Robinson and Hindscarth from Little Town round
Cumbria is a large county in North West England and contains the Lake District and Lake District National Park. It is bounded to the north by the Scottish Borders, Dumfries and Galloway, to the west by the Irish Sea, to the south by Lancashire, to the south east by North Yorkshire, and to the east by County Durham and Northumberland. Cumbria is very mountainous containing every peak in England over 3,000ft above sea level with Scafell Pike being England’s highest mountain at 978 m (3,209ft). Cumbria is also one of England’s most outstanding areas of natural beauty attracting mountain climbers, hikers and walkers, cyclists, runners and tourists and holds a source of inspiration for artists, writers and musicians. Cumbria consists of six districts Eden, Carlisle, Allerdale, Copeland, South Lakeland and Barrow-in-Furness.
The Lake District is an area with stunning scenery located within in the County of Cumbria. Commonly known as The Lakes or Lakeland it was granted National Park status on 9th May 1951 less than a month after the first UK designated National Park, The Peak District. It is the largest of thirteen National Parks in England and Wales and the largest in the UK after the Cairngorms. The Lake District National Park itself covers an area of 885 square miles and stretches 30 miles from Ravenglass in the west to Shap in the east and 35 miles from Caldbeck in the north to Lindale in the south. Crammed with so much natural beauty the Lakes attract visitors, tourists and holiday makers from all over the world. As the name suggests there are many lakes each with their own uniqueness, amenities and activities such as lakeside walks, sailing, waterskiing, boat trips and ferries. All of the lakes except Bassenthwaite Lake are named by water, tarn or mere and are surrounded by stunning scenery and magnificent fells. There are some wonderful towns to explore such as Keswick, Windermere, Ambleside, Kendal, Hawkshead, Grasmere and Cockermouth all with a splendid mixture of shops, cafes, pubs, bars and restaurants. There are also many museums, theatres, historic homes, gardens and many easy walks for the not so energetic visitor wishing not to climb the fells. William Wordsworth the famous British poet was born in Cockermouth and later lived in Grasmere where he wrote some of his best works before moving to Rydal Mount near Ambleside for his last 37 years. Both places are open to visitors and so is Brantwood home to John Ruskin until his death. Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Robert Southey and Thomas de Quincey all followed Wordsworth to the Lake District. Arthur Ransome, author of Swallows and Amazons, also grew to love the lakes and settled in the Winster Valley near Windermere. The painters Thomas Gainsborough, JMW Turner and John Constable were early visitors to the lakes but it was John Ruskin who settled here at Brantwood on the shore of Coniston Water. Farming and especially sheep farming has been historically and still is the main industry of the Lake District. The tough Herdwick breed with their stocky build and distinctive grey coat are especially hardy for the Lakeland fells and its weather. Sheep farming has probably been here since Viking times and is an important factor both to the economy of the lakes as well as in preserving the stunning landscape which attracts visitors and hence income to the region. Walking is a big attraction in the Lake District whether strolling around the low lying lakes or climbing up into the mountainous fells whichever is undertaken the scenery is magnificent. Alfred Wainwright’s famous hand written book, The Pictorial Guide to the Lake District, published in 1955 is a collection of seven books each illustrated with his unique style and charm of the 214 fells inspiring many visitors and tourists from all over the world.
The Newlands Valley is said to be one of the most picturesque and quieter valleys in the Lake District National Park even though it is not far from the busy tourist market town of Keswick. The thinly populated valley bottom consists of mainly farms and tourist accommodation and is overlooked by the fells of Barrow, Causey Pike, Cat Bells, Ard Crags, Knott Rigg, Maiden Moor, High Spy, Dale Head, Hindscarth and Robinson offering superb fell walking. The Newlands horseshoe is 8.75 miles starting and finishing at Little Town. Situated on the steep slopes of Ard Crags above Keskadale Farm is Keskadale Oakwood, an ancient woodland and a Site of Special Scientific Interest and a Special Area of Conservation. The valleys main hamlet is Stair which is the location of the Newlands Adventure Centre and about 1½ miles north of Stair in the only pub in the valley the Swinside Inn. Further up valley the hamlet of Little Town consisting of a farm, a few cottages and a church has been made famous by the writings of Beatrix Potter, whose 1905 children’s book “The Tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle” is based in the area. At the most southerly part of the valley is Keskadale Farm, a traditional sheep and beef cattle farm, which has been in the Harryman family for generations and offers accommodation. Newlands Hause at the end of the valley provides a car park which sits at the foot of the slopes of Robinson where the Moss Force Waterfall can be seen coming down from the fell. From the Hause the road descends steeply to Buttermere. The Newlands Valley was extensively mined for centuries. Lead, copper, silver and even gold has been extracted. Goldscope mine on the lower slopes of Hindscarth, which has operated since the 16th century, is the most famous mine in the Lake District. It yielded such large amounts of lead and copper that it was named “Gottesgab” (God’s Gift) by the German miners brought over to develop the mine in the early days. The mine closed at the end of the 19th century because the main shaft had gone so deep it had become uneconomic to pump water from it. The other mines in the valley are Barrow lead mine closed in 1888, Yewthwaite lead mine closed in 1893 and the Dale Head copper mine closed at the end of the 18th century.
