The Kentmere Round
Date: 7th May 2008.
Map: Landranger 90
Weather: Sunshine all day, with poor visibility on the tops – Hazy!
A circular walk from Kentmere Church, up the Garburn Pass and taking in the tops of Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Nan Bield Pass, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts, then return to the church below green Quarter: 14.5 miles – as measured by a pedometer, 13.0 miles on Lonewalkers GPS.
The Church in Kentmere – rendered, but not very well!
It was very quiet when we arrived at 7:45 and got booted up. The church was not the best presented I’ve ever seen, but I suppose it’s seen its share of arrivals and departures. Lonewalker led the way today and I followed, making a nice change from getting lost along the way. A gentle stroll along the dry stone walled lanes led us up towards the pathway to Garburn Pass, and we soon made height increasing the views over the landscape. There is only one road into Kentmere, so it was very peaceful. There was an interesting looking tower complete with crenulations on a nearby farm below the route. They are called pele towers, and it looks like the adjacent buildings have been added later on, maybe it was the Manor House? But it has a fine location below the Garburn Pass.
Looking up to Buck Crag, Saletarn Knotts
Across the valley to Kentmere Pike – a big erratic boulder in the field
Badger Rock – apparently. Doesn’t look like one though.
A pele tower, with Manor House? Marked as Hall on the OS map
There were some large erratic boulders that have probably been moved down to the valley from the crags above. Wherever they met a wall they were built up and over, and incorporated into the wall line. We saw a Buzzard early in the day being pestered by a smaller bird. The early swallows were flitting in and around the barns. Later in the day the skylarks were flying high and singing in the sunshine, a sure sign that summer is coming. The adjacent fells were clear enough but as we gained height the views were disappointedly hazy. On another day the views from the higher summits would have been spectacular.
Looking back to Kentmere in the early morning light
The path up the Garburn Pass. Buck Pike ahead
The path up the Garburn Pass was rough gravel, graded. It was ok to walk on but a little rough in places. But it’s better than having excess erosion and all the problems that go with it – i.e. a boggy, energy sapping slog. After winding its way up the hillside the way ahead becomes easier once the pass is reached and we turned north towards our first Wainwright of the day – Yoke. Some of the cairns on the tops today were no more than a small pile of rubble. But then again it made the better ones stand out more.
I want that wall there no matter what’s in the way!!
Yoke in the distance
The not very graded path to stop more erosion – Yoke still in the distance
Are we there yet? This is no Yoke….
Finally on Yoke. Windermere in the distance above the cairn
LW looking down over Kentmere Reservoir, Ill Bell next.
The Kentmere valley from near Ill Bell.
One of three cairns, a misty Windermere beyond.
The people who built the cairns on Ill Bell probably couldn’t be bothered going across to Yoke or Froswick, so built three here instead. On the way up to Ill Bell we passed a rather intrepid lady and her collie dog. She was walking and wild camping for 8 or 9 days, following a Wainwright route that took in Patterdale. She had a large back pack that must have been a fair old weight, but was making decent progress uphill. What a way to enjoy your twilight years. She was a sharp contrast to couple we met later in the day.
One of the other cairns, Thornthwaite Crag beyond.
Froswick next on the agenda. Bleathwaite Crag hanging above the valley.
Nan Bield Pass across the valley below Harter Fell.
Looking back to Froswick – steep and craggy. Still can’t see Windermere
There were good views of the Kentmere valley and Kentmere Pike from Ill Bell and Froswick. Very steeply sloping down to the west and it is not until you reach the other side of the valley that you can appreciate how steep it actually is.
The way we walked – looking back to Froswick, Ill Bell, Yoke
The big beacon above Thornthwaite Crag – lunch stop.
Once we were past Froswick, the way ahead led up to Thornthwaite Crag and the impressive cairn. From here on a good day the views should have taken in Helvellyn and its surroundings, but the haze persisted and only a small patch of snow marked its position. We stopped and had a bite to eat here, some birdseed for LW and a couple of chunky chicken rolls for me. In the meantime I have been up to Scotland and walked the WHW, so my memory of this walk is like the weather that day – a little hazy. So forgive me if the story becomes a little disjointed from here back to the church at Kentmere. It was the first time I had met LW today, but we got on fine and had a good chat on the way around. With his height and his stride I was expecting to break into a trot if he got any faster – but he was very kind and didn’t walk too fast for me. I had a bit of a scare on the way down from the beacon on Thornthwaite Crag, as my left knee began to be very painful. It had happened the week before on Catbells and with the West Highland Way Walk fast approaching, I was a little worried I wouldn’t make it. So like all good second division footballers I walked it off, and it worked. I didn’t suffer at all on the WHW and most of the pain had gone once we were on top of Harter Fell. It must be a bit of something floating around or popping out occasionally.
