The picturesque southern end of Haweswater is usually busy, with walkers and mountain bikers heading for the two passes to the south, and for High street via Nan Bield pass, or its eastern ridge: Riggindale and Rough Crags. Going via Castle Crag and Low Raise guarantees isolation, unless your timing coincides with the Coast to Coasters along the waterside path. The human desertion of the broad ridge upto the Raises is well known by the local red deer population, which abound here, but we sat and watched them scatter when a bit off their territory on the Kidsty Pike ridge to the south, as walkers headed up there. This walk is the reverse of the northern part of Bill Birkett’s Mardale Skyline walk in his book of the Lakeland Fells.
Go round the head of the “Lake”, over The Rigg and cross Riggindale and Randale Becks. The path ascends to underneath the Crag, but unless you fancy the steep scree and then grass to the evident southern col, you must descend beyond the crag and either traverse left round its base if the bracken is not out, or descend further and make your way through bracken to the small plantation. Walking up through this is easier than outside it, and at the top an old zig-zag path can be found, leading to the “castle”, which does show excellent views along the “Lake”.
Doing the round this way allows you to negotiate the crags which now abound on the ridge upto Lady’s Seat, then a moorland path leads along the northern edge of the broad ridge to Low Raise. The crowds now start to appear as the path leads on to High Raise, Rampsgill Head and High Street. Hopefully the grand views down Riggindale will open up for you, although shifting mist does make them more interesting.
From High Street look for a small path leading south-east across the moor to a much bigger one, leading over Mardale Ill Bell to Nan Bield Pass, and dramatically down past Small Water back to the car park. The usually busy shelter at Nan Bield was empty, a poor shelter against the cold north wind today. We noted the planting of trees near the outflow of Small Water does not seem to be a success, unfortunately. 8.5 miles with 2856ft ascent.
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