Branstree, Mosedale and Swindale Trail runningWalking

The far eastern fells are an antidote to the usual Lakeland bustle. These green rolling hills may lack the grandeur of the high peaks, but make up for it with a quiet spaciousness. Despite its easy-access proximity to the M6 - sometimes even visible at a distance - the circuit described here has a secluded feel, taking in the uncrowded summits of Selside Pike and Branstree, and lonely Mosedale, home to one of England's few proper mountain bothies.

Selside Pike from the path up Branstree  © Dan Bailey -
Selside Pike from the path up Branstree
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Detailed description

NY5215414198 Swindale is a quintessential idyllic Lakeland valley, only minus the crowds. Follow the road up-dale for around 2.5km, passing a couple of houses and a small dam to reach the farm at Swindale Head.

NY5044612547 Turn right through a gate to join the Old Corpse Road (one of several in the Lakes formerly used to carry the dead to the nearest church for burial). This stony path climbs uphill before crossing a beck, zigzagging steeply right and then back left above a small wood to reach open moorland. Follow the path southwest, occasionally boggy, to a cairn at a trail junction at the high point of the Corpse Road, before its descent towards Haweswater.

NY4930712245 Turn left onto an obvious side path, heading south for a steady climb onto the broad ridge of Selside End. Follow this to the summit of Selside Pike, with nice views west to the High Street range.

NY4902911174 Following a fence line, descend the muddy path south-southwest to the oddly-named saddle of Captain Whelter Bog (OK, the bog bit is obvious). Staying with the fence, the path traverses the northern flank of an un-named top, then peels right to climb to the prominent cairn on Artle Crag. The broad summit of Branstree is a short distance to the southwest; you can't see much of the Lake District itself from here, but the Pennines and Morecambe Bay look good.
Mosedale Cottage, one of England's few proper mountain bothies (and a good one, as these things go)  © Dan Bailey -
Mosedale Cottage, one of England's few proper mountain bothies (and a good one, as these things go)
© Dan Bailey -, Apr 2022

NY4778910015 From the base of the trig pillar marking the high point, go southwest to a fence junction, then follow a grassy path along the fence heading southwest down Selside Brow, a steady descent to the col at the head of Mosedale. Upper Mosedale feels about as isolated as any spot in the Lakes. An obvious but very boggy trail leads east-northeast down-valley to the lonely MBA-maintained bothy of Mosedale Cottage.

NY4950609523 A track continues down Mosedale. After about 500m, stay left at a junction to join a narrower path along the west flank of the dale, staying well clear of the boggy valley floor (the main track to the right heads for Wet Sleddale). Curving north, the path soon leads to a shoulder overlooking the very pretty head of Swindale. Zigzag down to the valley bottom, then head north through the mounds of old moraines beside Swindale Beck to reach a stony farm track leading to the farm at Swindale Head. It's now just a stroll back down the road.

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Further Routes

by Dan Bailey UKH

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