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Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.

Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.


Postby trailmasher » Fri Sep 30, 2016 11:59 am

Wainwrights included on this walk: Harter Fell (Southern Fells)

Hewitts included on this walk: Harter Fell (Southern Fells)

Date walked: 11/09/2016

Time taken: 2.53

Distance: 9.23 km

Ascent: 689m

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Harter Fell.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


In my quest to nail all the Birkett's this year E gave me four days leave of absence to stay at the Eskdale Youth Hostel so that I could clear up the ones around the immediate area, but as with all well planned skirmishes it didn't go exactly to plan as the weather refused to play the game on the Monday. But we'll get to that later on in the next report as this one concerns Sunday, my first day of freedom on the fells.

The plan was to look at Harter Fell and a couple of Birkett's on Sunday, Hard Knott and into Eskdale on Monday, Green Crag and a heap of Birkett's on Wednesday, and Whin Rigg, Illgill Head plus Birkett's on the Thursday, but as the weather dictates all outdoor activities one has to be flexible and sometimes a compromise is needed to get the best out of what we are given.

Sunday was to be a steady day with a short walk over Harter Fell so it was around 9:45am when I arrived at Jubilee Bridge at the bottom of Hard Knott Pass in Eskdale after a 2 hour drive from home in fair weather, sunny but plenty of clouds about that I hoped wouldn't give me the same treatment as they did on my first visit to Corney Fell a few weeks ago. But as I arrived at Jubilee Bridge to find a few more cars already parked up the blue was trying to outdo the grey and white of the clouds and seemed to be holding its own. As I drove down the pass I noticed that Harter Fell was well clear of cloud so that was a good start to my intended days walking.

A quick drink and a sandwich later with boots and bag donned I was walking by 10:10am and heading for the small but attractive stone footbridge that is just down to the right of the car park allowing passage over Hardknott Gill that meets the River Esk just a few metres further down the road. It's a glorious day with the birds chirping and singing in the trees as I leave them behind to begin the walk along the gently rising 'lane' initially passing through a couple of gates and fields before encountering the path proper on the open fell. The green lane climbs steadily southwest nearly straight as a die crossing over many small feeder water runs that all help to increase the flow of Hardknott Gill, the biggest of these being Dodknott Gill as it runs off from Birker Fell and around the base of Dod Knott.

As I steadily climbed the valley looking west slowly revealed its beauty along with the many young trees that have been planted amongst the now dying off bracken.
5 - The view north into Eskdale.JPG
The view north into Eskdale.

The higher I climbed the rougher the track became, not in a rutted way but stonier underfoot and I suspect that the multitude of small stones have been washed off the fellside by the very heavy rain of the winter as the last time I was up here the 'green lane' continued on for much further than it does now. From this spot I could now see straight up the valley towards Taw House, Brotherikeld, and in the background the Scafells, Esk Pike, Bow Fell, etc, and with the sheep grazing and the usual sounds of the countryside it was quite idyllic.

From Dodknott Gill the 'lane' reduces itself to a path initially through bracken but upon reaching a wooden gate it then becomes a lane again and to my right is the rocky bastion of Dow Crag of Ulpha Fell, not of Coniston or Eskdale fame but still quite a notable lump of rock and grass. Within a few metres of leaving the gate behind I was walking on stones and rock again now with the pointed Wallhead Crag to my right as the path now ran alongside the fairly new wire fence and more saplings planted amongst the bracken. Now this is where I dropped a cock as instead of veering off to the left to cut off the corner as intended and taking the narrow path that runs upwards and roughly east to meet another one just below the summit of Harter Fell I continued following the fence along what had now turned into a bogfest. It was now me against the ground conditions that were pretty dire to say the least and not as I remembered it from my last visit to here.
11 - A damp patch across the path.JPG
A damp patch across the path.

Just before I started floundering too much I came across a couple of walkers sat by the fence and who were waiting on a group of girls doing their D of E and who were running late - probably a make-up problem - and after a short chat with them asked me to hurry them up if I bumped into them. Walking on and trying to avoid the worst of the mess on the ground I looked across the boggy low lying ground of Ulpha Fell that does its best to deter anyone from making the journey from where I am now to getting themselves parked up on Green Crag that is now showing as it sits above me to the right of the fence.

Having got so far along the boggy path I did contemplate doing a frontal assault through the bracken to reach my intended route further along but decided that I could do without the struggle of fighting off green and brown fronds from wrapping themselves around my lower quarters so continued on muttering and berating myself for not sticking to my original plan of approach. So I continued on, just stopping for a few minutes to watch a hawk hovering in front and above me to see it suddenly swoop down to the rough grass and then move off with whatever it had picked up for its dinner. After watching this episode of nature's version of takeaway meals I soon arrived at the pine tree plantations perimeter fence which I would now follow on my way to the summit of Harter Fell. But before this I spoke to a chap who, as the couple that I had spoken to, was waiting on the group of girls to appear and it now appears that they are seriously late and as they were to walk over to Wasdale, although not too far away from here, their mentors would obviously like to see them sooner rather than later.

