Outline of Route
Cow Bridge, Hartsop - Middle Dodd - Red Screes - Little Hart Crag - Dove Crag - Hart Crag - Hartsop above How - Cow Bridge (Grid ref. NY 403134)
Total Distance 10.0 miles, Total Ascent 3800 feet, Equivalent Distance 17.7 miles
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Details of Route
Leave the (free) car park at Cow Bridge over the little bridge and bear left to follow the track, past Brothers Water with views to the east (photo) and south (photo), to Hartsop Hall. Just after Hartsop Hall, and before a farm building, turn left to follow a path over a footbridge and continue towards the northeast ridge of High Hartsop Dodd (photo). There is an old farm building at the base of the ridge, with a farm gate and kissing gate which you go through. Bear left after coming through the gate, walking alongside a wall. Eventually, the wall shoots off to the left but the path goes on ahead (photo). Keep to this path for about 200 yards until you see a small footbridge (photo), to the left of the path, across Caiston Beck. If you come to another wall with a sheepfold by it you have come a little bit too far. Once across this bridge you have Caiston Beck on your right, Kirksone Beck on your left, and ahead of you the northern ridge of Middle Dodd. Continue to and cross the wall that leads up this ridge and climb alongside the wall. When the wall meets another, straddling the fell, cross it and continue up the ridge. It is an unremittingly steep ascent to Middle Dodd (1,400 feet of ascent at an average 40% gradient), compensated for by the constantly improving view down the valley towards Brothers Water and Patterdale (photo). From the summit of Middle Dodd there's a good view northwest towards Helvellyn (photo). Follow the ridge as it climbs towards the summit of Red Screes (photo). The slope, down to the left, becomes steeper and craggier as you ascend, high above the Kirkstone Pass road.
The best view is from the true summit, by the trig. column, down over Middle Dodd to Brothers' Water and Patterdale (photo) and to the northwest (photo). Follow the path southwest from here, past the summit tarn (photo), to the cairn above Raven Crag, where there is a bird's-eye view of Kirkstone Pass and its summit Inn 1,000 feet below (photo) and a view of Windermere (photo). From here head northwest, where, once over the brow a wall can be seen going down to the crest of Scandale Pass (photo of Scandale). Continue down the fellside with the wall on your left to the col. Keep going up the other side, by the wall, then follow the fence until you need to bear right to the summit of Little Hart Crag. It is worth visiting the subsidiary summit to the east for a less restricted view down into the valley below. Return to the fence that comes up from Scandale Pass and follow it over Bakestones Moss (photo) and on up the fellside. If you find a copy of Wainwright's Guide to the Eastern Fells, price 18/-, it was probably mine, left behind in an absent-minded moment. There is no need to follow the fence all the way to the top of the ridge: a short cut across to the right can lead you to the top of Dove Crag once the slope eases. From here there are fine views to the east (photo), the southeast (photo), the north (photo), and the southwest panorama (photo).
Follow the wall northwest to Hart Crag then clamber over the rocks to its summit. Take a last look at the magnificent western skyline that's been with you since the top of Red Screes, and head east-north-east towards the narrow ridge that leads to Hartsop above How (photo). Formidable crags lie on either side of this ridge dropping down to Deepdale on the left (photo) and Dovedale on the right so this route should be avoided in hill fog unless you know precisely what you are doing. The view back to Hart Crag is particularly impressive (photo). Continue down the ridge from the summit of Hartsop above How walking alongside a wall which comes up from your right. Keep to this ridge-top wall which gives way eventually to a fence. There is also a new fence which crosses the path, but there is a stile provided to cross it. Bear right where the path diverges and eventually you reach a gate to the main road. Turn right up the bank by the road to a stile - at present it's just a strong bit of fence - which gives access to a path through the woods, running near the road, back to Cow Bridge. There are pictures taken from Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield during a temperature inversion (here).
Rev. 18 July 2012