Selside Pike

Date: 27 Oct 2019 Weather: 8’C, sunny, cold wind
Height gain: 1,486 ft Distance: 6.9 miles
Time taken: 3 hours 50 mins Wainwrights: 106 of 214

Route:  From large layby at Swindale Foot up road alongside Swindale Beck turning right at Swindale Head and up to join the Old Corpse Road then left at post to top of Selside and back the same way.


At last a sunny day is forecast but the winds are still expected to be up to 40mph at 3,000ft so we decide to stay relatively low today.  We had intended to carry on to Selside Pike when we did Branstree back in January but we got so cold that day we turned back.

S plans a different route up the opposite side of Selside from Swindale which avoids the long drive along Haweswater reservoir for the Gatescarth pass route we did last time.

We take my car as it should cope better with the little roads once we get off the M6 at Shap.  The drive is uneventful, although every horse in the area seems to be on the move today and we do the last four miles behind three slow moving horseboxes.

The parking area at Swindale Foot is big and obvious and has a farm trailer and two cars already parked up but plenty of room for us as well.  We boot up and set off along the road with Swinside Beck running alongside it.

The valley is very pretty, especially in the Autumn sunshine:

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After nearly two miles of easy road walking we reach Swindale Head and head right through two gates and the only really steep climbing of the day – initially up a very vertical field and then we turn right to climb alongside a wall to meet the Old Corpse Road above us.  It’s wet, rocky and muddy on this bit and S is already thinking about potential alternative routes back to avoid it in descent.

We reach the Old Corpse Road which is grassy and boggy underfoot but pretty easy going:

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The views back to the valley are looking lovely:

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After a mile or so up the Old Corpse Road we reach a post which is our sign to turn left and head up the hillside.  Still grassy and boggy but an easy gradient for the last mile and 500ft of ascent to the top:

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It’s one of those walks when you know you have several hundred feet of ascent ahead of you but can’t see where it’s going to come from – the summit doesn’t look that far above us.  But as we trudge on we do gain height and when we reach the top we have indeed climbed the 1,350ft that AW promised us.

The summit is much like it’s neighbour Branstree – a featureless expanse.  We trot about to try and find the highest point.  Maybe this little stony bit is the top:

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Or maybe the shelter has been built to mark the top:

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Wherever the top is I think we’ve stomped about enough to be sure we got there.  It’s very windy now we’re out of the shelter of the valley and it feels very cold – probably about 2’C with the height and the wind chill.  There’s already someone in the shelter having her lunch and as we walk about taking photos she starts to leave but two more walkers reach the summit.

They aren’t hanging around, though, and after a couple of photos and asking us whether they can reach the Haweswater road by heading west off the top rather than going back over Branstree (we assure them they can – it’s what we did on our first ascent in 2012) they shoot off into the distance.

We settle ourselves in the now vacant shelter for some lunch but the wind is still reaching us.  We decide to sit outside it using the wall to protect us from the wind and this seems to work a bit better.  We munch our pasties and glug some water and it’s not too bad with the sun on us but we still cool down quickly.

As soon as we’ve finished eating we decide to warm ourselves up a bit taking the obligatory summit shots, although the views are quite limited.  We can see the familiar triangle of Kidsty Pike to the west with Rampsgill Head and High Raise to its right:

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There’s pretty glimpses of Haweswater reservoir below us, although the views come with a lot of grass in the foreground:

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I’m freezing by now and tuck myself against the shelter wall again while S finishes taking photos.  Once he’s done we make a start on the descent, moving quickly on the straightforward grass to warm ourselves up.

As we retrace our steps and lose height the wind drops again and the sun keeps us warm enough (although hats and gloves don’t come off all day).

The afternoon sunshine makes for lovely views we make our way down:

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We think about not making the turn off the Old Corpse Road and taking our chances of getting back to the road further on to avoid the 250ft of steep and slippery descent from earlier but in the end decide it’s not worth risking a lengthy detour for such a short bit of the walk – and in fact it’s fine with a bit of careful foot placement.

We’re soon back to the road and a pleasant two miles in the sunshine back to the car.

This has been a good route up Selside but like it’s neighbour it does have a dull top – which is surprising given how picturesque the setting is and how pleasant the climb on both this side and the Haweswater side of these mountains.