Hartsop Above How and the Priest Hole

Name of walk Hartsop Above How and the Priest Hole
Date of walk 2016-02-23
Distance walked (miles) 9
Duration of walk 6 hours 47 minutes
Weather Blue skies and sunshine
Peaks on walk Hartsop Above How
Walked with Ged and blind Kas
Parking Red telephone box, Bridgend.

On Tuesday we decided to do a walk up to Hartsop Above How from Brigend. Previously I have only ever come down it via the steep descent to Brothers Water, but this time I thought we could walk the whole of the ridge. Ged, like me, also fancied another visit to the Priest Hole Cave on Dove Crag.  We could then come down the Dovedale Valley. As I have always previously descended via a mountain, both our start and our finish to the walk would be new.


We parked in the spaces by the red phone box at Bridgend. Deepdale Beck.


Looking back to the phone box. We take a left, then go through a couple of gates up on to the fellside.


View back down the valley.


Just below on the right is the ladder stile for the route that leads steeply up from Brothers Water. Place Fell and the twin peaks of Angle Tarn Pikes on the right.


Looking up the Kirkstone Pass.


The undulating ridge of Hartsop Above How is about three miles long and curves around to the right. It leads directly up to Hart Crag.


Me and Kas with Hart Crag and Fairfield behind us.


Looking down into Dovedale and our route back. Dove Crag at the top where the Priest Hole cave nestles.


View over to Hart Crag, Fairfield, Cofa Pike and St. Sunday Crag. Dollywaggon Pike right at the back.


Getting nearer to Hart Crag.


The white stuff! Thankfully frozen, so no sinking in up to your ankles, but spikes are needed otherwise you'd just slide back down!


We head west to the big rock with views back down into the Deepdale Valley.


Me and my shadow looking into Deepdale and across at St. Sunday Crag.


This is where we now head east to the edge and head over the moraines to the base of Dove Crag.


Dove Crag. Despite the glare the Priest Hole Cave can be seen on the middle left side of the crag. A narrow but long opening.


We cross the moraines.


Looking out from the base of Dove Crag into Dovedale.


Now for the difficult bit! The route up is on the diagonal. It is a Grade 1 scramble, but the ice on the two small rock steps makes it a bit awkward. Spikes, maintaining three points of contact and great care are essential.


View back down. I only took one more photo on the way up, none of the icy sections....for obvious reasons!


The route up is "airey"! There are precipitous drops.


There is a deep bank of snow at the cave entrance. The front wall is man made to keep the wind out.


Inside it is dry. A good lunch spot.


There is a superb view out to the long ridge of Hartsop Above How. Right click for a larger photo, click again to return.


There are plenty of supplies for the hungry. Campers leave their unused supplies for others. There are cans of coke, candles, gas canisters, loo roll, a sleeping mat and a rubbish bag. I was once up here when there was half a bottle of whiskey left......at least I think is was whiskey!


There are also log books. These used to be in a metal container, but the container is gone and the books are just on a ledge and now a bit on the damp side. If anyone who reads this decides to visit maybe you could bring an A4 sized plastic sandwich box?


The view out is wonderful. High St. and some of the far eastern fells are in view.


It is cold out of the sunshine so after a bite to eat we don't hang around too long.




Time to make our way back down.


Directly below is the old mine building we are heading for.


The snow sections are easy to descend.


Ged waits for me at the rock step. I go down both these on my backside, maintaining FIVE points of contact! To hell with dignity! We make it down safely and take the pitched path down into Dovedale.


The pitched path is steep, with both snow and ice. I keep my spikes on.


From the path is a good view back up to the Priest Hole, the diagonal route up to it can be made out.


We continue down, it is now safe to remove our spikes.


We stop to investigate the ruins of an old mine building that we could see from above.


View through the gable end wall.


It is great to be out in the sunshine again!


We head for the large split rock on the left which from a distance looks like a good illustration of the thaw/freeze process.


As it turns out, it's an Indiana Jones-like trap and with super-human strength Ged manages to save Kas from being squashed! (I humour him!)


Nearly at valley floor level.


Another rock of geological interest.



When we reach the farm we had to be careful of a herd of cows with calves. With having the dog we gave them a wide birth.


Hartsop Hall.


Kas gets a wash in Brothers Water.



One last look at Brothers Water before we take the footpath through woodland that leads to Patterdale, via my car.

The walk was 8.75 miles and took us 6hrs and 47 minutes. An excellent day in very good weather. A nice break from decorating bedrooms! I am writing this up while waiting for paint to dry, a third coat on the walls is looming….oh joy!