Mosedale, Branstree, Artle Crag, Selside Pike and Swindale

Walk date – 11th April 2024

Distance – 11.5 miles

Weather – dull with occasional drizzle, low cloud base, strong and gusty west wind, mild

A disappointing day considering what the forecast had led us to expect, it was supposed to be dry (it wasn’t), the eastern side of the park would have the best of any sunny spells (it didn’t), and the strong prevailing westerly winds were supposed to ease off during the day (they didn’t). We reversed the walk we had intended doing on our last walk through Swindale on 19th February this year which we cut short as the long distance views were poor. On that occasion at least we could see the fells around us, today, thanks to the low cloud base, there was absolutely nothing to see. We would have been better off sticking to our plan on 19th February as things turned out. The low light conditions resulted in a poor day for photography and the strong, blustery and incessant wind made walking a constant struggle.


Swindale Foot – Swindale Head – Mosedale – Mosedale Cottage – Selside Brow – Branstree – Artle Crag – High Howes – Selside Pike – Old Corpse Road – Swindale Head – Swindale Foot

Being a weekday meant that there were no parking problems at Swindale Foot and so we set off, in watery sunlight, along Swindale Lane in good spirits.

Although only a few weeks have passed since the last time we walked along the lane subtle changes have taken place during the intervening weeks. Primroses were covering the grassy banks, the wild garlic leaves have sprung up beneath the hedgerows, the grass is looking greener and the fields are beginning to fill with new born lambs. The lamb in the shot has its hind legs splayed out to steady itself so it must only be a couple of days old and hasn’t quite got its ‘sea legs’ yet. Mum kept a wary eye on us as we passed.

Approaching Truss Gap’s stepping stones over which Swindale Beck was flowing at pace. Wet boots awaited anyone using them today. Mind you, walking along the lane was just as wet, it was running with water and there were deep puddles all the way along. As you can see the weather has been very grim and very wet since we were last out walking. We still have a little watery sunlight but …..

….. that vanished by the time we had reached Swindale Head. The gate over to the right takes us behind the buildings and …..

….. the signpost which offers two choices of route. We’ll be coming back down the Old Corpse Road at the end of our walk so we keep straight on and head for Mosedale.

Past the farm buildings now and onto the track leading into Swindale Head. The paths from this point on until we started climbing Selside Brow up to Branstree were very, very wet. Here beginneth the start of soaking wet boots.

We splashed our way down to the footbridge crossing one of the becks emanating from …..

….. the marshy area known as Dodd Bottom (no sniggering at the back) into which the waters of Hobgrumble Gill are tumbling into.

We thread our way through the drumlins from which we have a view of …..

….. Swindale Beck and, in the distance, the white waters of Forces Falls.

The path we used climbs high above the falls so it doesn’t really give a good idea of the volume of water pouring over the falls today although the whiteness of the water indicates that there was a substantial amount.

A look back at the drumlins as we reach the top of the path leading into Mosedale. It will need a zoom in to see them but over to the lower left of the shot there are two walkers, the one in dark clothing is more easily seen as that one is standing on a lighter patch of grass. A short distance ahead of that walker is one wearing a red jacket. We thought they must just be going over to the falls for the view but we were to see them again as we began climbing up Selside Brow.

The crags of Nabs Moor as we climb the last squelchy section of the path leading into Mosedale.

We are now properly into Mosedale with its similarly named beck meandering through it. Its well known for its soggy nature resulting from rainwater draining into it from the fells surrounding it. There is a path along Mosedale and after a few weeks of drought some of its sogginess dries out. As we’ve had quite the opposite since Christmas we can only leave you to imagine what it was like today.

We passed a couple of dilapidated sheepfolds along the way, this was the first one we came to, the second one was much larger and difficult to get into shot so I didn’t bother. On the skyline opposite are a couple of the Shap Fells, Fewling Stones and High Wether Howe.

Its been a good few years since we walked across that bridge and I can’t even remember where we were going, where we’d been or what we’d climbed. The cloud is down on the top right of the shot and we have no clue as to what it is covering. Mosedale looks especially bleak today.

Beyond the beck and low enough to be clear of cloud is what we think is  Brunt Tongue at the northeastern end of Tarn Crag.

A large flooded section of the path forced us into making a diversion in order to avoid it, as a result we are well off the path at this point. However, knowing that the path went straight to the bothy at Mosedale Cottage we had to cross a couple of very wet fields just to get back on to it. Great Grain Gill, on its way to join Mosedale Beck, had flooded straight across the path just as we reached the bothy which gave us a few minutes of head scratching until we eventually found a way around it. We decided to have a break for something to eat in the bothy and, although it isn’t a very homely spot, at least there were some chairs to sit on and some shelter from the ever present wind.

