1st July 2006

Two far Easten valleys, a drowned village and an old corpse road.


Walk Overview
Time 06.30 to 14.40
Duration 8 hr 10 min
Distance 16.25 mile
Ascent 5000 ft
Walking with On my own
Mardale Head - Gatescarth Pass - Harter Fell - Kentmere Pike - Shipman Knotts - Sadgill - Grey Crag - Tarn Crag - Branstree - Selside Pike - Hare Shaw - Old corps Road - Mardale Head
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Mardale Head, Haweswater

Although I've listed this one as being a car park, the truth of the matter is, if you don't get here early you'll end up having to park along the roadside. At times the line of cars can stretch back along the road for quite someway, but this doesn't really matter. Simply park up at the end of the line and away you go.

Parking is free and despite its popularity there are no facilities at all.


Route Map

Looking to Mardale Ill Bell from the car park at Mardale Head.
It was a lovely start to the day, blue sky and warm sunshine, but by the time I reached the top of Gatescarth Pass it was already starting to cloud over and a thick haze took away the long distance views. Yet even with the cloud blocking the sunshine it was extremely hot and to be honest, if I'd had the heat from the sun on top of the heat that was already there I don't think I'd have done the whole of this walk and would have ended up having to cut it short at some point.

A little further up Gatescarth Pass looking across to High Street and Rough Crag.

Zooming in on Mardale Head.

The way ahead to Kentmere Pike.

Kentmere Pike summit.
The summit is actually on the opposite side of the wall to the path across the ridge. You wouldn't guess it was there at all if the stone stile didn't hint that there must be something over the wall.

The path down from Shipman Knotts. It was a shame about the haze because you get some great views down the Kentmere from this section of the ridge.

Looking in the Kentmere direction from the top of the pass which runs between Stile End (kentmere) and Sadgill.

In the sunshine at Sadgill.

The head of Longsleddale Valley. The track in the distance is Gatescarth Pass.

An extremely steep, off path climb out of the valley.

Grey Crag summit.

Tarn Crag in the distance.

On of the stone towers used by the surveyors who built the Haweswater Dam in the 1930's.
This one if found less than a minutes walk from Tarn Crag summit.

Branstree summit. The wall in the picture is the one I'd followed up Selside Brow.

The view ahead to Selside Pike. Three things to point out here are:-
Branstree Tarn on the right.
Another one of the stone towers, to the left and in front of the tarn.
And the three people on the left of the picture, who were the first people I'd seen all day and the last until I got back to to the car.

A close up of the tower.

The valley of Swindale, taken from the route off Selside Pike.

The middle of nowhere, , well actually the route across to Hare Shaw.
The line running across from the left of the picture and into the lighter coloured grass is the Old Corpse Road. The route used to carry the dead, on horseback, from Mardale to Swindale and then onto Shap for buriel. The last occasion when the route was used for this purpose was 1736.

Back onto the corpse road and heading towards Haweswater.
We can just imagine what it must have been like for the people of Mardale, when at last they were able to bury their dead in the same valley in which they were born, lived and died. Little did they know that 200 years later the whole valley would be flooded to provide water for Manchester and all the bodies in the Mardale church yard would be exhumed and reburied along with their ancestors at Shap.

The largest of a group of ruins found on the steeper section of the corpse road.

Zooming in to this little stone bridge which is on the lake shore footpath.

Haweswater. The island on the left of the picture is called Wood Howe. Prior to the flooding of the valley this was a hill found next to Mardale Church.

A close up of the Island (hill) offering a tantalising glimpse of Mardale. This picture was taken from the corpse road.

The last shepherds' meet at the Dun Bull Inn in 1936.
The inn closed its doors for the last time on May 24th 1937 and the building was demolished in October 1938.

Holy Trinity Church Mardale 1935, the year in which its final service was held. It is said that 75 people crammed into the tiny church to take part in the last service on August 8th and hundreds more stood outside listening to the service from the loudspeakers which had been attached to the church tower.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks