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This one's all about Chris.

This one's all about Chris.


Postby trailmasher » Fri Dec 23, 2016 8:48 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Branstree, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Selside Pike

Hewitts included on this walk: Branstree, Harter Fell (Far Eastern Fells), High Street, Selside Pike

Date walked: 05/12/2016

Time taken: 5.15

Distance: 17.4 km

Ascent: 1081m

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Five fells from Haweswater.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


Well Monday morning dawned, and though the snow was not deep and crisp and even, it was certainly crisp at minus 6°c despite the light cloud cover as we prepared to set off from the Mardale Head car park at Haweswater. Looking up to the hills I could see that although there was still a fair bit of show around it was greatly reduced from when I was here the week before.

We, Chris and I, arrived quite early, around 8am, and for the first time ever for me was the first car of the day to use the car park. Apart from the snow on the fells there was an abundance of frost covering everything at our level, but strangely in spite of the low temperature there was no ice on the waters of Haweswater itself. As we were getting dolled up for the walk in hand another couple of cars turned up with one lady determined not to be missed on the fells dressed in her multi-coloured coat and pants that would have gone down well on the sleeve of the Sergeant Pepper album.

Leaving the car behind we set off along the tarmac access road to take the short walk back to the finger post that is a short distance north of Rowantreethwaite Beck and points the way to Swindale Head via the Old Corpse Road. Because the ground of the church at the now drowned village of Mardale wasn't consecrated the deceased had to be taken along this old road to the church at Shap where they were interred in a small graveyard dedicated to Mardale and is located behind the main church graveyard.

The walk along the road gave us some fantastic views towards the surrounding fells and across Haweswater despite the cloud cover that we hoped would soon lift.
2 - Mardale Head and Riggindale from Rowantreethwaite Beck.JPG
Mardale Head and Riggindale from Rowantreethwaite Beck.

Arriving at the wooden gate and fingerpost we were soon climbing steadily along the old zigzag track that was not just used as a corpse road but was also a means of transporting peat for use as fuel for the village. As we climbed higher the fells opened up and the skies to the north began to blue up which boded well for our day out on the fells. The track is now quite eroded and used to be in a lot better condition, but it is still a simple climb up as we passed a couple of tumbledown peat huts, evidence of its other use of taking warmth and life to the village instead of the opposite out of it.

Once at the top of the zigzags the track continues on, now gently rising and sometimes deteriorating to a narrow path where nature has taken back what is hers. Somewhere around the 500 metre contour we passed over the scarcely noticeable head of Rowantreethwaite Beck, and although the ground was mostly frozen hard there were still one or two spots where the ground was quite boggy. A bit of care had to be taken as the path crossed over some sloping ground where maybe micro-spikes would have been handy but it was minimal and we passed over it without incident.

We continued on past Rowantreethwaite Cairn then Ritchie Crag and soon after the latter we turned southeast along a faint and narrow path over grass that took us onto High Birkin Knott from where we picked up the wide and main path that goes directly to the summit of Selside Pike. If we had continued along the Old Corpse Road and past the path in a short while we would have arrived at a wooden post that marks the start of the main path at just about Low Birkin Knott. The path - more a track than a path - is good and wide as it meanders up the fellside, rutted in places now that it is used by quad bikes, the ruts being full of ice and the ground frozen as hard as iron. With these underfoot conditions a steady foot and a keen eye was required to seek out and avoid any ice that lay aplenty under the grass.

Despite the nature of the ground we soon arrived at the summit and the welcoming arms of the large shelter which we took full advantage of whilst having a quick drink and half a sarnie.
6 - Chris at Selside Pike summit shelter.JPG
Chris at Selside Pike summit shelter.

The sky was now mostly blue with a scattering of light cloud about, and from this summit the surrounding fells were in full and clear view and apart from my solo visit to this area a week ago that is something that we haven't been able to enjoy on our last couple of outings together. The air was so clear that we could see the smoke/steam rising out of the tall chimney stacks of the limestone works at Shap, the large white dome on Great Dun Fell was gleaming in the sunlight as was the large patches of snow on its larger neighbour, Cross Fell. All of the fells encircling Haweswater were in full view with Tarn Crag, Grey Crag, and Harrop Pike in the far distance over to the south of us.

It was a shame to leave this place with its open views but there were plenty more to come as we left the comfort of the shelter and stepped into the cold breeze once again and set out for the Birkett that goes by the name of High Howes.
8 - High Howes sits between Selside Pike and Branstree.JPG
High Howes sits between Selside Pike and Branstree.

