The Dovedale Round: Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd

Dovedale is set amongst the Eastern Fells at the foot of Kirkstone Pass and hidden from casual view from the road by High Hartsop Dodd. Folk on the Fairfield Horseshoe have no inkling of the drama just over to the side. Rugged, dark, cliffs have an ominous presence at its head. What stories could the Priest's Hole tell from history - this has to be the Lakes most well known 'secret cave'. The letter box entrance high on the crag has a low wall to keep out the worst of the elements. A box within contains a visitors' book.

The fells surrounding the dale are not the highest or most famous, yet they deserve more of an accolade as the views are stunning. Climbing steeply right from the start the views initially framed by trees, then on a small knoll open out to the village of Hartsop and High Street. Once on the ridge of Hartsop Above How across Deepdale is St Sunday Crag leading to Fairfield. The long ridgeline narrows approaching the summit with the small cairn commanding an airy position. So far the walk is usually very quiet, few people visit these fells. Climbing to Hart Crag you mingle with folk on the Horseshoe. A short descent through boulders and a gentle climb alongside a broken wall brings you to the summit of Dove Crag. Shortly afterwards you leave the route of the Horseshoe to descend to Little Hart Crag. This curious little craggy bump is situated just above Scandale Pass, with excellent views southwards all the way down to the outskirts of Ambleside. Northwards is the gentle descent to High Hartsop Dodd. A small collection of stones marks the accepted summit, being the last bump on the ridge before the descent steepens and above the wall.

The descent of the nose of High Hartsop Dodd has something of a reputation. It's a bit steep. Variously described as horrendous, horrible, and 'blimey that was tough'. We didn't think it was as bad as perhaps suggested. On a dry day it was straightforward, the path often zigzags quite easily with only the way the ground drops away rapidly does it make you feel vulnerable. It seemed to us that this wasn't an awkward descent as others that get barely a mention.

Finishing along the track from Hartsop Hall, Brothers Water is a great place for a paddle - humans and dogs alike!

The walk starts at the Brothers Water car park, beside Cow Bridge at the northern foot of Kirkstone Pass, where there is parking for perhaps a couple of dozen cars split either side of the bridge.