There would be great views from here in clear weather.
The view over to High Street – the course of a Roman road.
High Street trig point – the high spot of the day. But not all downhill from here.
The walk over to High Street was easy enough and for a change the wall went past the trig point not directly over it – but that wouldn’t have surprised me. To be a Roman Centurion up on these barren hills must have been a bit of a bad boys posting. It must be bleak in the cold of winter. But today the weather was good for a stroll, and had the views been better it would have been even better. I hobbled along glad that it wasn’t raining, but then thought that if it was I wouldn’t be here. We made our way down towards Mardale Ill Bell on an easy path, with hardly any boggy patches to contend with. A few leaps here and there was all that was required – I had my boots on so I was alright. On the top of Mardale Ill Bell I had a quick look at the volcanic columns that were quite well formed, and is part of the reason there is such a mess of stone up there.
Broad hills down to Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell is beyond.
Ill Bell in the middle across the valley from Mardale Ill Bell.
Haweswater from Mardale Ill Bell – You can see the volcanic columns
Nan Bield Pass below Harter Fell
Small Water above Haweswater reservoir.
Nan Bield Pass – a stiff walk up to Harter Fell
Nan Bield Pass and the walk up to Harter Fell didn’t look to bad until we got a bit closer, then you realise that it is a fair old haul up to the top. You zigzag along up and over some rocky patches, but all the time having good views of the surrounding fells, the tarns and Haweswater to the north. LW told me about the eagle that flies around Rough Crag, but he wasn’t coming out to play today. The only birdlife today was a few skylarks and wagtails, the game bird we saw earlier carrying the pack, and the lesser clothed wife we met coming down from Kentmere Pike. The shelter on the pass had only three walls, with the open end to the north east. There was an escape route that we could have used had my knee got worse, but thankfully by this time it had eased off and I was able to stagger onwards and upwards.
Ill Bell high above the Kentmere reservoir
The shelter at Nan Bield Pass, looking north to Mardale Common
Small Water, Riggindale and Rough Crag beyond – no Eagle today
Looking back to Nan Bield Pass, Mardale Ill Bell, High Street, and Froswick.
Up towards Harter Fell – I think!
The view back from Kentmere Pike to Harter Fell and beyond.
The way ahead, follow the wall towards Shipmans Knott
Wait for me, LW….come back…..
We made the top of Harter Fell in good time and continued over the grassy tops towards Kentmere Pike. We met another couple here who were asking instructions how to get further along. Their Scotty dog refused point blank to climb up on the stile for a picture, so we left them to it and marched on. Thankfully the dry weather had made the worst of the boggy bits easily passable today. It was on our way down from Kentmere Pike that we met a strange creature – no not Bertie the Beetle, resplendent in orange and green – but a couple who could have been straight out of ‘The last of the summer wine’. He was striding ahead with vest in one hand and water bottle in the other (I don’t recall him having a backpack on), followed 30 yards later by his companion. She was looking rather pink faced, was carrying a pack and had stripped down to her turquoise bra (she had other clothes on as well). We said our ‘hellos’ and carried on down the hill, then turned to each other and said “I hope it doesn’t get any warmer!”
Begorrah its Bertie the Beetle.
Looking back up to Kentmere Pike
Shipman Knotts in the distance. Not too boggy here.
I want a wall up here and across there…are you really a nutter?
Then it was on to Shipman Knotts, not the sort of place you want to read about at the doctor’s surgery. The top of this was very indistinct, but LW had his GPS and bagged the picture, so I just copied him and named it thus. We followed a fairly distinct path down alongside the stone walls and we could have carried on down the end of the ridge to meet up with a path to Stile End. But we cut the corner off and steered downhill to Stile End the hard way!
Past Shipmans Knotts – all downhill from here
Follow the wall down towards Stile End
Kentmere down in the valley below a lot of Knotts – Cowsty, Scale, Saletarn
A grand vista all around the Kentmere Round
A very neat barn at Stile End
An erratic waiting for an unwary sheep to come past..
The Kentmere Round has its own beauty
Neat walls….mind that rock…oh never mind then.
Back to the church….a grand day out….no you can’t go through the graveyard
Once we were down on the lower slopes, the views along the Kentmere valley opened up and it was a joy to see the whole of the route we had walked today. We passed onto farm tracks and crossed a few fields back towards the church. Down in the valley the walls resumed their crazy direction – up and over anything that was in the way. I’m sure if the dry-stone wallers were out and about today, you better watch out where you parked the car! A great day out and much thanks to LW for a really enjoyable walk, good company all day, and an area I will come back to for the views and the peace. But ladies….keep your clothes on please….walking…it’s Brilliant