Walk 1109 - printer friendly version
Harter Fell & Nan Bield Pass from Mardale Head Walk
Author - Lou Johnson
Length - 4.5 miles / 7.3 km
Ascent - 1800 feet / 545 metres
Grade - moderate
Start - OS grid reference NY468107
Lat 54.488834 + Long -2.8227468
Postcode LA8 9JN (approx. location only)
This is a short walk ideal for a morning or afternoon excursion into the Lakeland Fells. As on this occasion it is also ideal for a window of good weather on an otherwise poor day. The start is the small carpark at the western end of Haweswater Reservoir (Grid ref. NY468107) and includes a relatively easy ascent of Harter Fell (the Mardale version not the Eskdale variety!) with a superb walk down from Nan Bield Pass back to the start.
After parking take the track signed Gatescarth Pass. This bridleway heads roughly south-east climbing easily with the steep crags of Harter Fell rising on your right and the smoother slopes of Branstree on your left. During the climb it is worth looking back as the view across Mardale to the High Street Fells improves as you climb with Rough Crag and the Long Stile ridge dominating the picture.
Reaching the summit of Gatescarth Pass turn right continuing to climb. The path skirts Little Harter Fell before steepening somewhat to gain height more rapidly. Just after the path turns left the view down into Mardale is superb although many people intent on reaching the summit miss it completely!
The summit of Harter Fell is not very inspiring being rather too flat to offer a great view. The descent to Nan Bield Pass is cairned and begins heading west from the summit cairn. It is a steep descent in places offering an excellent view across the pass to Mardale Ill bell and beyond. Down to your right Small Water comes into view with larger Blea Water to its left under the eastern crags of High Street.
Reaching the stone shelter at Nan Bield Pass turn right and follow the clear path that descends to the shores of Small Water. This is superb Lakeland scenery with many crags and interesting mountain cameos. Cross Small Water Beck as it leaves the tarn and follow it down past some small but beautiful waterfalls. All too soon you are back at Mardale Head. Before leaving take a look back to Harter Fell and admire the crags - it is one Lakeland view that's certainly worth a second look .....