Bannisdale Horseshoe Trail runningWalking

If you like marginal lands, you’ll love Bannisdale. In the far south-east of Lakeland, the landscape softens and blurs into grassy undulations reminiscent of the nearby Howgills. In recent years, the Lakes and Dales boundaries have been redrawn to acknowledge the smudging of edges. Depending who you ask, this is either Westmorland, Cumbria or Westmorland again. Wainwright initially overlooked these fells, with nearby Tarn Crag and Grey Crag being the furthest outposts of his domain. Later, he corralled Bannisdale into his eighth guide: the Outlying Fells. For lovers of solitude, this loop offers vast open spaces with fantastic views over the Kendal countryside. Expect few encounters on your way round, unless you count skylarks, meadow pipits and red deer. The terrain also supports a healthy population of caterpillars so, to coin a phrase, watch where you are putting your feet. Talking of feet, prepare them for a little dampness: these broad, rounded ridges drain at their own sweet pace.

Typical Bannisdale scenery from the top of Whiteside Pike  © Norman Hadley
Typical Bannisdale scenery from the top of Whiteside Pike
Fetching Map

Detailed description

NY5448701335 Start at a little layby at the A6 end of the loop road. Head down the road.

NY5411400996 Just before the A6, turn right on a bridleway signposted to Old Shap Road and Plough Farm. After a minute obliquely cross the access road to the Big 'ouse, alongside a wall on your left and a tree-covered knoll ahead. Keep going on that line, with good views over Kentdale (hence, "Kendal"), until you hit tarmac at Plough Farm.
Billowing skies from the bridleway heading towards Plough Farm  © Norman Hadley
Billowing skies from the bridleway heading towards Plough Farm
© Norman Hadley, Apr 2023

NY5319500215 Turn left (keep straight, really) over a small bridge.

SD5298199843 Turn right, still on tarmac, at the wall plaque "Mosergh Farm" just before the A6. Head up the lane.

SD5264899969 Just shy of Mosergh Farm, a sign declares "Whiteside Fold". Turn right here onto a good bridleway. Follow this north to the open fell.
The track to the open fell  © Norman Hadley
The track to the open fell
© Norman Hadley, Jun 2022

NY5230000731 Up to your right, you'll see the cairn on Whiteside Pike, so fork away from the farm track by the wall and follow a sketchy track past some ruined shelters (so ruined they're easy to miss) to the cairn.

NY5205501508 Head north down a heathery slope, to an intersection of walls and fences

NY5165301815 Find the stone stile set into the wall, just to the left of an area of new tree planting.

NY5134602362 Gain the ridge over Todd Fell, then cross the wall via a very tall ladder stile. The fence on your left is now your friend, guiding you over Capplebarrow, Swinklebank Crag and Ancrow Brow. The views to the left reveal the deeply riven notch of Longsleddale with the Ill Bell trio rising over Shipman Knotts.

NY5035405940 Where the fence dinks north, leave it to take a sketchy path heading east-south-east, cutting the corner across to Long Crag. Follow the fence south-east.
Where the path leaves the fence-line at the top of Bannisdale  © Norman Hadley
Where the path leaves the fence-line at the top of Bannisdale
© Norman Hadley, Jun 2022

NY5238504694 Veer right on another sketchy path to the 530 metre trig point at White How. Then more south-easting to the slightly lower (528 metre) top of The Forest. Drop steeply and follow the ridge down to a gate by a low, shed-sized brick ruin.

NY5372502018 Veer right, gaining a diagonal descent into Bannisdale, heading towards the Big 'ouse. The line passes just to the left of a lone, upright hawthorn, with a wind-toppled hawthorn lower down the slope.Join the intake wall and follow this to a junction just by another shed-sized building made from breeze-blocks.

NY5416901518 Go down the bridleway to the road at Thorn Cottage. Expect a noisy reception from the kennels. Turn left at the road back to the start.

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Further Routes

by Norman Hadley

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