High Spy, the Nitting Haws Ascent.

Start. Grange.

Route. Grange - Hollows Farm - Swanesty How - Cockley How - Low White Rake - Nitting Haws - Eel Crags - High Spy - Wilson's Bield - Rigghead - Broadalack - River Derwent - Grange.

Notes. Only five days ago I found myself standing on the summit of King's How, the rain was falling backed by a cold wind, winter was on the way I thought. Staring west across Borrowdale into a wall of cloud I had an epiphany moment, there on the opposite side of the valley above the village of Grange, what looked like a path, a tiny silver thread vanished into the cloud cover, I suddenly felt an overwhelming urge to ascend it. I promised myself the next time the hills were clear, even better if the sun was shining I'd climb this strange alluring thread that so fascinated me.

Today was the day, the map informed me there was a path climbing through the crags above Grange, the sky was blue the fell tops clear, almost perfect, too perfect. I left the car in the same place as the other day, instead of crossing Grange Bridge I wandered into the village, turned left down the lane that leads to Hollows Farm. Through the farm I walked to join a track heading north, after a few hundred yards a small cops tilted into view, at that point a path emerged from the left. This I followed over the low mound of Swanesty How, passed a small water works then through a gate allowing access to a patch of boggy ground, to my left the path I sought, not a silver thread but a green trod ascending through golden bracken.

Lets not gild the lily here, this was a steep ascent, the path zig zaged between two gills guiding me into absolutely breath-taking mountain scenery. I felt humble climbing towards the massive cliffs of Blea Crag, the path traversed under High White Rake, a chance for a breather before ascending through Low White Rake to gain access to Nitting Haws. I looked back along the stunning route I'd just graced before wandering onto easier ground, the easy ground didn't last long, when the path swung west the climbing started again, it was becoming a trudge, so I kept stopping and drinking in the stunning mountain scenery. Eventually I stumbled onto the main trod linking Maiden Moor to High Spy, I turned left it was High Spy for me.

I sat in the lea of the summit cairn sheltered from the cold mountain wind, had a brew and something to eat, drank in the stunning scenery over Newlands and marveled at the shadowed cliffs of Dale Head. Drunk on staggering views I picked myself up before teetering off down the main trod. After descending a while at around the 1875ft contour, grid reference 233 157 I joined a narrow green path that would guide me to Wilson's Bield then on to the head of Rigghead.

Rigghead one of many places in Lakeland where hopes and aspirations turned to rubble and dust. My descent was through the detritus left by the hard rock miners of Borrowdale, under foot tracks they laid to enable them to access their place of work and carry as much of Lakeland away as possible. This track guided me through the remains of the slate industry before swinging north passing between Goat Crag and Castle Crag, the descent continued through Dalt Wood depositing me on the banks of the River Derwent at Gowde Dub. I continued north passed Hollows Farm camp site to access the track that guided me in earlier, all that remained to re-trace my steps to Grange.

view route map.


Seen from the lane leading to Hollows Farm, early morning sun paints the slopes of Goat Crag and Blea Crag.

Maiden Moor in golden light.

From Swinesty How views to the rock walls of Blea Crag with Nitting Haws to the left.

Ascending Cockley How looking to Derwent Water and the shadowed face of Walla Crag backed by mighty Blencathra.

Blea Crag's fine rock architecture.

The stunning view from Cockley How.

King's How across Borrowdale with the Dodd's and Helvellyn stretched out across the horizon.

Almost at the top of the ascent, stopping for another breather looking to the many ridges of Blencathra.

This wonderful view bursts on the senses as I reached the main trod linking Maiden Moor and High Spy, over the valley of Newlands, reaching across the skyline the north western fells, far left Grasmoor, right a bit Crag Hill followed by Sail then Scar Crags backed by Grisedale Pike.

Viewing Maiden Moor backed by the Skiddaw massif.

The unfolding panorama, near the summit of High Spy looking to Blencathra with the massive plain of the Eden Valley melting into the distance.

The Great Gable crags of Dale Head plunge into upper Newlands.

Dale Head as seen from the summit High Spy.

When sunlight warms the Lakeland Fells the ridge lines above Newlands and Borrowdale are a magical place, viewing the Helvellyn massif and Fairfield over Grange Fell.

Seen over Walla Crag the tentacular ridges of Blencathra, the vast expanse of the Eden Valley with Clough Head in sunlight and shade to the right.

A gem in a mountain setting, Dalehead Tarn, beyond rising above Grey Knotts and Green Gable, Great Gable great from any direction.

The sun lit lowlands, Borrowdale from the Rigghead Quarries.

Seen over High Doat the saw tooth skyline of the Borrowdale Fells.

A slice of the picturesque, the giants closing the head of Borrowdale, Esk Pike and Great End linked by Esk Hause the highest pass in Lakeland.

Castle Crag and an incredible view through Broadslack to Derwent Water and Skiddaw.

The River Derwent with views to sylvan Holmcrag.

Goat Crag seen through an autumnal Dalt Wood.

Sunlight on Cockley How with Blea Crags in shade, seen from the lane to Hollows Farm.

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