As I turned northeast to follow the decent path that is now steeper than the one that I arrived at this point on I met a Scots girl who had been camping at Boot and this was her last day before going back home over the Border but it seemed as though she was on a mission as she almost did a runner up the fell and I was soon left behind. Once the fence had been left behind the path veers off more to the right from where the path eases somewhat for quite a while before steepening again on the final pull up to just below the summit. Looking back to Ulpha Fell I could now see quite clearly Green Crag and some of the other fells that I hope to be on this coming Tuesday…
12 - Looking across wet Ulpha Fell to Green Crag - The Pike - Crook Crag and Great Whinscale.JPG
Looking across wet Ulpha Fell to Green Crag - The Pike - Crook Crag and Great Whinscale.

whilst in front of me Harter Fell is beginning to become more obvious as the tip of its summit and the lower crags become ever nearer with the steepening path running in a dead straight line between the crags.

There is a moment of excitement as the path eases off once again and a great upstand of rock is approached that many would think is the summit, but it isn't, as that is further on behind it over easy ground as the path wends its way through numerous rocky outcrops to a fairly large area of flattish ground from where the various high points of rock and the stone built OS trig column can be reached. The trig point is not the highest place on this fell as that lies more to the north and demands an easy scramble to reach the top. Upon starting the climb up the fell from the fence the cool breeze has become more evident and here on the top it's really strong and cold and a quick donning of a fleece was required until I get to warmer climes on the other side of Harter Fell.

As I was taking a few photos the young Scots lady appeared and asked me the way to reach Hard Knott as she had decided to slot that one in whilst in the area and whilst pointing out the way another three chaps and a dog appeared so it got quite busy for a few moments and that was my cue to exit stage northeast. But before I left I could see that the all round panorama was pleasing to the eye with Green Crag and the Dunnerdale Fells to the south, the Coniston Fells are east, Bow Fell, Crinkle Crags, Esk Pike, Scafells, are all in the wide northern area, whilst in the west are the fells of Wasdale.
18 - Looking into Dunnerdale from Harter Fell.JPG
Looking into Dunnerdale from Harter Fell.

19 - Looking north towards Bow Fell centre with the Scafells left.JPG
Looking north towards Bow Fell centre with the Scafell left.

20 - A view towards Devoke Water.JPG
A view towards Devoke Water.

21 - Looking towards Whin Rigg and Illgill Head.JPG
Looking towards Whin Rigg and Illgill Head.

23 - Looking along Wrynose Bottom from Harter Fell.JPG
Looking along Wrynose Bottom from Harter Fell.

Leaving the summit I took the path that runs down between the crags to the east before it turned northeast on a good and well seen path that made its way down the grassy fellside but I would soon be leaving it to make my way across some boggy ground to find the top of Demming Crag a large mass of rock with more to its northern face than it has to its opposite side.
24 - Demming Crag front - Border End centre with Scafells etc behind.JPG
Demming Crag front - Border End centre with Scafells etc behind.

I managed to negotiate some of the bad ground but apart from the bogginess of the ground it is very rough going over the clumps of grass but I eventually made it to firmer ground and climbed up to the grass and rocky top with its small cairn of stones laid on the grass and heather of it domed top. There are a few more clouds about just now and the breeze has dropped, but I don't smell rain in the air as I look over the fells around Hard Knott, into Eskdale and a good view of the Roman fort that is lying far below me to the north.
27 - A view north from Demming Crag summit.JPG
A view north from Demming Crag summit.

It's time to leave this large hunk of rock and make my way towards Horsehow Crag my last visit for today and over to the north so I leave this top behind and picked up a grassy path that eventually would put me back on to the main path that climbs up to Harter Fell summit. At this point I thought that it was prudent to get some food and drink so I pulled up in the shelter of a rock and watched a few people making their way up the fell as I took in the landscape and had my lunch. Moving on from here I walked down alongside of the small ravine of Castlehow Beck spying three fell runners coming from the area of Skelly Crags and then meeting up with them where the path meets the gill from where they were to continue on over Hard Knott and into Eskdale.
29 - Walking alongside Castlehow Beck's  small ravine - note the fell runners on the right.JPG
Walking alongside Castlehow Beck's small ravine - note the fell runners on the right.

They were gone with the wind as I made my way more sedately on to Horsehow Crags…
32a - The flat topped Horsehow Crag.JPG
The flat topped Horsehow Crags.

having to leave the main path and once again walk over rough ground until arriving at more bog that led me to a gate and fence that had a step stile over it that I would take to now follow some quad bike tracks then another faint path that I would follow to reach my next commitment. From the summit of mostly bare rock sticking up through the sparse grass there is a great view of the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm lying far below and just about north with Border End and Raven Crag being good lookout points for any frozen to the bone Roman guards of the day.
36 - Border End from Horsehow Crags.JPG
Border End from Horsehow Crags.

34 - A view of the Roman fort with Slight Side and the Scafells behind.JPG
A view of the Roman fort with Slight Side and the Scafells behind.

The view down Eskdale is particularly grand and it just goes to show how militarily a great place it was to build a fort in this place.
33 - A view down Eskdale from Horsehow Crags.JPG
A view down Eskdale from Horsehow Crags.

