Wet Sleddale, Swindale and Mosedale

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Wet Sleddale, Swindale and Mosedale – a wander round the Shap Fells

The Lake District National Park attracts visitors from all over the UK and beyond. This popularity is understandable, but the well-known walking areas are rarely quiet or deserted. If it's quiet, deserted hills you are looking for, you should head east to the fells around Shap.

Shap Village straddles the A6 road, just outside the National Park boundary. The village itself is functional and businesslike, but isn't going to win any beauty competitions. Likewise, the hills to the west of Shap don't have the grandeur or beauty of the better-known areas of the Lake District, but they don't have the crowds either. So, if it's peace and solitude that you are after, this is the place to come.

The walk starts by the reservoir at Wet Sleddale. A short walk by the reservoir is followed by an ascent past the deserted Sleddale Hall before heading to Swindale across fells more like the Pennines than the Lakes. In Swindale the character of the walk changes and the scenery becomes Lakeland again, then heads up into Mosedale. Here the scenery opens out again into rolling high country before heading back to Wet Sleddale.

Quiet and deserted doesn't mean dull, though. The route from Sleddale to Swindale between Waymarks 4 and 5 is by no means obvious. There is a path marked on the map, but it's not easy to find it on the ground. So, this route does what travellers have done over the ages – it follows the best line on the ground.

For those used to the worn paths of the popular areas, this might prove challenging. You will need the ability to pick a route on the ground, plus a map and compass and the knowledge and experience to use them. This is especially the case in mist, when this part of the walk would test your skills. But, this is Cumbria and things are on a small scale, so it's a good place to practise or learn these skills.

For those who seek further excitement, there is the scramble of Mosedale Force. This Grade 2 scramble is well worth a visit and useful information is included in the route description. Suffice it to say that it combines interest and character, whilst not getting too serious. On a hot, sunny day it makes a perfect interlude in the walk.

So this route is a walk of many parts. It links three valleys without ever climbing a peak. Some of the walking is on easy, well-defined tracks and old drove roads, other parts provide interesting route-finding challenges. It offers one of the finest classic scrambles in Cumbria, without the crowds you might expect in the Central Lakes.

So, come and wander round the Shap Fells.

England - North England - Cumbria - Lake District - North East

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