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Mountains & Fells



Colin Kinnear

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Height: 713m (2,339ft) GPS: NY 47801 09975 Walking Routes

Branstree is a fell in the Far Eastern part of the English Lake District and overlooks the valley of Mardale and Haweswater Reservoir.

A circuit of high fells surrounds the head of Mardale beginning at High Raise in the north and curving around over High Street and Harter Fell to Branstree and Selside Pike in the south.

As the ridge is travelled in this direction, the countryside changes from crag and scree to more rounded fellsides clothed with grass.

Branstree is the first fell moving east where grass prevails and a Pennine character begins to take over from Lakeland. From many directions the fell appears as a smooth domed hill with a wide top.

Branstree has a connection south westward to Harter Fell, the ridge crossing Gatescarth Pass (1,900 ft). This was the route of pedestrian traffic between Mardale and Longsleddale, its well graded zig-zags still in use by walkers. The ancient trade between the two valleys ended when the level of Haweswater was raised in the 1940s, and the village of Mardale Green was submerged beneath the reservoir.

Eastward from Branstree is a wide swathe of rough moorland between the parallel valleys of Mardale and Swindale. This runs for about five miles before petering out at the valley of the River Lowther.

Immediately east of Branstree is a second fell of similar height (2,207 ft) and character, which is unnamed on OS maps. At least one guidebook has suggested 'High Howes' as a name, but Wainwright considered this to be a part of Branstree rather than a separate fell.

Across Captain Whelter Bog to the east of the unnamed summit is Selside Pike, the final Wainwright in that direction.

South from Branstree a further ridge connects to Tarn Crag, passing between the head of Mosedale and the headwaters of Longsleddale. This depression at 1,650 ft is broad and boggy.

Mosedale is the upper hanging valley of Swindale, running westwards from the apparent dalehead.

Nestled against the lower slopes of Branstree near the head of Mosedale is Mosedale Cottage. This shepherds bothy, two miles from the nearest road, is only inhabited occasionally. Its whitewashed walls provide an important navigational reference in deteriorating weather. Behind the cottage are the remains of a large quarry

The summit of Branstree is broad and too flat to allow good all round views. These are further restricted by the higher fells to the west, but there is a fine prospect to the Pennines and Howgill Fells.

Walls and fences follow the ridges from Gatesgarth, Tarn Crag and Selside Pike, meeting near the summit. A small cairn is situated a little to the north.

A better view of Mardale and certainly a better foreground, can be seen from Artlecrag Pike. This subsidiary top a little to the north has a fine columnar cairn built from the nearby outcrop of flaky rocks.

Branstree ascents can be made from the three surrounding valleys. Gatescarth Pass provides access from the roadends of Mardale and Longsleddale.

Alternative routes climb from the vicinity of Mosedale cottage and from the shore of Haweswater near the start of the Mardale Corpse Road.

Walking routes near Branstree



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