After our break we squelched our way around the cottage and back onto the path leading us over to Selside Brow and the climb up to Branstree. I took a look back along Mosedale and its bothy from the path, that’s the soggy area over on the lower left of the shot. So far the path all along Mosedale has been exactly like the one in the shot, dealing with those conditions while walking into a strong and gusty wind does not make for comfortable walking.

When we reached the gate in the fence line we left the main path and began the steep climb up Selside Brow where the wind was now coming at us from our left. So we’ve swapped the flooded path and full frontal wind treatment for drier grass up a steep hill while being blown sideways! All that aside, as we paused to get our breath back I took a look back towards the gate. Making their way towards the gate were the two walkers we had seen making their way towards Forces Falls, the one in a red jacket about to cross the beck and one wearing dark coloured clothing having already done so. We wondered if they had just descended from Tarn Crag and also whether they were about to follow us up to Branstree. After a few minutes pause at the gate we saw them heading back along Mosedale, wonder if they stopped for a break at the bothy.

Alongside the wall and fence we continued on our way up to the summit with the wind doing its best to blow us sideways. Nothing for it on those frequent occasions but to dig our walking poles into the soft earth and wait for the gusts to pass. Eventually the gradient eased and …..

….. just visible in the fog we could see the familiar circular trig point so we made straight for it. J is battling to stay upright as the wind gave us yet another battering, at least it is now at our backs which should blow us over to Artle Crag in next to no time.

Beyond the tarn is the grey shape of one of the cairns on Artle Crag and beyond that there’s nothing to be seen.

We are blown over to Artle Crag’s first cairn …..

….. and then we are blown over to Artle Crag’s second cairn. No views from either cairn …..

….. although as we were crossing over to the survey pillar we did get a brief glimpse of part of Haweswater but nothing else beyond it.

J huddles beside the old survey pillar for a quick shot and then …..

….. we made our way over to the two tarns below the unnamed hill at 673m. We just call it High Howes because it is higher than the hill named Howes just below it. This is one of the tarns and …..

….. this is the other. The path runs between the two.

From the tarns we made our way over to a foggy Selside Pike.

A few moments later the fog/cloud cleared and for a few seconds we had a better view of it. Sometimes it was visible but mostly it wasn’t.

Surprisingly the notorious Captain Whelter bog was easily crossed and wasn’t as wet and claggy as we had anticipated. Its nice to have a win now and then.

The shelter on Selside Pike and, apart from the fence, that’s the only thing we can see.

Descending Selside Pike towards High Blake Dodd with Swindale below, on the right. Given the strength and direction of the wind we didn’t go over to take a shot from the top of it, we weren’t in that much of a hurry to get back down into Swindale!

From the descent a look over towards Brown Howe on the Mardale side of the Old Corpse Road. Low cloud hanging over High Street and its neighbouring fells so it couldn’t have been too pleasant over there either.

We had hoped that when we reached the Old Corpse Road and descended even further that we might have gained some shelter from the wind but not a bit of it, it continued as strongly as ever. At this point we made the decision to drop down back to Swindale Head instead of continuing back to Swindale Foot via the hills above Swindale Lane, which we had considered taking when we had planned our route, By now we had both had enough of being blown across rough and squelchy grassland and were definitely in the mood for some solid terra firma beneath our feet.

However, we still had a little more rough walking to do, firstly crossing this little beck which narrows just enough to enable us to stride across …..

….. then it widens out again and carries on tumbling down the hillside into Swindale …..

….. having crossed the beck we then have a narrow, stony path running with water to descend, from where I took this shot looking over Swindale Head and its assorted features …..

….. towards the bottom of that path we have to cross yet another beck beyond which is the path back down to the buildings at Swindale Head. Once we reached the road we had a brief pause for drinks before setting off back along the lane to the parking area.

I didn’t take any further shots until we reached Gouther Crag, much favoured by rock climbers. Dangling from ropes on sheer rock faces never held any attraction for either or us but they are interesting to look at nevertheless. Strangely enough for such a dull day there was much more detail to be seen on them than we’ve noticed on previous occasions.

Back at Truss Gap now and having to do the usual avoiding the big puddle which seems to have taken up permanent residence just at this spot.

Finally we are back at the parking area which is just out of shot over on the left. J has just checked our mileage before switching the satnav thingy off and told me that we’ve walked 11.5 miles so sitting down on a comfortable car seat will be more than welcome right now, particularly after the battering we’ve had from the wind. Fighting against the wind makes any walk much harder than it otherwise would be. At least we don’t have a long drive home so it won’t be long before wet boots can come off and the kettle can go on.