We followed the fence down to Captain Whelter Bog and thankfully due to the freezing weather it was an easy passage across this usually ankle deep peat ridden hole that resides at the head of Captain Whelter Beck. The first time that I came across the name it set me wondering why and how a beck and a bog should carry such a name as this and on researching it I found that it was named after a Captain Whelter who was a Kendal archer, and it is said that in 1366 he ambushed and then buried a party of Scots raiders in the hollow that lies under, and to the north of the old Iron Age Fort that is to be found on Castle Crag on the west side of Haweswater. In close proximity to Castle Crag there is Whelter Knotts, Whelter Bottom, Whelter Beck, all overlooked by Whelter Crags. It appears that the name Whelter is derived from the Old Norse word 'hwilft' meaning a hollow combe of which Whelter Bottom certainly fits the bill.

Immediately after crossing the frozen bog we passed over the wire fence on our left by means of a few fixed wooden rails acting as a stile from where we took the obvious path through the frosted brown grass to reach the domed summit of High Howes with its tiny cairn of maybe three stones.
9 - Chris at High Howes summit.JPG
Chris at High Howes summit.

After Chris had muscled his way into the photo once again we set off southwest towards the two now frozen over and unnamed tarns, whilst just beyond those is the old, large stone built survey column that was used by the engineers when constructing the aqueduct that runs from Haweswater to Manchester. Looking south towards Tarn Crag there is another one to be seen whilst the third one is out of sight it being on the south side of Great Howe that overlooks Sadgill. Still walking in the same direction as before we walked between the two frozen tarns…
10a - One of the unnamed frozen tarns between High Howes and Artlecrag Pike.JPG
One of the unnamed frozen tarns between High Howes and Artlecrag Pike.

over snow that was as hard as iron, and then past the survey column before arriving at the wire fence again and crossed it just below Artlecrag Pike.
12 - Haweswater aqueduct survey column between High Howes and Artlecrag Pike.JPG
Haweswater aqueduct survey coloumn between High Howes and Artlecrag Pike.

13 - Looking back to Selside Pike and High Howes.JPG
Looking back to Selside Pike and High Howes.

From there we made our way along the regular path that would take us past the first large cairn/currick as we passed over stony ground to arrive at the summit with the second and largest of the two monoliths adorning the highest spot.
15 - High Street from Artlecrag Pike.JPG
High Street from Artlecrag Pike.

A short walk to the north reveals a decent sized cairn from where the aforementioned Iron Age Fort and the Whelter namesakes can be seen on the west side of Haweswater.

Next on was Branstree just a short distance and climb further on to the south - more or less - and as we reached the summit a groan similar to the one that he had uttered on Meldon Hill came from Chris as he saw the size of the summit cairn and accompanying concrete ring set into the ground that marked the summit of this great, grass covered fell. Nevertheless he was soon in shot with the grin on his face making it obvious that he wasn't all that disappointed in the summit decorations but pleased enough to forget the walk up to here 'for that' as he had claimed his third summit of the day so far, counting the Birkett of High Howes as number two.
16 - Chris at Branstree summit.JPG
Chris at Branstree summit.

Another quick look around the surrounding fells didn't show much change from Selside but with Tarn Crag hiding Grey Crag, and the large cairn on Harrop Pike much clearer to our northeast, Kentmere Pike to the south, and Harter Fell our next objective lying to the west of us. Beyond Harter Fell and just to its southwest lies Froswick, Ill Bell, and Yoke with of course High Street to our northwest.

Saying our goodbyes to Branstree we set off down the south facing slope that carried an abundance of hard packed snow and ice on its upper slopes that the sun had failed to soften that is most probably due to the very low temperatures and cold breeze. Progress down could have been quicker but with digging our heels in to the hard snow best we could we steadily descended without incident to reach the small hollow that sits between the bottom of the fell and Gatescarth Pass. This area is usually very boggy and despite the cold conditions and a thin covering of ice and frost that gave the appearance of solid ground, it wasn't, and once upon it, it was too late to turn back so we just hot footed it across best we could. This area of bog is quite extensive and is bad to cross on a good day but why it wasn't frozen solid I hesitate to hazard a guess.
18 - Branstree from Gatescarth Pass.JPG
Branstree from Gatescarth Pass.

Once on the solid ground of Gatescarth Pass we found a couple of suitable rocks and had another quick bite and drink before setting off along the well made path to Little Harter Fell and its bigger brother, Harter Fell. The sun was shining and the sky was a glorious shade of blue as we set off along the well graded path that was holding snow on our left and with the right side of us open to the fells we had a good view of Branstree with Haweswater…
21 - Haweswater.JPG
Haweswater.

making an appearance as we arrived at Little Harter Fell with its shelter and large cairn of stones and iron fence posts, not dissimilar to the one on its bigger brothers summit, Harter Fell.
24 - Little Harter Fell summit.JPG
Little Harter Fell summit.

