Gray Crag, Thornthwaite Crag, Stoney Cove Pike and Hartsop Dodd Circular.

April 14, 2016  •  4 Comments

Hi Folks,
It had been an age since my best pal Steve and me got outdoors together so we wanted to do a decent one this time. On our descent from Rest Dodd some weeks ago we noted this horseshoe route that looked a challenge and vowed to have a crack at it sometime soon. Today was that time.

This route takes in:

  • Gray Crag (2'293ft)
  • Thornthwaite Crag (2'572ft)
  • Stoney Cove Pike (2'503ft)
  • Hartsop Dodd (2'028ft)


Our route viewed on an Opentopo map.

The Elevation profile

The route viewed on Google earth.

I picked Steve up from his house in Blackpool at 7am, and after a stop for some grub we were parked up in Hartsop at 8:45am. The parking here is free with an honesty box which we put £2 each in. This is the view from the honesty box onto the fells. It's worth £2 each just to sit here and look at it! That fell ahead is Gray Crag and we are going to walk right up the nose of it into that cloud.

The view across pasture bottom up to Threshthwaite Cove showed a lot of cloud up on our route. This view is essentially today's horseshoe route. Up to Gray Crag on the left, Thornthwaite Crag in the distance top left, over to Stoney Cove Pike way out of sight top right then right back along the ridge out of sight to Hartsop Dodd and back to the car.

The view back to the car park as we ascend.

We eventually have to bear right and head up the nose of Gray Crag. Its steep!

Looking back on Steve with Brock Crags behind him.

It's hard work coming up here... I needed a lot of breaks!

And we are only about halfway up, but a break in the cloud reveals our first summit. Gray Crag.

The cloud dances around revealing some rare blue skies now and again. We live in hope that as the day rolls on this cloud will lift.

Looking back towards Brothers Water.

Gray Crag ahead.

Hayeswater reservoir behind Steve.

Rest Dodd across the valley. We were there only a couple of weeks ago.

Steve approaching the summit of Gray Crag.

The onward view towards Thornthwaite Crags.

Well, it was a view... It has gone again!

The cloud lifts again for a few minutes and we get to look across to Stoney Cove Pike.

And right ahead to Thornthwaite Crags with a lone walker approaching us.

At the summit, we reach the junction where you can go off and visit High Street or Mardale III Bell.

Steve on Thornthwaite Crags summit.

Moving onwards now to Threshthwaite Mouth.

This is a great track. The images don't do it justice.

And its very steep as it comes down to the saddle between the two fells.

But with awesome views of the next ascent up to Stoney Cove Pike.

Down we go... and as luck would have it, the weather is improving too.

What a view. Its making me hungry! That saddle looks a great area to stop for lunch!

The lower we get, the harder the next ascent looks. Definitely time to refuel!

And what a place to stop and cook up some grub! Steve takes over the cooking while I take a few images.

While we eat, we watch other walkers come and go. That section up the side of Stoney Cove Pike looks like a fun scramble.

Watching folk tackle the side we have just come down.

Steve looking right back down the valley to where I took the second image in this blog. What a difference a little sunlight makes.

But it's time to go. Let's get up to Stoney Cove Pike.

Its as steep as it looks, but a lot of fun. I enjoyed this section.

Looking down the valley to the 760m III Bell on the left with the little Troutbeck Tongue alongside it in the valley on the right. (Well, it looks little, but it stands almost as high as Blackpool Tower as the valley floor is at 220m and the tongue summit 364m!)

Onwards, the hardest part of the ascent over... the summit is in the distance ahead.

You can pretty much follow this wall. This is the view back showing the first two summits of the day.

Stoney Cove Pike summit.

We only saw three walkers up here. The third, was a lady on her own, dressed in blue. Remember that... its important later on.

Onwards to Hartsop Dodd Summit. This wall goes all the way there according to the map.

It's one of those walks that never seems to end.

Over to our left on Caudale Moor, is Caudale Quarry. While looking around taking images I noticed the lady in blue was also following our route. I could see her stood up some way in the distance, perhaps 10 minutes behind us. Suddenly, I saw her fall over!

Steve and I watched for a while and while we could see movement on the ground. She wasn't getting back up. There was nothing else we could do but head back up there. All the time shouting and trying to get her attention.

Hmm.... when we reached the "Casualty" it transpired that what I had seen, was an old balloon flapping about in the wind. What a bloody drain! Oh well, I wouldn't have slept well knowing I might have left someone up there hurt. We can laugh about it now... We popped the balloon in our bag and headed back to where we came from. The top of the hill in the distance there.

Hartsop Dodd summit ahead...

Great view of Ullswater from here.

But a much better view as you descend its nose.

Looking down to the car park. Note the pink sheep!

Brothers Water looks great from up here.

Its a very steep descent back to the car.

And that ends another wicked day on the fells with Steve!


Here is some route data from my Suunto Ambit 3 Peak.


Thanks for reading folks. I hope you enjoyed taking a little trip with us and that it inspired you to try the route. Remember, take your time, don't ever rush. The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured.

While you are out there enjoying the beautiful fells, remember the golden rules...
"Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


Camera Details:
All images in this blog were taken with my little pocket sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worth of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.



Route Completed on April 3rd, 2016 with Steve Waterhouse

New Wainwrights: 4. New total: 129 of 214.
New Birketts: 4. New total 179 of 541.          


Stewart Sanderson Photography
Hi Barry, ive no idea mate, sorry, this is the only way I have done it.
Stewart Sanderson Photography
Thanks Val, glad you enjoyed it. I did feel a bit daft as my eyes are better than Steves so he couldnt see the blue on the fells but I couldnt have just wandered off and ignored it. He sent me a picture of some party balloons a few days ago saying "Saw these and it reminded me of you.." Groan... it may take a while to live this one down!
Val Kay-Dunn(non-registered)
I LOVED your rescue, Stewart! Bet you could've done without that silly female walker. Arf! Arf!
Barry Hutchinson(non-registered)
I usually do this route the other way round. Is it easier my way?
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