Walk: Harter Fell from Esk Dale

Map for Harter Fell from Esk DaleThis 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!

Ascent: 1,972ft
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

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Jubilee Bridge, Hardknott GillCross 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.

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Esk Dale at BrotherilkeldEventually our path curves around to the left, crosses over the wall and begins to climb up more steeply. About 250 feet after passing the wall a side-path splits off to the left (the first few feet could be mistake for a stream, but it very soon becomes clear). Follow this path as it curves to the left, climbing gently around the fell. After a short distance the path comes to a T-junction where we turn left and continue to climb. Follow this path all the way to the summit.
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Foggy day on Harter FellThe 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.

Harter Fell north flankFollow 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.

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At the road turn left and follow it as it drops down from the highest part of the pass.
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Approaching Hardknott Fort from the pass At the first major twist in the road a footpath leaves to the right (signposted), continuing on in the same direction as the road behind. Take this footpath and follow it as runs across the flank of Hardknott, then gently curves around to the left and drops down towards the Roman fort. Follow the path in through the north-east gate and out through the south-west gate. After that it runs down the pass, parallel to the road, until eventually it reaches the small patch of trees opposite the car park. A stile to the left brings us back onto the road and our starting point.

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