Hindscarth

Published 2 February 2020

The summit of Hindscarth in the distance
The of Hindscarth from the ascent/descent route from the Newlands Valley.

Overlooking the Newlands Valley are a series of fells. One of them is well known. Catbells. But the others are frequented far, far less. And I decided it was definitely time to check them out. From Catbells I visited Maiden Moor, High Spy and Dale Head. And from there it was just a short walk to my final fell of the day, Hindscarth.

After the exertions of getting up Dale Head, walking to the summit of Hindscarth was trivial. A mile and a quarter walking along an flat, wide path that ran along the ridge between the two? Dudes, I’ll take that. Easy walking? Oh yes please! No real exertion required? A big win in my book!

That’s probably why I was there in next to no time, checking out summit’s stone shelter and cairn. A cairn that looked like a pile of rocks discarded carelessly by a builder.

And there was the view of course. More panoramic views of the Newlands Valley? Ho yesh, I’m in!

My final fell of the day was now in the proverbial bag after very little effort. It was time to head downhill, and back to my car. A car that was sitting around four and a half miles away at the foot of Catbells.

Stones marking the summit of Hindscarth
A dumped pile of stones. Or a cairn. Take your pick.

No worry, I thought. Hindscarth is easy peasy, lemon squeezy. And it would be a pleasant one. Lakeland guidebook writer Alfred Wainwright had many good things to say about it. I especially liked the bit where he said that the descent earned full marks due to the “lovely views of Newlands directly ahead.” As we’ve established, I was swiftly becoming a Newlands Valley fanboy. This was going to tick all the boxes. And then some.

Now to be fair, the start of the descent was pretty straightforward. A narrow path clung to the side of the heather topped hill. As long as you could walk in a straight line, and not trip up and fall, it was no problem.

But this simplicity didn’t last.

Now it’s true that I’m a long way from having down all the Wainwrights. But generally my experience is that fells are easier at the bottom. If there’s any difficult patches – any scrambling, any rocky bits – they’re always not far from the top.

The path going down Hindscarth
The end of the Hindscarth. And the slow descent down to the valley floor

Not Hindscarth. Oh no. The further down I got, the more difficult it was. The more scrambling I needed to do.

With my size ten feet, and rather large build, I’m not one of the most nimble people. Some people seem to be able to leap around like gazelles on hillsides. Not me. I clod and clump around, ever nervous that I will put a foot wrong and end up sliding down the side of the hill.

My walking speed declined. Several times I ended up sitting down and shuffling along on my backside where there didn’t look to be a safe way to be on foot. I’d hoped to be back at my car for 4:30. But as I slid on my bottom down one particularly sloped bit of rock, I know that had no chance of happening.

The closer I got to the foot of Hindscarth, the more time I seemed to spend on my backside. But finally I made it without slipping on anything, and without tumbling off the side of the hill. Indeed the only two times I found myself falling to the ground were both at the bottom. The first was when I lost my footing in some mud. And the other was on a gravel footpath that led along the Newlands Valley.

The village of Little Town in the Lake District
It’s not a town. But it is little.

A little weary, I stumbled along to Little Town. Although that name was more than an exaggeration. It was far more of a hamlet than anything. And there I took a footpath through fields to the hamlet of Skelgill, where a road took me back to the car. Footsore and weary, I was finally done.

From what I saw, few people seemed to do Hindscarth. At least, the ascent or descent. I saw only two other people on my climb down. But I was glad to have done it. As Wainwright had said, the views were lovely. But I’d had enough of it by the time I’d got to the bottom, an hour later than planned. I also needed to find my bed, waiting for me six miles down a narrow, winding road that led to Buttermere.

And with that, I reversed the car out of the parking space and bade farewell to Newlands. It had been glorious. Well. Mostly.

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