Thursday, 12 August 2010

Ard Crags, Knott Rigg & a mountain rescue

A short drive from my accommodation took me on to the scenic Braithwaite to Buttermere road. My plan was to climb Ard Crags by the classical route from the road bend at Ard Beck Quarry as I had covered this hill before with some inexperienced walkers by an easier route from the opposite end. It is sometimes not possible to do this route as the quarry can only take about six cars. On arrival however, I was fortunate enough to take the last space, but there was an element of unease as I felt I was partially blocking access to a rack of stored insulation for the nearby "Grand designs" style house. Ten minutes into the walk, still worrying about the positioning of the car, I took the photograph above that represents as close as I can get to the pencil drawing that Alfred Wainwright drew on the title page of this fell in his Pictorial guide book 6. As I continued up Rigg Beck, the mountain profile and the route I would be taking became more evident across the stream, through the grass diagonally on the left, through the darker green bracken and joining the rounded ridge in heather.

Although heather can sometimes be thought of as a Scottish plant in origin, it is often found on lower Lakeland fells particularly in the north of the region.

On the slopes, leaving bracken, entering the heather

The day was interrupted by an unfortunate incident down on the Rigg Beck path requiring the need of the mountain rescue team and the subsequent use on the Great North Air ambulance. (The first is self funded and made up from a team of experienced volunteers, the second is a charity that owns two helicopters. As a point of interest, the organisation is currently trying to purchase a third helicopter once owned by Michael Owen the football player, when he used to travel from his Cheshire home to play for Newcastle United. Speaking as a Newcastle United fan, an expensive and unhappy time for the club!. The helicopter was also hired out for celebrity use ranging from politicians to music stars.)

"I'm sure I dropped the keys over here"
The above view was taken at the summit of Knott Rigg where the helicopter found a landing place looking towards the cloud over the Buttermere valley to the High Stile and Pillar group of fells. The use of the helicopter took over an hour while the casualty was being attended to and then it was time for me to descend the hill.
The balanced view below firstly depicts Derwentwater in the centre of the photograph with Ard Crags that i ascended on the left and Catbells, one of the more popular hills for views of Derwentwater on the right. In the distance on the left is the famous mountaineers destination, Blencathra, while the less famous and more rounded top of Clough head is on the right. The valley in between is one of the northern gateways to the Lakes by means of the A66 road to Penrith, which incidentally is where the helicopter used on this day is based.

Path through the heather,. then steeply down through the bracken ...

Car drivers going in the Braithwaite to Buttermere direction always know when they come to Keskadale farm because of the steep hill and hairpin bend on the road, it's an experience and a half to see what your car is capable of !! The working farm also has accommodation available and it may be worthwhile looking up their website at this stage because there is a photograph of where I am taken from the other side of Derwentwater........ Classical Lake district view.
On reaching the farm, I seemed to upset the pack of sheepdogs in their kennels and despite wanting to take a photograph of them, I felt it best to continue on as I was disturbing the peace in the valley !!
My journey continued along the path to the right just after the road bend through rights of way on farmland. By now, the sun started to shine at long last........

I had an opportunity to look back at my ascent route up Ard Crags from the other side of the hill...

I eventually came to Newlands church, much loved by artists and photographers. This whitewashed building was rebuilt on the original site in 1843 retaining some of its original internal 17th century features. William Wordsworth once wrote a poem about it in 1826 called "To May". There is also an adjacent restored schoolroom to the left of the building. Newlands church and its surroundings are a delight and a place of solitude..

...away from the passing "walking" traffic !!


  1. Another excellent and informative post.

  2. Very interesting and aegrable journey trip, with the lost man in the middle of the beautiful mountains..., and the other side of the of the hill, suche a lovely quiet peace with the black and white sheep in a meditative mood ... (to be or not to be).
    Good travel around Great Britain and good luck in the following days.

  3. very good article, I like your narratives and this pure air! (thank for your subscription...) Bye!

  4. Wonderful landscapes through your stories end through your eyes !
    Good photo! Keep doing that!
    Best wishes!

  5. I must not have been a 'J follower' when you wrote this post. I saw it in the footer for this week's post. What a beautiful place that is!! And of course, the last photo, with the contented sheep in the cemetery is my favorite!

    On a completely different subject: Have you ever heard of Jesse Cook? He's a Canadian guitarist that my daughter told me about this afternoon. Now he's playing on my 'Jesse Cook radio station.'


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