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5 posts • Page 1 of 1
Mardale Head-Harter Fell-Branstree-etc-Mardale Head
by trailmasher » Mon Mar 09, 2015 4:37 pm
Wainwrights included on this walk: Branstree, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), Selside Pike
Hewitts included on this walk: Branstree, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), Selside Pike
Date walked: 27/02/2015
Time taken: 3.59
Distance: 13.86 km
Ascent: 919m2 people think this report is great. Register or Login free to be able to rate and comment on reports (as well as access 1:25000 mapping).
It was cold when I set off from Mardale Head car park at Haweswater at 10:20am with just a hint of rain. A few drops fell as I was walking along the path towards Small Water but not enough for me to put on my waterproof trousers. It was mostly cloudy with some blue patches and a cool breeze not yet too strong or cold but I knew it would be at height. I followed Mardale Beck whose waterfalls were looking great with plenty of white water pouring down them.
As I passed through the gate in the second wall the beck has now become Small Water Beck after the tarn that it flows from. I reached the tarn after climbing roughly 200 metres from the car park and was now on the snow line. Due to the snow melt and previous nights rain the stepping stones across the tarn outlet were just about poking through the water but got across without mishap.
The three stone shelters on the north bank always make me wonder whether they were built as a refuge for shepherds - or a gang of them - or for the quarrymen who worked in the quarry which is sited on Piot Crag. I went up there a few years ago and found the remnants of quarry buildings and it set me wondering what value the stone from so high up in the crags. Maybe it was quarried to be used on the building of the dry stone walls or in the village of Mardale itself?
I passed the shelters and onto the snow laden path leading up to Nan Bield Pass. The snow and ice made for slow going and I had to vary my route and skirt above and around the larger drifts of snow picking my way through the rocks as required. The higher I climb the colder it gets and when I eventually arrive at Nan Bield shelter - where I was going to take a meal break - it was found to be full of deep snow, and with a strong and cold wind blowing up from the Kentmere Valley stopping was out of the question.
Next on was Harter Fell and as I looked up at the snow and ice covered ascent route I saw two people just ahead of me. I climbed steadily upwards avoiding the worst of the snow and ice as best I could and after gaining the level area that is between the first and second steepish climbs the wind really hit me. It was bitter. Just after starting to climb the second slope I met two chaps on their way down having just come up from Kentmere via Shipman Knotts and Kentmere Pike whilst doing the Kentmere Round anti clockwise. We chatted for a few minutes and then parted company to get on with our own walks.
Having gained the top of Harter Fell I then proceeded to head for Little Harter Fell whilst still battling the strong, bitter wind. Still no chance of a break then as it is too exposed up here and I don't want to cool down after my exertions on the climb up. The path down to Gatescarth Pass is very slippery with lots of ice about and deep but frozen snow so placing feet in appropriate spots is paramount to a safe journey down. Still nowhere to shelter from the wind so kept going as I'm now heading for Branstree and Artlecrag Pike.
The two people that were in front of me have disappeared so can only presume that they are heading for Kentmere but I now see two others in front of me poking about around Artlecrag Pike cairns. I made my way down and took a few photos and then headed off towards the fence which I climbed over as had the other two persons and made my way to the survey pillar and then the summit of High Howes which is an unnamed fell on the OS map. It is in fact Birkett No. 239.
The top of this fell is at 673 metres but has nothing but grass and a few stones to mark the summit although there are good views in all directions. Still no shelter from the wind and had decided to have a break in the shelter cairn on Selside until another chap that I met coming from there told me it was full of snow. No matter I'm not feeling that hungry or thirsty anyway, just yet.
From the top of this fell I then headed north towards Selside, climbed the fence at the bottom by Captain Whelter Bog and fortunately due to the cold the ground was frozen so made crossing this area a kind of pleasure in a way as it's usually a bad place to get around when wet. Reaching the summit I thought that I had better clock in and advise that I was alright and whilst trying to get a signal the couple that I had passed caught me up. I am always amazed at how difficult it is sometimes to get a signal when on an open fell like this. After much turning around and waving my phone in the air the message eventually went.
We had a few words commenting on the day, where we had been and started from, etc and then set off for the Old Corpse Road and Brown Howe with the couple accompanying me. Brown Howe is the Birkett that I missed out due to the weather when doing a circuit of Naddle Forest.
Just a little aside regarding Captain Whelters Bog. The bog is at the head of the beck of the same name and there is also a similarly named crag on the opposite bank of Haweswater. It was reputedly named after a Captain Whelter - who was a Kendal Archer - in 1366 after he ambushed a party of Scottish Reevers near Castle Crag which itself is an old iron age fort and buried them nearby. I also read that he and his men actually fired their arrows from the beck but, it is quite a distance so maybe that's a bit of an exaggeration.
As they were knocking off the Birkett's they followed me to the top where again a photo shoot was done. The views are clear in all directions. I made my way back to the Corpse Road and down to the main road. I was going to walk back to the car park along the shoreline path but a notice advised that the path was closed. I don't know why because I couldn't see any obstructions but none the less I tramped down the tarmac back to the car park where a drink and a sandwich was most welcome.
A good but fairly hard day out as I seemed to struggle going up Harter Fell but maybe the wind was a factor in that. It was strong and cold but I feel as though I should have done better than I did going up there.
The weather was dry, cold, and cloudy with sunny periods and an odd flurry of snow whilst going up Harter Fell but nothing to worry about weather wise.
The above photo doesn't reflect the full nature of this washout as it spills over half way across the road down to Mardale Head. I have noticed a steady deterioration in the road over the past few months with potholes in the tarmac and holes/voids beneath the tarmac. The holes in the wall for water run off are blocked and I think that it's about time that United Utilities spent some of their ill gotten gains from the Thirlmere car parks and such of which the toilets are never open - £7.50p and can't use the loo - in maintaining this important and well used road to the fells. Not a moan but a good observation.
by johnkaysleftleg » Mon Mar 09, 2015 5:12 pm
A fine report from an area of the Lakes I like a lot, cheers.
by ChrisW » Tue Mar 10, 2015 5:49 am
Great report of a good grunt on a cold day Trailmasher, you got some lovely shots of a pretty desolate landscape along the way too. I'd almost forgot about paying to park as that is a very rare event over here, but 7.50....holy hell thats steep Anyway, glad you had a good round and took the time to share it
by trailmasher » Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:44 pm
johnkaysleftleg wrote:A fine report from an area of the Lakes I like a lot, cheers.
Thanks John, bit drier than the middle bit of the LD!!
by trailmasher » Tue Mar 10, 2015 7:45 pm
ChrisW wrote:Great report of a good grunt on a cold day Trailmasher, you got some lovely shots of a pretty desolate landscape along the way too. I'd almost forgot about paying to park as that is a very rare event over here, but 7.50....holy hell thats steep Anyway, glad you had a good round and took the time to share it
Thanks for your comments Chris. Once you get past Harter Fell it's a pretty quiet area to be in. Good for thinking time.
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