Favourite Fells – Harter Fell (Eskdale)

You can’t really go wrong with a mountain that looks like one – in terms of shape.  And Harter Fell is definitely the right shape.  Its pyramid is instantly recognisable from any angle, draws you in and summons you to the top.  But Harter Fell is a favourite not just because of its shape, but also because of its value as a view point to take in Eskdale.

Harter Fell sits apart from the big boys, yet doesn’t seem to mind.  It’s a fell which has enough self-confidence to be happy standing out from the crowd, but is nevertheless pleased when you visit.  That seems to match me and my walking.  And on the day I visited, I didn’t see anyone else on the fell until I was almost off it – another tick in the box.

The day I climbed Harter Fell was a mopping-up exercise at the end of my July 2010 exploration of Eskdale.  The previous day I had knocked off a long-standing target in the shape of Scafell, then escaped from the summit just as the thunderstorms rolled in, and returned to the hostel feeling rather pleased with myself.  Until I made the mistake of checking-in with work on my Blackberry in the evening.  Having come to the Lakes to get away from the overwhelming stress of the project I was working on, that was the last thing I needed.

So on my last day, I was well up for something to blow this all out of my mind, and found it.  I’d started the day walking up to Hardknott Pass and picking off Hard Knott in the damp mist and finding a radio ham setting up his unfeasibly tall aerial there.  I then crossed the road and turned my attention to Harter Fell, as the mist eased and the weather started clearing up generally.  A slog up past Horsehow Crags and Demming Crag, with me feeling the tiredness from the week of walking, saw me reach the summit at lunchtime.  An interesting array of clumps of rock, but it was a bit breezy and cold to do much other than hunker down in the lee of them and fill my face.  Next time I go back I will explore the outcrops in more depth.

But I did get a chance to take in some of the views, and what particularly struck me was the view eastwards to the Coniston Fells, with a prominent Seathwaite Tarn sitting below them.  This made a pleasant change after a week of mainly looking into Eskdale.  Of course the view west to Green Crag, another favourite fell and the next stop on this walk, with Devoke Water beyond is stunning too and one which filled me with immense satisfaction at the end of the trip.  In fact from Harter Fell I could see almost every fell that I’d visited on the trip, and this also helped make it special.

What also made it memorable is that by the time I was off the mountain I’d pretty much made a decision about my job.  A decision which has now resulted in me having a lot more freedom to spend time in the Lake District I love.  I plan to return to Harter Fell sometime this year to say thanks.

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