A few miles from Kendal heading north a minor road leaves the A6 signposted "Longsleddale 4½miles". At first the road, like the valley, is relatively wide. On the lush valley floor occasional farms dot the landscape, cattle and sheep graze the fields. The fells close in and the road narrows. The last bit is very narrow with few passing places and high hedges. Parking near the bridge at Sadgill at the end of the tarmac road you get out and look, on all sides you see inspiring crags and fells. It's time for a walk.
To the north east of Sadgill and some 400m (440 yards) higher lie the summits of Grey Crag, Harrop Pike and Tarn Crag on the Sleddale Fell massif. Looking at the contours on the OS 25K map it looks like it is either going to be rocky or boggy. The lower slopes, at least on the Longsleddale side, are indeed craggy and steep. Despite that the field just above the road is home to cows and their young calves. Above their field is lush waist high summer bracken and a line of crags. Higher still, you reach open peaty moorland. The three summit tops are dry oases linked by fences. Grey Crag and Tarn Crag are linked by a fence and path across Greycrag Tarn. This sounds somewhat optimistic but we found the crossing dry and without problem, obviously in very wet weather the tarn may make an appearance!
On the east side of Great How, and near the summit of Tarn Crag, are tall survey columns associated with the building in 1930s of the Haweswater Reservoir and aqueduct by the Manchester Corporation.
Informal parking is on the east side of the bridge at Sadgill, with enough space for around half-a-dozen cars spread along the end of the rough Gatescarth Pass track.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Tarn Crag (Sleddale), Harrop Pike, Grey Crag, and Great Howe (Longsleddale); and includes 2 Wainwrights, 4 Birketts, 1 Marilyn, 2 Hewitts, 3 Nuttalls, and 1 HuMP.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
As the road swings left to cross the bridge over the River Sprint go through the gateway on the right into a small, steep field. Surprisingly this is home to a few cows.
Bear left and initially follow a faint track just above the wall but in a few metres bear away right, north east, climbing through the field towards the top left corner. Cross the relatively deep gill coming down the field and about 50m (55 yards) the other side cross the step-stile over the hurdle in the wall gap.
Continue through waist high summer bracken, to clamber up an easy rough gully heading right to left in the otherwise intimidating line of crags. At the top swing right to follow alongside the wall, and then fence, turn left over another step stile.
Follow the path heading NNE onto Great Howe. There isn't much to this little summit just a rocky outcrop above the grass.
Over to the left the survey column on Tarn Crag is easily spotted. Grey Crag is to the north east.
If you want to see the survey column just off the side of Great Howe, turn right for a few metres across the tussocky grass and it'll soon come into view.
Continuing NNW on the increasingly damp path cross a shallow depression before climbing easily again. Swing right around the back of a small knott, follow the fence for 50m (55 yards) then turn left crossing the step stile over the fence at the corner.
Looking to the left the pillar on Tarn Crag is still visible, to your right, ENE, is the rocky slopes to Grey Crag.
Head up an easy grass gully seen on the slopes going left to right climbing steadily then, at the top, bear left to the summit cairn of Grey Crag.
From the little cairn of Grey Crag if you look NNW you can just see the well built cairn of Harrop Pike approximately 700m (770 yards) away. Getting there isn't a hard walk by any stretch of the imagination. However, after wet weather it'll be very boggy. Even in a dry summer there were a few patches of squelchy bog!
Continue along the path north to join the fence corner and bear right to follow alongside it. As you drop slightly into the shallow depression the ground gets very wet so skirt any boggy patches to the right, returning to the path near the fence afterwards.
The ground gets drier as it climbs again. Cross the fence that comes in from the right, and continue a little further to the well built cairn of Harrop Pike just on the west side of the fence.
From Harrop Pike keep to the east side of the fence and retrace your steps back to the fence corner just north of Grey Crag.
Turn right at the corner and follow the path next to the fence dropping down to and crossing Greycrag Tarn. This section was surprisingly dry given the name. Peat restoration has levelled some of the deep hags and made for an easy crossing.
Climb the grass slopes the other side and bear left to the small summit cairn of Tarn Crag. The survey column spotted earlier is just beyond the summit.
From the summit cairn, or pillar, head roughly north and pick up a path alongside the fence descending north west. Another fence crosses the way; cross at the step stile and continue descending. The fence soon turns northwards, with the path meandering amongst and through deep peat hags to the top of the Mosedale - Longsleddale pass.
Reaching the vague track with a gate to the right, don't go through but turn left. The path is surprisingly faint amongst the wet ground. Follow it as best you can and generally head south-west, initially more west then later SW to join Gatesgarth Pass. The path splits, take the right fork to cross a small beck and then head for the signpost visible on the track.
Reaching this hard surfaced track, turn left. Go though the gate and follow it all the way back to Sadgill.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|The Kentmere Horseshoe||3.2km (2.0 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011