Selside Pike and Branstree

Or: More Bagging with X-Ray

Or: My Favourite Christmas Present II

The weather forecast predicted wide-spread fog and hinted at the possibility of a cloud-inversion in the Lake District. We began our drive this morning in mist, although we occasionally emerged into sunshine and it seemed that the mist was light and would soon burn off. In fact we hadn’t got far north before we’d left the mist behind and emerged into clear skies and sunshine. We parked by Haweswater and picked up the excellent zigzagging path which is the old corpse road connecting Mardale, the valley which Manchester Corporation flooded to produce Haweswater, to Shap where Mardale folk were buried before Mardale had it’s own church. The path passes the remnants of a couple of small buildings, one of which can be seen above.

There was barely a breath of wind and despite it being February with frozen ground, snow on the hills, ice in shaded parts of the lake etc I was soon very warm and divested of all my warm gear and walking in a t-shirt. We didn’t see many other walkers today, but one guy who passed us was in shorts, which may have been taking things a little too far.

Anyway, although X-Ray professes to a single minded Wainwright bagging approach he acquiesced when I suggested a short diversion to take in the knobbly cairned top of Brown Howe which is a Birkett.

From there a steady pull took us up Selside Pike. As we climbed it became progressively easier to string together patches of nice firm compacted snow which was a delight to walk on. We sat for quite a while on the top, enjoying the view of High Street and its neighbours and of Cross Fell in the Pennines.

We continued over High Howes, which is unnamed on the OS map, and then dropped past two small frozen tarns…

Beyond which we could see a strange dark obelisk rising out of the hillside. We thought that it might be the thing out of 2001. Or a ventilation shaft for a mine deep under the hill, or some sort of religious monument. When we got closer…

…we were none the wiser.

Close by there were more stone structures atop Artle Crag…

…from where it was just a short walk to the top of Branstree. I couldn’t persuade X-Ray that we should continue round on to Harter Fell so we finished with a gentle descent back to the car and another good zigzagging path where the slope steepened near the end.


A stream side tree beset with moss and ferns.


Driving home we finally did see our cloud inversion. As we dropped down the long hill on the M6 towards junction 36 we saw a vast sea of cloud stretching away southwards.  When we entered the cloud it was dense and dark and cold. Quite hard to credit that it was the same day. Apparently at home they had a sunny morning but then the clouds gathered and the afternoon had been foggy and dank.

Selside Pike and Branstree

5 thoughts on “Selside Pike and Branstree

  1. The answer to the monuments is found on BG’s blog. He camped there If I am correct (near by) and they were survey points for the water authority…don’t hold me to that 100% Photos of his walk on his blog. Nice post by the way.

  2. beatingthebounds says:

    Thanks Martin – I checked BG’s blog you are right, and you have a better memory than me!

    Too right Ron about the weather forecast – you just have to bite the bullet and get out there, otherwise we would never do it!

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