Like most of the others, I’ve actually only done High Rigg once, but I enjoyed the day (well couple of hours, really) so much that it’s placed highly on my favourites list.
High Rigg’s Wikipedia entry describes it as a bit like a model of the Lake District in minature – with “crags, intermediate tops, tarns and even a ‘pass’ crossing the ridge halfway along”. But it’s not the most statuesque of fells, at 357m high, rather belying its name. But, of course, the “High” is relative – as across the pass to the north is Low Rigg. Extensively covered in grass and bracken, and previously only known to me as a lump sticking up on the left hand side of the bus, the fell doesn’t usefully connect to any others and so had not been a priority to visit in my working through the list of Wainwrights.
The seed was sown on the day in August 2010 when I walked the spine of the central fells from Walla Crag to Armboth fell, then descending via Raven Crag. As I headed for the bus home to Ambleside, High Rigg rose in front of me, looking all green and inviting.
The next day I spent in a field near Elterwater looking across to the Langdale Pikes receiving art tuition from a local artist. In the rain. So much rain that the second day of tutition was rained off and I was at a loose end. Waiting for the rain to ease off a bit, I was looking for a short walk as this was my last day, and I didn’t want the walking to end, but didn’t have all day to play with. I hit upon the idea of a quick raid on High Rigg – a short walk that I could abandon and be on the next bus home if I changed my mind.
The bus dropped me at Dale Bottom, and I walked through the lane to the foot of the fell. I was looking for a quick route and had chosen a way that went pretty much straight up the side of the fell, rather than the more usual walks along the length of the ridge (which I really must do some day). I got to the bottom of William’s Beck and there was my route.
Not particularly difficult, but decidedly off-road, up the beck I walked, hopping from side to side to negotiate rocks and other obstacles. Part-way up there’s a memorial to somebody who died there, and I paused and wondered how it could have happened, as it’s not an especially dangerous route, so a simple accident must have gone very wrong indeed.
Nearing the top of the beck, grass and bracken came out in force and ahead of me was the summit.
Through a dense clump of bracken I waded, across the damp depression and up the final climb to the summit, no path being evident through the bracken. Moments later I was at the top taking in what views were to be had towards Helvellyn and Blencathra, bearing in mind the drizzle and breeze.
I didn’t stay long at the top as I wanted to make the bus back, so I took the easy grassy path north down to the church and the road between High Rigg and Low Rigg and then made my way back along the base of the fell to Dale Bottom.
There are days when all you want is an easy walk over grass, and High Rigg gave this, with a bit of a wet scramble thrown in as a bonus. High Rigg also marked my completion of the central fells, my first complete Wainwright book, and that too made it special. I took a direct line to bag the top, but I saw a lot more there to explore in the future. From being an inconvenient fell I needed to tick off, it rose much higher in my estimation and I’m looking forward to a return visit. And next time I plan to do the whole ridge.