High Raise

Published 5 November 2017

Large rocky summit cairn on the top of High Raise

High Raise's summit mega-cairn

Leaving Patterdale, Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk passes by several of the Far Eastern Fells. For my second day walking in the Patterdale area, I followed it, visiting seven different fells along its route. Fell number four was The Knott, and the five was Rampsgill Head. And the sixth? Well that was somewhere ideal to contemplate if you’re doing the Wainwrights incorrectly.

Sometimes I think I’m doing this whole Wainwright bagging thing wrong. Should walking to one fell, then walking to another one really count as having bagged a fell? Wouldn’t it be better if each one was walked from the valley floor, and when you’re done, you head back down again?

I mean, let’s look at my walk to High Raise for example. All I did was walk three quarters of a mile from Rampsgill Head, where I looked around a bit before heading off somewhere else. All I really saw was the top of the fell. Not its slopes. Not the foot of it. The many pages of ascent routes that were so lovingly documented by Wainwright in his Pictorial Guide were mostly ignored.

High Raise, seen from Rampsgill Head

Approaching High Raise from its nearby neighbour, Rampsgill Head

Was I really doing High Raise justice this way? All I was doing was a simple stroll from the top of one fell to another, getting to the top, saying “TICK!” loudly, and then going off somewhere else.

Yes, I was walking around the east of the Lake District having an existentialist crisis about the way I was walking the Wainwrights. Rather than enjoying the scenery and the sunshine, I was busy worrying that I wasn’t doing things properly.

I told myself to just shut up and get walking.

Then I told myself off for being rude to me.

But the thing is, when it came to High Raise, it would all have been the same anyway. When arriving from Patterdale, the ascent of this particular Far Eastern Fell requires the walker to traverse Rampsgill Head first. In other words, all my angst and worry was being directed at entirely the wrong fell. And that’s all before we get to the point that – at my rate of fell bagging – I’d probably end up being 100 before I managed to tick off all of the Wainwrights if I had to do them all starting from the very bottom.

Still, I couldn’t help feeling rather guilty about it all, especially given I was now walking to the second highest peak in the Far Eastern Fells.

This was a fell that Wainwright had written a whopping fourteen pages about. But for me, it could be best summed up in two very short sentences that go “The view. Oh, the view.”

View of Haweswater and the Eden Valley, from High Raise

Now that's what I call a view

On a clear day – as it now was for me – the view is absolutely superb. Off in the distance you can see Fairfield, Bowfell, Hellvelyn, and even Scafell Pike and Skiddaw. But my eyes were looking predominately in the other direction. The direction beyond the Lakes. Off towards the Pennines and the beautiful, and woefully overlooked, Eden Valley. And, of course, the mighty Howgills; a series of fells that sit just a short way from Lakeland.

I was entranced by it all. The Eden Valley especially, looked absolutely fantastic twinkling in the sun. This was the kind of view that makes walking really worth it. For every struggle, stumble and hard slog is always absolutely worth it when you get to go somewhere like this.

I could have stayed for hours. And probably would if it wasn’t for the fact that I needed to eat and drink and sleep at some point. My bed in the hostel at Patterdale was, after all, quite a few miles away. And before I went back, there was just one more place I needed to go to whilst I was in the area.

I had to go to Kidsty Pike.

Next time: one last fell and a walk to Patterdale. You can see all of my photographs from my three days in Patterdale over on flickr.

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