Date - 24th May 2016 Distance - 6.25 miles
Ascent -
Map - OL5 Start point - Mardale Head (NY 4695 1073)


Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Rough Crag 2060 628 NY 4542 1124
High Street 2718 828 NY 4407 1104
Mardale Ill Bell 2496 761 NY 4476 1011



It was Monday and we were having a quiet afternoon, Dad and Uncle Brian being at Elaine's Tearooms at Feizor, as usual.

Looking up from his Cumbria magazine, Allen saw Shaun, Grizzly and Little Eric coming into the room. "Ooh great, tea!"

"And cakes", called out Southey, who went with Tetley to get the plates and mugs.

"I'll help pour the tea", volunteered Tetley.

"Thanks pal", replied Shaun.

What are the cakes?", asked Southey.

Little Eric has made mincemeat slice, while I have done cherry and ginger scones, with butter and raspberry jam", responded Grizzly.

So we all settled down.

"The scones are absolutely delicious", said Tetley.

"As is the mincemeat slice", went on Allen.

"Thanks pal", replied Little Eric. "I saw that Dad has a day down to walk with Uncle Eric tomorrow. Is the forecast good?"

Allen was quick to navigate to the Met Office page on the iPad, saying, "Yes. It starts off very sunny but will cloud up a bit."

"I wonder if we can walk in the Lakes. It is so long since we had a proper walk there?", mused Grizzly.

"I recall last time that Uncle Eric said he had just two fells to climb to complete Book 2", voiced Tetley. "They are High Street and Mardale Ill Bell."

"The latter is one I have to bag, too", said Little Eric.

"Right then we need to plan the route", went on Allen.

"That's easy", said Shaun. "Start at Mardale Head, then climb the ridge over Rough Crag and up to High Street, then east over Mardale Ill Bell and on down to Nan Bield Pass. Then to complete the circle descend via Small Water."

"We have all been up the ridge over Rough Crag", remarked Tetley, "but that day we then walked to Kidsty Pike, High and Low Raise and so down to the Haweswater."

"Yes that was quite a day and we bagged a few more Birketts too", replied Allen.

"Not all of us have been up that ridge", stated Southey. "It will all be new to me."

"I know pal", agreed Tetley.

"So let's keep our paws crossed that Dad and Uncle Eric will agree with our suggestion", prayed Little Eric.


The Walk

On the glorious morning we were up early to get the picnic packed and stowed in Allen's rucksack. Then settled in the car, Dad drove us to Uncle Eric's, where we decamped to his car for the rest of the journey.

Taking the A6 we drove to Shap, for the turn off to Bampton, only to find the road was closed.

"Oh heck", called out Little Eric, "what are we to do now?"

"I can only think we have to go via Askham?" replied Uncle Eric.

This was indeed the case as indicated by the diversion signs. In Askham a road led south through Helton and Butterwick, to join the road to Haweswater and along the reservoir to the car park at its head.

Here the scene is dominated by, Harter Fell...

..and to the right Mardale Ill Bell, which was to be our last summit today.

"Is that the way we come down, to the left of Mardale Ill Bell?", asked Southey.

"Yes pal", replied Shaun.

"But there does not seem to be any path", said Southey.

"Well, be assured there is", said Grizzly. "We came down that way after climbing to Harter Fell and taking in a couple of Birketts, including Adam's Seat that is alphabetically the first."

"That was back in June 2010", went on Tetley. "We climbed the steep winding track to Gatesgarth Pass where the mist was down making finding the summits a little more difficult."

Today it started with cloudless skies but the cloud was to roll in from about midday. Cool on the tops in the easterly wind that got up.

While we were looking at the scene Dad and Uncle Eric were getting ready, Dad calling out, "come on Lads time to settle in the rucksack."

We did not need a second asking and then off we went. The route is through a gate by which is this original direction sign, dating from the creation of the reservoir in the 1930s, to supply the people of Manchester. M. C. W. W. refers to Manchester Corporation Water Works. The reservoir is now under the control of United Utilities.

Shaun said, "our route is the fellside track along the shore".

This, after the gate, was right, soon crossing Mardale Beck by the footbridge and then right again along the shore towards the tree clad promontory of The Rigg, being the lowest part of the ridge we were to climb.

Allen said, "I remember that we do not need to go all the way to The Rigg, as there is a steep narrow angled path off left to gain the ridge."

Uncle Eric spotted this and soon we were climbing. Now often on such paths, a rise is crested only to find there is yet another before the top, but on this path when the top came into view it was indeed the ridge.

"Wow", cried Southey. "What a quite breathtaking view of Haweswater!"

