Harter Fell, Eskdale

Grid Ref SD 218 997
Height 2,140 ft


There are a few different fells and crags scattered about the Lake District which include Castle in their name and I'm sure most of these were named this way because there was indeed a castle or fort of some description there at some point in time. However, if names were based purely on looks, surely the fell which most deserves such a title would be this one. Harter Fell has to have the most 'castle like' summit in the district, and I'm sure with a little imaginative wall building, this would have made an ideal stronghold.

I've walked over Harter Fell many times over the years and in almost every weather you could imagine, but the one which sticks in my memory more than any other has to be our first ascent. I can't remember exactly what year it was except that it we were having a scorching hot summer at the time, so that narrows it down a little. Anyway, we'd viewed Harter Fell from a few other fells in the area and eventually we decided to go there and explore its craggy looking top for ourselves. What we hadn't banked on however, was for it to be quite so hot. I'd go so far as to say that the last few hundred yards to the summit were probably the most difficult I've ever walked. Needless to say we, and some other people we met, abandoned our plans to carry on with our walks and headed back down to the much appreciated coolness and shade of the valley.

Although I'm much older now, I feel more able to deal with adverse conditions, and I suspect if I had to do the same walk in the same conditions today, it wouldn't have quite the same influence. I've heard it said that old age comes but not alone, so perhaps in my case, age is bringing stubbornness along with it.


So which valley does Harter Fell actually belong to? Well, I suppose that all depends on your preferred route or the route you just happened to have used the most, or perhaps like most people, you're happy to adopt someone else's view on things. Personally, I always think of Harter Fell as being in Eskdale. Just as I tend to think of Cat Bells being in Borrowdale or Place Fell being in Patterdale. All of which could be argued against.


Location maps

Route suggestions

Route suggestion: Hard Knott Pass summit - near Demming Crag - Harter Fell
1.6 mile / approx 1000 ft ascent
Some folk might insist that equally as exciting as the actual walk itself, is the drive up Hardknott Pass. Speaking for myself, I've been there, done that and I'm afraid the thought of sitting in traffic on one of the steepest roads in the country and trying to avoid people who view the route as a tourist attraction holds no value at all. On one occasion we were walking down the steepest section on the Eskdale side of the pass when we came across a driver who just couldn't get his car moving again. Unbelievably his wife or whatever she was, got out of the car and tried to push it!!! She even had the idea that we might like to help, but they weren't to impressed at my reply, which was something like "you're sadly mistaken if you think I've walked all this way just to get flattened by a car I'm trying to push up the side of a mountain".

This walk to the summit is likely to be problem free except for the amount of water this side of the fell tends to hold onto. If you choose this route after periods of rain, you will emerge at the summit with very wet trouser bottoms.

In decent visibility, navigation is an easy affair on here because the summit is in view for almost the whole route.


Route suggestion: Jubilee Bridge - Dodknott Gill - Harter Fell
1.7 mile / approx 1700 ft ascent
This is the route I've used more than any other on Harter Fell and I have to admit the main reason is based purely on laziness. This end of Eskdale is much easier for me to reach than the Duddon Valley side of the fell. Regardless of why this is my preferred route, I never tire of walking up here. From the first part of the walk leading up to and a little way beyond Dodknott Gill, you get a superb view into the Brotherilkeld area of Upper Eskdale and across to the higher Lakeland fells.

An easy thing to do on this route is to walk past the point where you turn off to your left and begin to walk diagonally up the side of the fell. There's no need to worry though, just carry on until you reach the wall and then turn off and follow the wall straight up hill. Somewhere around the top of the wall you can easily pick up the path to the summit.


Route suggestion:
1.5 mile / approx 1500 ft ascent
Duddon Valley really is one of the loveliest parts of the Lake District and unless you live at the far southern end of Cumbria it just isn't an easy place to get to. Distance wise it may not be too far for me, but the narrow country roads make so time consuming. Even though it takes a bit of effort to get here, I'm sure there aren't many people who feel disappointed after being in this area.

