Lake District walk - Longsleddale, Harter Fell and Kentmere Pike
- Credit: Archant
Our walks man John Lenehan guides us on a trip through the lonely Longsleddale Valley and up to the summit of Kentmere Pike.
If anyone mentions walking to the summit of Kentmere Pike it is assumed that it would start in the village of Kentmere and take the path up from Hallow Bank. It is a nice walk with a little scrambling and steep but good walking. In my fell racing days the old route of the Kentmere Round fell race came this way and I remember the leg-screaming agony running up it.
However there is another way up the pike and, to me, this circular walk is preferable as it starts at Sadgill and takes in the lonely valley of Longsleddale and climbs to Harter Fell before reaching the summit of Kentmere Pike. It then descends over Shipman Knotts and returns to Sadgill.
1. Leave the car park at Sadgill and keep on the wide track that leads up the valley of Longsleddale on the right side of the River Sprint. Goat Scar, the craggy eastern face of Kentmere Pike, looks particularly impressive on the left side of the valley as does Buckbarrow Crag on the right. The track gets steeper but is good underfoot and at the upper end there are really nice waterfalls on the left.
Note: Longsleddale was once an important packhorse trail to Scotland and was heavily quarried at its upper end with Wrengill Quarry being the main one. The remains of the buildings and workings can be seen on the left at the head of the valley.
2. Quarryman’s Bridge. The track leads into more open country as the head of Longsleddale is reached and goes through a gate and crosses this pretty nondescript stone bridge. It is worth stopping and looking under the bridge as there is an plaque saying: Denys Beddard 1971-1985.
Note: From what information I could glean from the internet, it seems Denys Beddard was a medical administrator who retired to the Lake District with his wife. Other than that I can’t find any reason for the plaque being there but it looks as it was pretty expensive to make and fit and this makes me think that he must have been well known in the area.
The track turns into more of a bridleway and becomes a lot steeper. At Brownhowe Bottom the path forks at a signpost that points right to Swindale Head and Wetsleddale and straight on to Mardale Head. Go straight on.
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3. Go through a gate and then the path forks again, this time take the left fork and start the steep climb up to Harter Fell. There are some really good views to the right over Haweswater. At the upper end of the climb there is a wire fence on the left that parallels the path as a guide. There is a false summit pile of stones, pass this and carry on to the actual summit of Harter Fell that is marked by another pile of stones.
4. Harter Fell. The views are excellent from the summit but a short walk to the right of the direction of approach reveals magnificent vista of High Street and the tarns of Small Water and Blea Water.
Note: Haweswater is actually a man made reservoir and, when completed, drowned the village of Mardale Green. Once, in an exceptionally dry summer I saw the village reappear as the water level had fallen so much. Blea Water, however, is the deepest tarn in the Lake District at 206ft/63m and was formed during the Ice Age.
The fence that runs parallel to the path on the way up to the summit turns left and keeping this on the left follow this over the open fell. Eventually it turns into a wall for a short while before returning to a fence. Keep following the fence as the path starts to climb up Kentmere Pike. The fence returns to a wall, and follow this.
5. Kentmere Pike: There is a pile of stone, but the triangulation pillar is actually on the other side of the wall and a stone stile is there to allow access.
Note: I have a habit of always touching the summit cairn or trig point and saying ‘Thank you mountain’. It’s a saying one of my very best friends John McGonagle uses. He says: ‘The mountain lets you climb it so thank it.’ I tend to agree with him.
Climb back over the wall and with this on your left leave Kentmere Pike and start descending. The wall is now a fence and keeping this on the left follow the path. The path forks with the right heading down towards Kentmere valley and the left following the fence, take this path.
The fence breaks left so leave this here and from this point the path goes straight on and down over open fell. There is a wall running left to right further downhill and there is a ladder stile crossing it. Cross this and bear diagonally left towards a wall and then keeping this on the left follow it. Eventually the wall turns left and the path appears to go straight on. Do not follow this but turn with the wall and keep on with this on the left. The wall turns left around a small outcrop of rock and shortly after the path does the same and rejoins the wall at the other side of the outcrop. Keep following the wall but from here the path descends really steeply at times over rocky sections so care is needed. Eventually the main path from Kentmere to Sadgill can be seen below. Follow the path towards this.
6. Reach the main track and turn left and through a gate then carry on towards Sadgill. There is a very steep track section that drops to a gate with a stile to the right of this. Don’t be tempted by the stile, keep on the track and follow this all the way down to the farm and then cross the bridge to the car park.
Walk: Longsleddale Harter Fell and Kentmere Pike
Start and Finish: Sadgill in Longsleddale
Distance: 7.5 Miles/ 12 Km
Time: 5–5.5 hours
Terrain: A relatively easy start gives way to some steep climbing then open fell and a very steep rocky descent over Shipman Knotts. Good boots and good walking gear and possibly walking sticks if nervous on steep ground are needed. Navigating and map reading skills are needed in poor weather.
Facilities: There are public toilets across from the church on the road to Longsleddale.
Parking: There is limited parking at Sadgill near the bridge but it is a single track road so allow for farm vehicles when deciding where to park your car. There is also an Honesty Box for contributions to park.
Map: OL7 Lake District South Eastern
Nearby is the busy little village of Staveley, noted for the former bobbin mill which has been transformed into a hive of interesting retail outlets and purveyors of good food. Wilf’s Cafe in the Mill Yard is well known by hikers and bikers and its neighbour is the wonderful Hawkshead Brewery which has a visitor centre. You can also find great beer and quite delicious pub food a little up the road at the Eagle & Child, which has a quirky interior that will keep you amused while waiting for your food. Dorothy Wordsworth’s diaries record that she washed her feet in the brook beside the pub while walking with brother William in 1802. What they had for lunch, we’ll never know.