A long day among the Shap fells.


Walk Overview
Date 30th July 2011
Time 07.30 to 16.40
Duration 9 hr 10 min
Distance 16.5 mile
Ascent 3300 ft
Walking with Richard Ratcliffe
Wet Sleddale Reservoir - Sleddale Hall - Seat Robert - Scam Matthew - Mosedale Cottage - Gatescarth Pass - Branstree - Artle Crag - Selside Pike - Hobgrumble Gill - Nabs Crag - Forces Falls - Swindale Head - Swindale - Truss Gap - road near Tailbert - road to Coopers Green - Wet Sleddale Reservoir
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Car park, Wet Sleddale Reservoir

This car park offers access to the wonderfully remote Shap Fells. Even though the terrain around here is wide open and remote, the car park itself is actually quite close to the busy A6 road and the village of Shap.

Parking is free and I should imagine you'll always manage to get a space.


Route Map

That's clever, if your dog is on a short lead and it gets bit by an adder, it won't get injured or die. I wonder if it works for humans as well.

Early morning reflections on Wet Sleddale Reservoir.
We're heading up to Sleddale Hall; the building below the highest point on the skyline.

The holiday season is in full swing now and with a good forecast for today, many areas of the Lakes would be far too busy for comfort. Fortunately there are still places where you can escape the crowds and this is one of them.


The back of Sleddale Hall.
I'd love to have had a look inside, but I thought keeping out would have the same effect as wearing a short lead has against Adder bites.

Seat Robert summit.

Heading across the moorland to rejoin the main path between Wet Sleddale and Mosedale.

Looking back to Seat Robert as we crossed an area of slightly wetter ground..

What a fantastic place.
The white speck in the centre of the picture is Mosedale Cottage; the next point to aim for on our route.


Approaching Mosedale Cottage.

Breakfast in the open air restaurant.
We thought this guy was one of the visitors staying the night, until we got chatting, and it turns out that along with his mate who was indoors cooking bacon and eggs, they come here from Shap most weekends to escape reality, and to maintain the cottage. What a great hobby.

Sadly, he told us that even in such a remote spot as this, vandalism is still something they need to contend with. Fires and damage to windows were just a couple of things that he told us about. It really does make you loose what little faith you have in human nature.

There's nowt like bit of comfort is there? The guy outside told us these were donated by someone when they were brand new.


A view back to Mosedale cottage.

Looking cross Brownhowe Bottom to Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts.
There is a path that runs more or less straight through this area to Gatescarth Pass (you can just see it on the right). Today, we left the path and headed round to the right so I could take some pictures of a sheepfold.

Gatescarth Pass and Brownhowe Bottom.

That's our route up to Branstree.
I could tell you that it's a simple case of following the fence; which isn't far from the truth. However, it was so wet in the dip, we ended up walking further and further to the left to avoid ending up with boots full of water before eventually heading back to continue following the fence..

Branstree summit.

and a short distance from the summit you come to Artle Crag.

Between Branstree and Selside Pike we crossed a not so boggy Captain Whelter Bog.

A view across to the High Street ridge, taken from Selside Pike.

The nature of the route meant that we needed to take a somewhat out of the ordinary route From Selside Pike. This took us down the the delightfully named Hobgrumble Gill.

I took this picture of Swindale from Hobgrumble Gill.

From the edge of the crags you get a great view into the valley. If the Manchester water people had had their way, we'd have been looking down to another reservoir with a dam at the narrow end of the valley. Thankfully the scheme never went ahead and we can still enjoy the beauty of the place.

Heading down from Nabs Crag.

Forces Falls. This is the higher of a series of falls that make up what must be one of the best sets of waterfalls in the Lake District.
Definitely a hidden gem.

We weren't prepared for what we saw next. Richard was looking for a good spot to take a dip when he noticed this bloke sitting on a rock without a stitch on. He didn't seen to be bothered at all because we were there and politely gave us a wave. Richard waved back, I smiled and we just carried on walking.

A couple of minutes later I realised I'd dropped something ( a flannel ). Never mind I'll nip back up for it. On the way back I looked up and my heart sank, , , , O God, the naked rambler was standing there with it in his hand. Yes that's right, I'm talking about the flannel, what did you think I meant !
He asked "is this what you're looking for" and I had one of those 'quick think of something to say' moments.


Careful where you put your feet.

Despite the long walk we'd had already, it was still about 6 miles back to the cars from here.

And again, this time looking back to where we'd came from.

Once we'd left Swindale behind, the countryside took on a totally different appearance; confirming that we were on the very fringes of the Lake District. The lakes, hills and tarns may have gone, but it was no less attractive. It reminds me of the area around Caldbeck.

Looking across to Shap.

We followed a section of the old road that runs between Shap and Haweswater for a while now. The road was built as an easy route for the wagons taking stone to build Haweswater Dam. I assume there wasn't a road across here prior to that, so why didn't they either remove it after the dam was finished or turn it into a proper road. Not to worry, it was nice and quiet and it does make a good cycle route.

Hay making below Wet Sleddale Reservoir.

Thinking about it, this place is quite remote, so for all we know, there could be a whole colony of naked people living among these hills and we just happened to bump into one of them. Perhaps they've been living in isolation up here since the time of the Romans when people used to flee into the hills to escape from the armies. Obviously some of them thought it was a good idea to stay up there until the Romans left. I know we could have told him it was safe to come back down, but we never thought of it at the time.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks