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Haweswater, Gatescarth Pass, Branstree, Selside Pike, Cumbria.
[11.0 km]  Fri 10 Aug 2018

Lat/Long: 54.500114, -02.805246
OS Grid ref:
NY 47948 11942
Set off in the car just after all 6 a.m. in torrential rain. After getting fuel I headed north on the M6 and thankfully the rain soon stopped and I was driving under mixed Skies. I left at Shap and drove through the lanes to Haweswater reservoir and then towards the car park at the far end. The roads were still very quiet and when I reached Whiteacre Craig I stopped in the small lay-by and walked across the road for the magnificent view of Haweswater and the fells.

Haweswater towards the car park

View from Whiteacre Crag

1987 film Withnail & I at the same location
The main reason I stopped here is that it was one of the filming locations for the 1987 film Withnail and I and I took a photo of the same view seen in the film. I drove a little further on but decided not to stay in the car park but used the long parking area at the bottom of the Old Corpse Road. As this is the end of my planned walk it made sense. I set off walking along the lane and was able to see the remains of walls and piles of rubble that used to be buildings in the village of Mardale Green. In the car park was a large skip and I couldn't figure out what it was for. The sky began to cloud over and I was expecting rain as it had been forecast.
Haweswater and what was Mardale Green

The last Golden Eagle Sep 2015

1995 drought
I set off up Gatescarth Pass which used to be a road access to the valley but now can only be negotiated with quad bikes or Land Rovers. A short way up across the field to the right was a large area of sheep fleeces which were piled quite high. I continued up the valley and it was a steady climb but soon the rain started. I stopped at the first gate and put my waterproofs on but within a short time the rain stopped. I decided to keep them on just in case.
The views were a little hazy but when I reached the summit of Gatescarth Pass I had a nice view down into Longsleddale on the south side. I turned left as my way was to head up Branstree and up to Artlecrag Pike. Unfortunately the first part means crossing are extremely wet and boggy patch of ground. I had to make a wide detour to stop getting my feet wet.
Sheep fleeces

Gatescarth Pass summit
Once across the track the going improved as it followed the old fence line. About 2/3 up I came to an old boundary stone marker with the carved letters H L. I continued to the wall near the summit then turn left to inspect the trig marker which is one of the few in Cumbria that isn't a post. It is a copper dome surrounded by a concrete ring.
Looking south towards Longsleddale

Boundary stone

Branstree Ordnance Survey trig point
I now had some lovely views as the cloudscapes were quite impressive. I followed a faint track to a tall cairn which was an ideal viewpoint down to Haweswater. After another tall cairn I crossed the fence and walked to the old stone survey pillar which is situated in a saddle. It appears to be a survey pillar for the Haweswater supply tunnel that leaves Haweswater Reservoir.
Cairn on Artle Crag

Survey pillar

Small tarn
There is another pillar to the south which is in line with this one and the Water Tower. Passing a small tarn I headed up to the unnamed minor summit with about three or four stones marking it stop. I continued east and left the path to search out the old marker stone which I last visited 10 years ago. The stone reads “1911 Edward Dodds” and is surprisingly small but thankfully is still in place.
1911 Edward Dodds

Edward Dodds marker and rucksack for scale
I stopped for a while then continued NW across some rough ground to re-joins the path at Captain Whelter Bog. On the saddle was a small spring which would make a good point for a camp. The path continued north up Selside Pike and to the large ancient cairn on the summit. The cairn had been remodelled into a shelter but is extremely large and gives excellent views all around.
Selside Pike cairn / shelter
I continued my descent to the NE and made a small detour right to a wonderful vantage point looking down into Swindale. As I did so a large buzzard was circling below me and continued its search pattern getting higher and higher and even closer to me. It was an extremely beautiful bird.
Buzzard
The descent continues easily down to Selside End. I then reached the main route of the Old Corpse Road and turned left to follow it back towards Haweswater. The earlier rain clouds had passed away and I was now in lovely clear sunshine. It was here that I met the first people of the day firstly a couple heading east and then another couple heading the same way. I took my time on the steep descent down the Old Corpse Road and stopped to photograph the Old Peet Houses. I was also able to re photograph a wide angle view of Haweswater that I had taken 10 years earlier. Back at the road I soon reached my car.
Old Peat houses

View of Riggindale, home of the last Golden Eagle in England

Haweswater from the Old Corpse Road

Haweswater from the Old Corpse Road Nov 2008