This is a fantastic little walk in remote high mountain country, what it lacks in distance it more than makes up for in views. Do it justice and go in fine weather.
Wainwright recommends doing this round clockwise as we do here 'to keep the best views in front'.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the car park at the end of the road at Mardale, go through the gate and bear left onto the track signposted Gatescarth Pass. Follow it round the stand of trees and into the pass proper.
The track steepens, zigzags, and then eases a little before more zigzags on the final section. Just before the fence line at the top of the pass turn right.
Initially heading west, and then north west this path follows the top of the cliffs and is joined on the left by a fence. Continue along this clear path, do not cross the fence. Turn left at the corner post, where there is a fantastic view down Haweswater, and admire the adorned cairn shortly after. The next cairn somewhat more subdued but still sprouting bits of the old fence is the summit.
Here we need to find the top of the Nan Bield ridge. In times past it was said to be difficult but there is now a wide clear path of stamped footprints and two cairns in view of the summit. So turn right at the summit cairn and head in a generally west direction towards the cairns. The ridge should become obvious, and continuing forwards you will see the pass below.
Pick your way carefully down the crags and terraces on the ridge crest to the well built wind shelter. Here, turn right. The path is straight for about 100m (110 yards) and then bears sharply left to drop down to and follow the left hand shore line of Small Water. Another couple of wind shelters can be found here.
Cross the tarn outflow on the stepping stones and bear left to follow the path along the right hand bank of Small Water Beck. The path gradually eases away from the beck and reaches a wall. Go through the gate, continuing through another gate, and back to the car park.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|High Street (Racecourse Hill), and a few friends, from Mardale Head||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