High Street / Mardale Ill Bell

Elevation: 828m / 760m

Listing: Far Eastern Fells

Starting Point: Mardale Head (Haweswater Resevoir)

High Street is the highest summit in the Far Eastern fells, it is named after the Roman road which ran over the summit. The summit is also known as Racecourse Hill, from the days when horse racing took place on the vast, flat summit.

There are lots of different routes of ascent, but we walked from Mardale today, a route described by Wainwright as ‘a classic’. The route starts at the Mardale Head car park (at the top of Haweswater Reservoir), and goes around the head of the lake until you reach The Rigg, which is the large bit of land planted with trees that extends into the reservoir. From there the route carries straight up the ridge, up and down over various crags, ending in a steep final ascent to the summit of High Street.

The reservoir level was a bit low today and we could see some of the old roads and buildings of Mardale Green, the hamlet submerged by the creation of the reservoir in the 1930s. The weather was a bit changeable and we found ourselves stopping frequently, taking coats off, putting them back on etc.

The ascent of the ridge follows a straightforward path, quite steep in places with some mild scrambling, but it more or less follows a straight line all the way until it joins the edge of High Street. The views are excellent, with Blea Water and Small Water on your left, the Riggindale Valley on your right (no Golden Eagle today), and Haweswater and Mardale behind.

There were just a few walkers on the summit at the OS trig point. We stopped for lunch then continued onto Mardale Ill Bell, descending via the Nan Bield pass and Small Water.

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