Harter Fell (Mardale) via Wren Gill Quarry

3rd June 2012

It’s not all about good photos… these six words I had on repeat for the whole of this walk, oh & my own three hour rendition of Hotel California by the Eagles, including stretched guitar solos…

Its funny what can happen in a week isn’t it? exactly to the hour, one week ago I was worried about de-hydrating & applying sun lotion whilst on the Scafells. Today, I shall be applying warm gloves over sunburnt fingers, & a warm hat to keep the freezing chill of my sunburnt noggin.

This, a walk I hastily but together 24hrs previous, the more I watched the weather report the darker it sank – I told myself, thou shall enjoys todays walk because its not all about this here site & fancy photos, dig deep, do some soul searching & this shall help while your wipers are about to leave the windscreen whilst squinting in a downpour to see the white lines that divide the three lanes of the M6.

Ok, I admit, when I saw the weather report this morning I had to dig deep, with rising fuel costs did I really have to null around an old quarry, battered by the rain & nothing, absolutely nothing but cloud as far as the eye could see, I mean Paul really?

Damn right I did…


Wainwright Guidebook

The Far Eastern Fells

The Far Eastern Fells;  Dedicated To The Men Who Built The Stone Walls.

The broad wedge of lonely upland country rises from the valley of the Kent at Burnside and continues north, narrowing, between the valleys of Kentmere and Longsleddale for nine miles; until, having very gradually attained its maximum height on Harter Fell, the ground suddenly collapse in a tremendous wall of crags, falling swiftly to the head of Mardale amongst wild and romantic surroundings – one of the noblest mountain scenes in the District.

This northern face is Harter Fell’s chief glory, for here, too, a shelf cradles Small Water, which is the finest of Lakeland tarns in my opinion of many qualified to judge: seen in storm, the picture is most impressive and awe-inspiring.



Ascent: 2, 300 Feet, 702 Metres
Wainwrights: 3, Harter Fell (Mardale) Kentmere Pike & Shipman Knotts
Weather: Shower’s & Overcast With Fresh Strong Gust, Cloud Base Down To 600 Metres, Highs Of 11°C Lows of 8°C Feels Like 3°C On Tops
Parking: Road Side Parking, Sadgill, Longsleddale
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 8.7
Walking With: On my own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 3Hrs 30 Minutes
Route: Sadgill, Longsleddale – Wren Gill Quarry – Adam Seat – Harter Fell (Mardale) – Kentmere Pike  – Goat Scar – Shipman Knotts – Longsleddale Pass – Sadgill

Map and Photo Gallery



St Marys Church (1863) Longsleddale.

I couldn’t resist a quick stop as I drove past one of Lakelands most rural churches.

Built on the site of an older Chapel St Marys only exist today through the kind hearts of the Longsleddale folk, without their kind contributions, the church would have fell to ruin, here the church sports a brand new roof & interior fittings.


Low Sadgill Farm from the pack horse bridge that crosses the River Sprint.

8°C 7:32am

Its only took me an hour & a half by car to reach the beautiful hamlet of Sadgill Longsleddale, but in this time I was met by severe down-pours north along the M6, whilst most of the country slept, I was here second guessing myself in that; are the weather folks going to get this one correct? In this, it would mean I actually leave my home town of Wigan, drive north through heavy rain & arrive in the far east of Lakeland, where not a drop of rain had fell over night?

I know we call the weather services, especially as the bank holiday looms when someone upstairs has turned the lights off, but yes, they got it right. The rain stopped as predicted on the Lancashire / Cumbrian border, now there’s a turn up for the books…

But, its not going to last, so I best get a move on.


Goat Scar (L) & Buckbarrow Crag (R) from the track.

The Gatescarth Pass lies ahead but there’s quite a bit of ground to cover until I reach it. The cloud remains high but I don’t know for how long, at this point I would be tremendously happy if I reach the summit of Harter Fell before the rain came, but I just know this may never happen.

I don the gloves & hat so early, & so low into the walk, as a biting wind shifts its way down the valley, here I mistake my presence in Longsleddale for the middle of November, instead, at the beginning of June.


Looking back along the track with a couple of miles now under the belt.


The waterfalls where Wren Gill & the River Sprint converge.


The start of Gatescarth Pass.

The track varies in pitch, here the track underfoot is a delight to walk over, yet lower down its cumbersome & many a walker have taken to the grass verges swapping occasionally from left to right & visa versa, I couldn’t help but wander at the many dales folk & not to mention the quarry ponies who had to travel it everyday to earn their keep or indeed their hay.


Steel Rigg & Steel Pike as I cross this small pack horse bridge & a rather infant River Sprint.


Brownhowe Bottom & Selside Brow (Branstree) as I prepare to leave the pass for Wren Gill quarry.


Wren Gill & Wren Gill Quarry.

I was pretty unsure about leaving the path for the quarry as I knew from this point I was on borrowed time, It was just how much time I had to borrow was the question?


Wren Gill.

I took this photo looking down on Wren Gill, it oozes destruction with the river bed littered with huge boulders that have left the mine workings, not to mention the odd…



Wren Gill quarry operated throughout the 1830’s & quarried as you can see along this river bed, fine Blue Slate. I could only look on in awe at the fact that the sheer brut of water & no doubt storms have carried this boiler from its hoist & along the river bed? How many men do you think it would have taken to do the same?


Continuing through the quarry.


An old quarry tub lies abandoned to the elements.

