Author Topic: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow  (Read 671 times)

richardh1905

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TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« on: 12:00:33, 28/02/20 »
Kentmere Pike, Harter Fell        26/02/2020

There was a weather window this week, and I was determined to take advantage of it to get up into the snow that was plastering the fells. The day dawned fine as predicted, so I quickly donned winter gear and packed my rucksack. Kentmere was my destination - I fancied getting back onto the hills there after my abortive attempt to complete the horseshoe in the depths of winter; this time I would go for the eastern fells, Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell, and possibly on to High Street, dependent upon conditions. Nan Bield Pass offered an easy escape route.

 

The views of the snow clad hills catching the early morning sun quickened my pulse as I drove north past Kendal - magnificent!
I parked up outside the Kentmere Community Centre, paid my £3, and got on my way at 0857. There was some snow in the bottom of the valley, and as I climbed, the 'High Lane' got a bit icy. The view of the mountains around the head of the valley was stunning.


Early morning sun on the Kentmere Hills


Ill Bell

I took the byway eastwards towards Longsleddale, a pleasant mile to the top of the pass, before tackling the slopes of Wray Crag. The path leads it’s way pleasingly upwards around and over minor crags, although I had to take care as the snow got deeper - one greasy corner gave me pause for thought, but was easy enough. Once on the ridge, the path was largely lost under the snow, and the wind picked up, a stiff north westerly. Longsleddale was a long slash of green behind me.


Longsleddale


Footprints in the snow

At this stage the snow conditions were easy, but as I approached Shipman Knotts (587m) things changed from pleasing novelty to full on winter conditions, spindrift and all, in the space of a few minutes. I took shelter behind a ruined wall to cram down a Stoats porridge bar, and to don a heavy fleece and overtrousers, which I succeeded in putting on back to front as my glasses had steamed up. As I was struggling to correct my error, a mummified figure appeared, seemingly from nowhere, and said “Hello” before pushing on at some speed - the only person I met on the hill.

Conditions were atrocious at this stage - I struggled onwards beside a wall, but realised that I was caught in a vortex of spindrift between the wall and a snowdrift - it felt as if I could hardly breathe! I fought my way out onto more open ground, shielding my face with buff and heavily gloved hand.

A taste of winter on the fells - VIDEO

There now followed one of the most trying miles of hill walking that I have ever experienced. As well as the stinging spindrift, the snow conditions were atrocious - I was often in up to my knees, and at one stage I came to a complete halt, stuck in a particularly large bank of fresh thigh deep snow. I tried crawling, but that was a mistake, as my hands sank into the snow just as much as my feet. So there I was, stranded on my belly in a snowdrift, the fight knocked out of me - I couldn't help but laugh at my ridiculous situation. I considered rolling down the bank and calling it a day, but somehow I gritted my teeth, regained my footing and struggled upwards, almost inch by inch, to escape the drift.

The person who had passed me was really pressing on, soon lost to view, but their footprints were not much use, as they had a much bigger stride than I. The spindrift was filling them up in an case. It was just a case of accepting that I was in for some hard work, and struggling on, weaving my way around the deeper banks of snow where possible.

The views were truly magnificent though, and gave me an excuse to stop frequently. To my west were Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick, and, as I climbed, I could see the top of the Helvellyn range beyond. To the south west was the Coniston Old Man group, plastered with snow, with a snow capped Black Combe beyond. Longsleddale was a green slash to the south east of me, and I could see the Howgills to the east.


The head of the Kentmere valley - Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street, Kemtmere Pike


The hills to the west - Black Combe, Coniston Old Man, Wetherlam in the distance, Yoke and Ill Bell to the right


South East towards Longsleddale, the Howgills in the distance to the left, I think

Conditions eased slightly as I neared the top of Kentmere Pike (730m), the wind had dropped somewhat and there was less spindrift, but I only stopped briefly at the summit cairn before pressing on. Snow conditions still very trying though, and I encountered some icy patches that required care when descending northwards from the summit.


The magnificent view from the summit of Kentmere Pike, Helvellyn visible over the shoulder of Thornthwaite Crag. Lovely snow formations too

I considered bailing out to the west rather than face the plod up through the snow to Harter Fell, but pressed on regardless, the fence running along the crest of the ridge my guide. This fence was a blessing and a curse, a reassuring navigational feature against which to measure my torturously slow progress. I had another low moment when I crested a brow on the way up to the summit, only to see the wretched fence stretching onwards, in reality only a few hundred metres to go, but it looked much further.


Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick, with dark skies beyond


High Street - too much for me today!

Snow conditions improved as I got near the summit of Harter Fell (778m), as the wind had blasted most of it away. In places the snow was sculpted into waves, and lines of snow ‘strata’ were visible in an eroding snowdrift. Every stone or tuft of grass had a triangle of snow behind it; quite striking.


Harter Fell summit cairn appearing through the spindrift - at last!


Haweswater from Harter Fell

After stopping to admire the view down to Haweswater far below, I headed westwards towards Nan Bield Pass. The ground drops away steeply, and I got the ice axe out as a precaution, needing it to get down one or two steep banks of harder snow. There is a short ridge stretching between Harter Fell and the top of Nan Bield Pass, but I chose a faster way down, as I didn’t like the look of the weather, darker clouds approaching. I cut south through a bank of deep soft snow, a point of no return as far as I was concerned, before swinging around westwards down uniform slopes to join the Nan Bield path some way below the zig-zags. Spotted some people in the distance on Mardale Ill Bell as I stopped at a rock for a quick snack and a drink.

