All the Fells: Hart Side

Hart Side – The Eastern Fells 2,481′ (169)

Date: 28 April 1993

From: Sheffield Pike

Hart Side is a long, shapeless, grassy ridge protruding out of the back of the Dodds range, where it is linked to Stybarrow Dodd. It doesn’t have much by way of intrinsic appeal, except for one big and one small feature, only one of which I saw on my only visit. Knowing I had to collect Hart Side, I’d decided to combine it with Sheffield Pike as a circuit of Glencoyne, ascending by the former and reaching the head of the valley in green isolation where a path towards Stybarrow Dodd looked appealing (I had yet to climb that though the omission was repaired later that year). Instead, I followed this well-made and very distinct path along the flank of Hart Side, back towards Patterdale on a highish level, until, getting close to the summit position, I stepped off the path into trackless grass and headed up to the ridge itself. Off to the north east, in a direction not conducive to my return to my car, an undistinguished subsidiary fell, not thought by Wainwright to constitute a separate summit, is now named Birkett Fell, after the Lord of the same name, who did so much to preserve the Lake District from the depredations of the Manchester Water Companies in the late Fifties. Before then, this outcrop was nameless, and it’s still the only Lake District ‘peak’ to have a nameplate built into its cairn bearing its name. The other, more attractive feature, was on my way home, if I could find my way down off the ridge, without paths on grass, on a very steep fellside. In the end, with the slope getting steeper, I forced myself to ignore my vertigo and gently let myself down to the relief of a good, sturdy path. This led me to Hart Side’s one great feature, the view from the path corner under the Brown Hills. It is a mid-level, awesome view along Ullswater’s middle and upper reaches, the only drawback to which being that it is impossible to capture the full view in a single camera image. Walkers grateful for being alive to see things like this have to content themselves with swivelling their head from side to side like a Centre Court watcher at Wimbledon but with far more to see. Painful as it is, the scene will have to be left at some point. The path itself descends slowly, eventually coming to earth at Park Brow, where the road emerges from the Matterdale valley. This meant a considerable walk back along the road to where my car was parked near Glencoyne, which I didn’t fancy, so I slipped over the wall and, with concerns as to whether I might be trespassing, headed straight downhill in the company of a wall until I scrambled out onto the road with less than a quarter mile to follow to where I had parked.