from Rigg Beck
distance: 13.5km/8.5 miles time: 6 hours ascent: 924m/3030ft grade: energetic
MAPS (Harvey Superwalker) West, (Ordnance Survey) OL4 North–western area
PARK Situated along the Newlands Hause road less than a mile south of Stair, a small alcove quarry serves as a car park at the foot of Rigg Beck GR 229202.
The North-western Fells divide neatly upon New-lands Hause, from where the shapely mass of Robinson handsomely dominates, enhanced by the fuming presence of Moss Force. The road wending up the Newlands valley draws over the considerable slope of Rowling End bound for Keskadale and catches a glimpse right of an impressive razor edge looming over Rigg Beck. This ridge, which includes the summits Knott Rigg and Ard Crags combines beautifully with Robinson to make an entertaining skyline horseshoe.
The walk is recommended clockwise because of one minor rock-step near the foot of Robinson’s north ridge. As a route of descent in adverse weather it would unduly tax most fellwalkers, in ascent the scramble can be enjoyed in a far more relaxed frame of mind.
Stride over the Rigg Beck bridge upon the Newlands Hause road. At the top if the initial rise, where until recently stood a purple-painted timber chalet-house (sold at auction so a new abode is sure to take its place), turn left on the road signed left to Newlands Church.
The narrow road twists and turns, follow the next right-hand turn, again signed to the church. Pass on from the open common in front of the charming white-washed chapel in the dale, rising beyond, passing the access to High Snab Farm. Go through a gate where the tarmac ends pass close by the delightful traditional Lakeland cottage Low High Snab.
A short woodland track leads to a gate. Follow the green lane beyond and, as this opens, bear up right. Climb on the path evident through the bracken onto the skyline of High Snab Bank. A largely grassy ridge, like the roof of a house, commands lovely views over the Keskadale valley to Ard Crags backed by the massive Eel Crag ridge guiding the eye right to the distinctive undulating profile of Causey Pike. The ridge path leads over the knoll of Blea Crags ‘blue rocks’, where spot evidence of speculative mining. Down to the left at the foot of secretive Little Dale, see an old header pond that formerly served the Goldscope Mine via a leat, now serving as a place for quiet reflection.
The ridge dips then embarks upon Robinson’s the outcropped north ridge. A scramble is unavoidable; in wet or icy conditions this demands the utmost care, and in descent a high degree of competence. The climb is otherwise simple, and provides opportunities to enjoy scarp edge views, denied by strict allegiance to the path. A large cairn is passed upon the brow of the plateau, stride south-west to the summit cairn, perched on a rock ledge. At 737m/2,418ft this is the second highest of the handsome group of fells east of Newlands Hause. Being a shallow dome valley views are obscured, but the senses are stirred by the surround of mighty fells, the Grasmoor group to the north-west is shown off to wonderful effect, indeed, the all-round view is fit for any king’s table. The cairn rests on the westernmost of two low parallel rock-ribs and thus provides Spartan shelter in a gale. Incidence of personal-names attributed to fells are common, but only with this one fell is it the sole name. The family of Richard Robinson owning lands in the Buttermere area in the sixteenth century.
Two paths leave the plateau en route to Buttermere Moss. By far the preferred option leaves from the prominent cairn south-west of the summit. This path maintains the south-westerly line down the steeper western slopes into the broad marshy hollow. The other path, which tends to be used by walkers in error and then most usually in ascent, holds too near the rougher edge close to the great north-west facing craggy bowl of Robinson Crags, the loose ground an unwelcome travail worth side-stepping as described.
As a spongy carpet the path traverses Buttermere Moss not the most endearing terrain, especially after it has been (ter)raining! Its one virtue as a gathering ground for the magnificent cascades of Moss Force, a spectacular waterfall feature overbearing upon Newlands Hause. Avoiding wet feet is not an easy process, just as sticking to any form of common path. The upper edge of the Goat Crag ravines might prove an interesting lure especially as they do provide a fine view down on Buttermere lake and across the valley to the great corries either side of High Stile, Birkness and Bleaberry Combs. Only sheep paths can be found, so keep an eye not to drift down too far.
The headland of High Snockrigg rises like a merry wave assuring dry feet once more and from its southern tip a magnificent view over the Buttermere vale. Once firmly set upon the grassy ridge-top head north down the ridge. Ignore the footpath breaking left destined for Buttermere village. As the ridge steepens a grooved path works down the outcropped nose, latterly with pitching serving the inevitable increased attention from visitors provided by the hause-top car park.
Cross straight over Newlands Hause due north following the steep grass path onto the comparatively narrow ridge of Knott Rigg. The scenery is a pure delight, especially the great heathered slopes of Wandope and Eel Crag rising impressively across the Sail Beck valley to the left. The summit of Knott Rigg is a modest gathering of stones at 554m//1,818ft, with a view down the narrow cleft of Keskadale.
As the ridge path dips grass is replaced by heather in mounting onto Ard Crags, 581m/1,906ft where eyes most surely drawn to the ridge-end summit of Causey Pike across the deep fold of Rigg Beck; the old coppiced woodland quite a feature of the fell’s steep southern slope, similarly evident on the steep Keskadale bank directly below the summit. The ridge path, loose in places, plunges down from Aikin Knott. The headland’s name meant ‘the oak-clothed height’, though there is nothing left on this side of the Rigg Beck valley to suggest the former presence of an oakwood. As the ridge eases bear half-left on the clear path through the bracken to ford Rigg Beck where the cross-ridge enclosure fence meets. Follow the Rigg Beck track easily down to the quarry car park.
Inns of the sixth happiness exist as follows: The Coledale, Royal Oak and Middle Ruddings at Braithwaite, The Swinside near Stair, and the Fish and Bridge at Buttermere.