Dove Crag

Published 8 August 2013

Dove Crag

The Fairfield Horseshoe is a well known walk, and a classic one at that. It takes in a whopping eight Wainwrights. The usual walk is to start at Nab Scar, pop via Fairfield in the middle, and end on Low Pike. Dove Crag is the sixth fell.

“Is this Fairfield?”, he asked, pointing at the fell behind me.

“Nope,” I replied. “That’s Hart Crag. Fairfield’s the next one along; on the left.”

“Oh, thank you!” with a look of relief in his eyes.

He was one of a large group of teenagers who had been stood staring in vain at their map for several minutes, each looking at the other in abject confusion. And now that they knew where they were, that confusion changed to a mixture of relief, and then disappointment that they had yet to reach their goal.

Whenever I see such groups of teenagers, I think back to my own teenage years and ponder what I was doing when I was there age. Whilst this lot, and several others in Lakeland, were out on the fells, at their age I was usually to be found locked away in my bedroom playing computer games.

I’d never been massively active as a teenager. Throughout my school years I’d never found a sport I particularly liked, so my level of fitness was pretty low. There’d even been times when I’d borrowed my mum’s car rather than do the ten minute walk to the corner shop.

That said, I was a good cyclist – years of doing a paper round on my bike standing me in good stead – and I’d always been a good strong swimmer. But the lure of Transport Tycoon, Civilisation and Settlers II was always too strong.

But then, when in those years did anyone ever suggest to me that a fun way to spend some time would be to hoist on a heavy rucksack filled with camping gear, and carried off to some fells? During my high school years the two main trips offered were always skiing (which, frankly, makes me sound like I went to a right posh school, which I certainly didn’t!) or the annual trip to Hamburg. When I moved on to sixth form college, the one trip available was a trip to London. It was just after a round of IRA bombings, and we got to see the remains of a blown out bus, smashed windows at Canary Wharf and lots of security alerts in tube stations.

As I strolled the “easy walk” from Hart Crag to my next stop on the Fairfield Horseshoe, I pondered whether I’d missed out on something. But then, I did create some amazingly well co-ordinated and integrated bus and train empires in Upper Trenfenfingdon, so maybe they weren’t wasted years after all.

Next stop: Dove Crag

With such pondering, I almost walked right in to a small group of what I took to be army cadets – four of them with matching camouflage green rucksacks and matching hiking boots, being shown the scenery by their instructor.

“Over there’s Blackpool, and behind you, well that’s Yorkshire. That’s the summit we’re aiming for, there,” he said to them, pointing at Dove Crag. “We’ve one hour and forty minutes to get back to the van, so we can relax for a short while before we push on.”

And with that they set off at their relaxed pace which coincidentally happened to be nearly double the speed I was going. By the time I’d reached the top of Dove Crag, they were off in the distance, jogging at an impressive speed on their way down to the Scandale Pass.

Without their time constraints, I stood at Dove Crag’s simple summit cairn and enjoyed the view, looking out at my earlier conquests from earlier in the day. Great Rigg and Heron Pike stood proud, basking in the muggy afternoon whilst matchstick sized men and women traversed its paths.

Ahead of me lay my final two fells of the day. From here it was pretty much all downhill, all the way to Ambleside. Thanks to their lower height, and the gentle descent down to them, both sat invisible hidden from Dove Crag’s summit. I stood for a while, not really wanting the walk to end so soon, wondering if there was some way I could extend the whole thing; some other fells I could pop off to do. And then I accepted the inevitable, put my best foot forward and headed on to High Pike.

Next time: err… High Pike?

Your Comments