Knott Rigg

Published 6 December 2020

Heading up Knott Rigg, from Newlands Hause

It’s September 2020 and after a year full of lockdowns, cancelled holidays and just general chaos, I rather unexpectedly found myself having a week of carefree fell-walking in the Lake District. The first day saw me explore two fells with “High” in their name. After a relaxing night at Borrowdale YHA, I headed up to the Newlands Valley to tackle three fells, starting with Robinson before heading to Newlands Hause for fell two.

If you are driving from Keswick to Buttermere, you have three roads to choose from. The most northern is, perhaps, the easiest. The Whinlatter Pass takes you through the Whinlatter Forest. It’s a a relatively easy, sheltered road. And not particularly steep.

From the north is the Honnister Pass. It’s the highest of the three, reaching 356m above sea level. It features some 1 in 4 gradients, and an old slate mine and youth hostel at the summit. And in the middle is the Newlands Pass.

Newlands Pass, seen from the slopes of Knott Rigg

With stunning scenery, the Newlands Pass has much to commend for it. It’s narrow single track lane, and 1 in 5 gradients, less so. Especially when it’s busy.

It doesn’t have a youth hostel and slate mine on it. But at the highest point there is a parking area. One with quite spectacular views. And when it’s a weekend, and the weather is nice – as it was for me – the car park is often packed.

Few people appeared to be going anywhere. Most appeared to have only come for the view. A couple of visitors had even brought deckchairs. At least one person was holding a cup of tea. That’s not to say no one was doing anything energetic. I sat for a bit watching some cyclists as they arrived at the Hause. Most of them immediately got off their bikes with weary looks on their faces, and sought somewhere to rest. Who could blame them. They were the ones who looked like they needed a deckchair. And quite possibly a mug of char.

My next ascent, stood behind the car park. Knott Rigg. Like Robinson, it’s an easy climb from the Hause, although few were doing it.

Knott Rigg forms part of a short ridge that sits in front of the far bigger one that includes Sail and Wandope. The latter are enormous, coming in at 773m and 772m in height. Both sit dark and brooding, covered in grey stone and scree.

The ridge in front is completely different. For starters Knott Rigg is covered in lush, green grass. It shines out like a colourful beacon. In contrast, Sail behind it appears to have sucked all the colour out of its flanks. It’s also smaller. A mere 556m in height. All in all, the difference is quite something.

The summit of Knott Rigg – With the moody Whiteless Pike behind it.

The climb from Newlands Hause is simple. Alfred Wainwright declared it to be “very suitable for persons up to 7 years of age or over 70.” Presumably that means it’s fine for slightly overweight, middle aged men of the age of 43. But he didn’t specify.

As I walked, I could imagine by seven year old son striding up hill beside me. Without a doubt. His four year old sister, less so. But I filed Knott Rigg away for a potential revisit with the family in tow as I heaved myself up the slope.

The first bit was rather climb and definitely hard work. But then the path reached a ridge and then everything got less taxing. There were still ups to do. Quite a few actually. Knott Rigg proved to be one of those fells where you feel like you’ve got to the top, only to find there’s some more up to do. Repeat ad-infinitum. Well okay. Repeat a few times until the point that when you do get to the very top, you don’t quite believe you’ve actually made it. What a tease.

The summit of Knott Rigg, with its tiny cairn

So when I did get to the top, I wasn’t convinced I had. Especially as the cairn that marked it was tiny.

The reward for the effort was good though. Knott Rigg has a cracking view. Not only of the dark morasses of Sail and Wandope behind me. But also of where I’d started the day. Robinson was the view that dominated the skyline, and the fell I’d been not that long before.

I sat down on the hillside, basking in the sun. I was the only one there. Down below were people in the deckchairs and cups of tea. Their view was good, I decided. But this one, well this one was definitely better.

Next time: Ard Crags

Catbells and more, from the summit of Knott Rigg

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