Despite visiting the Lake District three times on our winding ways up and down from Scotland in the van, I had never walked further into the wild than the banks of Haweswater Reservoir.
It is beautiful there, unspoiled, and I'd been half expecting my impression of the place to be ruined by the motorway or an ugly town over the brow of the nearest hill.
This time, in late November, we could see patchy snow on the peaks. The wind was icy and we'd armoured ourselves with layers for the promised "short walk" planned; good boots and everything else I'd already been wearing just to make the morning coffee. We set off with no particular end goal, marching up hill fast enough to beat the cold.
In the direction of "Gatescarth Pass", we followed a path up the mountain, through a gate intended to stop deer and slowly onto the ice and snow. Far above us, sheep grazed casually where few humans would dare to cling.
Soon we were atop the towering granite faces I'd admired from below. Far from the disappointment I had feared, there was nothing but further snowy mountain ranges and a glint from the sea over the horizon.
I grinned like a mad woman as we powered into the wind; the snow was soft and crunchy. We followed the long summit around to the west. Another small lake, invisible from the mountain foot, collected the clear, icy water before feeding it into Haweswater below.
As usual, the descent was the most difficult part. Battling fierce gusts, we clambered down over the frozen rocks. The typical pattern of eroded pathway hollowing out into a water course, took on a new meaning now it was solid. The wind was all or nothing.
We traipsed around Small Water, the lagoon we'd seen from above, and were shortly below the frost line.
Potentially useful information...
- At a reasonable speed, the Harter Fell hike took us three hours. I would allow quite a bit more time than that if the weather is better (as you might want to stop) or want to walk at a more of a leisurely pace. It is 6km/3.8m.
- You will definitely want walking boots, warm and windproof hiking layers, water, a snack and of course a mobile phone just in case.
- A detailed description of the route can be found on the "WalkLakes" website.