26th September: With the cloud low and a slight nip in the air I met Alison and Lee at the foot of Garburn pass. Both looked happy and eager to smash some time off the estimated 5.5 hours it takes to get around the route.
The Kentmere horseshoe is one of Adventure Peaks longer guided walks, taking in almost 14km and over 550m of ascent gain, there are ups, down, scenic tarns and beautiful moorland. The guys couldn’t wait to get started.
From start point of Nook in the lovely Kentmere Valley we made our way up to the spectacular humps of Yoke and Ill Bell. The cloud lifted a little every now and then to tease us with views over the Troutbeck valley on one side and the Kentmere reservoir on the other. Both Lee and Alison were impressed with the sudden drops off Wander Scar to our right and the fleeting glimpses of the Mardale Ill Bell/Harter Fell ridgeline at the opposite side of the horseshoe. ‘Are we going over there?’ Alison asked. ‘Oh yeah’
After a quick snack and coffee we walked down off of Froswick and began our final ascent to Thornthwite Carg. Lee and Alison both started to feel the cooler air as we reached the top so I advised them to layer up until they started to heat up again.
The view was 0% on the summit as the cloud seemed to have parked itself up for the day at 600m. But at least we had a spooky moorland to cross, the odd crow flying out of the long grass to give us a fright. As we wandered over to Mardale Ill Bell we could hear the voices of other walkers but failed to crossed paths. We stopped for lunch in the storm shelter in Nan Bield Pass and listened to the the waterfall trickling into small water tarn.
After lunch we marched up, with a good bit of speed, to the top of Harter Fell and on across the moorland to Kentmere pike. You could tell the guys wanted to get a fast time as they were pushing me to pick up the pace. Along the moor we spotted 3 black wild horses and a few army cadets getting stuck into fitness training.
As we walked towards Shipman knots the cloud lifted on the mountains and we stopped to look back at the opposite side of the horseshoe. Both Alison and Lee were shocked at how far we had come. I like to look back as the clients always say to me in a rather shocked voice, ‘we walked over that!?’
From Shipman knots we followed the track back into Kentmere and admired the barns, boulders, river and church of the valley. Lee’s knee was hurting as we returned to the car. Many years of cartilage problems from an old football injury hadn’t helped the tail end of his day. He wasn’t so happy when I told him what time we had completed the walk in. 5 hours and 45 minutes. Shame, he’ll just have to some back and do it all over again!