I followed the bridleway down into the Kentmere valley, a slightly trying descent with soft snow over a sloshy track, but easy in comparison to the heights above. Passed the reservoir on my right, before descending quite steeply from Smallthwaite Knott down an eroded track into the fertile valley below, joining a decent farm track after crossing Ullstone Gill.


Kentmere Reservoir with Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick beyond


The Kentmere valley without it's covering of early morning snow


Ullstone Gill bridge - on easy ground now


Looking back up the Kentmere valley

Easy going now, below the snowline, and I enjoyed the last few miles, arriving back at the car in a snow shower at 15:10. Wilf’s Cafe in Staveley beckoned!


Low Lane - the white lines to the right are snowflakes!

About 10 miles in 6 hours and 13 minutes, a memorable day!

https://my.viewranger.com/route/details/Mjg4NDQ5NQ==


For those interested, this is what kept me warm on the hill:

Lidl merino baselayer top, long sleeved
Boxer shorts
Tesco thermal socks
Ron Hill Tracksters
Heavy wool socks over the top of the Tracksters

Helly Hansen fibre pile salopettes
Heavy Regatta fibre pile lined fleece

Berghaus Deluge overtrousers
Mountain Equipment Lhotse Gore Tex Pro jacket
Buff (around neck, and over lower part of face at times)
Arctic Fox fleece/thinsulate hat
Heavy fleece/thinsulate gloves

Brasher "Country Master" leather boots, reasonably stiff
Gaiters

Spare clothing included thin gloves, extra buff and a Mountain Warehouse padded gilet.
« Last Edit: 08:12:45, 29/02/20 by richardh1905 »

vghikers

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #1 on: 12:26:34, 28/02/20 »
A hard fought round with grand landscapes and views from the summits  O0

Constantly shielding the face against wind and spindrift with big mountain gloves is a familiar scenario, a fairly long time ago though.

forgotmyoldpassword

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #2 on: 12:34:26, 28/02/20 »
Stunning.  Love the pics, seems you had some proper weather for it, always love those conditions when you feel you've had a proper day out!


Really appreciate the well written trip report and map, definitely adds to it.

pdstsp

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #3 on: 13:09:00, 28/02/20 »
Lovely pictures of what looks like a tough day out in the conditions.

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #4 on: 13:25:40, 28/02/20 »
Thanks for the feedback; I appreciate it :)


I got a lot out of my little adventure, and I get a lot out of writing the report. I will also get a lot out of reading the report in years to come.
« Last Edit: 14:06:08, 28/02/20 by richardh1905 »

karl h

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #5 on: 14:22:57, 28/02/20 »
Fantastic Richard  O0


Winter walking can be hard work but the effort is more than worth it :)
show your love for Lady Nature. And she will come back again.
www.karlswalks.co.uk

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #6 on: 14:34:43, 28/02/20 »
Fantastic Richard  O0


Winter walking can be hard work but the effort is more than worth it :)


Thanks Karl, it certainly is - definitely a case of the more you put in, the more you get out.
« Last Edit: 15:30:24, 28/02/20 by richardh1905 »

Ridge

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #7 on: 18:44:03, 28/02/20 »
They are stunning photos Richard and of one of my absolute favorite places too.

Mel

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #8 on: 19:34:57, 28/02/20 »
Wow, fantastic pics.  Though I'm exhausted just reading your trip report!


Very worthy of a post walk pit-stop in the cafe  O0
No expense spared in pursuit of a bargain ;)
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richardh1905

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #9 on: 19:42:51, 28/02/20 »
Thanks Ridge, Mel.


Yes, Kentmere is lovely, and surprisingly accessible too. A fairly recent discovery for me. The hills are quiet, too.


And I'm still recovering from my state of exhaustedness, Mel, not helped by putting in a full day's forestry work on Whitbarrow yesterday. :buck2:

April

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #10 on: 07:58:41, 29/02/20 »
Fantastic pics and write up Richard  O0 A tough but marvellous day out  :)

"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #11 on: 08:07:42, 29/02/20 »
Fantastic pics and write up Richard  O0 A tough but marvellous day out  :)

Thanks - it was indeed, April.

You out in the weather today?

April

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #12 on: 15:20:28, 29/02/20 »
You out in the weather today?

We did a walk in Newlands Valley, we didn't fancy the 40mph+ winds at height. It was bitter in the wind even at low level but we had nice views  :)
"Who would've thought...... you are light and darkness coming through" words by Tim Armstrong

beefy

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #13 on: 16:44:08, 29/02/20 »
It's nice to get out in the snow,
Great pics richard, I like those 3d maps too O0
DRIP COFFINS  :D

richardh1905

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Re: TR - Kentmere Pike and Harter Fell in the snow
« Reply #14 on: 17:07:24, 29/02/20 »
We did a walk in Newlands Valley, we didn't fancy the 40mph+ winds at height. It was bitter in the wind even at low level but we had nice views  :)


Newlands valley is lovely - I've stayed in the stone barn owned by Carlisle Mountaineering Club half way up the valley a few times. And the Swinside Inn is good too :)