36a - Horsehow Crags summit looking to Demming Crag and Harter Fell summit.JPG
Horsehow Crags summit looking to Demming Crag and Harter Fell summit.

Once that I had left Horsehow Crags behind…
38 - Leaving Horsehow Crags behind.JPG
Leaving Horsehow Crags behind.

42 - Harter Fell with Horsehow Crags to the right.JPG
Harter Fell with Horsehow Crags to the right.

I somehow stumbled upon a faint track of sorts crossing over more boggy ground set in a hollow that had quite a large tarn/pond nestled amongst the small rocky outcrops. Passing over this lot I then continued on until I reached a fence and stile to find another small tarn/pond to then pass by a tumbledown wall and now on a quite respectable path and then track to arrive at the road at the top of Hard Knott Pass.
43 - The face of Border End.JPG
The face of Border End.

I decided to have another short break before continuing on across the road to find a narrow path that would take me across, down, and under Raven Crag and Border End. I had read somewhere that this was the original Romans approach to the fort but as it looks just now it's hard to visualise this path as a wide track that would be able to convey ranks of troops and their supply wagons along it.
44 - Looking towards Eskdale and the Roman fort from near the top of Hard Knott Pass.JPG
Looking towards Eskdale and the Roman fort from near the top of Hard Knott Pass.

But then again 2,000 years or so have passed by in the meantime so it could have been so especially when it is noted that as the path nears the old parade ground it does actually widen out quite considerably when it also gets quite wet in places.
45 - The old Roman parade ground by the side of the fort.JPG
The old Roman parade ground by the side of the fort.

47 - Border End from the old Roman parade ground.JPG
Border End from the old Roman parade ground.

50 - Looking down Eskdale from the old Roman fort.JPG
Looking down Eskdale from the old Roman fort.

51 - Eskdale from the fort.JPG
Eskdale from the fort.

I didn't linger at the fort as I've crawled all over it in the past and I wanted to get to the hostel and clock in if possible, if not then at least I could download my photos and tracklog to my laptop whilst waiting for the warden to arrive therefore saving time later on in the evening when a time of relaxation can be combined with a glass or two of the brown stuff in the nearby Woolpack.

I've done this route to Harter Fell in the past and I don't remember the path below Harter Fell's southwest side being as wet as it was today and in spite of the recent rain I never would have expected it to be as it was. Nevertheless the walk was done on a good weather day but with a keen and strong wind at height, and when I saw quite a few people heading up from the top of Hard Knott Pass sweating in just tee shirts, shorts, and trainers I wondered how they would feel once they had got the full brunt of the wind upon them once at the summit.

As the night drew in the clouds dropped and rain was in the air, so as I am meeting up with Daniel and Sam tomorrow - Monday - and as they are travelling from Redcar I hope that the weather will be as good as it was today and especially no rain during the night as a river crossing will have to be made if possible.
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trailmasher
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Re: Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.

Postby Alteknacker » Fri Sep 30, 2016 6:08 pm

A fine looking hill, and very interesting Roman stuff. Eskdale looks wonderful. Memo to self: don't forget the LD - it's a third of the travel distance compared to the Highlands!
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Re: Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Oct 02, 2016 10:30 am

Alteknacker wrote:A fine looking hill, and very interesting Roman stuff. Eskdale looks wonderful. Memo to self: don't forget the LD - it's a third of the travel distance compared to the Highlands!


Eskdale is indeed a great place to be with many hills close by including the Scafell's :D and you're right Altenacker, why drive past a place like the LD :clap:

Thanks for your comments :D
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Re: Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.

Postby ChrisW » Fri Oct 14, 2016 5:13 pm

Some beautiful photos in here TM and wonderfully written as always. It must have been a pleasure (with the exception of the bogfest) to walk it. The view from the Roman fort down Eskdale is fantastic and a good indication of why the fort was placed right there.

As for those guys in shorts, I was once walking round Loch Muick with Sarah in January, it was absolutely freezing and we were well wrapped up, half way round we were overtaken by a guy in lycra shorts :crazy: :lol: :lol:
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Re: Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.

Postby trailmasher » Fri Oct 14, 2016 9:49 pm

ChrisW wrote:Some beautiful photos in here TM and wonderfully written as always. It must have been a pleasure (with the exception of the bogfest) to walk it. The view from the Roman fort down Eskdale is fantastic and a good indication of why the fort was placed right there.

As for those guys in shorts, I was once walking round Loch Muick with Sarah in January, it was absolutely freezing and we were well wrapped up, half way round we were overtaken by a guy in lycra shorts :crazy: :lol: :lol:


Thanks for your comments Chris :D :D and yes this is a great walk, one that I've done before and with those views why not 8) :wink: and lycra :roll: he deserved to get frostbite in the goolies mate :crazy: :lol: :lol: Again, thanks. :clap:
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Re: Harter Fell and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdvm.

Postby ChrisW » Fri Oct 14, 2016 10:04 pm

he deserved to get frostbite in the goolies mate :crazy: :lol: :lol:


:shock: ... :lol: :lol: :lol:
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