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Longsleddale - and unfinished business with Kentmere

Longsleddale - and unfinished business with Kentmere

Postby old danensian » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:25 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Branstree, Grey Crag, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts, Tarn Crag (Far Eastern Fells)

Hewitts included on this walk: Branstree, Grey Crag, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), Kentmere Pike, Tarn Crag

Date walked: 08/04/2010

Time taken: 4

Distance: 16 km

Ascent: 1000m

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Long Sleddale

I thought I must have been paying a penance for all those spectacular, sunny, snowy Scottish days. Now I was being reminded, for the second time in barely three weeks, what a typical Lakeland spring day could be like. Climbing the first slopes of Shipman Knotts, the first and lowest top on my planned trip, the visibility was practically zero: predictably it had been a cracking forecast.

This time, the eastern arm of the Kentmere horseshoe was going to be my target and scraping the frost off the car in a sunny Warwickshire at 6.15am gave a sense that it could be better than the previous expedition. Then, I’d been washed off after Thornthwaite Crag after only completing the western arm and had decided by Mardale Ill Bell that a damp early descent was preferable. But this time I was determined to get to Harter Fell before then heading east to complete the parallel Longsleddale horseshoe instead.

By 9.00am on the M6 the windscreen wipers were needed, and by 9.30 as I started the long drive up Longsleddale the tops above could have been a mere fiction in the mist. Reassuringly, if this was to be the weather that persisted for the day, I already knew from the route descriptions that if I kept the walking pole in my right hand rattling against either a wall or a fence for the entire day, then I’d have no problem with navigation: although I might need a new pole.

Sadgill, Longsleddale

With just enough space for a handful of cars at Sadgill, high up the Longsleddale valley, the parking challenge at the start of the day in better weather could be just as tricky as over in Kentmere. Be warned: get there early or be prepared for a lengthy tarmac addition to the day.

The track heading south and then west and rising above the jumble of buildings at Sadgill was clear, as was the path that then followed the wall northwards to where Shipman Knotts apparently sat. Whether it was the power of thought or just my imagination, the stretch of wall that could be seen at the top was definitely longer than half an hour earlier: you couldn’t call it a view but it was an improvement that encouraged progress.

Shipman Knotts

Melting snows added to the dampness on the route along to Kentmere Pike. Trying to follow the wall would have meant significant wading in its latter stages, but by then there was more than a hint of the summit as the view of the wall splitting the few feet between the trig point and the cairn emerged.

Kentmere Pike emerging from mist

At this point my penance must have been paid. The cloud started to break up and the views northwards took in High Street, Harter Fell and the tops on the other side of the Longsleddale horseshoe. More pleasingly, I now also had a view of the switchback rollercoaster along Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick above their steep east-facing crags that I’d missed out on during the previous visit. A dull greyness made them barely photogenic, but at least I’d seen them.

Mist breaking up on Kentmere Pike

The pleasant high level walking continued over Harter Fell and round to the point where the views down Haweswater are revealed, arriving at the spot where AW’s iconic image leans against the rock and gazes wistfully down the valley through nothing more challenging than the mist of his pipe smoke. Also revealed was my failure to check the batteries in my camera before starting and the false assumption that the spares were fully charged. As a consequence, the remaining jpegs are stuck on my phone. As my technical capabilities do not stretch to transferring them from a Nokia 2630, any help would be gratefully received. Apparently I need to do something with Bluetooth as a simple lead will not suffice: hey, I guess that’s technological progress.

High Street from Harter Fell

After crossing Gatescarth Pass, the slope up Branstree was climbed and the open top reached with its curiously stubby trig point sitting almost flush with the surrounding ground. By this time views to the east dominate and the contrast between the harsh cragginess further to the west is clearly evident. I had been tempted to make a dash across to Selside Pike from the top of Branstree; the prospect of leaving an isolated and unvisited Wainwright top had jarred at the planning stage of the walk. But, after the early start, the drive, and the prospect of a three mile detour, I wussed out.

And so, it was time to head back south (just to the car, not as far as Warwickshire yet). With the constant companionship of yet more wall and fence Tarn Crag and then Grey Crag were crossed to complete the horseshoe just as cloud began to roll in from the south west with the suggestion of rain in the air. The view down the length of Longsleddale was a lure that made the descent down the spine of Great Howe and back to Sadgill pass quickly. Arrival back at the car after just short of five hours was greeted by a marginally better view up the head of the valley than earlier, but which could now be recorded as the second set of spare batteries for the camera had been in the car all day. At least they’d be ready for the next day’s outing, more of which anon.

Upper reaches of Longsleddale
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old danensian
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Re: Longsleddale - and unfinished business with Kentmere

Postby mountain coward » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:47 am

Wow I'd never have thought of including Branstree in that round! I normally just do Branstree with Selside Pike and the old Corpse Road!

The weather always does that to me as well - great forecast - lovely at the start of the (car) journey... then the clag comes down by the time I get there every time :( That's why I don't get up too early to go walking any more and probably why I've given up going very far for a daytrip. Annoying isn't it!
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Re: Longsleddale - and unfinished business with Kentmere

Postby susanmyatt » Tue Apr 13, 2010 1:55 pm

Good report,not done the far eastern ones, good info on Sadgill, seen it on map and didn'tlook too much space to park
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