Pasture Beck is the closest of two south eastern valleys above the village of Hartsop in the Far Eastern district. The other is the Hayeswater valley which was dammed as part of the drinking water supply network. Pasture Beck drains the head of the valley at Threshthwaite Mouth (pronounced Thresh'et) before meandering through Pasture Bottom to join with Hayeswater Gill above the village.
Hartsop Dodd, the first fell tackled on this walk, towers over the village and makes for a pretty intimidating first impression. Apart from the steepness there are no difficulties reaching its summit cairn and the path ascending the ridge is largely in a well trodden groove. The onward connecting ridge with Stony Cove Pike, the summit of Caudale Moor, is gentle and arguably less interesting. From Stony Cove Pike the descent to the col of Threshthwaite Mouth is both steep and very rough. There is one small difficulty where an awkward rocky step is encountered which may require a down-climb just above the saddle. Here on the saddle a shallow tarn, probably only a muddy puddle in summer, was the only available water. The climb back up to Thornthwaite Crag again looks horrible but there are no difficulties, it is just a straightforward stony ascent. At the summit Thornthwaite Beacon is a surprising and impressively well built column. Returning back to the village over Gray Crag needs care to locate the correct path. The majority of people will be joining High Street, whereas the ridge to Gray Crag lies hidden from immediate view behind the beacon. The final descent is of course steep, and on grass.
This walk is not recommended in snowy conditions, or when the ground is frozen as a slip on ice would have serious consequences.
During the summer months Charolais/Limousin cows and calves live in the fields around Hartsop and in the Pasture Beck valley. Apparently this cross-breed of cattle can be rather aggressive. Do not approach them at all even without a dog. They are a dairy breed who spend much of the year confined to sheds and are not used to walkers being in their fields.
The car park in Hartsop is at the end of the public road. Continue through village and go through a narrow pinch point between buildings to the rough car park. A donations box is beside the gate.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Thornthwaite Crag, Stony Cove Pike, North of Thornthwaite Crag, Hartsop Dodd, and Gray Crag; and includes 4 Wainwrights, 4 Birketts, 2 Hewitts, 4 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, and 1 HuMP.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Go through the gate at the end of the car park and immediately bear right to go through the gate and drop down to the bridge over Pasture Beck. Cross the bridge and climb up beside the wall to your right. Approaching the cross wall cross at the stile in the right hand corner, or bear left to go through the gateway.
Rejoin the wall, and continue on an intermittent path onto the ridgeline. Turn left into a well trodden groove. Take a breather often as the views behind you are opening out with every step.
The steep climb does ease eventually and what looks like a cairn appears ahead. This is the end of a wall. Pass along the right hand side (west) of the wall and the summit cairn of Hartsop Dodd is just a little further on that side.
Continue on from the summit cairn of Hartsop Dodd keeping to the west side of the wall. Follow it down to the moist grassy depression and then the long climb to Stony Cove Pike. The path Wainwright mentions on the other side of the wall overlooking Pasture Beck hardly exists so is much harder walking.
The summit of Stony Cove Pike lies to the left, east, side of the wall, but it's worth continuing just past it to where a wall comes in from the right just a few metres over the brow for the views.
There are good views southwards to Wansfell, Windermere, and out to Morecambe Bay.
At the wall corner turn sharp left and follow the clear path back to the small summit cairn of Stony Cove Pike.
Continue on the path past the summit cairn, it feels like it's heading back the way you came. Follow it as it soon bears right heading for the obvious and slightly disconcerting drop to Threshthwaite Mouth.
On its way down to the deep saddle of Threshthwaite Mouth the path meanders a little, drops over rough crags, and across damp ledges. Eventually it falls steeply down and doesn't let you rest until the bottom. Beware of two rocky steps. The first is easily negotiated. The second just above the saddle is slightly tricky which may require facing inwards to the rock and down-climbing.
Cross the saddle and continue on the path on the right hand side of the wall. The rocky scree path looks horrible but there are no difficulties - one rock step is easily clambered up. Follow the path as it bears right along a climbing traverse.
The tall beacon at the summit of Thornthwaite Crag soon comes into view.
From the beacon it is crucial to pick up the correct path. The beacon stands at the southern end of a wall. Follow this wall on its right hand side roughly northwards, there is little immediate sign of a path here. Keep the wall close to your left for little more than 60m (66 yards). At this point a path should materialise, the wall bears away left, and the wide grass ridge of Gray Crag appears heading NNW. Bear slightly right to drop onto the ridge.
This ridge path, grassy with the occasional damp peaty patch gradually swings slightly west of north. Above to your right is High Street. To your left is Hartsop Dodd. In 700m (770 yards) a broken down wall crosses the path, go through a gap and continue on the path ahead.
The first cairn reached is not the summit of Gray Crag. Keep going, and having crossed another broken wall over the ridge the summit cairn of Gray Crag, as described by Wainwright is reached.
Keep following the path northwards and gradually descending. Hayeswater can be seen way below to your right. The path meanders a little as the ground becomes more broken and drops quite steeply at times. Beware of the path suddenly and relatively faintly bearing right as it avoids crags on the ridge below. Follow it carefully as it first bears right, drops and then back left under the crags but doesn't return to the ridgeline. Descending steeply on grass the path, much wider as people spread out, finally joins the Hayeswater track.
Reaching the track at the large boulder bear left and follow the track down through a couple of gates. Swing right to cross the bridge over Hayeswater Gill, and then keep to the track back to the village and car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Brock Crags and Angletarn Pikes circular walk from Hartsop||same start point|
|Rest Dodd and The Nab||10m (11 yards) away|
|Around Hayeswater Reservoir||14m (15 yards) away|
|The Dovedale Round: Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|St Sunday Crag and Grisedale Tarn||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|A visit to Place Fell overlooking Ullswater||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Birks and Arnison Crag||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Place Fell and a stroll alongside Ullswater||3.5km (2.1 miles) away|
|Glenridding Dodd||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Lanty's Tarn, Keldas, and Patterdale Circular||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Lanty's Tarn, Birkhouse Moor, Red Tarn, Catstycam||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Helvellyn, The Classic Ridges of Striding and Swirral Edge||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|White Side and Raise, from Glenridding||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Glenridding Dodd, Heron Pike and Sheffield Pike||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
|Greenside Mine and Glenridding Beck Circular Stroll||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
|Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass||5.0km (3.1 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011