The Far Eastern Fells of High Street, Rampsgill Head, and High Raise above the head of Riggindale, near Haweswater, make for a breathtaking walk. They also provide a good excuse to go up Riggindale Edge which goes from the shores of Haweswater to almost the summit of High Street in 3.0km (1.9 miles). It is an easy scramble with no technical difficulties and is well within the capabilities of most walkers. Set in a quiet back-water you would have to be unlucky to have company on the climb along the Edge. It will be a different matter at High Street though, this strategic summit is always a busy place.
Riggindale is famous as being the home to England's only golden eagle. This beautiful bird of prey dances in the sky hoping, against hope, for a mate to join him. He soars and swoops to no avail as the nearest female golden eagle is in Scotland. He has been alone since his mate disappeared, presumed dead, around 2005. The conservation authorities have decided they will not reintroduce a female into the area for him. The best way to see him is to visit the RSPB viewpoint which is manned between April and August 11am till 4pm.
Haweswater is a reservoir, construction by the Manchester Corporation started in 1929. Controversy raged as it was considered one of England's most beautiful valleys. Originally there were two lakes called High and Low Water with the Measand delta separating them. The village of Mardale Green sat at the bottom of The Rigg was destroyed, and flooded by the rising waters. In dry summers what little remains of buildings like the Dun Bull Inn, the Public School, Riggindale Farm, walls and roads, hauntingly re-appear.
Park at Mardale Head at the far end of Haweswater where there is a small car park, get there early for a space in the holidays or weekends.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Rough Crag (Riggindale), Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike, High Street, and High Raise (High Street); and includes 4 Wainwrights, 5 Birketts, 4 Hewitts, 5 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, and 1 HuMP.
If you need accommodation we have details of 11 properties offering rooms near the start of this walk. Here are some examples:
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Go through the gate at the end of the car park and in a few metres turn right following the wall around the head of the reservoir to the far bank. Heading for The Rigg which juts out into the water, bear left at a wall corner to climb steeply through the bracken.
A cairn sits on the ridgeline, turn left at the cairn to follow a path just below the crest - you can follow the crest if you really wish but it won't be pleasant! The path zigzags occasionally, and a set of slabs going very sharp right can be used to climb to the crest if you wish, or continue ahead on the path which climbs to the crest a little further along. Once on the crest the path pretty much keeps to it to the top of Long Stile. Many short rocky steps make for little scrambling practises for a more sustained climb later. The views are in all directions are awe-inspiring.
Rough crag has a small cairn on rocks marking its summit.
Continue on from the summit of Rough Crag, dropping down to Caspel Gate where a small tarn usually lies unless the weather has been very dry for a few weeks.
The climbing soon starts again, and this time it is more serious. There are some nice scrambling lines to be taken if you so wish, or pick the easiest. The last section of Long Stile is a short bit of loose scree. A good zigzag line up some of it takes the sting out.
At the top bear left, past a cairn, and very shortly after the trig point of High Street comes into view this side of a stone wall.
From the trig point on High Street cross the broken stone wall and turn right to follow alongside it. Drop down into the depression of the Straits of Riggindale, cross the wall and start climbing up the other side. In only a few metres bear right to follow around above Twopenny Crag.
Don't go too far round, at a rocky outcrop bear left on a narrow path heading for Rampsgill Head. Ramps Gill is the other side and flows down to Martindale.
The summit of Rampsgill Head is marked by a small cairn sat on the first lot of rocks.
From the the top of Rampsgill Head, bear right across the the rocky top. Another cairn marks a similar high spot which is only a couple of metres lower. Keep ahead, now north east, and join the wide path down to the depression and then climb towards High Raise.
Approaching the top of the fell, strangely, the path splits, bear right for the cairn and windshelter at the rock strewn summit of High Raise.
Retrace your steps dropping back down from High Raise and in the depression before the climb back to Rampsgill Head, bear left on a clear path to the outcrop of rocks with a small cairn - Kidsty Pike. By now the gentle climb, above the head of Randale Beck, to its summit feels steeper than it looks!
Take care approaching the summit cairn of Kidsty Pike as it sits perched like a raven on the edge of an abyss - except you can't fly!
Step back from the summit and with respect to the direction of approach bear left, east, to head down the grassy and sometimes wet ridge towards Haweswater. Looking over to your right is Riggindale Edge. Caspel Gate tarn easily visible across the deep chasm.
Kidsty Howes is the significant rocky outcrop ahead. The path passes just to the right. Ignore a gravelled turn off to the left - it goes no-where! Continue ahead and drop easily down through the upper crags via a succession of gullies and rocky steps. Below, a grassy turn off to the left bypasses the last slightly steeper drop of the next crags but it is again undramatic if taken slow and steady.
At the bottom continue on grass down towards the stone bridge slightly left - this avoids a boggy patch if a direct line is taken. Reaching the bridge, don't cross, but bear right on the path. Cross a wet boggy patch via stepping stones and bear left to start the climb over the shoulder of The Rigg. Cross the broken down walls and fields, over the shoulder, and down the other side to bear right alongside the stand of trees above Haweswater. With Mardale Head over the other side, follow the path above the wall, and then fence round the head of the reservoir back to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|High Street (Racecourse Hill), and a few friends, from Mardale Head||28m (31 yards) away|
|Harter Fell||28m (31 yards) away|
|Branstree and Selside Pike from Mardale Head||28m (31 yards) 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