Kentmere Horseshoe.

Start. Kentmere.

Route. Kentmere - The Nook - Crabtree Brow - Garburn Pass - Garburn - Yoke - Ill Bell - Froswick - Wander Scar - Gavel Crag - Bleathwaite Crag - Mardale Ill Bell - Nan Bield Pass - Small Water Crag - Harter Fell - The Knowe - Brown Howe - Kentmere Pike - Shipman Knotts - Wray Crag - Stile End - High Lane - Kentmere.

Notes. A Lakeland classic, stunning high level ridge walking with wonderful views thrown in, plus an option if energy levels allow to visit Thornthwaite Beacon and High Street. The weather forecast was glorious so I was up at the crack of dawn, an attempt to get the ascent in before the heat of the day. Where did it all go so badly wrong, the morning showed promise but went down hill from then, most of the day was spent wandering through pea soup, plodding along in a cocoon, a little world of my own.

I left Kentmere via the Garburn Pass, this stoney track once the main route between Kentmere and Troutbeck guided me up the hill. After Passing through the gate at the head of the pass I turned right, a wonderful green trod now guided me over boggy ground towards Yoke, the ascent of Yoke saw me swallowed up by the cool caress of swirling cloud. On I walked across this saw tooth ridge traversing Ill Bell then Froswick before the steep ascent to Thornthwaite Beacon. On a good day I'd normally bag the beacon then follow the well trod path up High Street, today wasn't a good day, I followed the path skirting the head of Kentmere, the normal route for walkers attempting Kentmere Horseshoe. Above rivers of slate scree I wandered, across deep cut gills plunging to the valley floor, over Gavel Crag and Bleathwaite Crag before reaching Mardale Ill Bell. From Mardale Ill Bell a well constructed path guided me to the head of the Nan Bield Pass, another redundant main road this one linking the drowned village of Mardale Green to Kentmere.

From the head of this pass I ascended over grass and rock to access the summit of Harter Fell, the weather was slightly better on this side of the valley but not much, I turned south to start the long walk back. With springy turf under food I strolled on, traversing The Knowe and Brown Howe before the short sharp ascent of Kentmere Pike. The long easy on the joints descent that followed deposited me on Shipman Knotts which gifted me with wonderful views to hills walked earlier in the day. From Shipman Knotts, I crossed Wray Crag before starting the long winding descent to the Sadgill Pass, another ancient highway. This stoney track guided me back into Kentmere where the tarmac of High Lane made for easy walking back to the village and the patiently waiting car.

view route map.


Early morning across Kentmere.

Popular with climbers Badger Rock.

From the Garburn Road views to Green Quarter Fell.

Green Quarter Fell as seen over Crabtree Brow.

Rising into the murk my first top of the day, Yoke.

Looking south towards the summit of the Garburn Road, the two hills Sallows and Sour Howes.

Wandering across the summit of Yoke.

No views today from the cairns marking the summit of Ill Bell.

A window in the cloud gifts me with a fleeting glimpse of Kentmere Reservoir.

Ascending Froswick pausing to watch cloud sweep across the Over Cove coll.

Misty views into upper Kentmere, looking to the steep slopes of Lingmell End, make a mental note, "be sure not to wander down there in the mist".

A wonderful narrow path traversing the edge of High Street.

Shining levels, from front to back, Harter Fell, Branstree and Selside.

Descending from Mardale Ill Bell looking down the length of the Haweswater valley.

Harter Fell and my ascent route over Small Water Crag.

Viewing The Knowe and the deep cut ravine of Drygrove Gill.

Kentmere Reservoir in the shadow of Ill Bell.

This splendid wind shelter marks the summit of the Nan Bield Pass, it also marks the start of the ascent of Harter Fell, if you wish a good path descends back into Kentmere from here.

Looking down on Small Water.

I didn't descend Lingmell End lost in the mist, it's there with views to the ridge I've just traversed.

The next blanket of cloud sweeps in over High Street.

The summit, Harter Fell.

After leaving Harter Fell I was swallowed up in a world of swirling mist, all the way across The Knowe, Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts, it's just drifted off to the east leaving me with a view to the hills bordering the Longsleddale Valley.

Looking south with the long finger of Longsleddale to the left.

My route off the fell, the Sadgill bridleway.

From Stile End views to the head of Kentmere, Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick with the massive plateau of High Street closing and guarding the head of the valley.

back to top

back to list