The Full 13 Mile Kentmere Round - Perhaps now my favourite area!

May 17, 2017  •  6 Comments

Hello Folks,

The weather was promising quite a lot this weekend so my daughter Steph and I decided it's time we pushed the boat out and got a serious walk in. After much deliberation, I decided to plot this brand new route that neither of us had done before. It's known as the Kentmere Round.

This route will visit the nine separate summits of:

  • Yoke (2'316 ft)
  • Ill Bell (2'484 ft)
  • Froswick (2'362 ft)
  • Thornthwaite Crag (2'572 ft)
  • High Street (2'717 ft)
  • Mardale Ill Bell (2'493 ft)
  • Harter Fell (2'556 ft)
  • Kentmere Pike (2'395 ft)
  • Shipman Knotts (1'926 ft)


Parking Location:

  • Kentmere.
    (3 car slots by the church, or a field locally at the bargain price of £3.)

  • Nearest Postcode: LA8 9JL


Time & Distance Info

  • Distance walked: = 13.2 miles
  • Time Taken: = 9 hrs
  • Total Ascent: = 3'690 ft


Please Note:
All image description text is "above" the image that it is referring to on my blogs.
Some find that odd... But that is the way I like to do it.


This route, when viewed in Opentopo map looks like this: (North / South Orientation correct)
(Walking clockwise from the bottom)


And the view of the route as seen on Google Earth. (Walking clockwise from the bottom left)


Here is the elevation profile: (Height on the left axis, and mileage along the bottom)


Steph and I left ours at 7:30am and were parked up in Kentmere at 9:30 am. I had intended to park at the Church, but today that option was full. Luckily, Maggs Howe has opened up a field for parking at the bargain price of £3 per day in the honesty tub. So the first image is dedicated to their contact details, as without that field to park in, this blog wouldn't exist... there really is nowhere else to park in Kentmere bar the 4 spaces outside the church.


Leaving the car park at 9:30 am, we head up to the church. Already the views are incredible.


Follow the road past the church and onto Garburn Pass.


All the while enjoying the views as you gently gain height.


The path is pretty solid and well travelled.


You certainly don't need to consult your map for quite some time...


I liked this example of old tree Vs new tree.


There comes a point, 1.75 miles into the route that you need to come off Garburn Pass and onto the fells.


The first fell of the day, Yoke is now up ahead. We hadn't stopped at all this morning so we decided that we would stop at that fence up ahead.


And from there, we drank a cup of tea and enjoyed the views looking back over Windermere.


Onwards. The summit must be just up here....


No, of course, it isn't.... but it is just up there!


Summit one, Yoke. Done.


The onwards view to Ill Bell.


It's worth wandering the 50ft out to Scar Crag to look over the side for your first view of Kentmere Reservoir.


Ok, let's get the selfie over with!


Onwards, Ill Bell ahead.


Kentmere reservoir looks great from here. But it was actually those most intrepid of woolly mountaineers I noticed first!


Enough sheep photography, time to start the pull up to Ill Bell.


Breather stops allow plenty of time to look back down to Kentmere.


And across to Harter Fell and Kentmere Pike, our proposed return path. Oh, along with a sunbathing sheep.


Looking back along the ridge to Yoke. The weather conditions are great for photography today.


The view from the twin cairned summit of Ill Bell.


The onward path to Froswick as viewed from Ill Bell summit.


This was one of the best parts of the route, we both enjoyed this section very much.


Froswick Ahead... There is some ominous cloud here and there but it never hangs around. One of the joys of a windy day!



Looking back toward Windermere with Ill Bell now behind us.



And the view back to Ill Bell from Froswick Summit.


That's three summits visited so far today. Froswick was the last of my new ones on this trip as I have done the others during other routes. But Steph has plenty of new ones to come. Our 4th Summit is ahead. Thornthwaite Crag, home to one of the Lake Districts largest cairns I think.


Looking back across to one of the 27 Wainwrights I have yet to visit. Troutbeck Tongue.


Moving on.... Turn left at the blue and white sheep...


