19th September 2015

Visiting the Lake District Tarns - Walk 67

Kentmere Reservoir and Rainsborrow Tarn

Time 9:20am to 4:45pm
Duration 7 hr 25 min
Distance 12.7 mile
Ascent 4000 ft
Walking with Sam Rowlandson
Church Bridge, Troutbeck - Garburn Pass - Kentmere - Scales - Hartrigg - Kentmere Reservoir - Ill Bell East Ridge - Ill Bell - Rainsborrow Tarn - Yoke - top of Garburn Pass - Sallows - Sour Howes - Garburn Pass - Church Bridge, Troutbeck
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre -
Parking spaces, Church Bridge, Troutbeck

There isn't a great deal of room here; perhaps a few more than half a dozen spaces if you're lucky. Once these are taken however, people generally begin to park along the road near the church.

Parking is free

There are lots of walking on offer from this spot, but for myself, I find this an ideal place to head out onto the western arm of the Kentmere horseshoe.


Weather Readings

The Gadget
All readings were taken using a Kestrel 2000 Weather Meter
Live temperature recorded at the time I press the hold key
Maximum Wind Speed Maximum wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location Average Wind Speed
Average wind speed since the weather meter was turned on at each location
Wind Chill
Combination of wind speed and temperature. The gadget does the calculations not me.

Route Map


Today's walk is one of the last few 'tougher' tarns walks I have left to do in the project. And, it seems strange that this one has ended up being one of the last walks because out of all of them I'd particularly looked forward to it. It's just the way it worked out I guess.
The first section of the walk saw us walking right over Garburn Pass from Troutbeck to Kentmere which is an area I always enjoy. Here you see the bottom of Garburn Pass and depending on how you have your eyes tuned in, it looks like the the track is running down hill instead of up. Optical illusions and all that.

It was far from the crack of dawn while we were walking up Garburn Pass yet the shaded areas of the fellside were still holding onto the drenching they'd received from last nights dew. A sure sign that the marching of the seasons is advancing into Autumn.
Ahead of us on the right hand skyline are Ill Bell and Yoke. We'll be walking over them later in the day but not before we've visited the neighboring valley of Kentmere.

Turning around, we look beyond Troutbeck to see the final patch of cloud which a couple of hours earlier must have been part of a good sized inversion.

Lovely Troutbeck stretches away down below us with some of the higher surrounding fell tops still in cloud; but not for much longer.

Nearing the top of the Troutbeck side of Garburn Pass.

There might not be anyone in this picture or the next one but it was quite busy on the walk down to Kentmere. My guess was Kentmere horseshoe(ers), but you never know, there are lots of routes you can do after walking up here.

Heading down Garburn Pass.

Nearing the bottom of Garburn Pass we look down on Kentmere Hall with it's Medieval Peel Tower. Built in an attempt to resist the Scottish raids.

Our route meant that we didn't see very much of the village today but the little bit we did pass through was as lovely as ever.

From the village we make our way along the valley road. First of all passing by Scales.

The last inhabited place at this end of the valley is Hartrigg and I think I've said this before. Although there's nothing at all wrong with Kentmere, if they'd give me this house and let me have it relocated to a place of my choosing, I'd be very happy indeed.

Onwards we walk through the valley with hardly an incline worth drawing a heavy breath for. Although, as Sam said at the time. "from the way you described the walk I've a feeling this is the calm before the storm".


About two and a half mile further through the valley from Kentmere we reach the overflow from Kentmere Reservoir.

As I kneel on the bridge to take this picture I couldn't help but think how unnerving, yet dramatic this view would be if the outflow was in spate.

From this angle the dam on Kentmere Reservoir certainly blends into the landscape.

That's Ill Bell ahead of us with Froswick behind.

Here you have a close up of the reservoir's outflow. I could be wrong but I'm guessing that door gives access to the inside of the dam.

It's only when you get this close to the reservoir that you actually see the water and the size of the thing. A truly fantastic place to visit.

Looking across the top of the dam towards Lingmell End, Mardale Ill Bell (sort of) and the top of Nan Bield Pass.

Here's a final picture taken from the reservoir. Behind the water is Lingmell End which offers a very steep pathless route up to Mardale Ill Bell.
We leave the path above the reservoir and now the hard work really starts as we make our way up to the ridge itself.

You can't hide the fact that it's a tough walk up here, but with the luxury of youth on his side Sam increases the distance between us.

Looking down to Kentmere Reservoir.

The view back down the ridge. If you fall here, you won't stop rolling until you end up in the reservoir.

And here's the reservoir seen from higher up the ridge.

Not far from the top of Ill Bell now and I look across Upper Kentmere to Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag, High Street and Mardale Ill Bell.

We'd hardly set foot on the summit area when we both looked around, looked back down the east ridge and said what a fantastic place it was to walk. Here's one of the three cairns on Ill Bell's summit.

and here you see the other two cairns. I guess this group of people went for the 'we got here first so summit is ours' approach to fell walking. They were here when we arrived, they were here when we left after having something to eat and when I looked around as we walked up Yoke, they were still here.

Froswick, Thornthwaite Crag and part of High Street seen from cairn number one.

Looking in this direction the landscape is much gentler than it is behind us. If you look carefully you can see Rainsborrow Tarn just past the wall below us.

This picture offers a good profile of Ill Bell showing the steepness of our route up from the reservoir.

Before going to the actual top of Yoke we took a detour from the ridge path to visit Rainsborrow Tarn. It's not the biggest of tarns but it is in a fantastic setting; perched on this grassy shelf high up on the top of Rainsborrow Crag.


Yoke summit with Ill Bell behind.

Blimey; or as folk say these days, OMG, it wasn't half nice a hot walking down here. Brilliant, a great way to bring the walk to a close.

We're back at the top of Garburn Pass now and we opt to walk back over Sallows and Sour Howes instead of walking straight back down the pass. The extra distance isn't much to be honest and as the afternoon was going to end with plenty of sunshine, it seemed the right thing to do. Here I lean on the gate and look across to Red Screes and Stony Cove Pike.

The view towards Yoke and Ill Bell from Sallows.

Looking back across to Sallows.


The view south(ish) from the high point on Sour Howes.

and the turning around, the view north(ish).

A close up of the Town Head area of Troutbeck.

We walk back down the bottom section of Garburn Pass and enjoy the view through the valley to Troutbeck Tongue and the higher fells beyond.

What a great walk that was, with lots of different terrain on offer and lots of places of interest along the way. Now, I'm feeling like I've walked a long way.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks