Harter Fell

Published 28 June 2012. Last updated 7 November 2019

The summit of Harter Fell

Eskdale, oh beautiful Eskdale. If you’ve never been, you really should. Tucked away, off the beaten track at the south west of the Lake District, Eskdale is a beautiful place, and you can’t go wrong with a fell walk from the village of Boot, taking in Green Crag and then onto Harter Fell.

“Excuse me. You wouldn’t know where we are on the map would you?” asked a broad Mancunian accent.

Wasn’t much use asking me. I always have this feeling I’m the World’s worst reader of maps, although I did get an A in a high school geography lesson where we had to make a 3D model of a hill from a map, using polystyrene and plaster of Paris. Still I had just noticed that I’d crossed over a stream so I could at least work out roughly where I was this time round.

Having just come from the peace and tranquillity of Green Crag, Harter Fell felt more like a motorway – well, relatively speaking anyway

From high up on Green Crag I’d spied what looked like a direct route between the two fells, but being unclear where that particular path went (and whether it would allow me to get to the top) I’d headed pretty much back down to ground level before joining the convoy of people all heading up to Green Crag’s larger neighbour from Penny Hill Farm.

Harter Fell was the complete opposite to Green Crag. Whilst old Greenie had been quiet and gentle, Harter was the complete opposite. Whilst Wainwright described Harter Fell’s slopes as beautiful, the climb was more “unremitting slog” in my books. A constant, steep climb that never seemed to end. The summit always in sight, but never seeming to get any nearer.

At least the path was well marked; no getting lost up here thanks to a string of small but obvious cairns. Anyway, if I was ever in any doubt, all I needed to do was follow all those other people. And that was pretty much what I did. Up the bits strewn with rubble, along the gentle bits, past the path that clearly had come from Green Crag and which would have saved me about an hour if I’d taken it…

The higher I got, the harder every footstep seemed to take. And then, just as I thought I’d got to the top, Harter Fell proved it had one final trick up its sleeve by providing a ride range of false summits. Is this the top? No? This one? No chance. Surely this one… please?

Every crag seemed like I was heading for the final push before leaving the walker disappointed. And then the path levelled off slightly, arriving at a gentle plateau with rocky tors on either side. To my left, the “official” summit marked by a trig point. And to my right, a whole 4m higher, a large rock marked the true peak; inaccessible to any fell walker not prepared for a bit of rock climbing.

Well stuff that for a game of pigeons. It may have been 4m lower in height, but the trig point was good enough to me. And when, a few minutes later, I saw the look of panic on a middle aged woman who was struggling to climb down from the rock, well I knew I’d made the right decision.

AW described Harter Fell as a peak you’d want to linger on, and I did. Although perhaps not for the reasons he thought. My excuse was that I was completely knackered after the climb, having come to the conclusion that I simply wasn’t fit enough. But then, whilst I was resting, I looked out at the view and thought that maybe that Wainwright block knew what he was talking about after all.

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