Lake District Walks
Selside Pike & Harter Fell
Date: 12th November 2006
Distance: 7.7 miles
Ascent: 2485 feet
Time: 4 hours 15 minutes
Start Grid Ref: NY469107
A walk visiting Selside Pike and Branstree, two of the less frequented fells in Mardale.
Route Summary: Mardale Head - Old Corpse Road - Selside - Branstree North East Top - Branstree - Gatescarth Pass - Harter Fell - Nan Bield Pass - Small Water - Mardale Head.
1. Harter Fell
2. Mardale Head
3. Dave climbing Selside Pike
4. High Street from Selside Pike
5. The summit of Selside Pike
6. The tarn on Branstree
7. The pillar on Branstree
8. Looking back at Selside Pike
9. Branstree's East Top
10. The cairn on Artle Crag
12. Small Water and Haweswater
Walk Detail: Upon arrival at Mardale Head the weather was overcast but the cloud was high enough. After the initial walk along a narrow path just above the reservoir we crossed the road and began a fairly steep climb out of the valley along the Corpse Road. Dave struggled a bit at this point but there was some ample compensation to be had of the splendid views back to Mardale Head backed by High Street. Surely this is one of the finest sights in the Lake District.
After the initial steepness there was a long flat stretch of terrain which was quite unlike Lakeland. This lasted until we reached the eastern ridge of Selside Pike from where we got some good views of Swindale. This last part of the climb was fairly easy, though Dave was pleased to find the summit cairn had been formed into a shelter so that he could have a break.
The climbs up to the two Branstree summits was very easy and the sun came out a bit to enable some good photos. The gap between the non-descript eastern top of Branstree and the main summit was quite interesting with an old tower and a couple of tarns. Just above was the rocky area of Artlecrag which contained some fine cairns, certainly finer than the summit cairn. However Branstree’s summit did have an ordnance survey ring which was quite unusual.
As it was still quite early and the weather had been okay we decided to add Harter Fell on to the day’s itinerary. After a long grassy plod down to Gatescarth Pass we began the climb up Harter Fell almost immediately. After some initial steepness the climbing was fairly easy with some good views east over Haweswater and back to Branstree.
Unfortunately it was at this point that the cloud came down which was a shame for Dave as he had not had any views on his last visit to Harter Fell. We did however stop and eat lunch at the same point I had back in January although this time I could see almost nothing. After eating we carried on to the summit but as it had started raining by this point we hurried on to begin our descent to the top of Nan Bield Pass.
Descending from Nan Bield we saw the first of a number of mountain bikers carrying their bikes up the rocky path via Small Water to then head downhill into Kentmere. The weather began to improve a bit again as we reached Small Water and shortly after the path got less rocky and slippery as well, enabling us to enjoy the final section of the walk.
While the weather wasn’t brilliant we both really enjoyed this walk and whatever people may think of the drowning of Mardale I think it is difficult to argue about Mardale Head being one of the most beautiful places in the country.