Outline of Route
Mosedale - Carrock Fell - High Pike - Knott - Great Calva - Mosedale (Grid ref. NY 356323)
Total Distance 11.4 miles, Total Ascent 2800 feet, Equivalent Distance 17.0 miles
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Details of Route
Parking is free at Mosedale, either by the side of the road from Mungrisedale, or by the road up to Carrock Mine and Swineside. A little excavation - perhaps a former quarry - on the right hand side, alongside Carrock Fell, of this latter road between Mosedale and Wellbank, provides ideal parking. From here walk back towards Mosedale village to a small brow in the road with a grit/salt bin by the wall. A path leads up the fellside from here, connecting with another rising from right to left. Follow this path up to the left as it wends its way uphill, avoiding the worst of the scree and boulderfields that pervade this slope. The smooth grassy slopes of Bowscale Fell, across the valley, look idyllic in comparison (photo). Once above 1500 feet the slope flattens out and progress can be made, via paths, sheep tracks, watercourses and initiative to the summit of Carrock Fell. It is worth mentioning here that this is not a route to undertake in hill fog. An overview of the whole route can be seen from Skiddaw (photo).
The view to the north provides interest as it opens up when nearing the top, with the Solway Firth in the middle distance and a couple of high-tech windmills down in the Caldew valley. The River Caldew skirts Carrock Fell and has its source to the west, from the slopes of Skiddaw (photo). Head roughly westwards along the ridge: there is a footpath that's easier to follow than the way you came, though the route is a bit boggy. As you progress the yellow scars of Dry Gills become apparent eating into High Pike's lower slopes. Follow the track - it's clearly defined as four-wheelers use it - well to the left of Dry Gills. Go down to the depression and up the other side, bearing to the right when the track to High Pike is reached, and climbing the gradual slope to its summit - retrospective (photo). Rest is provided either in a substantial shelter or on a slate bench seat which would do credit to any of Cumbria's coastal resorts. Skiddaw tends to draw the attention from here onwards as it gets closer and closer and more and more dominating. Knott, the next summit on our route and in the same direction, is dwarfed in comparison.
Retrace your steps southwards from High Pike and follow the track southwest past a curious fenced paddock up the fell to your right and a shooting box close by on the left (photo). The track gives way to a footpath after the shooting box and leads down to Grainsgill Beck. Cross the beck and find your way uphill , out of the mire. Once firmer ground is reached head for the summit of Knott. You will see from the top that there is a path but you're not going to regret having missed it. There's nothing to keep you at this summit so set off southwest down the beautifully grassed slope. Skiddaw looks magnificent from here (photo). The northern end of Bassenthwaite Lake you will have seen from the summit, but on the way, keep an eye open for a rare sighting of Over Water to the northwest. Follow the path up from the col towards Great Calva's summit. It is easy going to start but becomes boggy as a (new) fence is approached. There is a stile giving access to the path on the other side of the fence (photo), but if this is missed just continue uphill on the left side of it. From the summit head south alongside the fence, and if you've not yet crossed it, do so at the stile, just a few yards from the summit cairn. From the south cairn Skiddaw House is clearly visible.
Most of the heather on the southern slopes Great Calva was destroyed by fire (photo). One exception is on the lower eastern slopes approaching the footbridge over Wiley Gill, which is precisely where you don't want it to be. The adventurous may want to try this direct eastern descent (photo) and find their way through the heather. The slightly more cautious will prefer to take a southeastern route down to the footpath and follow that, to the left, to the footbridge, avoiding the heather altogether. Once the heather has grown it will be more sensible to descend to the south, where the footpath is met at the easternmost of the two Skiddaw House footbridges. If the heather is impenetrably thick then descend to the southwest and follow the road to Skiddaw House and then back across the other bridge. The distance figures above refer to the southern descent. From the Wiley Gill bridge there is an easy three and a half mile stroll, back to your starting point, along the Caldew valley with views of Carrock Fell ahead (photo) and the Skiddaws behind (photo). On a warm summer's day this valley will be thronged with visitors: a considerable contrast from the felltops.
Rev. 17 July 2012