Carrock Fell and High Pike

The easing of lockdown restrictions over the last few weeks meant that we finally managed to get back over to the Lake District to continue with our challenge of climbing all the Wainwrights. As it was a bank holiday weekend we put a lot of thought into the best route to tackle: we wanted to go somewhere that wouldn’t be completely mobbed by the bank holiday crowds, preferably in the northern Lakes which are easily accessible to us via the A66, for a reasonably quick ‘up and down before the crowds arrived’. We’d never heard of Carrock Fell before we were checking our list of uncompleted summits, so it seemed like a good candidate! There are quite a few other Wainwrights that can be added to a hike up Carrock Fell, but for the sake of getting away before the A66 got too busy, we settled for just one other summit (High Pike). It was probably a good decision, as driving home on the eastbound side of the A66, the westbound side had reached a total standstill by the time we were driving home!

While you can tick off quite a few Wainwrights in one go in this area, including Great Calva and Knott, we decided to stick to this six mile circular route on WalkLakes. The walk is generally pretty easy if you can get yourself through the first mile, which is extremely steep, with loose scree sending you back one step in every three! The photo below gives a good idea of how steep it was but let’s just say I’ve not had such a sweaty back for a long time and leave it at that.

Parking for the walk is free on the roadside on Mosedale Common. It’s one of the quieter parts of the Lakes, but given that it was a bank holiday weekend, we arrived for 8.30am and got one of the last spaces.

Once you’ve hauled yourself up the hill at the start it doesn’t take long to reach the summit of Carrock Fell. I imagine the views would be pretty good on a clear day, however, it was so hazy that sadly we didn’t really get a good look at them.

Navigating across to High Pike was fairly easy as we could see it in the distance, although the path was very indistinct for a lot of the time, so this would probably be a lot trickier in poor visibility. It was also pretty boggy for quite a while coming off Carrock Fell, so wear your walking boots: my feet stayed dry, Sam wore his running trainers and ended up with wet feet!

The ascent of High Pike from this direction is very easy and gentle (although maybe that’s because I’m directly comparing it to the brutal first mile of the walk). When you reach the summit, there is a lovely slate bench where you can sit and admire the view (when it’s not too hazy to see it), and a trig pillar identifying what you’re looking at.

The descent back down to the road is fairly gradual, following indistinct grassy paths, until the final section which takes you back down the road to the start. This is a very quiet section of road and we saw hardly any cars, but we were lucky enough to see a herd of Fell ponies grazing by the side of the road! We’ve never come across them in the Lakes before and it was quite a special moment. They were extremely chilled out and not remotely interested in us – which is always the best way when you come across ponies on a walk!

Fell ponies grazing on Mosedale Commoni

Dog friendly rating – 3/5. Like most walks in the Lakes, you need to keep your eyes peeled for livestock, and we saw both sheep and Fell ponies on this walk. There’s also not much in the way of water for your dog to drink aside from a stream at the start and a ford at the very end, so make sure you take extra for your dog to drink. The big pluses on this walk were that it is 95% off road, and that there were absolutely no stiles at all – our favourite kind of walk! There are no poo bins so make sure you pick up responsibly and take any poos away with you – there are bins a short drive away in Mungrisdale if you don’t want them in the car with you all the way home!

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