Causey Pike to Robinson
Sometimes when I'm out walking I'll look at another hill and see a route that looks interesting and within the laws of Fell Walking (30% fitness, 30% determination and 40% getting back to the car) I will mentally plan a route. I've thought for a while that it should be possible to get from Causey Pike to Robinson via the Ard Crags/Knott Rigg ridge to Newlands Hause, I have chosen a dry day to try just in case it doesn't work.
I left my car in the parking space at Gutherscale and walked along the small road to Skelgill and followed it across Newlands Beck to the hamlet of Stair and carried on to the main Newlands Valley road. At the road junction you can see directly opposite you is a path going up through the bracken. If you let it the path would take you to the mine road up Stoneycroft Gill but as the path follows the contours around the hill Causey Pike comes into sight. Shortly afterwards take a rough path leaving at right angles to head up through the bracken.
The vegetation changes gradually from bracken to heather but the path is consistently steep with three or four outcrops of rock to scramble over. In dry weather it is good to climb straight up the rock, you need to take more care if the rock is wet. After the steep climb you arrive at a lawn like area where Causey Pike rears up ahead and the greenness of the Newlands Valley and the surrounding hills comes into view. There is a slight descent and re-ascent on an obvious path through the heather, a good path on a dry day but a muddy mess in the wet.
Then the gradient increases as you start the climb of Causey Pike itself, a rough stony path through the heather at first but as you get closer to the summit the heather disappears as the stony path gets wider. The final section is a pleasantly intimidating scramble, the kind where you have to carefully thread your way when the rock is wet but on a dry day you go straight up without looking down. The summit of Causey Pike is one of my favourite places, a wonderful viewpoint but it is a fine compact summit in its own right.
There are good views in all directions and as I sat there the sun drove the clouds away and it was time to put on my legionnaire style sun hat, ludicrous to look at but the only way to stop my head and neck from getting too much sun. Onwards from the summit you descend first of all before regaining the height at the broad ridge of Scar Crags. As with all broad ridges it retains a lot of water but today the mud is dry enough to support my weight in most places without having to make wide detours. You descend a bit more steeply to Sail Pass where there is an obvious wide path going on to Sail and the interesting path to Eel Crags.
Today though I'm trying something a bit different and taking the path through heather in the direction of Sail Beck for Buttermere. After losing some I height I saw another path lower down and was wondering where to get down the steep slope to it I came to some scree where there seemed to be some evidence of it being used as a descent. I dropped down to the lower path then ignored it as I made a beeline towards the watershed between Sail Beck and Rigg Beck over rough grass and swampy vegetation that might be too wet to hold my weight on a wetter day.
When almost at the watershed I felt it was time to climb and turned up the steep grassy slope towards the skyline that I hoped would be the summit of Ard Crags. It was no surprise to see absolutely no signs of anyone ever having used this route before but it wasn't as arduous as I thought it might be. Sometimes I get it right and this was one of those rare occasions as I got to the ridge within ten metres of Ard Crags' summit cairn. By now it was a lovely day for walking, bright and warm but with a nice breeze to stop it getting too hot. The walk to Knott Rigg is a fine airy ridge with a view of mountains all around and in a couple of places a glimpse of the Newlands Valley road and Keskadale Farm below.
Whilst I was on the ridge I came across a dead sheep, sheep die in many places but not usually on a ridge. There was no smell and there was wool all around the carcass so it seemed to very fairly recent but the oddest thing was that the whole back end of the sheep was missing as though bitten off. Such is the hard life of the sheep who live on the fells.
After descending to a broad col and starting the climb of Knott Rigg you get to a minimal cairn set on the broad flat summit, very un-Rigg like. It is only after you start to descend that Knott Rigg lives up to its name, a pleasant little ridge with some rock outcrops to negotiate if you keep to the crest of the ridge. At this point Robinson reveals its bulk as does Newlands Hause where several of those visitors who enjoy the Lake District by car are parked to visit the waterfall at Moss Force.
As I was on the bottom half of the ridge I had to fight off the clegs (horse flies or the sheep equivalent) that seem to populate only certain areas but when you come across them there are lots of them. They are more of a problem if you walk in shorts as I do and it was the following day when I realised that I hadn't fought two of them off. When I got down to Newlands Hause it felt very warm, the clouds had become more dispersed and the June sun was making its presence felt.
There is a steep path, reconstructed in places, that takes you up to the edge of Buttermere Moss, an area that certainly lives up to its name. The clegs obviously don't like the wet either because they stopped troubling me as I got to the top of the path. The driest way to get to Robinson is to visit High Snockrigg first, a faint path takes you over dry grass to the cairn with a fine view of the Buttermere Fells and lakes.
As I was walking towards High Snockrigg I met a couple of the car-type visitors who asked if I knew what was on the other side, I said yes, of course and I pointed to Robinson to show where I was going next. You must be mad he said as he went back to his car and I got great views on a wonderful sunny day. From the cairn on High Snockrigg you can see a faint path going up Robinson and you will probably find a path on this side of the Moss but if in doubt head for the path on Robinson. As I started to cross the broad grassy Moss I got an unexpected and unusual view of Fleetwith Pike, looking very shapely and isolated.
Buttermere Moss is also drier than usual but that doesn't mean it is dry, I managed to detour the wrong way past a wet area on the path and ended up in ankle deep swamp. On a wet day I would have had to go back and find another way around but I just about got away with it, the water being millimetres away from filling my boots. I rejoined the path when I could, it takes you to a point where you cross a stream but with people using this place it is probably more muddy and awkward to cross that anywhere else. At least once you cross the stream and start climbing the path becomes more obvious as the ground becomes drier.
The path goes straight up the grassy slope to begin with but then takes a slanting route upwards, at least the the views are good across Buttermere Moss with nothing in the way of the Western and North Western fells. The slanting path suddenly becomes straight upwards again for the final climb before you reach the top of Robinson with its parallel rock outcrops forming a neat summit avenue. The views to three sides are still good but it looks very murky to the south over Scafell way.
From the summit head north eastwards, the path isn't very clear on the broad ridge until you reach a large cairn where the descent becomes steeper the line of the path is much clearer. There are four interesting outcrops to scramble down on this descent of Robinson, even in the dry I had to concentrate a little bit although climbing them would have been no problem. I have had trouble in the past climbing these outcrops in the wet, the rocks have become very shiny in places so you have to get your footholds right before you let go with your hands.
This descent gives you a fine open view of Newlands Valley especially on a sunny day there are many shades of green. After the ruggedness of the scrambles, looking back you can see how exposed you were, is the greenness of High Snab Bank. At this time of year there is a lawn path through the bracken, you can keep to the ridge or now there is a slanting path going down to the right, the reasons for which become apparent when you rejoin the main path. The green steep path up to the start of the ridge of High Snab Bank makes a very wearing descent on tired legs and a wearing ascent even on fresh legs.
Back on the valley path the rough track becomes tarmac at High Snab, you will pass Newlands Church then turn right out of the gated road past a car parking area before you climb more tarmac towards Little Town. Just as you reach some buildings at Little Town is a gate leading to Yewthwaite, follow this path past the old mine workings to find a track leading back to Skelgill.
Andy Wallace 25th June 2005
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