Rannerdale Knotts

Published 31 January 2021.

Rannerdale Knotts in the distance, viewed from the slopes of Whiteless Pike

It’s September 2020 and after a year full of lockdowns, cancelled holidays and just general chaos, I unexpectedly found myself in the Lake District for a week. Day one was spent near Borrowdale, the second in the wonderful Newlands. For the third, I had a lovely horseshoe walk around Grasmoor lined up. After starting with Whiteside, I revisited Hopegill Head, went high up to Grasmoor, got a bit bored at Wandope, and enjoyed Whiteless Pike, I headed down to Buttermere village. But not before enjoying one last cheeky fell.

Rannerdale Knotts is one of those single, solitary fells that looks like it would be a delight to walk over late in the afternoon, before the sun starts to set. It has no connections to other fells. The only way up and down is from the valley floor.

I could see it clearly as I strode down Whiteless Pike. I had intended to finish my day’s walking with it. Now as I gazed upon it, I began to wonder if I was doing the right thing. I can’t explain why but it looked like it deserved special treatment. That it was a fell that should be treated with respect. To have some extra time on it, rather than tacking it on to the end of a longer walk.

On the other hand, I would be walking right past it on my way back to the campsite in Buttermere village. It would add, what, a mile and a bit to my day? Was it worth saving it for some potentially mythical day where the weather would be good, where I’d be around at 7pm ready to climb up it and watch the sun begin to set?

Hey, I could always come back.

Bracken everywhere on Rannerdale Knotts

Rannerdale Knotts stands alone, separated from all the other fells by a valley – Rannerdale. Valley seems a bit of an exaggeration. It was a bit like a corridor. A narrow patch of land between two fells, with a path sneaking through that (presumably) got regular use as the bracken hadn’t taken over it.

Bracken covered the side of Rannerdale Knotts too – breaking only for a wide grassy path that worked its way over the fell top.

The east of the fell was a long ridge called Low Bank. Rannerdale Knotts is hardly a big fell – it rises only 355m in height. The path along it is barely a kilometre and a half in length, and that’s starting and ending in the valley. It’s a gentle slope. The kind that looked like it would be grand to descend down from. Gentle, peaceful, and with a cracking view. Quite why I’d decided to go up this way, I couldn’t really fathom.

The knottyness of Rannerdale Knotts

Of course this idyllic walking wouldn’t last. A fell like Rannerdale Knotts doesn’t get its name from being all flat and tranquil. It had to feature some rocks somewhere, and they came at the western end of the path, near the summit. A series of rocky crowns, the furthest one being the true summit. There was even a little scrambling involved. In a way Rannerdale Knotts was like the rest of my day in a miniature format. This was a family fell, with the excitement and fun of something far bigger.

Until this point, I’d barely seen a soul on the fell. Now I was near the top, it was positively heaving. In a world prior to “Social Distancing” no one would have worried too much about it. Now we were all consciously spacing ourselves out at distances far exceeding the 2m rule.

Buttermere and Crummock Water

Even so, there was plenty of room. No matter how nice the weather, Mondays in September are never going to be the most crowded of days to be on the fells. And Rannerdale Knotts came with plenty of space.

And that meant when I did get to it’s small, almost imperceptible summit, I could sit down, relax and enjoy the view, without worrying that I was stopping anyone else from visiting.

The very top of Rannerdale Knotts

So that’s what I did, drinking in the glorious sights that can be seen from the top of Rannerdale Knotts. It was lovely. The sun just at the right point in the cloud free sky to fill everywhere with a golden glow.

I checked my watch and smiled. Half past four. Maybe there was something about that late afternoon thing after all.

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