Branstree

Date: 8 January 2019                          Weather: 8’C, sunny, light wind

Height gain: 1,631ft                            Distance: 3.9 miles

Time taken: 2 hours 55 minutes      Wainwright count: 59 of 214

Route:  From Mardale Head car park at head of Haweswater up the Gatescarth Pass and back the same way.


A week of rain has kept us indoors but finally a clear blue day dawns so of course we head for the hills.  We had planned to do both Branstree and Selside Pike but abandoned mission on our way to Selside as we got just a bit too cold.

It’s quite a long drive to the end of Haweswater – driving the length of reservoir seems to take an age but on a day like today it looks beautiful (and the passenger, i.e. me, can enjoy the views).  Although it’s a Tuesday in January the car park is nearly full when we arrive at 11 am and we squeeze into the last available space.  We log the need to get here early as the walking season gets busier – we’ll be coming back here a few times on our planned Coast to Coast walk.

We boot up and set off up the Gatescarth Pass.  While quite enclosed the views are great against the clear blue skies – especially across to Harter Fell as we climb:

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This pic is taken from the car park – unfortunately neither of us seems to have taken any pictures on the ascent – very remiss of us.

The path up the pass is stony and straightforward but steep but for some reason I’m flying up and the heart rate is staying low.  S is finding it harder going – one day we’ll have a walk where we both feel good at the same time.

We reach the top of the pass and turn left for the last 400ft of ascent up the steep grassy hillside – my mysterious good form abandons me and we huff and puff up in a little over half an hour to reach the top:

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The top really is as dull as the foreground suggests – in fact I think I rate Branstree as the dullest top there is – the dome of the hillside restricts the views and the it’s wide and flat with a couple of stones to indicate the highest point.  AW isn’t that mean about this one – but for me it’s even duller than Burnbank Fell which he does lay into with gusto.  The views west towards the High Street range above are OK, improving if you walk along the hillside towards them.

The views back the way we came up towards Harter Fell are also OK:

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It feels cold despite all our layers, in fact the only puddle up here has ice on it:

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We head east to pick up the path to Selside Pike and soon reach the more interesting top of Artlecrag Pike:

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We huddle among the rocks here and have our lunch but we both get very cold.  Selside Pike looks a long way away (although only 1.5 miles) and we decide that we’re so cold we’ll go straight back down.

We retrace our steps back over the top of Branstree and start back down the pass.  Good views of Haweswater in the sunshine are ahead of us:

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And on the way down we do stop to take pictures of Harter Fell and the Kentmere round with Kidsty Pike’s triangular summit peeping out behind it:

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The descent is relatively quick and we’re soon back at the car.  We crank up the heating to defrost us on the drive home.  It’s a shame we got so cold – Branstree might have a dull summit but it was a beautiful day to be out and I really enjoyed the climb up the pass today.