Over to the east of the Lake District lies one my favourite summit areas, High Street - 828 metres (2,718 ft). For many reasons, near towns, main roads etc the fells over to the centre of the district get quite busy when the sun comes out but for those in the know this remoter climb is a stunner and is ‘close’ to being ‘the favourite’ of mine in Cumbria. In the picture above you can see the climb, The ridge Rough/Riggindale Crag rising up the middle of the picture from Haweswater up to the top. Why called High Street, Haweswater the controversial water, a very special bird, the deepest tarn in the Lake District and more… let’s have a look and see
The area around Haweswater is beautiful and overlooked by many due to remoteness from the usual spots. I am lucky to have this walk less than half an hour from home. Right at the southern end of Haweswater is a little car park, always good to get there early or later in afternoon for places especially on sunny days. Around the Southern end of Haweswater’s edge and you cannot miss the ridge. It doesn’t take long to make some height and the views start coming in as you look back
Pre 1935 this lovely valley of Mardale (above) was home to a natural lake divided into almost two by land containing the villages of Measand and Mardale Green. Down in Manchester however they needed more supply of water… So they damned up this valley and flooded it to create Haweswater – a reservoir.
Continuing up the ridge it just gets better and better. Not just looking back down the ridge and valley or even up where you must climb. Left and right spills out all kinds of attractions. I never saw anybody all afternoon on the ridge, was perfect and mind clearing. If you are lucky… The crags above Riggindale are the home of the ‘Only’ Golden Eagle in England and he can show himself quite often for those looking. Maybe he once years ago got lost looking for Scotland and just made home here? There was once a female but sadly one year she never returned with him. The RSPB have set up a viewpoint hut not far from the car park.
As you climb up nearer the top you get your first glimpse of Blea Water (below), the deepest tarn in the Lake District at about 200ft (61m) deep. With all this around you I find this a great spot for lunch out and flask emptying
Above: Through the haze you can see across the Eden Valley to the line of the Northern Pennines including Cross Fell
Up and up, small undaunting scrambles at times, the tarn gets lower and lower below you shimmering in the sun and voila! The top opens up infornt of you, a very different landscape, an wide open flat summit
Now then, why call High Street? You can see in the pics above and below the path we join for over the top is very wide and unnatural. This was the Roman Road from Ambleside to Brougham near Penrith. We must remember that way way back in Roman times the valleys were not farmed as we see today but natural swamps and thick woods. Also these flatter mountaintops to provided an almost straight line over away from any potential threats.
Also, it is hard to believe that in the 18th and 19th Century the local population had a fair of sorts up here on the big flat summit. On 12 July every year the communities came to collect stray lost sheep, growing into a fair of horse racing and wrestling! If you see a map that calls this mountain ‘Racecourse Hill’ instead of High Street then that is why.
The views are spectacular. Westwards you get a great panorama of the mountains with Helvellyn and the Langdales standing out. Southwards as you continue to walk the Roman Road you can see the Southern Fells with the unmistakable Windermere laid out before you below.
leaving the Roman Road left you get to your second summit of the day within minutes without feeling any climb just a gentle walk over. Mardale Ill Bell. Above you see another summit along if you wish to, Harter Fell. Today it was here at the pass just before where I descended. of course riddled with variety once more with a second tarn to provide a beauty spot to relax at. Small Tarn.
And after an absolute mind refreshing day, full sun, mountains, fresh air and interesting history, the car park and Haweswater came back into view. Time for a pint!