There are three Harter Fells in Cumbria, all providing excellent walking. This July ramble climbs to the summit of the Harter Fell that stands between and midway along the Duddon and Eskdale valleys – the loveliest Harter of them all in my view.
Park at GR 213012, the west end of the Hardknott Pass. Access this by using the Pass. Or approach from the west by the valley road through Eskdale. This is a lovely road and less hard work on the driver.
1 From the layby parking area, walk down the road for a few steps to cross, left, the almost hidden lovely little Jubilee Bridge over Hardknott Beck. Go on through two gates and carry on the ascending track below the slopes of Harter. Follow the track as it climbs steadily and winds round left as you approach a wall. Continue climbing to cross Dodknott Gill, a delightful corner where walkers like to picnic on the boulders above the hurrying beck. Then pass through a gate.
2 Carry on up, the path good in places and a bit rough in others, to pass through another gate (maybe open and not noticed) and climb again to wind round a small crag on the right of the path. Just beyond this a distinct path leaves the track and sets off left, then bearing right, to climb the slopes. If the heather is in bloom this adds to the fine climb to the ridge and beyond.
3 As you near the summit the path winds left at a small cairn and needs a little scrambling to bring you to the highest craggy outcrop, and the summit cairn. Then go on a short way to a lower up-thrust where stands the trig point. Here enjoy the magnificent view of the Scafells and a grand one down Eskdale to the sea.
4 When you have had your fill on this shapely pyramidal rocky top, leave by your approach route and descend to the small cairn. Here look for a path going off slighty left of the path used on your ascend that drops down a rocky gully. At its foot the pa thcontinues easily over a wide grassy plateau. This descent and promenade is repeated, pleasingly, several times. Then keep to the right side of a small plantation and go on a short way to join the track once more. Turn right and stroll on the path, avoiding the wet areas and muddy parts, using the detours taken by other walkers. Continue on your outward route to return to where you have parked. Maybe you’ll find time to visit Hardknott fort. Use your OS map to reach it by footpaths, rather than ascending the road over the Pass.
Distance: 5.5 miles
Time: 4 hours
Terrain: Tracks and path, all rough in parts but not a too challenging walk
Map: OS Explorer OL 6
NB: Restrictions on space mean that this article provides a general summary of the route. It is advisable for anyone who plans to follow the walk to take a copy of the relevant Ordnance Survey map.