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Seathwaite, High Doat, Rigghead Quarries, Dale Head, Honister, Sourmilk Gill, Cumbria.
[14.0 km]  Wed 24 Jan 2018

OS Grid ref: NY 23562 12323
Lat/Long: 54.500440, -03.181819

The drive north along the M6 was difficult over Shap with torrential rain and very strong winds coming from the left. The rain eased then stopped by the time I reached Keswick but as I left the town to head south along the Borrowdale Road I couldnít get through because of resurfacing works. There were no diversion signs so I returned through Keswick and drove via the narrow road along the west side of Derwentwater and south to Grange where I continued to Seathwaite.
I was planning to park in the farmerís field using one of the stoned access tracks but heíd left a large trailer there so had to return to the road and park there. As I set off on my walk I returned through the farmyard and saw the farmer who had just removed the trailer. I stopped to explain why I hadnít used his field car park and continued to the Allerdale Ramble path along the east side of the valley.
Seathwaite & Sourmilk Gill
There was a tremendous amount of water coming off the hillside and many sections of the rough path were underwater. I reached the Thorneythwaite Farm track and followed it to Strands Bridge. I crossed the road and then on the path by the River Derwent to Folly Bridge where I crossed the river.
Wet path
The bridge is featured in a John Constable print. I followed the path up the hillside then sharp left along a track then a path off to the right up through the woods to open hillside. There was a steady climb up through the light rain and strong wind to the summit of High Doat. I stopped for a while to take in the view north of Castle Crag and Borrowdale.
Folly Bridge by Constable

Climbing High Doat
I stopped for a while to take in the view north of Castle Crag and Borrowdale. It looked spectacular even in the gloomy weather. The descent path to the next track was very wet and slippery so I walked on the grass and ferns wherever possible. At the main track I turned right for a while then up an indistinct track to the left heading for the old Rigghead Quarries.
View of Borrowdale
I could see the rubble heaps ahead and climber to the first where I stopped by an old heading into the hillside which still had rail tracks at the entrance. I was last here in 2008 and made the same comment about the rails. I peeked inside with my headtorch but the smell of a decomposing dead sheep meant I didnít go in.
Adit and rails

Climbing hut today

Climbing hut in 2008

Climbing hut today

Climbing hut in 2008
I climbed steeply up to the Mountaineering Hut. It was exactly the same as 10 years ago, in excellent external condition but securely locked with all windows and door covered in steel shutters. It was still windy so I sat by the wall and had my butties. Above the hut was a succession of spoil heaps and ruined buildings. At the top was what looked like some pulley winding gear. There were still some snowfields on the hillside so I climbed above them to reach the fell top at the fence.
Old pulley wheel
It was very wet underfoot as I descended to Dalehead Tarn where there is an interesting sheepfold and close cropped grass almost good enough to be a bowling green. Ahead was the steep climb to Dale Head but it had been substantially stone stepped so wasnít as difficult as it must have been before the path upgrade. Part way up was a packed down sectional hut which may have been used by the path makers.
Flatpack hut
I reached the cairn on Dale Head summit but stay long as it was very windy. I managed a few photos before leaving to descent fairly fast down to Honister Pass and less wind. On the way I passed a walker who was descending very slowly.
Dale Head cairn

North view from Dale Head
At the Honister Visitor Centre I walked between the buildings to join the path up towards Grey Knotts. It was steep but relatively easy. Iíd seen a path route on-line that left this path part way up and headed SE towards Sourmilk Gill.
Honister slate art
I left the main path and followed it but there was nothing on the ground to show a path. Iíd put the route in my Garmin gps and followed it across the fell but there was nothing on the ground. Below Raven Cragg I came to a substantial wall which I followed to find a gate gat that had been barred with wooden rails. I had to climb it to continue. The descent to the top of Sourmilk Gill was very wet underfoot and I was fortunate that there was a substantial ladder stile to cross over the high wall.
Descent path
The plotted route I was following showed a descent of Sourmilk Gill waterfalls to the north side. It was extremely steep and there was no sign of a track. I managed to cross the river and join the main tourist path on the south side. The stoned steps descended steeply but some sections had been washed away meaning a steep scramble down the rocks. I reached the valley bottom and as I walked through the farmyard, saw the farmer again and exchanged a few words as I returned to my car.
Sourmilk Gill