Harter Fell (Mardale)

Having slagged off the weatherman in my previous blog, all is now forgiven, since the forecast for this outing under-promised (though not too much so) but in the event over-delivered, as the photos below indicate, a much more welcome state of affairs! So well done on this occasion, Met. Office - for once God was definitely in His Heaven, and all was most right with the Lakeland world!
Also, a walk such as this one provided excellent opportunities for taking advantage of the weather conditions, since parts of it are among the most scenic in the whole of the Lake District. In addition, as can hopefully be seen below, the light had that special early-autumn day clarity best described as ‘limpid’, which provides much better views than when the sun is stronger (not that there has been much sign of yellow discs in the sky this summer, I hasten to add!!).
The ascent began at the southern end of Haweswater at Mardale Head, up from there by the well-graded path to Gatescarth Pass, then, after a right turn, soon up to Harter Fell summit itself, along its broad ‘plateau’ to its western rim, and then down from there via Nan Bield Pass and Small Water to the start. This route is rightly described by Wainwright (Harter Fell 8) as ‘needing much less effort... than its formidable appearance suggests’. Also, once Harter Fell summit has been broached, there are great views towards Haweswater and the High Street massif, and then, from the start of the descent, of the Kentmere fells and reservoir and of Small Water - indeed, the section down to Small Water is surely among the most panoramic in all of Lakeland (which is really saying something!).
So, in overall terms, a walk with excellent paths throughout, plenty of variety, much scenic splendour, and all for relatively little expenditure of energy - unbeatable!
PS Our weather now seems to have morphed into something of an ‘Indian summer’, conditions much reminiscent of their beautiful characterisation in the ‘September’ section of Richard Strauss’s ‘Four last songs’.
Highest point (Harter Fell): 2539 ft./ 774 m. Distance: 4.19 miles/ 6.47 km. Ascent: 1737 ft./ 529 m.

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