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The Kentmere Horseshoe is one of those classic routes that makes a truly satisfying mountain day. A good walk out (nearly 20km and over 1,000 metres of height gain), a soaring ridge with brilliant views, a path once trod by Roman soldiers and six summits. Add a scramble and the challenge of finding a route up steep ground and you have near-perfection. You would be pushed to find a better day.
The walk starts in the lonely (and lovely) valley of Kentmere. The start is really positioned to make a good finish, as you won't want any unnecessary trailing about after a long day on the hills. So, you start with a short walk on one of the quietest roads in the county. Pleasant footpaths then lead to another short stretch of even quieter road, which becomes a track that runs below Rainsborrow Crag. The north-east ridge of Rainsborrow Crag has been described as looking like a Cuillin ridge from a distance; it would also take a leap of imagination. The scramble is little more than a ten-foot wall (three metres) followed by a wander up steep bilberry terraces. It's not exactly a five-star route, but it is one that doesn't see a lot a use, so it is a bit of a route-finding adventure. On a bright sunny day, or under snow, you will find it hard to resist (ice-axe, crampons, experience and possibly a rope are absolutely essential in winter). If however, it's pouring down, or you can't see the route for mist, the scramble is easily avoided by a steep but technically easy ascent by the side of the crag (described in the route).
If scrambling up steep bilberry ledges or grass definitely isn't your thing, you could easily miss out the Rainsborrow Crag section of the route by taking the bridleway from Kentmere Village to Garburn Pass vis Crabtree Brow, then heading north to Yoke. This would add about 1km to the route as described, but would make easier walking. Whichever way you go up, you will arrive on the summit of Yoke. From there to Froswick via Ill Bell is 2km of ridge-walking bliss. Soon after this you briefly join the Roman road, High Street. The summit of the same name could be included by making a slightly longer walk, but my route takes a short cut across to Mardale Ill Bell, followed by a descent to Nan Bield Pass.
The last real ascent of the day leads up to Harter Fell before you start to lose height towards Kentmere Pike, your last summit. From there an easy but interesting descent leads to a bridleway and soon afterwards to your start point.
England - North England - Cumbria - Lake District - South East
Great Views, Hills or Fells, Industrial Archaeology, Lake/Loch
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