This walk from Esk Dale takes us up Harter Fell, one of the most distinctive Lake District fells, and one that pops into view from the top of a surprisingly large number of other fells. After Harter Fell we drop down to the top of Hardknott Pass, and then visit Hardknott Roman Fort before returning to our starting point. On a clear day there is an impressive view from the top of Harter Fell, although the weather when we did this walk means that we can't actually provide any proof of that!
Length: 4.4 miles
Map: The English Lakes - South Western Area (OS Explorer Map Active)
Last Walked: 16 August 2009
We start from the small parking area at the foot of Hardknott Pass
Cross Hardknott Gill on the small footbridge at the base of the car park. Turn right and follow very clear path that begins to climb up the side of the fell, at first to the left of the wall, and then after crossing Dodknott Gill to the right.
The path reaches the summit in a grassy gully between rocky outcroppings, with three separate 'tors' to the left and one lower one to the right (take plenty of time to explore this fascinating target). Our route onwards continues on straight through this gully. At the far end, just as the path begins to drop, it splits - take the left-hand branch, which heads towards the top of Hardknott Pass.
Follow this path as it runs to the right of Demming Crag, and then crosses a small stream in a grassy ravine. This brings us to the ridge that links Harter Fell to Hardknott Pass. It is possible to follow the main path all the way, but for my taste this runs a little to far back from the view. The western side of the ridge is lined with a series of crags, each with grassy backs and great views down Eskdale - make your own way along this ridge (avoiding if possible the wet patches), heading for the road. Don't be tempted to drop down to the left at this stage - Hardknott Gill can be awkward to cross.