Lake District Walk
A shorter Kentmere Horseshoe
Walk Route Description
The Kentmere Horseshoe is one of the great Lake District high level walks and includes a large number of Wainwrights. This route is a shorter version and includes only the first three summits before returning along the valley to the start. Where appropriate I have noted optional extensions that may be made to this shorter route leaving a description of the complete horseshoe to another time.
The start is the bridge over the River Kent in the village of Kentmere (Grid ref. NY458040). Parking is now available in the village and a bus service is available from Staveley, Windermere and Kendal. From the bridge walk up the lane with the church on your right. The lane continues uphill and becomes a track signed to Garburn Pass. Continue on this track to reach Garburn Pass (Grid ref. NY 434044) where you turn right onto a clear path running north to Yoke, the first summit of the day. Once you are at the summit, the views across the Lake District Fells can be enjoyed.
The path climbs steadily at first and does include a few 'soggy' sections before the gradient steepens as the summit is neared. The views are already excellent and ahead you can see the onward route to the next 'top', namely Ill Bell, which should not be confused with Mardale Ill Bell passed later. Descend to the col and tackle the 300 feet of ascent to reach Ill Bell from where the next descent and re-ascent can be seen towards Froswick.
All three summits have craggy eastern faces overlooking Kentmere Reservoir that contrast with the smoother, grassy western facing slopes. After another 250 feet of ascent Froswick's summit is reached and most of the ascent is now over. Before continuing it is worth looking north towards Thornthwaite Beacon to get some idea of the lie of the land.
Descend from Froswick towards Thornthwaite Beacon and start the climb out from the broad col. After approximately 100 metres fork right on a less clear and narrow path (Grid ref. NY 433095). This path contours around Gavel and Bleathwaite Crags to rejoin the main path near Mardale Ill Bell (Grid ref. NY 445101). This quieter route effectively by-passes Thornthwaite Beacon, which could be included as an optional extension. If you find this narrow path hard to follow then return to the main path and head over Thornthwaite Beacon instead.
Rejoining the main path descend to Nan Bield Pass (Grid ref. NY 452095). Turn right (south) and descend into the valley on a clear path that drops steadily across the western slopes of Harter Fell. Generally the path descends gently although there is one steeper section before the valley floor is reached (Grid ref. NY 458064). Follow the developing track south to Overend where you turn right off the track on a signed footpath that shadows the River kent south.
This path exits into a lane (Grid ref. NY 461044). Turn right along the lane and right again at the next junction to descend to the bridge and start of the walk.
Please maintain social distancing - keep at least 2 metres away from other walkers. Travel restrictions for exercise in Wales and Scotland will be lifted in early July.
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Recommended Books & eBooks
Lake District: High Level and Fell Walks
This guidebook describes 30 graded fell walks on the ridges and high peaks of the English Lake District, the UK's most popular national park. Reaching some of England's finest and highest mountain scenery, this guide leads readers to classic horseshoes and traditional ascents as well as lesser-known routes to quieter summits.