Ard Crags and Knott Rigg are two Wainwright fells that are somewhat difficult to fit into a nice horseshoe route. They sit to the side of the various natural Coledale Horseshoe options. A route taking in Robinson might have been an option but this would have meant crossing the soggy Buttermere Moss.
My alternative plan was to Park at Rowling End, take in Ard Crags and Knott Rigg, then meet up with Jonathan at the top of Newlands Pass where he would be waiting in his car to take us down to Rannerdale for a run along the wonderful southern side of the Coledale Horseshoe, back to my car. It didn't quite pan out like that but here is the plan. My first run in red and the second run with Jonathan in blue:
|the spacing of the arrows on a route (red) indicate speed. I think therhe is an arrow every five minutes. You can see the slow climb up Aiken Knott and the, realtively, faster run along the tops and down the other side.|
I estimated that the run over Ard Crags and Knott Rigg would take me an hour so I set off about 9am with a plan to meet Jonathan at 10am. It was a cold day, I had sat in my car for ten minutes, allowing the fan to melt the ice on the windscreen rather than getting back out to scrape.
|setting off on the path along Rigg Beck, looking back to Cat Bells|
The paths were worn and muddy but today the mud was frozen hard. I had one, "woah!" moment earlier on, slipping on an icy puddle but apart from this, the going was good to firm.
|Aiken Knott and Ard Crags up ahead|
After some nice, level(ish) path along Rigg Beck, I saw an opportunity to cross the beck so ran down the steep grassy sides, hopped over the beck and then began the trudge up to Aiken Knott.
|crossing the beck|
|Aiken Knott and Ard Crags (Knott Rigg is hidden by Aiken Knott).|
|looking back down Birk Rigg. Cat Bells in silhouette. Clough Head and the Dodds behind. Great Mell Fell is the little bump, 1/4 of the way along the horizon from the left before the round profile of Clough Head.|
|in the other direction, the climb up to Aiken Knott|
Once across the beck and the, what would definitely be soggy if it wasn't frozen, grassy slopes heading up to the ridge path, the climbing starts properly. A steep, winding, rocky ascent is in order.
|from Aiken Knott, looking ahead at Keskadale Edge. Ard Crags up to the right and the High Stile Range comes into view over Buttermere Moss.|
|wider view showing the route over Ard Crags on the right and along to Knott Rigg. Robinson is the big fell on the left.|
|looking up to the controversial Fix the Fells path on Sail.|
From Aiken Knott along to Ard Crags was a lovely little ridge run.
|summit of Ard Crags looking north to Wandope, Addacomb Hole, Eel Crag, Sail and Scar Crags|
|continuing on Sail again leading to Causey Pike. The ridge from Aiken Knott visible on the right|
|further around to the east Skiddaw and Little Man pop up above Scar Crags|
|looking back to Aiken Knott|
|path along the ridge to Knott Rigg. I think Pillar is peeking over High Crag on the left|
|approaching Knott Rigg. The High Stile Range on the other side of Buttermere is more prominent here. Left to right on the horizon is High Crag (with Pillar behind), High Stile and Red Pike, then Starling Dodd and Great Bourne|
|from the summit of Knott Rigg in the same direction. The cleft of Sourmilk Gill can be seen coming down through the trees from Bleaberry Tarn under Red Pike.|
|in the other direction|
From the summit of Knott Rigg, the ridge run continues down across a really well defined, clear path. It makes for some really good running.
|continuing on, Moss Force coming off Robinson points to my pick up point|
|I can see the car from here!|
On arrival at the pick up point (at exactly 10am). Jonathan told me that his life threatening foot injury had worsened to the point where he had needed to go and purchase some new Innov8 Mudclaws. I discussed the plan of running over the ridge to my car and he was up for it. We parked up at Rannerdale and probably ran about 100m before a check of the ongoing foot saga revealed that he wasn't up for the run so we turned around and headed to Keswick for a coffee.
|the turnaround point on the second run|
|one last shot of Knott Rigg from the car window on the way back over Newlands Pass.|