Blea Water, Piot Crag, High Street, Kidsty Pike and the Riggindale Ridge were all in plain sight. The blue sky and snow sprinkled tops making for a most splendid panorama.
22a - Blea Water-Piot Crag-High Street-Kidsty Pike-Rough Crag from Little Harter Fell.JPG
Blea Water-Piot Crag-High Street-Kidsty Pike-Rough Crag from Little Harter Fell.

The path onwards to Harter Fell was a little indistinct as we picked our way through the numerous upwards pointing rocks, but the summit cairn was in sight and it didn't take too many minutes to complete the climb up the easy slope to find the jumble of bent iron posts stuck out of the top of the large stone cairn.
27 - Chris at Harter Fell summit.JPG
Chris at Harter Fell summit.

I managed to get one Chris free shot before he once again reminded me that he was there. From here we could now see Kentmere Pike to the south, Froswick, Ill Bell, and Yoke to the southwest and strangely they look almost free of snow. We could also see the tops of the western fells and with them swinging around to the north made for a fantastic clockwise view.

Our way now lies to the west and the shelter at Nan Bield Pass so we took the obvious route down the good and well used path that is a bit rocky in places but nevertheless gives easy access to the Pass.
28 - Path down to Nan Bield with Thornthwaite Beacon and Mardale Ill Bell behind.JPG
Path down to Nan Bield with Thornthwaite Beacon and Mardale Ill Bell behind.

From the top there are two paths with the one on the right working its way along and down the fellside that may prove to be too exposed for some, but again it is a good path and meets up with the main one further down the fell. We met a party of four on their way up and a lone walker that was on top of Harter Fell was looking for directions and identity of a couple of fells that he wanted to grab so after a chat and telling him that we were going more or less in the same direction he was welcome to traipse along with us but he declined and went off on his own. We were to catch up with him later on Mardale Ill Bell.

Arriving at Nan Bield we elected to have our main feed there whilst looking over Small Water and Haweswater - north…
31 - Small Water and Haweswater from Nan Bield.JPG
Small Water and Haweswater from Nan Bield.

with a good view of Kentmere and the Ill Bell ridge on the opposite side - south - but the picture that I took was spoilt by a patch of sun flare dead centre of the picture, doh!

Once the break was over we set off to take the path that climbs up behind the rocky ridge. Again the path is good with a couple or three short paved sections but as we got higher the path disappeared under a blanket of hard packed snow but by using the existing boot prints we soon made short work of reaching Mardale Ill Bell and cairn of stones that sits directly above the lower named Piot Crag. Chris, move.
32 - Chris at Mardale Ill Bell.JPG
Chris at Mardale Ill Bell.

We met the young chap again who had decided to continue on to High Street, but once again he was unsure of an exit route and we told him, again, that he was welcome to come along with us but after taking in what we had told him he was off again towards High Street. We saw him only once more in the distance.

From Mardale Ill Bell we followed the wide, stoned up path northwest as we continued on to High Street. The path was initially clear of snow but as we got higher so the snow began to appear and was as before, not too deep but hard packed, almost like ice. On arriving at the junction with the old path above Blea Water we waffled a while as to which one we would take and Chris - he's so masterful at times - took the executive decision to continue along the 'new' path as there was less snow that way making for easier walking, and as it only put on a few metres to the walk very little time, if any, was lost. We soon arrived at the old tumbledown stone wall and slid and slipped our way over the hard, drifted snow to the summit trig column on which a stone had replaced the snowball that was on it when I was up here on the Monday of last week.
34 - Chris at High Street summit.JPG
Chris at High Street summit.

The clouds were beginning to form as the day was drawing in but we still had a great view of the mountain ridge to our west and although they are the same ones that I photographed last week they are a lot clearer than then.

Our chosen way off today was by the Riggindale Ridge that is first accessed by leaving the trig column in a north easterly direction walking down the gentle slope towards a fairly large cairn of stones from where the ridge starts proper.
36 - Riggindale and Haweswater.JPG
Riggindale and Haweswater.

37 - Blea Water.JPG
Blea Water.

From a distance the top part of Riggindale Crag looked to be full of snow as it was last week so as Chris hasn't been down it before a tool box talk was in order as we approached the ridge. Once we had arrived at the cairn and ridge the snow was seen to be only on the south side with the path being mostly clear making the descent one problem less. One hazard and problem sorted by nature but there are still some to be aware of. Small patches of snow and ice on the lower parts of the path meant keeping a sharp eye open especially for the ice that was oft times hidden amongst the stones and beneath the grass.
37 - Passing over Riggindale Crag to Caspel Gate.JPG
Passing over Riggindale Crag to Caspel Gate.

