Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Lake District - Far Eastern Fells - Gray Crag (699m) and Hartsop Dodd (618m)

I knew we had climbed quite a few of the hills that are accessible from the Sykeside campsite near Brothers Water before we started ticking of the Wainwright's.  After checking it turned out that we only had four left to do. Namely High Hartsop Dodd, Brock Crags, Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd. 

Two of these - Gray Crag and Hartsop Dodd looked like they would make a good round.  With this in mind we found ourselves, along with friends Graham and Sandra, on the Sykeside campsite during a very busy Whit Bank Holiday weekend.

G&S had already done Gray Crag, but as that was on a cold wet miserable day with no views, and today was warm with cloud free tops, they were happy to make a repeat visit.

From the campsite it was a pleasant wander along the sunny shores of Brothers Water and up to the pretty hamlet of Hartsop.  From Hartsop we took the Hayswater track up past a rather photogenic old barn until the in-bye land came to an end.

Old Barn with Hartsop Dodd behind

At a large boulder stained maroon by the red dyed flanks of itchy sheep we headed steeply up the northern slopes of Gray Crag.  This gave us some nice views of Hayeswater and the northern fells, above which the spaceship forms of wind born Lenticular clouds were beginning to take shape.  As height was gained the strength of the wind also increased and in between periods of flat calm, severe gusts strong enough to lift us off our feet would race across the hill without warning. 

Hayswater with The Knott 

The view North over Brock Crags towards Place Fell

On reaching the northern summit we could barely stand up, so we only paused for a quick photo before staggering on to try and find some shelter for lunch.

One of the two summit cairns at the northern end
It would have been nice to say we had a leisurely break in the sunshine, but even in the relative shelter of some rocks near a wall the wind managed to seek us out.  At one point it even lifted the coffee out of Moira's cup and blew it into her face!

Moving on over Gray Crags 710m southern top, G&S headed off to climb Thornthwaite Crag.  Having already been up there several times, Moira and I traversed across to Threshthwaite mouth instead and had a break out of the wind while we waited for them.  On the way we had a quick look to see if we could see any evidence of the Hawker Hind aircraft, that crashed here on 5th June 1937, sadly killing Pilot Sgt Joseph Mitchell and mechanic/passenger LAC Gerald Murray.  Link: http://www.yorkshire-aircraft.co.uk/aircraft/lakes/k6614.html

Despite having a grid reference we did not see any signs of it and with the wind gusting so hard we deemed it too risky to look further down the craggy slope where much of the wreckage is said to have ended up.

G&S returning from Thornthwaite Crag
After meeting up at the col we made our way up the steep rocky slopes and onto Stony Cove Pike. 

Here we headed northwards along the broad grassy ridge towards Hartsop Dodd.  It should have been a pleasant wander in the sun, but instead we were harried the whole way by the wind.

Leaning into the wind as we approached the cairn

At the summit cairn even remaining standing was a challenge and as the wall running over the summit offered little in the way of protection, we only stopped long enough to grab a few pics before heading down steep slopes to meet with our outward route in Hartsop.

Graham using Sandra as a windbreak while Moira develops Donald Trump hair

Highest point a few meters away from the summit cairn

View over Hartsop village towards Ullswater with Brothers Water lower left

Hartsop Dodd from Hartsop village
Despite the wind we had a good day and having bagged 2 more Wainwright's we now only have 99 Wainwright's left to do.  That said it may well be a bit of a slow haul at times as a fair number of those are single tops.  

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