Then just keep on going....


Two of the very few people we saw today made for a nice image as they ate lunch.


Finally... Our lunch spot comes into view, below another dark cloud!


Thornthwaite Crag.


At around 6 miles, this is a great place to take the boots and socks off while we take a 45-minute lunch as I can feel the first tingles of a heel blister! I carry a first aid kit with all manner of things in, from arm slings to blister plasters, but I find 30mins drying off your feet works perfectly in most cases. Skin blisters when its soft and wet.


Fed and watered, we move on. You can just make out most of Hayeswater Reservoir from here.


And up ahead... that most famous of Roman Roads... High Street.


Which for me I'm afraid, has always been a bit...


Well... How can I put it?


Like a cairn in a field I guess. I know folk won't like that opinion, but for me High Street is one of Lakelands most disappointing summits. It cant be helped, its just too broad, and because of its width there is no view to speak of at all, so no real reason to hang around it.


Steph didn't think much either... so we moved on immediately. Mardale Ill Bell and Harter Fell are next.


The further you get from High Street summit, the nicer the view becomes.


Mardale Ill Bell ahead.


Mardale Ill Bell Summit.


From here onwards is one of the most enjoyable hours you can have in the lakes.

I have been up here about 4 times now, includingsat up here after sunset and I just love this section of the fells. Small water down to your left holds your interest as you negotiate the rocky path.


And the onward path to Harter Fell makes you seriously consider whether this is a good point to bail out.


I mention bail out, as we will soon be upon the only point of the route you can escape the Horseshoe and drop down to valley level. We stopped here briefly to consider our options as we are 7.5 miles in and feeling pretty tired with at least 4 miles to go even if we bail out.


As the wind was howling and making it difficult to talk up here, we decided to keep on moving down to Nan Bield Pass as there is a shelter there we can use.


Nan Bield Pass shelter ahead. Nan Bield Pass runs from Mardale to Kentmere. Kentmere is to the right. We stopped in that little shelter for Coffee and Food for about 30 mins. As you read onwards, remember that this was the point you can bail out and ignore the final three fells as I mention it again later. I had done the following three fells already and didn't think much of the last two, but Steph still hasn't done them so I leave the decision entirely up to her.


As always, Steph is keen to keep going so its onwards and of course upwards we go. This is the view back over Nan Bield Pass to Mardale Ill Bell.


The whole Mardale and Haweswater area looks beautiful in todays awesome light.



There is a brief flattish bit on the way up Harter Fell.


To our right, across the valley, the scale of today's first three fells is quite impressive.


As are the ones directly behind us. We have covered quite some area today.


Small water looks awesome as always, I love that little tarn. An excellent wild camping location!


Now, this is actually the only fell of the nine that Steph has been on before. But her last trip was not quite as nice on the weather front. I took an image of her right about here on her last trip. Here is today's image...


Here is the image from our last trip to this fell... Complete with the Ski Masks we had just dug out to protect us from the driving rain.

That, to be fair... was a rubbish hike! Ha Ha.


What a contrast... As far as Steph is concerned, she has never actualy seen this area before and is counting it as a new fell.


Harter Fell summit ahead.



The Cairn Shot, looking over to Branstree and Haweswater!


From the cairn, turn right and follow the fence.....


And then the wall....


Until you come to Kentmere Pike.


Then follow a fence again, seemingly forever!


Until it turns back into a wall. There is at least a stile to brighten up this section.


Finally you will reach Shipman Knotts summit. The final descent from here is now a very welcome view.


From here it's follow the wall again...


A quick shot with Shipman Knotts behind as it looks a LOT better from this side.


Eventually, you come to a big wide path that links Sadgill and Kentmere, just follow it to the right.


And from here, its virtually road walking, so well laid is this path.


Just enjoy the views as you leave the fells and head towards the middle of the valley.


Amazing to think that today we have covered all those fells and more besides.


Oh...  I did of course manage to capture an image or two of some lambs today, since its lambing season.


This little chap being my firm favourite. How cute are those little horns?


