Only 5 miles from Kendal the Bannisdale Horseshoe is a walk for those after solitude and tranquility. Nine of Wainwright’s Outlying Fells form the focus for the 12 mile round.
Aside from dedicated followers of Wainwright, the guide book writer, very few will have heard of the Bannisdale Horseshoe. I certainly had not. I discovered the route whilst adding the Outlying Fells to this website, a great opportunity to walk an area I knew nothing about. It was fun to plan a new route in the Lake District.
I started the walk with a surprising rocky scramble up Whiteside Pike. This was not what I expected and so it proved. For the remaining 10 miles there was no sign of any rock (unless as part of a dry stone wall), just a never ending undulating, grassy ridge. For the outbound westerly ridge the views to the left across Longsleddale and in to Kentmere were enjoyable but even this ore familiar scene changed as I crossed the head of the Bannisdale Horseshoe. The return is a reminder that the featureless Pennines start here, distant views to Great Dunn Fell and Cross Fell proof.
However it is not the scenery that will live long in the memory. It is the silence, the tranquility and the sheer joy of walking with not a soul to be seen. In fact over five hours walking I saw not another walker and one farmer at the start. It is astonishing that a place so close to Kendal can be so empty. The summits come and go, some are nameless and barely warrant a cursory nod but the sky larks offer company and the navigation some challenges. It is a new challenge, a different type of walk, enjoy it.
The trig point on White Howe (facing south) offers the most comfortable seat I have ever discovered in the mountains.
There is a faint path across much of the walk but particularly on the eastern arm it goes rogue and until White Howe not useful. However a fence line marks the route to the head of Bannisdale. In cloud a compass would then be needed, straightforward in the clear. However a wall to the east of the wide ridge stops any serious error of judgement.
The biggest challenge occurs at the start of the walk, around Whiteside Pike, where a wall and a new tree planation makes things awkward. However a hole in the wall and a quick leap over the fence is welcomed in the knowledge there are no such challenges further on.
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