The Road goes ever on and on; Down from the door where it began;
Now far ahead the Road has gone; And I must follow, if I can;
Pursuing it with eager feet; Until it joins some larger way;
Where many paths and errands met; And whither then? I cannot say.

[JRR Tolkien, Lord of the Rings]

Monday, 6 June 2016

High Rigg and Dale Head

High Rigg (NY308220; 357m)


With Mick off away to work at 6.30 this morning, I thought I may as well make tracks at the same time. He went south and had a tiresome journey, in Monday rush-hour traffic, of two and a half hours (to do under 100 miles), whereas I headed north and was parked up at my first destination in under half an hour.

Having parked to the SW of my objective, my final approach to the top was from its NW side, so it felt like a bit of a round-about route to take. However, it was exceptionally easy and before I knew it I found that the craggy outcrop in front of me (on a hill of many craggy outcrops) was, in fact, the top. I recalled that, in his Pictorial Guide, Wainwright had said of the final climb from the Church of St John in the Vale that ‘anyone full of the joy of spring will do it in 15 minutes (authors time: 35 minutes)’. Whilst I’d like to think that my time of 9 minutes is attributable in part to being fit after all of my recent hills, I think it was more to do with the fact there are now lots of well-trodden grassy paths, making an easy ascent even easier.


Yet another summit selfie

Had the Church of St John in the Vale (which sits high between two valleys, at the end of a little lane to the east, and on a byway from the west) been an old and interesting looking one, I might have gone and looked at it on my return leg. However, it looked a surprisingly modern, so I took a slightly more direct route down, with the added bonus that I kept off tarmac for longer.

The same pleasant paths on which I’d started my walk also ended it, and a few minutes later I followed a tractor out of the layby. Or, I followed it almost the entire length of the layby, before it decided to reverse, completely oblivious to a hulking white van behind it. The way the farmer started when I sounded Colin’s horn was quite comical, and onwards I went, to my next hill, via Booths in Keswick for a few more calories to keep me going these next few days.

(3.8 miles, 700’)

Dale Head (NY223153; 753m)


The weather forecast for the first three days of this week is almost identical, with very low winds and fine starts to the days, but with cloud building and the risk of thunderstorms and torrential showers in the afternoons*. With the way the cloud was building as I approached Honister Pass, once I parked Colin in a layby a third of a mile to the east of the pass** I didn’t tarry too long over my coffee and hot cross buns before I set out up the pass thence up the hill.

A few other people had also thought Dale Head to be a good bet for this morning, but not so many as to make it feel busy, and it was a straightforward, if exceptionally hot and sweaty walk. I had to remind myself that the heat is good training for next month in the Pyrenees, although I was pleased when, about three-quarters of the way up, the cloud blocked the sun and, with a hint of a breeze blowing, it became a much more pleasant temperature.


Looking worried, but slapping a grin on my face all the same

The views from the top would have been outstanding if it hadn’t been for the haze. Indeed, my phone told me, on my first attempt, that it couldn’t take a panoramic shot because not enough detail was visible.


A lovely shape of valley, but the detail is lost in the haze

There are other hills I could have visited from Dale Head, but I think that I’ve been up all of the surrounding hills before (I do hope I’m right in that thought, otherwise it was an opportunity wasted!), and as my accommodation for tonight was going to provide me with mains electric for the first time since I left home last Tuesday morning, I was happy to have a pre-noon finish and to spend the rest of the day charging a ridiculous number of electronic gadgets and frittering my time away with my book and a couple of radio-programme downloads.

(3.4 miles, 1500’)

(*The forecast has held true today. One downpour, as I’ve been typing this, has been particularly akin to stair-rods.

**I thought I would have to pay for parking at Honister Slate Mine today, so was happy to find a layby within a ten minute walk; I subsequently found that there’s also a National Trust car park at the top of the pass.)


  1. High Rigg - From my blog:

    "As I descended to a miniature church I heard the organ playing. After the trauma of the descent, and in no hurry, the idea of a short rest was appealing. There was a convenient bench in the churchyard, and nobody else about, and as I sat music continued, tuneful, melodious, and at a gentle pace mirroring my increased relaxation. This ephemeral moment lasted for several minutes, but it seemed longer, until the music ended, and I heard the distant sonorous voice of the preacher, slightly muffled and sounding as if coming from the bottom of a very deep well, and so I moved on."

    At home I tracked down the organist and identified the music - it was obscure and unrecorded.

    Dale Head - one of the best views in the Lakes. It was shortly after that, on the summit of Robinson I found I'd left my wallet at the Slate Mines Café, but that's another long story.

  2. What a lovely experience you had at that church!

    As I walked up Dale Head I had a recollection of someone I knew having left their wallet in the cafe at the Slate Mines, but couldn't place who it was. I must have read about it on your blog.