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Date: 14 Feb 2005
Start / Finish: Burnbanks GR 508161 just before the 'Private Road' notice.
Maps: Outdoor Leisure 5: English Lakes North East.
|Day 1||High Street & Harter Fell||9 miles / 3240 feet (14.5km / 987m)|
|Day 2||Branstree & Selside Pike||9 miles / 1010 feet (14.5km / 307m)|
An easy tour of the North Eastern mountains encircling Haweswater.
At the 'Private Road' signs the R fork is signed to the Mardale reservoir track, which bends back R at a gate and L around the forest edge. Descending towards the shore, the view opened out across Haweswater to the mountains at Mardale Head, capped with a light covering of snow. Crossing the footbridge over Measand Beck, a path climbs beside the attractive waterfalls and above the rocky gorge where the beck approaches the final plunge to the lake. At a second footbridge, a thin path sets off L and climbs up Measand End, where the cold northerly wind began in earnest and we reached the snow line.
The path becomes a grassy track that meanders gradually up the long gentle slopes, and eventually Low Raise appears with High Raise beyond. A short detour L gave a good view over Bason Crag and down to the Lake, and far to the East the tops of the Cross Fell range were gleaming white. At the cairn on Low Raise the mountains to the W came into view, and a short climb to High Raise revealed a superb vista of snow-capped peaks. Like the last Buttermere trip, the problem was standing still in the strong biting wind to take the pictures.
A path crosses the dip to the rocky point of Kidsty Pike, a great vantage point to admire High Street and Riggindale Crag, and this excellent view is maintained along the path that follows the edge of the plunge into Riggindale. At the col a short detour W gave a good view down to Hayeswater, and at the summit of High Street the wall offered a modicum of shelter for a cuppa. Heading NE to the cliffs there is a grand aerial view of the Blea Water corrie, which is sadly avoided by the main path to Mardale Ill Bell. Following the cliff edge to maintain the view, we then crossed the trackless slopes to rejoin the path which descends to Nan Bield Pass.
The wind was so strong by the shelter it was very difficult to stay upright as we dropped the packs and descended the path to collect water at the stream part way down. Climbing steeply up the rocky path to Harter Fell was quite an experience with heavy packs but there were great views to compensate. At the summit it was far too windy to pitch, and we walked up and down the ridge in both directions before finding a relatively sheltered grassy depression on the S side. There was an inspiring view W as the sun sank behind the Ill Bell ridge.
Despite the frosty night the morning started misty, but shades of blue appeared overhead as we walked back towards the summit. As we arrived it suddenly cleared and the dawn light shone beneath the mantle of mist in the E to light up the Ill Bell ridge, with the Coniston fells in sunlight beyond. Veils of mist swirled around High Street as we followed the ridge round to the minor top of Adam Seat and down to Gatescarth Pass. Skirting the boggy area on the L, a grassy path climbs by the fence to Branstree and the concrete circle marking the top.
A path leads NE to the cairns on Artle Crag, where we descended to cross the fence and walk to the stone pillar. A path develops between the two tarns, attractively frozen today, that leads easily to the NE top of Branstree marked by a few stones. It then heads directly for Selside Pike on the R of the fence, crossing the not very boggy Captain Whelter Bog. From the cairn, a thin path continues NE and becomes a grassy cart track that makes easy walking to the Old Corpse Road track joining Swindale and Mardale. Crossing the track and continuing NE to the R of a rock outcrop, the cairn on Hare Shaw is soon reached.
From here it is a matter of descending NE over pathless but easy slopes to join the track by the intake wall, which follows the wall over Harper Hills and Scalebarrow Knott to reach the surfaced road at 528158. This makes an easy return W to Naddle Bridge, where a pleasant woodland path cuts off the road corner and emerges at the parking area.