The Kentmere Horseshoe
A circular route from Kentmere taking in nine of the two hundred and fourteen ‘Wainwright’ fells.
Route Start Location: Car park at the Kentmere Institute in Kentmere
|22.31 km||1449 m||6-8 hours|
Calculate the time using Naismith’s Rule and factor in your own pace.
Activivity Type: Hard Walk
Summits and Places on this Route
There are no toilets or other facilities in Kentmere or on the route. The nearest cafes, pubs and toilets are in Staveley.
Some boggy ground but otherwise no significant hazards.
Limited parking at the Kentmere Institute next to the church. Grid reference NY455042
There is no public transport to Kentmere. Staveley four miles to the south is served by buses and trains.
The Kentmere Horseshoe
The Kentmere Horseshoe is one of the classic Lakeland routes. It can be completed in a day and is usually done in a clockwise direction but this route goes anti-clockwise and includes an optional wild camp. It starts and finishes in the village of Kentmere, four miles to the north of Staveley. It includes nine ‘Wainwrights’ and is therefore very popular.
The Kentmere Horseshoe Route Description
There is no public transport to Kentmere so a car will be required. Limited parking is available at the Kentmere Institute near the church but it is often full by 8 am so arrive early!
From the church walk back down the road and over the bridge. Turn left and then take the first signed footpath, walk across the field and pass through a gate to emerge at some houses. Turn left onto the road and where the road turns slight left, keep right and go through a gate.
There is now an obvious path which traverses several fields before dropping down to the bridleway which runs between Kentmere and Long Sleddale. Cross the bridleway and pick up the path on the other side. The path heads north-west initially as it climbs the lower slopes of Shipman Knotts. Continue northwards on the good path which steepens in places and reach the summit of Shipman Knotts.
3 From the summit, continue northwards and if you wish, turn right and follow a fence to the top of Goat Scar for views into Long Sleddale, otherwise continue straight ahead over some boggy ground to reach the summit of Kentmere Pike. Continue north-west and drop down slightly before the long, gradual ascent to the flat summit of Harter Fell which is marked by a stone cairn and pieces of old metal fencing.
4 Our next objective is the Nan Bield Pass. From the summit, head due west on the good path which drops steeply in places to reach the stone shelter at the col between the two valleys. If you are planning a wild camp and the weather is not so good then it is probably best to drop down to Small Water where it is sheltered from the prevailing wind and there is plenty of water. This however means re-ascending to the Nan Bield Pass the next day to continue the route. If however the weather looks fair and you intend to camp on the route, then be aware that there is little or no water until reaching the Garburn Pass. It is recommended therefore that you drop down the path towards Small Water for 100m or so and collect water from one of the streams which cross the path.
Whatever your plans are, continue on the route by climbing away from the Nan Bield Pass to reach the summit of Mardale Ill Bell from where there are excellent views down into both the Mardale and Kentmere valleys.
5 Our next objective is High Street, at 828m the highest point on the route. Head north-west from Mardale Ill Bell, ignoring the path to the left which skirts around the top of Bleathwaite Crag. Pick up the broad path coming in from the left and walk the short distance to the trig point and summit of High Street. There are several suitable spots near the summit to pitch a tent and to enjoy the sunset and sunrise from your lofty camp.
6 From High Street we head south-west to pick up Thornthwaite Crag whose large stone beacon marks the summit.
7 We now head south on the broad path to begin the roller coaster ride over the last three summits of the route. The first is Froswick followed by Ill Bell with its two summit cairns. Both summits can be avoided if required by keeping to the lower path on the west side of the ridge.
8 From Ill Bell the going becomes more gentle as we climb to the summit of Yolk, the final ‘Wainwright’ on the route. Continue on the path heading south which soon broadens to become a stoney track. This can be followed until it reaches the bridleway or you can cut the corner across some wet ground to avoid the re-ascent to the head of the Garburn Pass.
The route now heads east, down the old corpse road to arrive back at the starting point in Kentmere.