Hayeswater Reservoir is about to change rather dramatically perhaps as early as during the summer of 2014. United Utilities have announced they are going to demolish the dam and so drop the level back to when it was glacial mountain tarn. On the face of it a good idea. Of course the devil is in the detail of the implementation. The villagers of Hartsop at the foot of the access track are understandably concerned at heavy plant and lorry movements during the works. The road through the small village is narrow and twisty, and not at all suited to today's large vehicles. Then there is the concrete in the dam to dispose of. They fear it will be spread around to create something of an eyesore until it beds in. We walkers might win a little as some of the material has been promised to upland path repairs and improvements.
It is a pleasant, if steep at times, walk up to the tarn which is set dramatically in a mountain amphitheatre with steep slopes on three sides. At the head of the valley lies Thornthwaite Crag with its beacon and the famous High Street Roman road nearby. To the east of Hayeswater are the imposing forms of Gray Crag, and Hartsop Dodd. To the west is The Knott, and over the remote high fells is Haweswater - another valley dammed to supply fresh drinking water.
There is a word of caution that should be heeded here. During the summer months Charolais/Limousin cows and calves live in the fields on the way to the reservoir and in the Pasture Beck valley. Apparently this cross-breed of cattle can be rather aggressive. Do not approach them at all even without a dog. They are a dairy breed who spend much of the year confined to sheds and are not used to walkers being in their fields.
The car park in Hartsop is at the end of the public road. Continue through village and go through a narrow pinch point between buildings to the rough car park. A donations box is beside the gate.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
At the far end of the car park go through the gate onto the track past the sheep and cattle enclosures. Continue on the track climbing gently to the cattle grid. Go through the gate next to the grid, and immediately bear right on to a rough track dropping gently to cross the bridge over Hayeswater Gill.
The other side of the bridge sweep left to climb more steeply on the track to the fell gate. Go through, the track continues climbing around the nose of Gray Crag. Keep on the track all the way to the tarn which is only revealed at the last moment.
At the end of the track continue ahead, so you circumnavigate the tarn anti-clockwise, on a narrow and sometimes faint path through the glacial moraines at the foot of the steep slopes of Gray Crag to your right. The shoreline is often well below you with the grassy knolls giving good views the length of the water.
Do not climb the fell side but follow the path threading its way around and over the small bumps of the moraines at the foot of the slope.
Continue to the end of the tarn.
At the far end of the water the boggy area at its head may be drier and more easily crossed than when we visited in winter. At times of spate crossing the intake beck can be difficult, you may need to follow the wall upsteam to find a safe crossing. Beware of slippery rocks.
Having crossed safely bear left to meander through more moraines back to the shoreline where the path continues more clearly on the easterly bank.
Follow the path along the shoreline back to the dam.
Cross the footbridge, or outfall, and bear right back onto the outward track. Bear right again to descend towards Hartsop.
After approximately 500m (550 yards) the track bears left, you bear right on a narrow path that drops slightly right off of the track down towards a footbridge and the filter house. Cross the footbridge, and climb up to the access track. Bearing left, and keeping left, take the track all the way back to the car park.
Just before reaching the cattle grid again in the field below the track you will notice the remains of Myers Head lead mine. The stone pillars are supports for a launder (water chute) and a large water wheel used to power the mine pumps. The mine was situated on the other bank of Pasture Beck.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Brock Crags and Angletarn Pikes circular walk from Hartsop||14m (15 yards) away|
|Pasture Beck Round, from Hartsop||14m (15 yards) away|
|Rest Dodd and The Nab||22m (24 yards) away|
|The Dovedale Round: Hartsop above How, Hart Crag, High Hartsop Dodd||0.8km (0.5 miles) away|
|St Sunday Crag and Grisedale Tarn||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|A visit to Place Fell overlooking Ullswater||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Birks and Arnison Crag||3.3km (2.0 miles) away|
|Place Fell and a stroll alongside Ullswater||3.5km (2.1 miles) away|
|Glenridding Dodd||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Lanty's Tarn, Keldas, and Patterdale Circular||4.6km (2.8 miles) away|
|Lanty's Tarn, Birkhouse Moor, Red Tarn, Catstycam||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Helvellyn, The Classic Ridges of Striding and Swirral Edge||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|White Side and Raise, from Glenridding||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Glenridding Dodd, Heron Pike and Sheffield Pike||4.6km (2.9 miles) away|
|Greenside Mine and Glenridding Beck Circular Stroll||4.7km (2.9 miles) away|
|Red Screes from Kirkstone Pass||5.0km (3.1 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