It's a long ridge but we made steady progress down and soon arrived at Caspel Gate with its tarn frozen over and spillage from it leaving plenty of ice lying on the path as we stepped cautiously past it. We could have left the ridge at Caspel Gate Tarn by the path that is on the south side and which heads off towards Blea Water before making its way down to Mardale Head, but Chris hasn't been here before and wanted to saviour the walk along the whole length of the ridge. I was happy to go along with that as the other way, although shorter, is wet and boring. So off we went on to Rough Crag…
41 - Caspel Gate and Rough Crag.JPG
Caspel Gate and Rough Crag.

44 - Chris at Rough Crag summit.JPG
Chris at Rough Crag summit.

45 - Looking back to High Street from Rough Crag.JPG
Looking back to High Street from Rough Crag.

followed by Eagle, Heron, and Swine Crags on a good path that requires some mild scrambling in places but all in all, good enough.

As we dropped off Swine Crag instead of continuing on to The Rigg we took a faint path off to our right which initially goes south but then quickly turns back to the northeast for a good few metres when it then takes a right to head steeply down the south flank of Swine Crag to arrive at the shore line path. From there we simply followed the path until we reached the ladder stile that would allow us to walk across the now dry head of Haweswater crossing Mardale Beck by stepping stones, climb the short bank and back into the car park at Mardale Head.

This has been a damn decent day out in cold but dry and clear weather, the appearance of the sun making it especially so. The clouds came in as we arrived at Mardale Ill Bell but it is winter and it is to be expected at this time of year and we considered us fortunate enough to have had the weather and views that accompanied us on this walk. I have been here many times before and never tire of the walking and the views from this beautiful part of the country. For Chris, it has been his first visit to this valley - or dale - and he was greatly surprised at what he saw when he arrived this morning. A very large sheet of water, much bigger than he had imagined and with it being overlooked by the snow capped mountains gave him a jaw dropping experience. As Arnie said, we will be back, as Chris has so much yet to see and do from Haweswater. I think that the mountain air and excitement of being in Mardale topped up his hyper-active glands as he was like a bad rash today, everywhere, and I could hardly get my camera out before he was posing for the next shot.

A final touch to end the day was a visit to savour the ale in the Haweswater Hotel where the beer is good, the seating comfy, and the price is right. Ah well, here's to the next one.
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trailmasher
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby thefallwalker » Sat Dec 24, 2016 10:39 am

Thanks for this 1 bud :D
It is definitely up there with the best walks we've done so far
The views were unbelievable and there was me thinking it was going to be an unspectacular walk :lol:
I thought that you were bullying me into the photo's :shock: but maybe I got it wrong :lol:
Thanks for a great day out & a cracking report :clap:
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Dec 25, 2016 8:54 pm

thefallwalker wrote:Thanks for this 1 bud :D
It is definitely up there with the best walks we've done so far
The views were unbelievable and there was me thinking it was going to be an unspectacular walk :lol:
I thought that you were bullying me into the photo's :shock: but maybe I got it wrong :lol:
Thanks for a great day out & a cracking report :clap:


You're welcome :D and what is there not to like about being on the fells around Haweswater 8) now you know :wink:
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby Alteknacker » Mon Dec 26, 2016 8:20 pm

Looks like a great one, especially in snow conditions I imagine. Into the "to do" list it goes...
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Dec 27, 2016 7:59 pm

Alteknacker wrote:Looks like a great one, especially in snow conditions I imagine. Into the "to do" list it goes...


It's a great walk at any time of the year Alteknacker :) especially so in winter under snow 8) thanks for your comments and reading :D
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby ChrisW » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:15 pm

There's some graft in this one for a winter wander TM but well worth the effort. Those beautiful clear air 'see for miles' days are one of the best things about winter hikes :clap:
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby trailmasher » Tue Jan 03, 2017 8:59 pm

ChrisW wrote:There's some graft in this one for a winter wander TM but well worth the effort. Those beautiful clear air 'see for miles' days are one of the best things about winter hikes :clap:


Thanks Chris :D I just love walking in the Haweswater area in winter 8) and the views on a 'clear air' day are really superb in all directions :clap:
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby HalfManHalfTitanium » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:50 am

Great report on a wonderful area. Thanks for posting!

Harter Fell is two of my favourite hills (cos the Eskdale one is pretty good too).

You might enjoy my old report of that route (more or less) - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=58760

Tim
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Re: This one's all about Chris.

Postby trailmasher » Wed Jan 04, 2017 8:12 pm

HalfManHalfTitanium wrote:Great report on a wonderful area. Thanks for posting!

Harter Fell is two of my favourite hills (cos the Eskdale one is pretty good too).

You might enjoy my old report of that route (more or less) - https://www.walkhighlands.co.uk/Forum/viewtopic.php?f=16&t=58760

Tim


Thanks for reading and comments Tim :D I can concur that the other Harter Fell is also a great hill to climb - I was up there in Sept 2016 - I checked out your link and found a great report and pics so thanks for that. I don't know how I missed it when it was posted :?
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