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Mountains & Fells
Hart Side

 
   

 

Michael Graham

 

 

Height: 756m (2,480ft) GPS: NY 35891 19725 Walking Routes

Hart Side is a fell in the English Lake District and is an outlier of the Helvellyn range in the Eastern Fells.

The Ordnance Survey maps give the name to a broad saddle dropping from White Stones on Stybarrow Dodd, but Wainwright in his Pictorial Guide to the Lakeland Fells gave the name to the lower top to the north of this depression. By his convention the entire ridge between the valleys of Deepdale and Glencoyne is known as Hart Side.


This ridge runs roughly north eastward for around 3 miles, gradually losing height until being cut off by Aira Beck at Dockray.

To the north of Hart Side is Deepdale, not to be confused with a valley of the same name near Patterdale.

Deepdale Beck drops suddenly over a waterfall at Dowthwaitehead and from then on is renamed Aira Beck, continuing north east and then coming round to the south to meet the middle reach of Ullswater.

The southern boundary of Hart Side is formed at first by the steep sided valley of Glencoyne, falling due east to the upper reach of Ullswater, and then by the lakeshore itself.

From White Stones, which is properly part of Stybarrow Dodd, a flat topped saddle leads north to Hart Side.

From here the ridge turns sharply east to the twin summit of Birkett Fell (2,434 ft). This was named in honour of Norman (Lord) Birkett in 1963.

In addition to his role as a judge at the Nuremberg Trials, Birkett was a strong defender of the Lake District and was instrumental in the defeat of a plan to raise Ullswater and convert it into a reservoir. The scheme was finally abandoned only a week before his death.

The fell bears a cairn built of stone from the lakeshore with a slate plaque inscribed "Birkett Fell". A second memorial on Kailpot Crag carries the inscription "He loved Ullswater. He strove to maintain its beauty for all to enjoy."

Within the sharp corner of the ridge is Glencoyne Head, the craggy head of that valley.

An opening here is the northern end of the Glencoyne or High Horse Level of Greenside mine, driven a mile through the rock of Sheffield Pike. This was perhaps the most successful of all the Lakeland mines, winning lead and silver for over 200 years and abandoned only in 1962.

A number of old miners tracks can still be traced on Hart Side, particularly the "Terrace" which contours along the southern side of the ridge from Park Brow to the mine opening.

From Birkett Fell the ground drops away and then a narrower ridge continues east to Brown Hills (1,807 ft). The ridge now turns north east again, running parallel with the middle reach of Ullswater.

Swineside Knott (1,814 ft) provides a fine viewpoint for the lake and this is followed in quick succession by the tops of Watermillock Common and Common Fell, both around 1,781 ft.

The altitude drops again over rockier terrain to the final two summits on the ridge, Round How (1,269 ft) and Bracken How (1,217 ft), before the final descent over Brunt Crag to the Dockray road.

From Brown Hills onward the southern flank is dotted with plantings of mixed woodland, the steep upper slopes having areas of crag.

The northern side is generally smoother, although there is rock below Birkett Fell and Common Fell.

The ridge itself from Brown Hills to Common Fell is unpleasantly boggy, as are all approaches from Dowthwaitehead.

Ascents can be made along the full length of the ridge from Dockray, or by joining it from either side partway along.

Dowthwaite Head provides a shorter alternative from the north, but has extremely limited car parking.

The summit of Hart Side bears some rock and a number of small cairns have been built.

A few yards to the south is a large trench which is believed to be a trial working for the Greenside Mine, presumably unsuccessful.

The view is not extensive, being curtailed to the west by the main Helvellyn Range and Ullswater is also seen better from lower down the ridge.

Walking routes near Hart Side

 

 

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