pretty determined to defeat and dislodge the inhabitants of the fort.

After a rest, sheltering from the wind behind the handy rocky ruins, I set off for my next destination, High Pike – there it is, in the distance.

I knew what to except. I’d watched a youtube video where Ed Byrne and my fellow Wiganer Stuart MaConie walk in the opposite direction, so I wasn’t surprised to find that I needed to do quite a bit of bog hopping . (The Ed Venturing videos, where he interviews comedians / personalities during a walk, are worth watching).

Looking back to Carrock Fell.

Fortunately I didn’t get swallowed up in the peaty depths and it didn’t take too long to reach the summit of High Pike – as well as being the most northerly Lakeland summit over 2000ft, it’s also the only Wainwright on the Cumbria Way, so the final stretch to the summit was on a good path as I joined the route.

On the summit there was a very convenient memorial bench to park myself while I had my sandwiches.

Long range visibility was still poor so no sight of the Solway, Scotland and the Isle of Man ‘😢

But I could make out a murky Blencathra

and Skiddaw

Looking over to Carrock Fell, I didn’t like the look of the dark skies over to the east.

I had my rain jacket in my pack but I wasn’t expecting to use it. The weather forecast definitely had not mentioned rain, but, then, this is the Lakes. I crossed my fingers and hoped the dark clouds wouldn’t come my way. I was reasonably optimistic as the wind was blowing from the south, but you should always be prepared for rain up on those fells.

Where to next? It wasn’t long after midday and I wasn’t in a hurry so I decided to carry on and head for Knott. I took the Cumbria Way which traversed the flanks of Great Lingy Hill. I could always drop down into the Mosedale valley if it started to bucket down.

As I walked over the quiet fellside I spotted what looked like a garden shed perched high up on the fell. What was that doing there? On reaching it, I found that it was the Geat Lingy Hut a bothy maintained by the Mountain Bothy Association.

I had a peek inside

It wasn’t very big or substantial, but would be a welcome resting place for walkers crossing these isolated fells, perhaps when walking the Cumbria Way in rain, hail or snow. Providing it didn’t get blown away, that is. It was windy and the wind could be considerably stronger at times, particularly like during the storms we’d recently encountered. I did notice, however, that the hut was secured by guy ropes so, hopefully, anyone taking shelter during a storm wouldn’t find themselves lifted up into the clouds.

This was the view down to Mosedale from the hut

Unsurprisingly, some bog hopping continued to be the order of the day as I made my way down the valley and then onwards up to the broad, featureless, grassy summit plateau.

Carrying on, I could see my next destination, Knott. Surrounded by other grassy fells, it’s a long way from a road and requires a long walk across the rough ground to reach it. So it made sense to include it in my walk, taking in the summit while I wasn’t too far away.

High Pike and Carrock Fell from Knott
The view towards Great Calva and Skiddaw
The back of Blencathra
A murky view of Lake Bassenthwaite

Time to set back down towards Mosedale. I retraced my steps through the bogs down to Grainsgill beck, crossing over and joining the Cumbria Way. Most people following this trail would be walking in the opposite direction, but I descended down the path towards Mosedale valley.

As I reached the valley floor I passed the remains of the old Carrock Mine, a Scheduled Monument.

Ruins of the mill and processing plant
One of the mine adits that’s been preserved.

Mining for lead and copper had taken place hereabouts since the 16 th century, but early in the 20th Century tungsten was discovered here. Tungsten is a hard metal and when alloyed with steel creates alloys with a number of applications, including armour plating. In 1906 the mine was taken over by two Germans and it’s likely that a lot of tungsten was sent to Germany and used in armour plating on German warships. The mine closed in 1911 but was reopened during the First World war when the need for the metal justified the cost of the ore’s extraction and processing. It closed after the war but was reopened in 1942 again closing after the war. The viability of the mine depended on the price of tungsten and mining began again in the 1970s and continued until it finally closed in 1981. There’s a detailed chronology of the mine’s history on the Cumbria Amenity Trust Mining History Society website.

It was easy walking now along a gravel track which eventually turned into a metalled road

which took me back to Mosedale

After a long walk I was glad that I didn’t have to drive back down the busy motorway. After showering I settled down for a relaxing evening in my comfortable B and B.