Wednesday 6th June was a time of celebration for Frances and me. We had just enjoyed the day walking the Kentmere Horseshoe, one of the classic Lakeland Walks. Furthermore, we had visited the summits of Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts which meant that we had completed the Wainwrights on three or more occasions.

Area], Alfred wainwright’s Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland fells – Book 2 [The Far Eastern Fells] and this website is helpful with map and photo’s.

You’ll need to travel the to the hamlet of Kentmere, 40+ miles from Cockermouth, via Staveley, near Kendal. Set off early and I suggest a weekday if you can. Parking at Kentmere is difficult – near the Village Hall and St. Cuthbert’s Church. I counted ten cars parked in the small area available at around 4.00pm. I understand that a field is made available for parking occasionally but don’t depend on it.

Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick

So, what is the Kentmere Horseshoe? Sometimes called the Kentmere Round, it is one of the longest and remote walks in Lakeland. More than 12 miles and 4,000 feet of ascent. The challenge is to visit the summits of Yoke [2316 ft], Ill Bell [2484 ft], Froswick [2359 ft], Thornthwaite Crag [2569 ft], Mardale Ill Bell [2496 ft], Harter Fell [2552 ft], Kentmere Pike [2397 ft], Goat Scar [2054 ft] and Shipman Knotts [1926 ft].

I suggest walking the Horseshoe clockwise with the ascent up the western ridge via Yoke and the more gentle descent down the eastern ridge via Harter Fell. From St. Cuthbert’s Church, head west on Garburn Pass, for just more than a mile, through a gate to a wall on the right. Turn right here and ascend gradually for 2 miles to Yoke. The views to Troutbeck and beyond with Windermere to the south are great and keep you occupied during the steady climb. Reaching Yoke at 2316 feet gives you good feeling after the early hard work.

Shelter bench at Nan Bield Pass

SE and then E for just over a mile to Mardale Ill Bell, where Haweswater and Small Water come into view. Descend SE to the top of the Nan Bield Pass where you will find an enormous shelter/bench. Climb the 500 feet on the rocky steps and cairned path to the flat top of Harter Fell.

Small Water from Nan Bield Ridge Thornthwaite Crag Summit A dry Kentmere Reservoir

This walk should not be underestimated - it is difficult and is best done when you have significant fell walking experience behind you. Although the route is straightforward, your safety is the first thing to consider and then put a plan together and prepare all the kit that you might need that delivers a great walking experience. I suggest using OS Explorer Maps OL7 [The English Lakes, South East


Ill Bell and Froswick involve steady climbs of 300 feet and 285 feet, continuing north on a defined path. You’ll see the dry Kentmere Reservoir to the east. I understand that it was drained with storm damage some time ago. It was built in 1848 after the mill owners on the banks of River Kent decided that they needed a regular and regulated supply of water to drive their water wheels.

Continue NW and then N, 480 feet of ascent to Thornthwaite Crag – one of my favourite locations in Lakeland with the most distinctive cairns anywhere - Thornthwaite Beacon at 14 feet high. It occupies a commanding position overlooking 4 valleys. From here is a distinct change of direction,

At this point you feel as though you are on the homeward leg but there is still almost 5 miles to go. A gentle descent south now on grass to Kentmere Pike with only 150 feet of ascent to the summit. Onwards SE, then S to Shipman Knotts via Goat Scar. On our walk, we visited Goat Scar for the first time - the views of Sadgill and Longsleddale were superb. Shipman Knotts, although the lowest summit at 1926 feet, was special to us and was worthy of a celebration of a journey that we had been on for a few years. The walk back to Kentmere from Shipman Knotts is a little more than 2 miles.

Although we had undertaken a hard walk, we had enjoyed one of the best Lakeland walks we had ever experienced.

Explore and discover! Stan

ISSUE 427 | 19 JULY 2018 | 19

Kentmere Horseshoe

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