I've no idea why this walk popped into my head a few months ago, but the idea of doing Kentmere Horseshoe from Mardale Head just felt right. I'm planning on doing some winter stuff in Scotland in the new year so 16 miles and 6000ft of ascent would be ideal for lifting my fitness levels.
In hindsight, taking the old water board road (short cut) Sebastien Loeb fashion, may not have been the best idea I've ever had. This road is nearly always empty and the lines of sight are fantastic, however some of the pot holes are so deep they have Chilean miners living in them. I managed to hit a particularly deep one smack in the middle, and after a quick game of field, valley , road , field, valley, road I came to a standstill. One tyre down and 15 minutes later I was back on the road. 50 miles at 50 mph temporary spare tyres are good for, I kept to the ratios on the way home later as I live 80 miles away .
A sorry looking spare
I parked up at Mardale Head and after a good old faff I headed of 40 minutes late to climb up to Harter Fell. The weather was glorious but there was a definite chill in the wind as I gained height, I could hear the hindsight police in my head saying 'you should have brought your buff'. I quite like cold foreheads and runny noses though. I headed over Kentmere Pike and onto Shipman Knotts which gave a great views back down the valley.
I quite like it when I can see my destination and 'there it was' quite clearly in the distance, the poorly rendered church in Kentmere. The great thing about seeing your destination is you don't need a map .
Now in hindsight checking a map might have been a good idea and following the quad bike tracks probably wasn't the whizzer choice it should have been. As the tracks ran out I followed a few sheep tracks and as they ran out I looked for signs of life. After a slight meander to avoid walls, dogs, keep out notices and barbed wire I found myself on the road to Kentmere. Its got a really lovely valley too
The farmer had opened his field so in hindsight parking wouldn't have been a problem and a traditional Kentmere would have worked well....especially as it has a really good flat road leading to it!.........I went through the village and climbed Garburn Pass where I stopped for a swift lunch. It was at this point I suddenly realised I had all the really hard work ahead of me to get to the top of High Street. You have to wonder why the Romans built a road up here, I'd have gone 10 miles east where the M6 is..pillocks.
It was a gorgeous afternoon and sheltered from the breeze I played hill spotting..........feel free to reproduce for dull moments at work. A packet of fruit pastilles to whoever can name the most.
The ground by the wall was quite boggy and the climbing was pretty tough, I did remember to look back though. That's Windermere
I was also taking some rests now and using the patented 'oh I just need another photo' trick. .
I think this one is looking across to Mardale Bell
And this ones looking back down Kentmere.
Now the slog up to High Street started, with the wind in my face and my legs starting to burn I took drastic action and went for the midget gems. Now in hindsight it's really obvious that this route would have been much easier the other way around. ie don't finish by climbing to the top of this particular range and then head off down a steep ridge . The thing is when you have to get back to your car there is no option. Teeth gritted I made it to the top. And then headed off down this little beauty, Riggindale Crag
I was aiming for the trees on the lake in the mid left of the picture, my legs however were heading nowhere fast. Having stormed around the rest of the horseshoe in just over 5 hours, it took me just under 2 hours to descend safely with plenty of rests. I really wouldn't recommend going off this way in the wet as there are some unavoidable smooth slabs and rocks. The good news was that I had fantastic views of the lake all the way down in late afternoon sunshine
I don't often walk by myself these days and it was interesting to try it again, but I think I prefer the company and the laughs, rather than the nonsense that goes through my head. If the hindsight police had been in charge I probably wouldn't have done this route today but I absolutely loved every minute.
For the record 16.4 miles and 5815 ft ascent, now where did I put that ralgex?