Just after setting out on this walk you pass Birks Bridge, a lovely bridge full of character and when the river is in spate, quite a spectacle. On a first walk through here the choice of paths from the bridge to the open fellside might be a little misleading, but once you emerge above the tree line, it could not be more straightforward.

Photo gallery

Appreaching the summit from the Eskdale side
Seen from Grassguards

The summit
Taken from the northern side of Eskdale

An unusual view of Harter Fell taken from the opposite side of the valley


Harter Fell seen from Seathwaite Tarn


Harter Fell seen from the area near Wallowbarrow Crag

Seen from the ridge near Illgill Head

Choose a walk that includes this fell
The number of walks to choose from is 13

29th October 2014
  Harter Fell and Hard Knott Pass 4.4 mile 1900 ft
Jubilee Bridge - Dodknott Gill - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass Tarn - Hard Knott Pass - Jubilee Bridge

19th April 2013
  Harter Fell and Hard Knott Pass 4.4 mile 1800 ft
Jubilee Bridge - Dodknott Gill - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass Tarn - Hard Knott Pass - Jubilee Bridge

5th November 2011
  What have the Romans ever done for us - Harter Fell and Hardknott Fort 4.8 mile 1900 ft
Jubilee Bridge - Doddknott Gill - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass Tarn - Hardknott Pass - Roman Fort - Hardknott Pass - Jubilee Bridge

29th April 2011
  An Eskdale trio - Green Crag, Harter Fell and Hard Knott 12 mile 3300 ft
Eskdale Road - Woolpack Inn - Low Birker - Low Birker Tarn - Green Crag - Long Crag - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass - Hard Knott - Yew Bank - Lingcove Beck - Lingcove Bridge - Brotherilkeld - Eskdale Road

16th April 2010
  An afternoon on Harter Fell 4.4 mile 1900 ft
Jubilee Bridge - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass - Hardknott Roman Fort - Jubilee Bridge

1st March 2009
  Harter Fell and Hardknott Pass 5.5 mile 2200 ft
Jubilee Bridge - Dodknott Gill - Harter Fell - below Demming Crag - Horsehow Crags - Hardknott Tarn - Peathill Crag - Hardknott Pass - Jubilee Bridge

16th March 2008
  Birks Bridge to Harter Fell and Wallobarrow Crag 7.4 mile 2725 ft
Birks Bridge - Birks - Harter Fell - Grassguards Gill - Grassguards - Wallowbarrow Crag - High Wallowbarrow - River Duddon - Birks Bridge

8th June 2007
  A hot afternoon on Harter Fell and Hardknott Pass 4.9 mile 2050 ft
Jubilee bridge - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass - Hardknott Roman Fort - Jubilee Bridge

19th December 2006
  A triple celebration - Hard Knott to Green Crag 12.3 mile 3635 ft
Jubilee Bridge - Brotherilkeld - Lingcove Bridge - Hard Knott - Hardknott Pass - Harter Fell - Green Crag - Low Birker Tarn - Eskdale Valley - Jubilee Bridge

3rd August 2006
  Hard Knott and Harter Fell from Brotherilkeld 7.9 mile 2674 ft
Brotherilkeld - Lingcove Bridge - Hard Knott - Hardknott Pass - Harter Fell - Jubilee Bridge - Brotherilkeld

25th December 2005
  Merry Christmas on Harter Fell. 4.5 mile 2018 ft
Brotherilkeld - Jubilee Bridge - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass - Hardknott Roman Fort - Brotherilkeld

17th August 2005
  Green Crag to Hard Knott after a long dry spell. 11 mile 3609 ft
Woolpack Inn Eskdale - Low Birker Tarn - Green Crag - Harter Fell - Hardknott Pass - Border End - Hard Knott - Hardknott Pass - Woolpack Inn Eskdale

8th April 2004
  Harter Fell and Hard Knott Pass. 4.5 mile 1949 ft
Hard Knott Pass - Jubilee Bridge - Harter Fell - top of Castle How Beck - Hard Knott Pass - Hard Knott Roman Fort

David Hall -
Lake District Walks