- A Hartson and Dove Crag Round -

Date & Time: Thursday 13th Sept 2007. 11.45 am start.

Location of Start : Cow Bridge, Patterdale, Cumbria, Uk. ( NY 402 134 )

Places visited : Low Wood, Hartsop above How, Houndshope Cove, The Priest's Hole, Dove Crag, High Bakestones, Little Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd, Hartsop Hall, Brothers Water.

Walk details : 7 mls, 2600 ft of ascent, 6 hrs 5 mins.

Highest point : Dove Crag 2603 ft ( 792m )

Walked with : Dave and Josie (Dimmock), Jo, John, Ann and the dogs.

Weather : Overcast to start, clear and sunny at lunchtime, but falling away again by the end of the walk.

Cow Bridge, the old bridge on the Kirkstone road at the start of our walk.


Today we were guests of Dave and Josie who were staying on holiday in Patterdale.We had met them several 'walks' ago, are neighbours of friends of ours in Yorkshire, and are now also members of the OFC (Online Fellwalking Club).

We had all decided to walk some of the Eastern Fells close to their holiday accommodation. They had heard about, but never visited the Priest's Hole Cave on Dove Crag, so that would be the focal point of today's walk. It also gave us chance to repeat a similar walk that we had enjoyed last summer.

Dave 'the gate'
Hazel 'the Tree'

Being the gentleman that he is, Dave has been opening gates for Josie all week, and so today he was officially christened 'gate-man'

This one was of restricted headroom due to the deer fencing that surrounds the wooded slopes of this hillside above Brothers Water.

Oak, Hazel and Birch gradually thinned to reveal Hartsop Village on the other side of the valley.

The overcast day meant we were climbing in cool conditions and this made the steep climb up from the car park just that little bit easier.

Out of the wood, the path took a diagonal line up the fell.

Ahead Middle Dodd was out of the cloud, but it's parent fell, Red Screes, was still covered in cloud.

Place Fell is the major fell in the background as we reached the wall which climbs up the ridge of Hartsop above How.

A well placed ladder stile and a shout of 'smile for the camera' delays Dave and Josie as they cross.

The wall continues on along the fell and we will continue to follow it for the length of the ridge walk.

On the sky-line behind are Dove Crag, Hart Crag and Fairfield.

Hartsop above How summit passed, we continue on.
Our first view of Dollywagon Pike over the top of Deepdale.

The hanging valley between Hart Crag and Dove Crag is described on the map as Houndshope Cove.

We contoured across it to the base of Dove Crag.

The Priest Hole is situated high on the front edge of the crag

and shows as a dark speck in the photo, about two thirds of the way up the vertical cliff section.

Dave starts on the short rocky section.
Up there somewhere is the cave.

Harry and Bethan lead the way. They have been here before.

Do they know the way or are they just following the human scent of the path ahead ? Now there's a philosophical question !

Whatever the answer, Ann and John reach the entrance to the cave without too much trouble too.

Time to just sit and enjoy the view for a few minutes - from the back of the cave.

The sunshine is spreading across the landscape

and the air clears as the weather improves during our brief stay.

Lunch with a view.

The cave after a bit of a tidy up.


The cave is fronted by a low dry stone wall which affords an element of weather protection to the inside of the cave. As a result it is often used for wild camping. The wall no doubt helps prevent sleep walking too !

The purple box has been left for anyone to leave useful items for subsequent users of the cave.

Unfortunately this time we visit, the box was empty, even the visitors book that we saw last time was missing.

The cave was full of rather too much rubbish. ( a broken camp bed, torn bivvy bags, used candles, an old fish slice ) Had we not been in the middle of a longer walk I might have been tempted to carry some away.

Why can't people clear their own dross away themselves ?


After lunch we decided to climb the crag rather than descend back to the cove.

The view down into Dovedale . . .
. . . and the grassy rake that we found leading towards the top.

Beautiful sunshine and really clear views as we reached the cairn on the northern edge of Dove Crag summit.

Dove Crag's second summit is quite rocky . . . but we were on high ground with big views.

That's Coniston Old Man, the Crinkles, Bowfell, the Scafells and Great Gable in the background.

Typical of the quality of the views today was this one of Striding Edge on Helvellyn . . .

and this one of Windermere from the main summit of Dove Crag.

Our route down took us down past the large cairn at High Bakestones.

Here Josie and Ann leave Scandale Head and walk across to Little Hart Crag.

The final leg now as we turn back towards Brothers Water far below. We are now on High Hartsop Dodd.

The old Dovedale Mine spoil heaps.
It's a steep descent to the valley from here.

Reaching the valley, the path took us past this old barn and across the fields to Hartsop Hall Farm.

One of Cumbria's classic older properties.
The back yard with superb round vernacular pillars.

Middle Dodd towers over the end of the valley as we leave Hartsop Hall behind.

Two swans on Brothers Water at the end of the walk.
Colourful Patterdale Stores - and time for some light refreshment opposite.

It's been a really good early Autumn day

but the nights are already drawing in and it's dark now as we leave the White Lion after a pleasant evening meal.


- - - o o o - - -

Technical note: Pictures taken with a Canon Ixus Digital camera.

Resized in Photoshop, and built up on a Dreamweaver web builder.

This site best viewed with . . . a black bin liner or two for the wild campers ?

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© RmH.2007 # Email me here

Previous walk - 12th September 2007 Ullscarf and Armboth Fells

A previous time up here - 30th July 2006 High above Hartsop and the Priest's Cave

Next walk - 15th September 2007 Robinson to Dale Head