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Kentmere Horseshoe - a misty half

Kentmere Horseshoe - a misty half

Postby old danensian » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:50 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Froswick, Ill Bell, Thornthwaite Crag, Yoke

Hewitts included on this walk: Froswick, Ill Bell, Thornthwaite Crag, Yoke

Date walked: 21/03/2010

Time taken: 5

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I'll just have to take everyone's word for it: an idyllic valley, precipitous east facing crags and enticing views across the Lakeland heights. I can concur with the bits about a great high level walk - at least for the first half of the horseshoe that I persisted with last Sunday.

It had started with optimism, despite the thick mist sitting in the valley as I drove through Staveley. There was that hint of brightness above - we've all seen it - and been convinced that within three or four hundred feet we'd be above it all and out in the brilliant, if chilly, morning sunshine. Mugs, or what?

Anyway, the biggest challenge in Kentmere wasn't the weather, it was finding somewhere to park without having to add a couple of miles to each end of the day's walk. Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The valley's all the better and far more attractive for not having to act as a car park. A few muddy pull-ins in the woods either side of the entrance to the works (456019) suffice, and give a pleasant woodland walk for a mile or so on the opposite side of the valley and just above Kentmere Tarn before the first climb - Yoke - begins.

The flame of optimism still flickered as height was gained heading north west between the confines of two walls, just before Badger Rock was reached on the Garburn Pass track. As the walls opened out and the angle eased, something vaguely circular in the sky continued to fuel the optimism as the path passed between Castle Crag and Saletarn Knott and lead on to the ridge. From there, a glorious switchback linked each of the fell tops on the route - over Yoke, then Ill Bell, then finally, a view - briefly - before passing over Froswick and on to Thornthwaite Crag.

Nan Bield and Harter Fell from Ill Bell

The result? An impression of how good the walk would have been and further additions to the "cairns in the mist" collection we all have.

Ill Bell

Beacon - Thornthwaite Crag

At exactly the time the spectacular beacon on Thornthwaite Crag was reached the rain began and any prospect of continuing optimism, never mind visibilty, disappeared for the rest of the day.

After that, the corner of the High Street wall was found and a curving route followed over Mardale Ill Bell before a southerly bearing was taken to head down the slopes of Lingmell End towards the reservoir below - with that age-old problem of rain on glasses making visibility even more of a challenge.

A predictably long wet 7km trudge out of the valley to the car ended the day, but at least I've still got the excuse to come back and finish off the horseshoe and enjoy the surroundings in better circumstances - you just can't squash that optimism.
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old danensian
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Re: Kentmere Horseshoe - a misty half

Postby Glenrothes » Fri Mar 26, 2010 2:27 pm

I'm really sorry that you did not see Kentmere in all its glory as it really is a hidden gem in the Lake Districts crown.

Try it again and instead of dipping down in to the valley at presumedly Nan Biel, go up again and round onto Kentmere Pike and Shipmans Knott. It really is worth the effort and you get to see (well some times) your earlier days efforts from a different viewpoint and its a great walk down an almost smooth fell back to Kentmere
The little visited trig pillar on Kentmere Pike - little visited as it's behind a stone dyke and not visible from the 'path'
The Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick

Re: Kentmere Horseshoe - a misty half

Postby mountain coward » Fri Mar 26, 2010 11:47 pm

It's definitely the best round in Lakeland, along with the Coledale Round... one of my favourites... but you went the wrong way by descending off Lingmell End - if you'd continued on the path to the summit of the pass at Nan Bield, you could have following the pass track back to the valley. To be honest, you did the nicest side of the horseshoe - the only good bits, in my opinion, of the other half are the rise to Harter Fell, it's crazy fence-post filled artistic summit cairn, and the descent from Shipman Knotts which is quite steep and rocky so pleasantly fun. Kentmere Pike and the walk to it is pretty boring really...

I did worse than that for weather changes the first time I did that half of the horseshoe when I was still collecting Wainwrights... I was just reaching the summit of Yoke when it started to thunder ominously... I scarpered back down to the valley and was very glad I did as it was one of the worst thunderstorms I'd ever seen and Ill Bell and Yoke were repeatedly struck by lightning. The storm lasted an hour and a half and I was sheltered in a barn below the ridge with some equally p****d off sheep! :lol: When it eventually finished it was just low cloud and getting late but I decided I still had to do the ridge... I went back up Scot Rake onto Froswick and did the ridge in reverse. As I'd parked at the end of the Dubs track I had a very long walk back to the car, arriving back at 10pm - too late for the Little Chef and my tea - so I just went to bed (I was sleeping in the car).
mountain coward

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