Little Town is a hamlet in the Newlands Valley and is separated from Derwent Water to the east by the summit of Catbells. The hamlet is so small it has no pub, shop or post office but has been made famous by the writings of Beatrix Potter’s 1905 book ‘The tale of Mrs Tiggy-Winkle’ which was set in and around Little Town.
Robinson is a less popular fell in the Lake District National Park. The fells southern slopes, which are a large area of landslip, descend to Buttermere but its northern side sits in the Newlands Valley. There has been much mining in the area especially at the Goldscope Mine, but this has all taken place beneath the slopes of neighbouring Hindscarth. The remains of a small reservoir can still be seen in Little Dale. The fell has a pair of short levels driven for lead near to the south-east corner of Buttermere Lake but didn’t progress beyond trials. The summit of Robinson at 737 m (2418 ft) can be reached from the villages of Buttermere and Little Town, various locations in the valleys to the north and from the nearby summit of Dale Head. Robinson looks bland from Buttermere with smooth rounded slopes curving up from the valley floor but viewed from Keswick or Newlands it looks completely different from here the wall of Robinson Crags drops from the summit of the fell as though a great chunk of the hillside is missing. The top is rounded and mainly of grass, but there are two low outcrops of rocks with loose stone between them, the more westerly of these is the summit and bears a cairn.
Hindscarth at 727 m (2385 ft) can also be reached from the villages of Buttermere and Little Town, various locations in the valleys to the north and from the nearby summit of Dale Head. The ridge from Robinson to Dale Head forms the heads of Little Dale and Newlands, bypassing the intervening summit of Hindscarth which stands off to the north creating a dividing wall between the two valleys. The long north-west ridge of Hindscarth steps down over several tiers of crags to the confluence of its bordering streams and its southern face overlooks Honister Pass. This northern ridge which descends into the Newlands valley has at its foot, Scope End, one of the most famous former mines in the Lake District, called Goldscope Mine. The mine was opened in 1564 and developed by Germans who worked its rich veins of lead and copper. There are many spoil heaps on the Newlands Beck side of Scope End and the shaft in the hillside was sunk so deep that it became uneconomical to pump out water therefore leading to the closure of the mine at the end of the 19th century. English Heritage has designated the mine as a major national important site so that it should receive priority treatment for its protection and preservation. Hindscarth’s summit is grass and gravel patches and its cairn is amid some embedded rocks. There is a larger cairn a 100 yards to the south, marked as a shelter on Ordnance Survey maps. The view north into the Newlands Valley with Skiddaw in the background is excellent and all the major fell groups, except High Street, can be seen.
From the car park we head forward over the bridge then turn left at the no-through road sign. We follow the road past the church and High Snab then to the left of the house (Low High Snab). We continue following the tarmac road which becomes a grassy track and then a grassy path. We keep following the path to the right of Scope Beck uphill to a dam, reservoir and a waterfall. We continue steeply uphill to the top of the waterfall on our left then after a short way we turn right steeply uphill to pass to the left of the last outcrop on our right. We keep heading uphill slightly right and soon pick up a stony track which we follow steeply uphill to a cairn at the top. We continue ahead slightly uphill to the cairn on the summit of Robinson in the distance. At the fence line we turn left droping down into the dip to the fence corner. We now turn left steeply uphill and make our way to the cairn on the summit of Hindscarth and then on to the shelter ahead, the views are superb. From here we continue forward following the stony path steeply downhill to the base of Hindscarth. At the wall we bear right towards the farm and track. We turn left onto the track then take the path on the right, through the farm. We continue forward and when we reach the church we turn right and retrace our steps back to the car park.
This is a hard walk on grass, gravel and tarmac paths/tracks, some of them stony and rocky. There are some steep inclines and declines.
Elevation: approx lowest point 136 m (447 ft) approx highest point 732 m (2403 ft) approx ascent 954 m (3131 ft).
Distance and Start Point
Approx 6.7 miles allow 3 to 4 hours using OS Explorer Map 0L4, The English Lakes, North-western area. This walk is done anti-clockwise.
Start point: Little Town small free car park area at the bridge.
Little Town is in the Newlands Valley, Lake District, Cumbria.
Directions and Parking
From the A66 take the road into Portinscale. Follow this road bearing left at the y-junction. Bear right at the next junction then after passing the Swinside Inn on the right bear left. At the next junction bear left and continue along the Newlands Valley to the bridge and car park area.
Parking: limited car park area near the bridge, Little Town.
Toilets and Refreshments
There are no public toilets or refreshments. The nearest facilities are at Keswick and Buttermere village.