Walk                 : Branstree & Selside Pike

                                        Date                 : 4th September 2014

                                        Weather           : Overcast but warm around 23° C    

                                        Route Details    : Mardale Head, Branstree, Selside Pike and return via Gatesgarth Pass

                                        Distance           : @ 7 miles

 

                                                Click here to see which part of Lakeland this walk is situated ….

 

                                        Overview

                                        Walking up a steep stony track to reach a summit is generally hard work no matter how fit you are. Walking up a steep, pathless and

                                                            dense grass and bracken route is UNBELIEVABLY hard. This particular route from the Haweswater Reservoir Road leading to Branstree

                                                            summit for all its modest height of 2,333 feet was absolutely commando !!! – The weather forecast was promising and didn’t disappoint

                                                            so we took the opportunity to visit one of the more remote areas of this beautiful region and enjoy a days climbing in and around the

                                                            haunting ex-community that was once Mardale.

 

           

 

Heading past the North shore of Ullswater en-route just as the ferry is about to dock

 

 

Follow the road from Pooley Bridge through Bampton and along the Reservoir track towards Mardale and about a mile or so past the

Haweswater Hotel you will see this small wicket gate by the side of Hopegill Beck waterfalls and this is the start point of the walk.

 

 

To the right of the waterfall is the faintest of grass tracks veering upwards to the right

 

 

Through the gate to the sound of crashing water as it journeys under the bridge and eventually into the Reservoir

 

 

A brief glimpse back over the Reservoir towards High Street on the left and Kidsty Pike on the right (the pointy bit)

 

 

At this point it is well worth a “girding of the loins” for a serious tussle against the terrain for a good half hour or so. You just have to guess at which is

the correct way to go but the first check point would be “Hollow Stone” that can be seen here peeking up over the dense bracken

 

 

Hopegill Beck in full flow, its worth keeping roughly parallel with this until you reach the old sheep pen ruins at which point you tend to veer away from the Beck

 

 

It’s also at this point when the views of the Reservoir start to open up behind you. Here the Rigg in all its glory that separates Mardale on the left and Riggindale

on the right. The central ridge leads up to High Street and is in my opinion the very best way to climb that fell

 

 

You could not help but notice the receding water level as it exposes a tide mark around all the islands and shore line

 

 

After about 30 minutes toil we reach Hollow Stone

 

 

Higher still and thankfully now we have passed through the bracken

 

 

You can now start to see the wood from the trees so to speak, and whilst it would have been reassuring to see a marker cairn, you just have to

trust on instinct and follow the faintest of paths through the grass

 

 

Getting closer to the summit and at this point I was desperately trying to catch sight of the cairn on Artlecrag Pike to confirm or reassure

that we were on the right track. Where is it ????

 

 

Phew !! a sight for sore eyes and confirmation that we had not gone miles off track. The magnificent cairn on Artlecrag Pike

 

 

Whilst its not the true summit its quite a relief to get there, as it signifies an end to the difficult ascent

 

 

Well worth all the toil though, we had the summit to ourselves. Sue camps down with lunch and her Kindle while I contemplate the second fell of the day – Selside Pike

 

 

Heading out north past the subsidiary cairn towards the Survey Post (the small column in the centre of the shot)

 

 

Selside Pike is just over a mile and a half away and the line of the fence connects the two summits

 

 

Sue decides to “save her knee” for the journey down as I carry on to Selside

 

 

The Survey Post built by Manchester Corporation during the construction of Haweswater Reservoir

 

 

I press on to the summit

 

 

The shelter cairn marking the summit of Selside Pike. At this point I retraced my tracks to pick Sue up back on Branstree – and to then follow the path back to the start

 

 

As we follow the line of the fence going south bound we pass what is regarded as the true summit of Branstree

 

 

Over the shrub grass towards the path way (the Gatesgarth Pass) carved out of the side of Harter fell at the head of Mardale. This is a good track and with

the benefit of hindsight would have been the preferred route of ascent !!!

 

 

Haweswater as we swing round towards the Pass

 

 

Harter Fell and a sudden burst of sunlight breaks through the clouds

 

 

Lower down the track and a close up of the shattered north face of Harter Fell

 

 

This guy, the only person we saw all day was back at the head of the Reservoir a lot quicker than us !!!

 

 

Nearly back down now – and you get an idea of how much the water level has dropped over the summer. The original start point of Hopegill Beck

can be seen carving its way up the fell side on the right

 

 

The information board at the head of the car park

 

 

You can just pick out the line of the original road way that ran into Mardale village before it was flooded by Manchester Corporation in 1935. Its not

something that is visible when water levels are at their normal operating capacity

 

 

One last look as we head on down the road back to the car and the end of another fantastic day out on the fells

 

 

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