The Corpse Road and beyond.
20th April 2006
The weather forecast had prepared us for rain or at least showers and
consequently we (or at lest one of us) were perhaps a little
overdressed for a day that threatened sunshine more than it threatened
We (Bryan, Tony, Stan & I)
parked at Mardale Head and walked back along Haweswater to pick up the
Old Corpse Road over which the poor ponies used
to carry the newly departed for burial at Shap. You had to feel sorry for them as they picked
their way up the steep climb to Mardale Common.
Would they be allowed to stop regularly to enjoy the scenery as we did?
bodies on the Corpse Road
Turning right up Selside End we were soon enjoying fine views down Swindale (although Stan
was moaning that that would have been his preferred way up!). We decided to take team picture and lunch at
the shelter on Selside Pike- we were only doing that peak and Branstree so a one
stop strategy seemed appropriate.
halo round the sun
Meanwhile however there was a very strange atmospheric apparition- there
was a huge but faint halo around the sun- quite some distance away from it but
perfectly formed. Or at least that is
what I could see. The others saw nothing
but rather than accuse me of having taken banned
substances, they were kind enough to suggest it was something to do with
my photochromic lenses. However I have
the photographic evidence- see the photo and judge
After lunch we had a change of plan and, as the weather
was holding up fair and almost sunny, we decided to include an extension to
Captain Whelter Bog (who was Captain Whelter and what happened to him in the
bog??) there was an unusual structure off to the left. Was it a chimney (per Bryan) or a survey
point (per Stan)? Stan set off to investigate whilst we
continued up what we thought was Branstree.
Once reunited at the cairn Stan confirmed it was a survey point that had
been spotted- built by the Manchester waterworks surveyors. We then realised we were not actually at the
summit of Branstree but rather at Artle
Crag Pike- although from where we were it looked neither like a crag nor a pike
and possibly not even an Artle. The real
summit of Branstree, a little further on, is also a bit of a
nothing other than a ring on the ground for some surveyors' trigonometrical
equipment but provided a panoramic view of the
length of the High Street range- to complete the length of which is Stan's
challenge to the Boot Boys (see BB0617).
Descending down to Gatescarth Pass I have to confess that I had to call a
halt due to lack of proper preparation before setting off. Two toenails required surgery as they were
interfering with the proper function of
feet- i.e. they were cutting in and hurting me.
I did think about saving them for Peter McLaren who has an unusual but
non-the-less interesting use for such things
but decided to throw them away, a fact that will bring relief to his
Now it was time for our extension and a period of madness. I am not sure if it was Stan's tales of
racing across the hills, determined that
Chris Brasher should not beat him, or if
it was my failure quite to catch the group of youths that I chased up Levers
Hause last week but when I saw a couple halfway up the track up Little Harter Fell I decided they had to be
caught before the top. This time
success- it was like winning a climb in the Tour de France as they moved over
and applauded me through!
I waited for the others, enjoying some shelter and the splendid views
down Haweswater with the Corpse Road just about visible opposite the Rigg. When they arrived there was a debate about
having a second stop but the consensus was not to have the second stop until we
had finished the climbing.
So when we reached the cairn with the tangled metal at the top of Harter
Fell it was then agreed to drop down a little and have the break.
from Little Harter Fell
We set off sooner than we might otherwise as
it looked as if the weather might start to close in. Unfortunately it turned out that we had got
the wrong cairn and we had not yet reached the absolute top. This was put right and we headed down towards
the Nan Bield Pass with good views in both directions, including the extreme
route that Bryan led us up from Kentmere last year. All I can say is that it was a good job it
was misty when we went up it!
Down Nan Bield, past Small Water (which, Graham, looked very inviting)
and back to Mardale Head where we agreed with Wainwright that it would have been
a far more sensible place for the Haweswater Hotel to be located.
A good excursion and
it almost felt like spring!
Don, 20th April 2006
Selside Pike, Branstree and Harter
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