From the beautiful shores of Haweswater to the high mountain terrain of Racecourse Hill - the summit of High Street, this walk is best left for a clear day. The views are simply stunning. It could be done in mist but is not recommended as it would be all too easy to miss the otherwise obvious landmarks and features so useful for navigation.
This moderate walk could be extended to include nearby Harter Fell. Taken as it is, it could be a day's unhurried wander, or a brisk afternoon's round. Although the small car park at Mardale Head fills up quickly even on a weekday.
Mardale Head is at the end of the Haweswater Reservoir which was built in the 1930s by the Manchester Corporation to join with Thirlmere Reservoir in supplying water to the growing city. The village of Mardale Green is submerged beneath its waters, blown up save for the church which was dismantled and the stone used in the construction of the draw off pier and tower. Occasionally some remnants can be seen during low water levels.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: The Knott (High Street), Rampsgill Head, Mardale Ill Bell, Kidsty Pike, and High Street; and includes 5 Wainwrights, 5 Birketts, 2 Hewitts, 3 Nuttalls, 1 Marilyn, and 1 HuMP.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
Go through the gate at the end of the car park, within a few metres the path splits left and right, but we want to go straight on. This middle path, signposted Kentmere via Nan Bield Pass, is not immediately obvious as it crosses a soft patch, the path is clear a further 20m (22 yards) or so onwards. Follow this through a couple of gates and up to Small Water.
Bear right to cross the outflow and head round the tarn on the right hand bank. Follow the path past a number of wind shelters overlooking the tarn and climb the headwall as the path traverses high from right to left. Eventually the path turns right to the wind shelter on the col.
At the wind shelter turn right, follow the path around the rocky knoll then bear right and continue climbing to Mardale Ill Bell. Continue over the summit keeping right to join the wall going over High Street. Reaching the wall turn right and head along to the trig point.
Continue on following the wall. The path on the right hand side can be a little boggy, and in any case crossing over the wall cuts off a corner, so cross where there is a suitable gap. As you drop down to the Straits of Riggindale the path crosses the wall again. Now with the wall on your left continue on the path, heading north, approximately 500m (550 yards) to reach the wall corner just below The Knott. Turn left to climb the short way up to the summit.
From the Knott retrace your steps back to the wall corner. Cross the path and ascend the hillside opposite bearing slightly left to aim directly for the cairns at the top of Rampsgill Head.
Kidsty Pike is the peak now to your right, you can make a direct line for it over the tussocky grass.
Continue over the Pike, and drop down on the path along the east ridge to Kidsty Howes. Looking back you can see why it is called a pike. Initially the ridge is wide with an easy slope, but as it descends Kidsty Howes it becomes very steep, eroded and rather loose. Otherwise there are no technical challenges on the descent.
Continue down towards the Bowderthwaite bridge and the ruins, but do not cross over, turn right. The path meanders through old enclosures above The Rigg. Bear right to join the fence line above Haweswater and follow the path alongside back to Mardale Head.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Harter Fell||same start point|
|Branstree and Selside Pike from Mardale Head||same start point|
|A Riggindale Round||28m (31 yards) 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