The last time I visited Hopegill Head via Whiteside was shortly after the 2009 floods, on a November day so cold the water froze in my 'Platypus' pipe! No such problems on this occasion, I am glad to say, though the conditions were rather overcast if not downright gloomy, unfortunately (but at least the rain that threatened to bucket down scarecely materialised at all in the end - such are the small mercies cherished by the ardent Lakeland fell-walker!).The ascent was from Lanthwaite green car-park, over to the splendid new footbrigde across Liza Beck at the entrance to Gasgale Gill, and then up the steep rocky 'edge' of Whin Ben. Then, after an all too brief respite in the form of more level ground, on up another steep face to Whiteside summit, with increasingly dramatic views all the while down to the far-off 'floor' of Gasgale Gill and over numerous gnarled crags to the shapely summit of Hopegill Head at the top of the valley.Then began the dramatic, airy ridge-walk between Whiteside and Hopegill head summits, one of the best of its kind in Lakeland, the summit of the latter yileding excellent panoramas to the west, north and east. I avoided returning via Sand Hill and Gasgale Gill as I did last time, because of the deterioration in the path down the altter caused by the 2009 floods (this could well have been made good by now, however), and also in order to explore the area a little further. So in the end I retraced my steps along the connecting ridge to Whiteside and then picked my way down the steep slope of Wythe Gill (on reflection, going via Dodd instead would have been a better option, but the possibility of an imminent drenching made me choose the most direct/shortest route: above all, I would not recommend going back down by the route of ascent, unless possessed of considerably younger/stronger knees than mine!).Despite the unsatisfactory weather conditions (it was also alternately hot/humid and gusty), this is one of the most spectacular walks in the area, especially the 'Striding Edge' between the two main summits!Highest point (Hopegill Head/Hobcarton Fell): 770 m/2526 ft. Distance: 7.77 km/4.83 miles. Ascent: 796 m/2610 ft.FURTHER INFORMATIONFor further details of this walk, see the following:Richards, M. Lakeland Fellranger series - The North-Western Fells (2011). Cicerone. Wainwright, A. A Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells, The North Western Fells (1964). Westmorland Gazette/Frances Lincoln. Ordnance Survey Explorer Map OL4 (1: 25 000) The Lake District: NW Area [or equivalent].
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