The Lake District Guide
Lake District Mountain and Fell Walks 11
Travel early in the day on an Ullswater Steamers to give you plenty of time to enjoy this great walk. Steam the length of the lake from Glenridding to Pooley Bridge to begin your walk to Loadpot Hill, at the northern end of the High Street range. Follow the route of the Roman road, into this remote magical corner of the Lake District tucked away at the back (east) of the lovely lake.
Alight from the ferry at Pooley Bridge jetty and walk on, using the pavement. Cross the narrow 16th century Pooley Bridge, under which flows the River Eamont, where it emerges from the lake. Walk into the village, named after the bridge, to pass through the busy square, with guest houses, tea rooms, hotels, the post office, a general store, and the public toilets. Continue on past St Paul’s Church, which was built in 1868, and the village hall, dating from 1912. Take the right turn, signposted Howtown and Martindale, and walk on to go ahead over the crossroads and continue on in the direction of Roehead, along a tree-lined lane. Pause by a gap for the first of the many views of the majestic mountains that crowd in on the head of the lake.
Pass Roehead farm on the left and go through the gate ahead, which gives access to Barton Fell Common. Stride the wide track, where sheep and black fell ponies graze. Do not be tempted by any of the wide grassy right turns but stroll on uphill until you reach a four-armed signpost. Here bear right to follow the route of the Roman road, in the direction of Howtown. As you go watch out for the stone circle, on your left, then step across a stream and wind right for a few steps to come to a small cairn.
Turn left to stride a grassy trod, which soon becomes a distinct way rising steadily. After 2 km / 1.25 miles you reach, on the left, a boundary stone. Go on, enjoying the lonely remoteness, airy and heady, with a vague suspicion that you might soon meet a Roman legionary. Ignore the acute right turn to Arthur’s Pike but pause at this junction for your first glimpse of Ullswater.
The path continues to rise steadily and is so easy underfoot that you can give most of your attention to the glorious panorama, across the now unseen lake, of the Dodds and Helvellyn strung out dramatically to your right. At a Y-junction you have a choice, either to remain faithfully on the Roman road, taking the right branch to wind round the west side of Loadpot Hill, or to ‘bag a top’ and go straight up the easy slope to the flat, rather featureless plateau of the summit. At this point in the walk you can see more of Ullswater and much of the great wedge of Place Fell. At the summit trig point (672 m / 2201 ft) follow the wide green track down a slight slope to come to the scanty remains of Lowther House, which was once a shooting lodge, with stables. Close by is a boundary marker. Stroll on for 1.2km / 0.75 mile along the col ahead, in the direction of Wether Hill.
Then turn right, keeping parallel with Groove Gill, on your right, which soon becomes apparent, to begin your descent to the head of Fusedale. There is no distinct path on the ground unlike the one on the map. As you go down look away to the left, to the valley below, to see a ruined shepherd’s hut; this helps you navigate the slope. Once you reach the valley bottom join a clear path, where you turn right.
The path quickly divides and either steepish grooved way leads to a delectable clapper bridge over Groove Beck. Continue on, steadily descending, with the beck dancing below you to the left. Go past a ruin with a huge lintel still in place. Carry on down to cross a tributary by a small footbridge and then wind round left to a larger footbridge over the Fusedale Beck. A narrow path through bracken takes you on to a pleasing clapper bridge to join the access track to Cote farm. Turn left here and stroll on down the track to cross a cattle grid. Walk on into the hamlet of Howtown. Press on ahead, keeping to the right of a fine grey-painted house to walk a grassy hedged track. A gate gives access to the narrow lakeside road. Turn right and then left to reach the pier, hopefully in good time for your return boat.
Start / finish: In the car park of the Ullswater ferry car park at Glenridding, grid ref 390169. For information on times of steamers tel 017684 82229 or visit www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk
Distance: 14 km / 8.75 miles
Time: 5 hours
Height gain: 540m / 1760 ft
Terrain: Generally easy walking for most of the way except for the descent of the rough fell slope into Fusedale, which takes time and care. Do not attempt this walk in the mist.
Refreshments: On the ferry. Good choice in Pooley Bridge.
Toilets: On the ferry. Pooley Bridge
Park: In ferry car park.
Map: OS Explorer OL 5
Copyright Mary Welsh, © 2008. All rights reserved. No reproduction without permission.