Kentmere ahead. (See the church to the right?)

So that was it, certainly my favourite hike of the year, if not of all time. Steph and I both agreed that this round has surprised us greatly.

For me, I think it really is my favourite walk now. Steph still maybe favours the Ullock Pike ridge route with Skiddaw, and it's hard to argue as it's half the mileage and just as interesting, but something about Kentmere has really captivated me.

One thing I will add though, if you are not summit bagging, then miss out everything after Nan Bield Pass. I suspect that coming down from there to Kentmere Reservoir will enrich this round immensely, and I intend to find out soon.

I'm going to go back and do just that, or maybe even do it in reverse. I want to see what the further reaches of this valley has to offer and I think it will be something better than Kentmere Pike and Shipman Knotts. Time will tell... :)


Here is some data from my Suunto Ambit 3 peak watch. 
Calories etc are pretty accurate as I use the Suunto Smart heart monitor on all my hikes. GPS data is updated every 1 second so it records every single footstep, thus mileage often looks a little different to most navigation apps as they are usually set to update far less frequently and so miss a few turns here and there. All that wandering around looking at views adds up.   



Here is a 3D representation of the route created by Suunto Movescount.


Finally, Here is an interactive version of the map.
You can scroll and zoom around this map and if you click it, you can go to Wikiloc and download the GPX file I created for this route.

Powered by Wikiloc


Author's footnote.
The fells are there to be enjoyed, not endured. When it stops being fun, turn back and go home. Above all, remember the golden rules:

1) "Getting to the top is optional - Getting back down is mandatory"

2) "Take only pictures, leave only footprints and keep only memories".


Camera Details:
All images in this blog that don't state they were taken on my phone, were taken with my little pocket-sized Canon G7X point and shoot. Its not a patch on my Canon 5D MK3 of course but I no longer lug all that around with me hiking as its just too cumbersome. When I find a scene worthy of the 5D3's talents, I usually return one day to make the best of it.


Route Completed on May 14th, 2017 with Stephanie Sanderson.

New Wainwrights: 3. New total: 187 of 214.
New Birketts: 3. New total 258 of 541.


Stewart Sanderson Photography
Hi George,
Thanks, glad you enjoyed it, I cant wait to do that alternate route down from Kentmere and yes, I may try it in reverse.

yes, Been up from Mardale side a few times, one of my favourirte winter areas. :)

Will take a look at that Blog now, thanks.
George Kitching(non-registered)
Another great blog Stewart. The Kentmere round is one of my firm favourites too. From the start of the Garburn Pass to the top of Harter Fell is a passage of unbroken beauty. I agree, the next section over Kentmere Pike is a bit featureless, although I think it improves over Shipman Knotts - I like it's rocky outcrops and views over Longsleddale.

I've done the route down the Nan Bield Pass to the reservoir and back through the valley too. Well worth it. It's every bit as beautiful as you imagine. Bill Birkett recommends doing the round the opposite way to "save the best till last". Will try that next time.

I like the top of High Street simply for its history but I must disagree about the views. On a clear day the view west is an amazing panorama of Lakeland Fells. In fact when I last did the Kentmere round I was so enrapt with the views over Hayeswater to Fairfield, St Sunday Crag, Helvellyn, Great Gable, Blencathra etc, that I managed to walk right over High Street without realising. I then had a disorienting moment wondering where it had gone, why the Kentmere reservoir had grown and sprouted an island and why Mardale Ill Bell now looked suspiciously like Kidsty Pike!

Have you climbed High Street from Mardale up Rough Crag? What Wainwright calls the connoisseur's route? That way reveals all its most striking features. Here's my blog on that route if it's of any interest.
Stewart Sanderson Photography
Thanks for the kind words Diane.
Diane Armstrong(non-registered)
What a fantastic blog/ write up whatever it's now called. I've bookmarked this as I shall do it next year when my walking legs are more established! Many thanks for such an interesting and well written thorough account of the route!! Photos are fab!!!!
Stewart Sanderson Photography
Thanks Val, glad you enjoyed it. :)
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