The Back Of Dent:
Dent Fell is one of my favourite walks. It’s right on my doorstep, towering over the local community. As a child I was often left intrigued by the local phrase of “the back of Dent”. What was at the rear of the fell, why did so many people refer to it? The term used, was in fact a reference to something lost, or unknown.
What is at the back of Dent? At the rear of the fell, there is the lovely Uldale, leading to Nannycatch Valley. The views are quite striking and offer up a brilliant walk through the hidden valley, with its crystal clear streams, birds and butterflies. If you are lucky enough – you won’t see a soul. The solitude, tranquility, and views is indulgence at its best.
Dent is a small fell on the fringe of the English Lake District near the towns of Cleator Moor and Egremont. Sometimes known as Long Barrow, it is traditionally the first fell encountered by hikers following Wainwright’s Coast to Coast Walk. It slopes from the westerly point of the Lake District National Park.
At its highest point it stands at 352 metres, and offers uninterrupted views of the Cumbrian coast from the Ravenglass estuary in the south to the Solway Firth and across to Scotland in the north. In the west the Isle of Man can be easily seen, and views to the east extend to the high peaks of Pillar and the Sca Fells.
Dent was one of the five stations in Cumberland used by the Ordnance Survey to measure the angles of Principal Triangles for their initial survey of Britain in the years up to and including 1809. The other stations were Black Combe, Scilly Banks (on the outskirts of Whitehaven), High Pike and Cross Fell. The absence of a trig point suggests that Dent was not used in the Re triangulation of Great Britain.
For this walk, park at Hen Beck (River Ehen). Cross the bridge, turn right and follow the ‘fell road’ for approximately 1 mile. At the Black How forestry plantation, enter through a gate, follow the track upwards. Soon, the trees will clear. Continue up, keeping a fence to your right, until you reach the cairn marking the highest point of Dent Fell. Cross the (frequently boggy) top, and head down, through a gate, until you reach a stone path. A short right, and then head down a steep path into Uldale.
Cross a small concrete bridge, then left into a field. Follow the meandering stream. Turn left at the delightfully named Nannycatch Gate, with Raven Crag towering overhead. Here the landscape will open up slightly. Continue along the path until you come to the Nannycatch road. Walk along the road, and turn left at the junction. Cross the bridge over the River Ehen to return to your starting point.
- Distance: 5.7 miles
- Max Elevation: 345 metres