It was here that we met a gentleman who was doing a similar walk to us but also taking in Harter Fell. As we were chatting he spotted Uncle Eric's copy of Wainwright, commenting that he would like to get copies of the original. Uncle Eric's is one of the very earliest when the price was 7/6 (37p); they now cost about £13. As he sent off he said "probably see you later." Bearing in mind he was only 47, we doubted this and indeed he soon disappeared from sight.

So we too started the ascent, the path never being in doubt. It was scrambly in places as it wound its way over Swine Crag, Heron Crag & Eagle Crag. It took a while as Uncle Eric cannot go very fast on the ascents, so when we got a bit ahead we waited patiently for him.

At one of the stops, Allen said, "there is a good shot of the track that snakes up to Gatesgarth Pass.

"It's steeper than it looks too", commented Dad.

Further on the view opened out to the right. "That's Kidsty Pike", said Tetley. "That last time we were at its summit was when we climbed this ridge for the first time in May 2010."

Finally the bulk that was Rough Crag was before us and after a bit of a scramble level ground was reached and the summit cairn came into view, with High Street behind.

"Yippee", cried Southey, "that is a bag for me. Come on pals, time for our picture."

We should also add that Uncle Eric bagged this summit too.

Surveying the scene before us, Shaun said, "the path now descends to the grassy dell of Caspel Gate and then we are faced with the final steep climb of Long Stile on to the wide flat top of High Street, marked by a cairn that can just be seen."

"Oh dear", said Southey, "it does look hard."

"Never fear", replied Allen. "Dad has done it before and he will not let us down today."

As Dad started the final push, to our left there was a grand view of the corrie tarn of Blea Water, nestling below Mardale Ill Bell. It has the distinction of being the deepest in the Lake District, at 206ft (63m). Its depth is only exceeded by Wastwater and Windermere.

The last steep section was very eroded and covered in loose stone and we were all glad to reach the cairn and get to the grassy top. From here it was just a relatively short stroll left to the trig point. Another bag for Uncle Eric and Southey, and we were quick to sit here again for our picture.

"The views are wonderful", remarked Southey.

"Yes" agreed Tetley, "Away to the north that is the Solway Firth and way down south we can see Blackpool Tower, with in between the Coniston Fells, Scafells, Great Gable, Blencathra to name but a few."

Getting settled again, we set off to the left of the wall then drifting left and down to the surfaced path that runs between Mardale Ill Bell and Thornthwaite Crag.

Allen and been lucky so far in that there had not been any opportunity for Dad to take sheep pictures, but along here his luck ran out.

Turning left, Little Eric said excitedly, "there's the summit of Mardale Ill Bell. Not far now Uncle Eric, for you to complete Book 2."

"Yes lad", he replied, "but it is just not a very dramatic summit."

Soon the cairn was reached and we again jumped out to have our picture taken.

"That is quite and interesting view of Haweswater, Dad", said Grizzly. "The two stretches divided by the ridge over Rough Crag."

From the summit the path was followed descending to Nan Bield Pass. "I'm getting hungry", complained Allen.

"I agree lad, it is time to think about stopping for lunch, but we need to try and find somewhere that is sheltered from the wind", replied Dad.

The path wound on passing at one point a large boulder, Dad saying, "this will do."

Agreeing Uncle Eric said, "yes it will."

We got settled in the lea of the boulder and Allen slipped his rucksack off. Then we tucked into the sandwiches cake and tea.

"Mmm, that's better", said Little Eric contentedly.

"Quite", agreed Allen.

Ready and settled again, we then continued on the descent towards Nan Bield, this lovely view of Small Water and Haweswater before us.

"There Southey you can see the path we will take, skirting the left side of Small Water.", pointed out Shaun.

A few minutes later our attention was drawn to the right with this dramatic view of Yoke, Ill Bell and the Kentmere Reservoir.

The path now swung left and seeing the shelter, Shaun called out, "almost at Nan Bield."

Going across in front of the shelter is the ascent to Harter Fell, while sharp right a path descends to Kentmere. Our route was left down the rough, rocky and steep path that winds its way to Small Water.

We passed this ewe and lamb sitting contentedly, and once again to Allen's chagrin, Dad was able to snap off a picture.

At the far end of the tarn the path crosses the outfall, Small Water Beck, and for a while continues close to the beck, where at one point is this pretty waterfall.

"Worth a picture?", suggested Little Eric.

Then it swung away, to eventually reach a gate in the wall and on an easier gradient continue to the start, with yet another fine view of Haweswater before us.

"That was truly a grand day out", cheered Tetley.

"Aye", agreed Allen, "and it is great to be back walking the Lakeland Fells!"

"Absolutely lad", agreed Uncle Eric.

"Congratulations too, on completing Book 2, Uncle Eric", said Southey.

"Thank you."


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