Wednesday 20 August 2014. The plan for today was to do the Kentmere Horseshoe. It is a classic Lake District route and one that I’ve long wanted to do. I tried a couple of years ago but there is very limited parking and it was all taken on my previous visit. I wasn’t going to be denied today and arrived at 08:00 to bag one of the two remaining spaces.
It was another lovely sunny day as I set off on the steady climb up Garburn Pass and on to my first “Wainwright” at Yoke 2,316ft. I stopped for coffee just before the summit and after 2 hours of walking. There followed a series of steep downs and up of about 400ft each as I made my way north. The next “Wainwright” was Ill Bell 2,484ft, quickly followed by “Wainwright” No3 in Froswick 2,362ft. I had lunch before another long climb then took me up to “Wainwright” No4 at Thornthwaite Beacon 2,762ft. This marked the extent of my northerly travels and I then turned east to head for “Wainwright” No5 Mardale Ill Bell 2,493ft. By now, my energies were diminishing and I just couldn’t face another “Wainwright” as the 500ft climb to the summit of Harter Fell proved to be one hill too many. Instead, I opted for what I thought would be an easier route back and turned south to follow the path from Nan Bield Pass down to Kentmere Reservoir and my final stop of the day. The going became a little easier from here as I followed bridleways and farm access roads along the upper stretches of the River Kent valley.
Naismith’s rule adds 30 minutes for every 1,000ft of ascent. My walk was 11.75 miles with a staggering 3,500ft of ascent so, walking at 2 mph, it should have taken me about 7.5 hours. As I started at 08:10 and didn’t finish until 15:45, I guess that I was just about on schedule. Had I known before that the walk was going to be so hard, I might have thought twice about doing it? I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t manage the full horseshoe and missed out on a couple of “Wainwrights” but I did manage to bag 4 new ones and to visit Thornthwaite Beacon again. Whist the going was hard, the views were spectacular. I could see across the Coniston Fells in the west and as far as Heysham on Morcambe Bay with Blackpool Tower just visible in the very far distance. Looking north-west I could see across the Langdale Fells to Great Gable and Scafell. To the east I could see across the Howgills to Ingleton and Pendle Hill.
By the end, I was completely knackered and think that other walks on this holiday will be a little less challenging.