I had only previously done one walk in the Far Eastern Fells, and seeing as it was a simple enough circuit up Wansfell from Ambleside, it felt very central and not at all as if I was in the wilds of the Far East! And as we are normally based in Keswick or Ambleside when walking in the Lakes, this is always a bit too much of a trek.
Anyhow one Saturday we set off early from home, grabbing a quick tasty breakfast on the A66 at the Llama Karma Kafe before talking the scenic route along the shores of Ullswater, through Glenridding and Patterdale before parking up in Hartsop.
Our chosen route was well defined and trouble-free, essentially following the valley up to Hayeswater reservoir, before hitting the high ground, following the long arching top of High Street, with the occasional diversion to grab one of the neighbouring summits.
The walk along the valley was gorgeous, with Hayeswater Gill babbling alongside us and the sun high in the sky as we headed up towards Hayeswater. I did have a slight "Wainwright moment" - you know when other people are walking, at more or less the same pace as you, but you'd rather walk alone? So you stop every now and then to let them get ahead, but a couple of minutes later they have a rest as well, so you keep catching up and the usual awkward smiles and small talk ensues... I digress.
We headed straight up the steep grassy slope that would take us onto the old Roman ridge, meeting up with the path and wall that travels in a remarkably straight line from Rest Dodd up to The Knott.
Once we had made it onto the higher ground and the High Street ridge, that was it, the hard work was done. All that remained for the next couple of hours was to wonder around the plateau, ticking off summits and making High Raise, Rampsgill Head, Kidsty Pike and even High Street some of the most straightforward Wainwrights I've tacked so far. The views were far reaching, and from Kidsty Pike we had a glimpse of some deer down in Riggindale below.
We enjoyed our lunch on the wall on the summit of High Street, with views all the way to Morecambe Bay, as well as the bulk of the Lake District fells. Sometimes perspective plays funny tricks on the eyes, as the Coniston fells looked much closer than they ought to be. High Street summit reminded me of Whernside, with the wall marching on relentlessly along the whole ridge.
The next summit of Thornthwaite Crag was clearly identifiable as was the route which followed the path of the ridge curling round to the imposing summit cairn. As with the previous summits this was a straightforward but rewarding walk with views of pretty much the whole of Lakeland and its iconic fells.
Thornthwaite Crag was pretty busy so we didn't hang around, pressing on instead down a ridge over Grey Crag that would bring us back down towards Hartsop. This doesn't appear to be a popular fell, and we had the place to ourselves.
Maybe it is off the popular beaten tracks, but it was nice to have a bit of solitude. The map and guidebook were both a little vague when it came to the route off the fell and back down into the valley, so we had to make up our own route, straight down the grassy flank of Grey Crag.
After that leg-burning descent we were glad to get onto the more gentle gradient of the footpath along Hayeswater Gill and back to the car.