6th October 2012

Fisher's Wife's Rake, Clough Head, The Dodds and St John's in the Vale


Walk Overview
Time 09.30 to 16.10
Duration 6 hr 40 min
Distance 11.5 mile
Ascent 3500 ft
Walking with Rod Hepplewhite
Wanthwaite - Hilltop Quarries - Fisher's Wife's Rake - Clough Head - Calfhow Pike - Great Dodd - Watson's Dodd - Stybarrow Dodd - Sticks Pass - Stanah - Low Bridge End Farm - St John's in the Vale - Wanthwaite
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside, Wanthwaite, St John's in the Vale

Because of the closeness to peoples houses, I'm never sure whether or not to park at the junction with the Old Coach Road or not, so I generally try to park a little further along the road just past the turn off to Wanthwaite Bridge. Which ever option you go for there isn't much room. I should point out that the second option I've described is along the edge of a very busy main road.


Route Map

This is a walk we've had in the pipeline for a couple of months now, and with a mixture of bad weather and my ongoing foot problem we were having to continually delay the walk. A couple of days ago the weather forecast looked promising for the weekend so we took the plunge and went for it. We didn't exactly get the day of blue sky and sunshine we were promised but it was dry, there was no wind and cloud moved out of the way every time we got near it.

The initial part of the walk was along the bottom most section of the Old Coach Road. After five minutes or so we headed into Hilltop Quarries to gain access to the open fellside.

Looking across to Blencathra, still topped with cloud.
"You must have good balance"
"Not really. I'm standing on top of a stile"

and without falling off, I turned round to take this picture of St John's in the Vale. The final section of the walk saw us walking across the base of High Rigg (the fell running across the centre of the photo)

That's Fisher's Wife's Rake ahead of us.
Walk over to the wall, then walk above the scree, then walk up the right hand side of the crags, then walk across to the zigzags up on the right.

Looking back down Fisher's Wife's Rake.
As I said "walk up the side of the crags"

Adding scale

On the zigzags and taking a photo of Threlkeld and Blencathra.

Above Fisher's Wife's Rake now and this is Jim's Fold. Clough Head summit isn't a huge distance from here, but the pathless sections through the tussocks make it time consuming and harder work then you'd expect from a slope at this angle.

The cloud was coming and going most of the day today and it may have been more through luck than good judgement, but every section of the walk was timed to perfection. The cloud cleared every summit as we approached and as we left, the cloud rolled back in again; excellent.

Looking back up to Clough Head.
From this point the mud got muddier, and so did the bottom half of my trousers. They were so bad, when I got home Jennifer wouldn't let me walk through the house with them on so they were removed at the front door (obviously I was on the inside of the door).

Sunshine and cloud on this long distance view across to the northern and the north western fells. In the centre of the photo is Derwent Water, Keswick and Bessenthwaite Lake.

Standing somewhere around Calfhow Pike and looking towards Great Mell Fell and the distant Pennines.
A guy on a mountain bike was looking for the Old Coach Road and he asked us for directions. After pointing it out to him, off he went and we both commented that he'd have a soft landing if he fell off.

Looking ahead to Great Dodd.

Calfhow Pike and Clough Head. Behind is Blencathra free of cloud and Skiddaw with cloud on the very top.

Straight ahead to Watson's Dodd. This bit it is actually down hill, but it's so gradual you'd hardly notice it.

Watson's Dodd summit in front of Great Dodd.

A sort of close up of Thirlmere and the central ridge.

This is the top of Sticks Pass. We'd just walked approached along the path on the left of the picture.

Down Sticks Pass we go. In the distance you can see Bassenthwaite Lake.
Talking about Bassenthwaite Lake, I wonder how the authorities are getting on with my application to install a zip-wire from here to the far side of the lake.

This is the well known landmark on Sticks Pass and I'm pleased to say it's been restored to its former glory.

A close up of Raven Crag and High Seat.


The day seemed to be brightening up now and as we lost height it was warming up nicely.

Over there is Castle Rock. It's difficult to think of places in the Lake District that I haven't been to but this is one of them. I've no idea why, I guess I've just never taken the time to head across.

The colours of autumn arrive in St John's in the Vale.

If ever there was a need for flood defences, here it is.

Looking across St John's in the Vale to the crags below Clough Head. If you refer back to an earlier photo you should be able to work out where Fisher's Wife's Rake fits into everything.
Okay I'll make it easier. Go up to the crags in a straight line from the big tree on the left hand side of the house.

And to finish, a photo of Wanthwaite Bridge and High Rigg.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks