Walk Report: Kentmere Round

Date: 5th May 2008
Stats: 13.0 miles, 3900 feet
Weather: Glorious sunny day, some wind on tops, hazy beyond a mile or so
Trig Points: 2: TP0963 – High Street, TP4166 – Kentmere Pike
Wainwrights: 9: Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts
Other Info: Car parking for 10 cars max in Kentmere village, no toilets
Summary: Kentmere, Garburn Pass, Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Mardale Ill Bell, Nan Bield, Harter Fell, Kentmere Pike, Shipman Knotts, Stile End, Kentmere


Key to symbols:
= Trig Point     = Wainwright Summit

The Far Eastern fells are so accessible that I returned to this well-trodden section of the Lakes for today’s walk. Although I have done all these summits previously, I hadn’t joined them all together to complete this classic Lakeland day walk. Not satisfied with the usual 7 Wainwright’s on the Kentmere Round, I modified it ever so slightly and included an extra 2 to make it the biggest Wainwright day I have done so far. In his “Fellwalking with Wainwright” book, the author suggests avoiding the steep final ascent to Harter Fell from Nan Bield in favour of contouring across the face of the fell towards The Knowe. I included this short ascent and also added a minor detour to visit High Street – one of my favourite places in this part of the Lakes.

I risked the awkward and uncomfortable day you could spend walking with a stranger, by inviting Rambling Pete to join me on today’s walk. He lives quite close to me and on the way to the Lakes and I’ve enjoyed his recent walking journals so much I thought it worth taking the chance 🙂 There was no awkwardness though and it felt like we’d been walking together for ages. I can’t speak for Pete, but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

We left early, in order to ensure a parking spot in Kentmere village. I’ve not been there before, but I’d checked out the parking possibilities on Google Earth and they didn’t look very extensive. I always prefer an early start anyway. As it was we got one of the 8-10 possible parking places opposite the ugly looking church; the only place where parking isn’t prohibited by many official and unofficial “No Parking” signs around the village.

Kentmere is a lovely, wide, green valley and the buildings in the village are all stone built and lovely. All except the church that is. It’s an astonishingly ugly building, rendered in some dreadful plaster by what must have been a trainee or apprentice plasterer. Not a good example of rural ecclesiastical architecture.

The Kentmere Round
The Garburn Pass road winds upwards

The day was gloriously warm and for the first time this year I managed to walk with shorts (or rather 3/4 lengths) and shirt without a fleece. I carried both a sun hat and woolly hat and gloves – such is the unpredictability of the English weather. The distant views (anything over a mile or so) were hampered by a brownish haze, so we weren’t going to get any beautiful panoramic shots today.

The Kentmere Round
Approaching Yoke with slow solo walker ahead, carrying a huge pack by the looks of it.

I was rather surprised to find anyone on the track ahead of us, as we’d set out so early from Kentmere. Even from a distance we could see that this walker was carrying a large pack and I guessed they’d wild camped somewhere nearby and had made an early start to the day.

The Kentmere Round
The stone steps on the approach to Yoke

I’d forgotten the false summit these steps offer as you approach Yoke, once you crest the rise, there’s still about 1/4 of a mile of gentle incline ahead of you.

The Kentmere Round
The summit of Yoke, looking towards Ill Bell on the ridge ahead

We met up with the walker ahead of us as she rested on the summit cairn on Yoke. She was an older lady who must have almost been outweighed by her huge pack. She met us warmly and asked if we would take her photo. She said she wanted to send it to one of the sherpa’s who had walked with her when she was in Nepal recently. I couldn’t help but think that the Lakes (as splendid as they are) must have seemed something of an anti-climax after Annapurna and Everest Base Camp.

The Kentmere Round
Kentmere Reservoir

The haze hung in the air all day and made views like this a little disappointing, but at least the sun was shining and we weren’t getting wet.

The Kentmere Round
The southern most cairn on Ill Bell

The Kentmere Round
Cairn on Ill Bell, looking back to Yoke

The Kentmere Round
All three cairns on Ill Bell summit

The Kentmere Round
Looking ahead to Froswick and Thornthwaite Crag with the lump of High Street to the right

The Kentmere Round
Approaching Thornthwaite Beacon

The Kentmere Round
Hayeswater with Rest Dodd behind

There is a direct path from the beacon to Mardale Ill Bell and Wainwright’s walk description of this route will take you along that path, but I wanted to make the short detour to High Street, even though I’d been there only a couple of days earlier, on my last walk. The detour adds a couple of hundred feet of ascent and about 1/2 a mile or so, and its well worth the effort.

It’s a wonderfully barren spot, especially so when the wind is blowing and the rain is coming down. Today it was warm and calm, with just a slight breeze to cool us. The trig p
oint of course is something of a magnet for me. Surprisingly, for a Lakeland trig, its not stone built, but concrete and if there’s anything that is in good supply on the top of High Street then its stones.

We met a guy approaching the summit at the same time as us – remember its sunburn weather and we’re in shorts – he was in full length trousers with bright red knee gaiters and sunhat. He was also in the process of donning his waterproof as we departed! I wonder what he walks in when its cold and wet?

The Kentmere Round
The gloriously barren summit of High Street

The Kentmere Round
Ill Bell ridge from the path between High Street and Mardale Ill Bell

The Kentmere Round
Pete on the summit of Mardale Ill Bell

The Kentmere Round
Nan Bield Pass with Harter Fell behind

The Kentmere Round
Small Water and Haweswater from Nan Bield

The Kentmere Round
Kentmere Reservoir from Nan Bield

The Kentmere Round
Nan Bield Pass

The Kentmere Round
The shelter on Nan Bield Pass

The Kentmere Round
Small Water from Nan Bield

The Kentmere Round
The summit of Harter Fell

The Kentmere Round
Looking back to the summit of Kentmere Pike

The Kentmere Round
The Kentmere valley and today’s route around the tops

We followed a faint path that leaves the main path from Shipman Knotts, just before its arrival at Wray Crag and this took us down to Stile End. From here we had a great view of the whole of the Kentmere valley and all the tops we had visited during the day. The day was very warm now and I was glad I’d decided to fill my water bladder as full as possible.

The Kentmere Round
The only nice shot of Kentmere church is from a distance.

We returned to Kentmere village in the early afternoon, to a knot of cars clustered by the church and the welcome relief of the car’s air-conditioning system 🙂

lonewalker

Fell-walker, trig-pointer, peak-bagger, Wainwright-er & Pennine Way author, with a passion for long paths, malt whisky, fast cars & Man City

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3 Responses

  1. Colin Warner says:

    Hi Stuart, well not long now till the off for both of us. Fingers crossed I’ll be on the dumfries to Glasgow train on the saturday. Theres a direct showing about 10 to 2, 1 and half hours.yet the one 9 minutes later goes to Carlisle to get a coach 3 and half hours. Ok we know there’s work going on all over uk that weekend. Yet 2 hours later the same happens. 1 direct, 1 not. Go figure eh!!. Anyway enough with the waffling, reason for contacting, Stuart was my September plans are heading towards Getting off the train in Kendal and walking via Kentmere, Garburn Pass, High Street, Loadpot Hill and beyond, hopefully to somewhere up the Annandale way towards Lockerbie direction. Walking for 7 days anyway. This will be my first “off Piste” walking adventure, compared to WHW, CW and GGW which were somewhat known entities as in distances and daily targets. I’m taking tent etc and have mapped out my route on Memory map and know my route from Kendal to Kentmere is 11 miles, pretty flat. I’d like to tackle Garburn Pass at the end so that I can find somewhere suitable for wild camping. Next day I want to reach Ullswater via High street etc. When planning this route i googled and first one i opened was Rambling Pete’s blog of his first walk with you on Kentmere round which led me to your report lol. Anyway do you reckon these two days are reasonably sensible. primarily would you say i would be able to find a non “blatant” camping spot up Garburn or a little further? And is the next day achievable for someone who averages 2 and half miles an hour, which has been my average on every walk I’ve done so far. And I stop a million times going up an hill !!
    Cheers
    Colin

    • lonewalker says:

      Yes, getting close now, don’t want to think too much about the journey out to Stranraer, but it should be interesting 🙂 Have fun with your connections and best of luck!

      In terms of camping off the Garburn Road, I’ve no idea to be honest – just looked back at the photos I took on the walk with Pete and there appears to be some options once you leave the road and head across towards Buck Crag, you should probably find something as long as you don’t want perfectly flat. The next day towards Ullswater seems perfectly do-able, I’d certainly be happy attempting that with a full pack and I don’t even average 2.5mph any more when I’m backpacking. The hard bit (on the legs) is the roller-coaster across the Ill Bell ridge and up to the summit of High Street and it’s mostly easy walking from there on. Sounds like a great route through the Lakes! Hope the weather plays its part for you.

  2. Excellent description. I walked this route today, 9 August 2014, and the views were wonderful. I must add that Kentmere Pike was very boggy! The usual 4-seasons in 1 day Lakes summer’s day. Recommended for someone who wants a high-level route without facing a ridge where the exposure is uncomfortable (e.g. Striding/Sharp Edge!)

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