15th April 2012

Walking the Lakeland Passes - Walk 10 - Nan Bield Pass, Stile End and Gatesgarth Pass


Walk Overview
Time 08.25 to 15.40
Duration 7 hr 15 min
Distance 11.5 mile
Ascent 3500 ft
Walking with Jennifer
Mardale Head - Small Water - Nan Bield Pass - Kentmere - Stile End - Sadgill - Gatesgarth Pass - 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

We headed out for another one of the passes walk today and this was one that Jennifer particularly wanted to join me on. She always enjoys walking from Mardale Head, doesn't get to Kentmere very often and can't remember much about Sadgill. Three good enough reasons to come along for the day.

Jennifer heads up the side of Small Water Beck.

Small Water.
I didn't notice until I started typing, but that's Jennifer's hand on the right of the picture. We're heading around the side of the tarn and then up to the low point on the skyline.

Walking past the shelters.

Looking back down to Small Water.
This is a lovely tarn in a lovely setting and for anyone who can still manage a little bit of up hill walking but not necessarily a walk onto the higher fells, this would make a great outing on its own.

Small Water and Haweswater, seen from high up on Nan Bield Pass.

My God, there wasn't half a cold wind up here. Never mind hanging around, lets get over to the sheltered side of the pass.

The zigzags on the Kentmere side of the pass were created in this way to make the journey a little easier for the packhorses that used this route in the past. Us modern fell walkers have simply stuck with an established idea that works.
That's Kentmere Reservoir down there.

Yoke, Ill Bell and Froswick.

A view back up the pass. The shelter at the top of the pass can be seen on the skyline.

Ill Bell and Froswick above Kentmere Reservoir.

This is another view looking back up Nan Bield Pass.

Who said graffiti was a modern thing. No spray cans in those days however; this was hammer and chisel work.

A view down to Kentmere or should I say this is only part of Kentmere. The valley just keeps going on and on, twisting and turning its way from the head of the valley below High Street to Staveley.

Our crossing point of Ullstone Gill.


Passing by Overend Farm.

This is Low Lane, one of many such lanes found around Kentmere.

Part of Kentmere.

St Cuthbert's Church Kentmere.
Little is known of the early history of this building. It has been suggested that parts may be of Norman or even Saxon times. It was re-roofed, probably in the mid-16th century, and the present ceiling beams are thought to be of that age. The building's site, in the middle of a circular walled burial ground next to a yew tree which is around 1000 years old, would suggest a very early place of worship.

Of the many St Cuthbert churches in the North of England, most were dedicated to Cuthbert after his cult became popular in the later middle ages. It is not known whether this church in Kentmere was built around that time and given a popular dedication, or whether there were any earlier associations between St Cuthbert and the site.

Funny what catches your eye.

Looking back across to the village and the church from High Lane.

"Of course you can take my photo. There's no point in being this cute if you're shy"

This is the start of the Stile End Crossing or as a sign warning 4x4 drivers called it; Longsleddale Pass. I prefer the former, but that's just me.

A view towards the Upper Kentmere direction with Yoke, Ill Bell, Froswick. Thornthwaite Crag and Mardale Ill Bell in the picture.

Looking ahead, , , ,

, , , , and now looking back.


At Sadgill now and after a sit down for five minutes we'll be heading over Gatesgarth Pass.

Sadgill Bridge and farm.

It always feels like a long way over here. Probably because I tend to walk this route at the end of a long walk rather than the beginning of one.


The view back down to Sadgill / Longsleddale.

This makes it a little easier. I wonder if the whole route used to be like this.

Almost at Brownhowe Bottom.

Today - - - - - I have been mostly I taking pictures of Jennifer walking away from me !!
This is the final up hill of the day.

At the top of Gatesgarth Pass. You'd hardly believe it but a few minutes later it was snowing.

The Gatesgarth Pass zigzags.

Haweswater comes into view so it's not much further now.

Well what a great walk that was. Three different valleys by three passes and in particular, the lovely countryside around Kentmere. I realise that most people would prefer to head up onto the fell tops but if you ever have the notion of trying something a bit out of the ordinary you couldn't do much better than this one.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks