Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Wainwright's - Loadpot Hill, Wether Hill, Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike.

I knew I had been to the summits of two of these, Loadpot Hill and Arthur's Pike, but Moira hadn't so we devised a bit of a round that involved an out and back from Loadpot Hill to Wether Hill, before picking up Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike on the way back. 

From the parking at Roe Head we made our way along the rather boggy High Street route onto Barton Fell.  On the way we visited The Cockpit stone circle and then headed across the moor to get back onto main path again.  In between I somehow ended up thigh deep in a boggy hole.  This meant a wet foot and leg almost from the start.  However some wonderful blue skies and far reaching views meant we both still had a spring in our step and we soon found ourselves above the snowline.

Stone marker cairn at the side of the High Street path

The weather at this point was pretty atmospheric with bands of crespucular rays raking the ground between us and the distant pennines.  Occasionally bands of snow also passed by, but fortunately they were well to the east.

Bypassing Arthur's Pike to pick up on the way back we plodded up to our first summit of the day, Loadpot Hill.

The sky looked a bit threatening as we reached the summit of Loadpot Hill

Helvellyn range from the summit

Making our way over to Wether Hill was warm work in the sun and on arriving at the tiny summit cairn, we experienced a bit of a peak baggers nightmare in that the ground a couple of hundred metres away looked a bit higher.  Not wishing to miss the true summit we headed off to make sure.  From here the place we had come from looked about the same, but the GPS suggested it was higher.  Now I remember why I never really got into peak bagging, it's a bloody nightmare.  Cairns aren't always just on the true summit and even the fairly reliable trig point is sometimes on a subsidiary top rather than the true summit, (Burnhope Seat in the Pennines springs to mind as an example of that confusion).

Fed up with wandering around high spots, we returned to the original cairn and declared Wether Hill summit achieved**.

Some spectacular views from Wether Hill across the valley towards the Helvellyn range

It was a bit of a slog back onto Loadpot Hill, so we stopped off at a little walled shelter just below the summit for a break.  By the time we got going again a cold breeze had got up, which stung our ears as it chased us back across the top and down to the path leading to Bonscale Pike.  The lower elevation meant it was less windy here and walking along the edge was really pleasant.  Here the ground dropped away down to Ullswater, giving us some great views of the Helvellyn range and Blencathra to the northwest .  Set above the vivid green fields surrounding the lake the whole range looked more alpine than Lakeland.

Ullswater with Blencathra beyond from Bonscale Pike

Time was getting on so we only stopped long enough at the cairn to grab a few pics, before descending to the ruined building at Swarth Beck.  By now we were feeling the miles and the final pull out of the beck and up onto Arthur's Pike was rather taxing on the legs.  Especially so as my right foot, which had been encased in a soaking wet sock all day had now developed a blister under the big toe. On the top, and determined not to just bag peaks and charge off, we had a break and grabbed a few photos. 

Still smiling on the last top -  Arthur's Seat.

The descent down to the car was straightforward, if a bit of a hobble at times, and by the time we arrived back we rather lacked the spring in our step we had when we set off.  Hardly surprising I suppose after an 18.5km snowy walk - it was great fun though.

** Wainwright's 214 tops are subjective and are simply tops he chose to include in his books, and as such they are not each and every mountain summit, or top in the Lake District.  There are other lists for bagging a few of those Birkett's Hewitt's, Nuttall's and Marilyn's for example.  



  1. Hi David. I love wandering about in that area but I don't think I've ever visited it in snow. Perfect for walking, with long rolling ridges and rounded summits. Just what a chap needs to stretch the legs – and chapesses too. And great pictures. I love the Loadpot Hill summit with the glistening snow and dark, brooding clouds in the background.
    Cheers, Alen

    1. It's a grand area isn't it. Some time ago I was fortunate to be able to cross country ski a good bit of that broad ridge with my mate Al. The conditions were perfect for it. I definitely ached more this time mind. Cheers, David