23rd May 2015

Visiting the Lake District Tarns - Walk 46

Tarns between Martindale and Mardale

Time 7:50am to 2:50pm
Duration 7 hr
Distance 10.8 mile
Ascent 3500 ft
Walking with Paul Sharkey
Martindale New Church - Mellguards - Brock Crag - Loadpot Hill - Wether Hill - Red Crag - Red Crag Tarn - High Raise - Kidsty Pike - Rampsgill Head - The Knott - Straights of Riggindale - High Street - Long Stile - Caspel Gate Tarn - Blea Water - Small Water - Nan Bield Pass - Mardale Head
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre -
Parking spaces, Martindale new church

There are plenty of parking spaces next to Martindale's new church and what a fantastic area this is. Found on what I'd call the back side of Ullswater this is as close as you're going to get to unspoilt.

The sheer quantity of walks that can be done from here would rival any other area in the Lake District, it may take a little more imagination and inventiveness than some places, but there really is something to suit everyone.

Parking is free.


Route Map


Today's walk was a linear route requiring two cars to make it work. The plan is:-
- Meet up at Mardale Head which is the end of the walk
- Leave one car there
- Drive around to the Martindale which is the start of the walk
- Do the walk
- Pick up the car at Mardale Head
- Drive to Martindale
- Pick up the other car
- If we don't get too confused, drive to the correct home in the correct car
Sounds complicated and difficult? Well, not really but it does add a bit of time onto the day so, an early start was arranged so we could do the driving and still start the actual walk at a decent hour.


I don't normally stop to take photos on route to a walk but the views of Haweswater seemed too nice to miss today. Here I'm looking across to The Rigg (the bit with the trees on), Harter Fell, Mardale Ill Bell, Rough Crag and High Street.

40 minutes after leaving Mardale Head we arrive at Martindale New Church to begin walking. Conditions are perfect for the day ahead and even before we'd really set off, we knew this was going to be a great day on the fells.

Martindale New Church.

Today's walk started by loosing a few hundred feet of height that inevitably had to be regained again on the route up the steep fellside behind Mellguards. Here, on the way down to the lower end of Fusedale we admire the view over Howtown and Ullswater.


We gain height on the steep fellside above Mellguards and the higher we get, the more extensive the views become.

After the steep climb up from the valley, the walk is now plain sailing with mile after mile of gentle grassy paths.

Approaching Loadpot Hill summit.

Loadpot hill always strikes me as being a lonely fell that doesn't get a huge number of visitors. I don't ever recall seeing anyone else up here other than the people I happen to have been with at the time. It makes you wonder how the area around the trig column manages to get trampled enough to stop the grass growing.

We pass by the ruined chimney which is all that remains of Lowther House hunting lodge. Must have been quite a site to see in the past.



Looking ahead and, , ,
looking back along the ridge.

One minute you're walking along not really paying attention to where you're putting your feet and then, your foot and ankle disappear in the mud. The scary thing was, only seconds later I looked around and there was no footprint or sign that anyone had stood in the mud.

Red Crag Tarn.


Even though it's all a matter of personal opinion, I'm sure most folk would still disagree, but, as we looked back along the ridge we both said that for us, this is fell walking at it's best.

High Raise summit.

Looking ahead to Kidsty Pike, Rampsgill Head, The Knott and High Street.

High Raise seen from Kidsty Pike.

A close up of Kidsty Pike, taken from the route across Rampsgill Head.

From Rampsgill Head we we make out way towards The Knott where I knew I'd be getting a good rest and Paul knew he wouldn't be getting one.

The Knott summit.
What happened now is that Paul would head over to Rest Dodd and I'd find a comfortable place out of the breeze to sit with our gear.
Today: I'm visiting tarns and Paul is walking the High Street route from Harry Griffin's 1977 book 'Freeman of the Hills'. The book recalls his challenge to visit all the Lakeland fells over 2000ft in the summer of 1977 aged 67 (blimey, what a guy). After reading a copy of the book Paul took on the project of following in Harry Griffin's footsteps by repeating the same 27 routes. If you've read the book you'll be aware of just how hard some of these walks are.

I'd had a lay down on The Knott over there for 40 minutes, we'd both had something to eat and now we continue on our way to High Street.

Looking through Riggindale to Haweswater.

Looking back along the Straights of Riggindale.

High Street summit was reached, as you'd expect on a sunny bank holiday weekend, at the same time as many other people coming from many other directions. Sadly for the rest of us, this couple 'claimed' the summit as there own and it was obvious that other folk lost out on their brief 'summit time'. Because I've been up here dozens of times in the past, standing at the actual top isn't something I'm particularly bothered about but, I do realise some people would have been grateful for 30 seconds to enjoy the satisfaction of getting to the top and to take a photo or two. At best, I guess some folk are just lacking in common sense. At worst they're just completely selfish.

Looking down to Blea Water. I'll be down there shortly.

Ahead of us is Rough Crag which is Paul's final 2000ft summit of the day. Although, I'm not going that far today. Instead, I'll be walking as far as Caspel Gate Tarn and then dropping off the ridge to get to Blea Water. As I said earlier, Paul is sticking to the actual routes done by Harry Griffin rather than simply ticking off the 2000ft summits in any old haphazard way, so, this was where we needed to part company for the rest of the walk. Paul would stick to his route, whereas I'd visit Blea Water and Small Water and then we'd meet back up at the car in Mardale Head. We reckoned our journeys would take about the same length of time but how close would we be.

Caspel Gate Tarn in front of Rough Crag

And now in front of Long Stile

And here's the dam at the outflow of Blea Water. If you're interested in timings, it took exactly ten minutes walking at my normal speed to get to here from Caspel Gate Tarn. Not very far at all.






Branstree, seen from my off path route between Blea Water and Small Water.

Here's part of Small Water which, unless you get higher up, is difficult to fit into a single photo.

The outflow.

Small Water and Nan Bield Pass seen from the outflow.


Shocking isn't it? Here we are only a week away from June and the walk down here was my first taste of really hot sunny weather so far this year.

As I walked the final half mile to the car I couldn't help but think that whatever walks come along for the rest of 2015, it'll take a lot to beat this one.
I almost forgot to say, I made it to the car ten minutes ahead of Paul. Just long enough to change my boots, get the deck chair out and get half way through eating an apple.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks