Harter Fell is in the far eastern part of the English
Lake District whose summit lies at the meeting point of three ridges. It
forms the head of three valleys: Mardale, Longsleddale and the valley of
the River Kent.
In plan section
the summit area forms a horseshoe open to the south east. The ridge is
narrow and grassy with a relatively new fence in place. There are
subsidiary tops on both horns of the horseshoe.
ridge passes over The Knowe and then Brown Howe before connecting to
The eastern branch includes the rocky top of
Little Harter Fell (2,234 ft) and Adam Seat (2,185 ft) which is marked
by a prominent boundary stone. This ridge continues down to Gatescarth
Pass before rising again to Branstree.
Connecting to the centre of the summit horseshoe
producing a shape not unlike a tuning fork in plan, is Harter Fell's
third ridge. This starts lower down the fell-side and cannot be seen
from the summit.
The ridge is all together rockier in character
and leads swiftly down to Nan Bield Pass for onward connections to
Mardale Ill Bell and High Street.
The western slopes of the fell
above Kentmere Reservoir are moderately steep with an area of historic
landslip surrounding Dry Gill.
A low subsidiary ridge juts out
into Kentmere separating it from the valley of Ullstone Gill. This is
named for The Ullstone, a prominent erratic boulder.
horseshoe of Harter Fell forms the head of Wren Gill, the main headwater
of the River Sprint in Longsleddale.
At Wrengill Quarry near the
base of the slope, the Gill drops into sinkholes reappearing from the
ground a few yards lower down. The slopes on this south eastern side of
the fell are gentle and generally grassy.
To the north above the
head of Mardale Harter Fell shows a different character. Extensive crags
unnamed on Ordnance Survey maps, drop 1,300 ft to the valley. Further
crags fringe the descending ridge to Nan Bield.
Below these is
the beautiful mountain tarn of Small Water, a corrie tarn with a depth
of around 50 ft. containing brown trout and perch.
passes of Nan Bield and Gatescarth provided historic trade routes from
Mardale to Kentmere and Longsleddale respectively.
submergence of Mardale Green village beneath Haweswater reservoir in the
1940s, their original purpose has died, but both routes still provide
good access for fellwalkers and are the easiest ways onto Harter Fell.
The upper sections still bear the original zig-zags over steep ground.
The fell is most frequently climbed from Mardale as there is road
access along the shore of Haweswater.
Harter Fell summit is
1 mile or 1.5 km southwest and 1,800 ft or 550 m above the carpark at
the head of the reservoir.
Crags block a direct ascent, however,
and Harter Fell is thus normally climbed via Gatescarth Pass to the east
of the summit, or Nan Bield Pass to the west. These two passes also
provide the easiest access from Kentmere or Longsleddale.
longer route from the Kent valley follows the ridge that separates it
from Longsleddale taking in Kentmere Pike on the way. This may form part
of the Kentmere Horseshoe walk which also includes the Ill Bell ridge.
An ascent of Harter Fell may also be combined with fells such as
Branstree, Mardale Ill Bell and High Street to form a high-level circuit
of Mardale from the road end.
Finally, direct ascents from
Longsleddale can also be made up the grassy slopes above Wrengill
As well as a pile of stones, the summit cairn of Harter
Fell carries many pieces of ironwork salvaged from the fence. Some of
these resemble upended pitchforks, and when encountered unexpectedly on
a misty day, the effect is faintly nightmarish. A second cairn to the
north carries similar decoration.
The view is good all round and
can be improved by moving to the rim of the crags bringing the full
length of Haweswater into sight.
routes near Harter Fell - Mardale