Branstree is a fell in the Far
Eastern part of the English Lake District and overlooks the valley of
Mardale and Haweswater Reservoir.
A circuit of high fells surrounds the head of Mardale beginning at
High Raise in the north and curving around over High Street and Harter
Fell to Branstree and Selside Pike in the south.
As the ridge is
travelled in this direction, the countryside changes from crag and scree
to more rounded fellsides clothed with grass.
Branstree is the
first fell moving east where grass prevails and a Pennine character
begins to take over from Lakeland. From many directions the fell appears
as a smooth domed hill with a wide top.
Branstree has a
connection south westward to Harter Fell, the ridge crossing Gatescarth
Pass (1,900 ft). This was the route of pedestrian traffic between
Mardale and Longsleddale, its well graded zig-zags still in use by
walkers. The ancient trade between the two valleys ended when the level
of Haweswater was raised in the 1940s, and the village of Mardale Green
was submerged beneath the reservoir.
Eastward from Branstree is a
wide swathe of rough moorland between the parallel valleys of Mardale
and Swindale. This runs for about five miles before petering out at the
valley of the River Lowther.
Immediately east of Branstree is a
second fell of similar height (2,207 ft) and character, which is unnamed
on OS maps. At least one guidebook has suggested 'High Howes' as a name,
but Wainwright considered this to be a part of Branstree rather than a
Across Captain Whelter Bog to the east of the
unnamed summit is Selside Pike, the final Wainwright in that direction.
South from Branstree a further ridge connects to Tarn Crag, passing
between the head of Mosedale and the headwaters of Longsleddale. This
depression at 1,650 ft is broad and boggy.
Mosedale is the upper
hanging valley of Swindale, running westwards from the apparent dalehead.
Nestled against the lower slopes of Branstree near the head of
Mosedale is Mosedale Cottage. This shepherds bothy, two miles from the
nearest road, is only inhabited occasionally. Its whitewashed walls
provide an important navigational reference in deteriorating weather.
Behind the cottage are the remains of a large quarry.
The summit of Branstree is broad and too flat to allow good all round
views. These are further restricted by the higher fells to the west, but
there is a fine prospect to the Pennines and Howgill Fells.
and fences follow the ridges from Gatesgarth, Tarn Crag and Selside
Pike, meeting near the summit. A small cairn is situated a little to the
A better view of Mardale and certainly a better
foreground, can be seen from Artlecrag Pike. This subsidiary top a
little to the north has a fine columnar cairn built from the nearby
outcrop of flaky rocks.
Branstree ascents can be made from the
three surrounding valleys. Gatescarth Pass provides access from the
roadends of Mardale and Longsleddale.
Alternative routes climb
from the vicinity of Mosedale cottage and from the shore of Haweswater
near the start of the Mardale Corpse Road.
routes near Branstree