Harter Fell is situated in the quiet Duddon Valley. The fell is flanked by the beautiful Eskdale and Duddon Valleys. It sits on its own at the head of these valleys giving a unique panoramic view to the Southern Fells. The summit area has three rocky tors that provide a playground for those who love scrambling around on rocks. There is plenty of wildlife to be seen and a unique aerial view down to the huge roman fort of Mediobogdum on the Hardknott Pass. This is a moderate walk, short in distance but does involve a few fairly steep and loose paths at times.
The walk starts from the Birks Bridge car park. This isn't the easiest start to get too and for most people involves tackling either the Hardknott Pass, Wrynose Pass or a lengthy drive round the Lake District Peninsulas. This remote location makes it a peaceful and tranquil place though so it is well worth the effort. On your way home you can enjoy great food and drinks at the Newfield Inn in Seathwaite.
This walk starts at the Birks Bridge car park in the Duddon Valley. The car park is on the minor road just south of Cockley Bridge and north of Seathwaite at grid reference SD 235 995. You can get there by heading through Langdale or Little Langdale and over the Wrynose Pass or alternatively you can head round the Lake District Peninsulas on the trunk roads until you reach Duddon Bridge and head north along Smithy Lane to Ulpha and eventually Seathwaite.
From the Birks Bridge car park cross the new wooden bridge then turn immediately left heading along a grassy path with the forest on your right and the River Duddon on your left. The path crosses a small stream after two hundred metres then splits as it passes an old stone wall. Take the path that ascends right into Great Wood away from the River Duddon.
At the other side of Great Wood the track heads across a field to the old farm buildings at Birks. The farm here was sold off to the forestry many years ago and is now a privately owned outdoor education centre.
When you reach the buildings go through the gate and turn right keeping the buildings on your left at all times. At the back of the buildings you pass through their small car park and head through a gate on a track ascending away from Birks.
After less than a hundred metres the track reaches a junction with another track, here turn left and then after thirty metres turn right off the track on to a path that passes some old stone walls of a ruin. This path now leads to a boggy deforested area. The deforested area is being replanted with deciduous trees so by the time you head through here hopefully these will be well established and may have created a more established less boggy affair.
The path is not at all clear at times and simply disappears into the boggy mess. Basically head towards the crags at the back of the deforested area on a fairly direct and straight forward trajectory. Eventually you will reach a more obvious path which starts a steep and loose ascent of the rocky crags. On you right as you ascend you will see the twin peaks of Buck Crag and the views behind to the Coniston Fells will start to open up.
Mart Crag is rounded and then the path flattens out and passes over a vibrant area of heather and bilberry bushes. As the path crosses this area, straight ahead you will begin to see a fence ahead below the huge and isolated Maiden Crag. At the fence by Maiden Crag you can pass through a gate or stile to reach much wilder and open land. Keep ascending in a north westerly direction with Maiden Crag on your left.
After ascending in a north west direction for just over half a kilometre you will reach the summit of Harter Fell. You can either head left to round an easy ascent or go to the right behind the summit and take one of a few fun scrambling routes to reach the summit. The summit of Harter Fell has a lovely stone trig pillar and three rocky tors. To bag the highest tor which is the highest point of the mountain requires a tricky scramble. Harter Fell sits in a perfect position flanked on each side by two of the Lakes quietest valleys, the valleys provide impressive views, especially down to Eskdale and the Roman Fort of Mediobogdum on the Hardknott Pass.
There are also an impressive panorama to the back of the Coniston Fells and a unique panoramic view of the Scafell Fells. There are also views seaward to the Irish Sea, the Isle of Man on a clear day and to the south the lesser trodden Black Combe and the Dunnerdale Fells with the pointy Stickle Pike prominent. After enjoying one of the best viewpoints in the Lake District trace your footsteps back the way you came and head south east from the summit area on the same path and after half a kilometre you will be back at the fence with stile and gate by Maiden Castle.
Head back through the gate or over the stile and walk across the heather and bilberry area to reach the steep descent round Mart Crag back to the deforested area. The descent here is very loose and rocky so take care. Head across the deforested area to reach the ruins above Birks then head back down the track to Birks and pass through its gates to reach the path crossing the fields to the left of Birks to Great Wood. Look out for birds while passing through Great Wood, I have seen Buzzards and Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers here before now.
Follow the path back to Birks Bridge where you can stand on the bridge and spot many Trout and Salmon jumping at the end of a summers day. Large Salmon make their way up here during the spawning months from the Duddon Estuary. There is no better way to end this walk than a visit to the Newfield Inn in Seathwaite, it is a very friendly and cosy pub with excellent food and drink and a place to stay if you don't feel like rushing home from this stunning and peaceful part of the world.
The UK Walks are some of the best walks across the UK that any one can do with limited resources. You dont need to have specailist equipment or even be very fit. You must, however, want to be outside in the countryside.