This tub at one point would run on track conveying the slate to & forth from the quarry.


Lost in time…


Brownhowe Bottom from Wren Gill quarry.


An old rusty pipeline from which water was carried from a reservoir & a Dam higher above the quarry.


I carry on through the quarry when after a short while I come across what I think used to be a pump house.


And this old compression engine.

I try to identify the engine looking for any serial numbers but come to no avail. Six water jackets surround the pistons just like they do to this day in any modern day car, I can identify the cylinder block, the oil strainer, crankshaft, big end bearings & the flywheel, & if you look real close the pistons & the gudgeon pins are also visible – take away the microchips & nothing much has changed in this engine as to the one under the bonnet of your car.


More debris litters the river bed.


Nearing the head of the quarry when Wren Gill can be heard as it cascades down this waterfall only to disappear into a pothole & then reappear lower down the quarry.


Looking across to the dam & the weir that fed the pipeline.

Directly above in the mist is Kentmere Pike summit, I shall be on its summit later in the walk but for now its a steep pull up to Adam Seat summit.


Adam Seat looms out of the mist…

I have put off the inevitable for too long, so just beneath the summit I de-shoulder pack in the wind & rain & put on my waterproof over trousers, I struggle with the zips a wee while as the wind try’s its best to take my waterproofs out of my grip.

This was the given scene for the duration of the rest of the walk, it turned out to be bliss.


Adam Seat summit with its boundary marker H


And L on the reverse.

You will have to research long & hard to find out who’s names they were!

I press on…


Following the fence.

Directly behind the summit of Adam Seat runs this fence, I use it as a guide as it will lead me all the way to the Gatescarth Pass & indeed Harter Fell (Mardale)

I just have to climb over the sty first


While on the trail towards Harter Fell, I pass this walker with a solitary ‘Morning’ Oh its great to be British.


Harter Fell (Mardale) summit cairn.


In search of something…

It is here I came to realise that just how much I was enjoying this walk, with me, the sheep & Hotel California for company what you see in the picture was just what was going on in my head…

I guess its been a while since I found myself in seclusion such as this, & even If I think back to February of this year when I found myself in such circumstances – back then I had company.

Today as I walk the fells in this low flung cloud, voiding every feature within thirty metres, I am in walking heaven, I care not to see the whole III Bell Ridge, nor the blissful Small Water or my favourite fell of them all, High Street.

I am happy to keep the trigger off the camera, it can get wet with me tucked away in its case, the camera takes away so much focus & I am its number one culprit at times, its only when you are forced to keep it in its case-do you then realise that’s its not all about websites, blogs & pictures.

Its for scenes such as this.


Kentmere Pike summit trig point.

You must remember to climb over the wall to get to the trig point – as I didn’t on my first visit & had to track back a hundred metres or so

I climb back over the wall here using the stones provided, its sure blowing a royal hooly as I now make off into the cloud in search of Goat Scar.


Goat Scar (L) & Shipman Knotts (R)

Well, I say farewell to the cloud as I descend Kentmere Pike summit in search of Goat Scar, a new summit & a summit I said I will return to given the opportunity.

Despite the conditions on any other day this trek would be frailt with bog & moss, but today the bogs are still starved of moisture & bare the cracks of a distant heat wave.


Longsleddale from Goat Scar summit cairn.


Upper Longsleddale with Branstree & Harter Fell still under cloud.

The track I used this morning can be seen running through the centre of the valley, along with the River Sprint.


Shipman Knotts, my last summit as I leave Goat Scar.


With my own contribution to the summit cairn, Shipman Knotts.


Looking back on Shipman Knotts as I head for the Longsleddale Pass.

It is here I start to meet walkers on their way up to the summit, with pleasantry good mornings & a few ‘what’s it like up there’ I of course pass on my mornings experiences.

I pass a walker with his son just after I took this photo, they tell me they are doing the Kentmere Round & has a wild camp based in Small Water (Mardale) I try to not give it much thought as he tells me ‘there’s nothing like waking up in a morning with the cloud four feet above your tent!’ We share a laugh.

I may have missed something here, but this guys route has got me puzzled, oh well…


Wray Crag from the cairn marking the top of the Longsleddale Pass.

The Longsleddale Pass is an old pack horse path that links the valleys of Kentmere with the valley of Longsleddale, I’ve used this pass before to get down to Kentmere but never to descend onto the Longsleddale valley so I was quite looking forward to this short walk back to Sadgill.


Grey Crag & Tarn Crag (Longsleddale) as I descend the path.


Sadgill Wood from the pass.

It was with great joy the last half hour of the walk, not only was I content in holstering the camera a wee while, was I treated to views such as this, when of course, I had to have my finger back firmly on the trigger.

This walk & indeed the Longsleddale Pass was a great way to end the walk where you started, just ahead & through the trees lies, sadly’ the hustle of badly parked cars & barking dogs, a million miles away from whence I had left it not just under four short hours ago.

Longsleddale is sadly a valley opening up to tourism & its me who is to blame. I read that this track is commonly used by 4×4 vehicles & although I am a man of the motor industry cloth. Not on my watch…

Lets go back to Postman Pat, a children’s program that started in the eighties, of which I was hugely fond of (Its a bloke thing) even as a teenager, I don’t mind to admit, my mum used to still tape it for me when I got in from High School.

I didn’t know that Postman Pat’s little hamlet of Greendale was based upon Longsleddale

Did You?


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