Walk date – 22 April 2019
Distance – 7.8 miles
Weather – very hazy, sunny and warm, breezy
After the steep ups and downs of our walk in the Howgills the other day we opted for something a little less strenuous today by walking up to Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill via Low and High Kop. We haven’t walked this route since August 2015 and, as the weather was still set fair, we thought it would be a good way to round off an unusually, and very welcome, sunny and warm Bank Holiday weekend. We didn’t have far to drive either as the walk starts from Moorahill Farm, just above Bampton which is only about seven miles from where we live. Its a pleasant drive through traffic free country lanes and just before entering the village we turn up the steep hill beside the famous red telephone box (Withnail and I) and follow the road to its end at Moorahill Farm where open land provides plenty of space to park.
Moorahill Farm – Towtop – Hause End – The Hause – Low Kop – High Kop – Keasgill Head – Wether Hill – Loadpot Hill – Hart Hill – Cawdale Edge – Moorahill Farm
Another lovely day to enjoy as I take a look up Cawdale from the parking area at Moorahill. A lively breeze becomes evident the minute we step out of the car so, as the sun hasn’t been up long enough to provide much warmth, we decide that our lightweight windproof jackets would be just enough to keep the goosebumps away until the morning warmed up a bit more. Behind me a signpost points in the direction of the flat topped area over on the left of the shot where a path can be seen rising up the embankment above the beck. If you’re thinking of doing this walk just keep that path in view and you will eventually come to the old clapper bridge crossing Cawdale Beck.
Immediately ahead of us, as we head for the embankment path, is Willdale, another of those places which we’ve never got round to exploring, perhaps we will one of these days. Willdale is flanked on the left by the Pinnacle How and Four Stones Hill group of hills above Burnbanks and Haweswater, and Hause End and Low Kop on the right.
We arrive at the clapper bridge crossing Cawdale Beck which I mentioned earlier. Its obviously for pedestrians only but there is a ford crossing a couple of hundred yards further upstream which would have provided a crossing point for horse drawn carts in the past and nowadays a farmer’s quad bike.
They are ancient forms of bridge, simple constructions of large flat stones supported on stone piers, over a wider crossing or, as in this case, simply being supported by the banks on either side.
Having clambered up the embankment we leave the path and spend a few minutes examining the area known as Towtop Kirk. There are differences of opinion as to what type of structure this once was, and what purpose it served, but it is listed as an ancient monument nevertheless. The name Kirk suggests a church or some form of religious structure. Even our untrained eyes could see evidence of a large circular enclosure with a low banking of stones still visible in places. Within the enclosure we noticed an elongated oval mound and a small circular arrangement of large stones which may once have formed the base of a platform of some kind. It obviously had a use in the distant past but that’s open to interpretation now, especially as you have to look very carefully to notice anything at all. We left the enclosure and made our way back to the path with this view straight into Cawdale ahead of us. That’s another place we should go and explore as there are some old mine workings up there which might be interesting to examine at leisure. It could be an outing for one of those dull cloudy days which are bound to arrive eventually.
Having rejoined the path we begin making our way up Hause End and the steady walk up to The Hause, a flattish area with a stand of trees on either side of it one of which is evident in the shot. The climb is gradual although parts of it are a little steeper than others.
When we came here in August 2015 this low signpost at the path junction had only just been installed. It was bright new wood then and very obvious, but it has weathered in nicely over the past four years. The path on the right is the one we have just arrived on, the one to the left heads over to the ford across Cawdale Beck.
Cawdale Beck meanders below us as we continue climbing up to The Hause. J mentions he’s having problems with his calf muscles as we walk up, explaining that they are feeling a bit tight at present, so he’s taking things more slowly than he usually does.
I take another look up to the head of Willdale as I wait for J to catch up with me once more. The stand of trees to our left indicating that we have almost reached The Hause where I decide we should pause for a few minutes to give J’s tight calf muscles a bit of a rest.
Looking back to The Hause after our pause but J’s calf muscles continued to be troublesome. The nature of the climb isn’t helping them either, all the way over to Low Kop there are a number of short, but steepish, sections where tight muscles are a handicap. These are followed by flatter sections but which aren’t long enough for them to fully relax before the next bit of ‘up’ occurs.
Still heading up to Low Kop where Selside PIke, Branstree and Harter Fell now appear on the hazy skyline, with the rocky top of Lad Crags on Measand End just below them towards the centre of the shot. We meet and greet one solo lady walker along here.
As we head for Low Kop the ground eventually levels out, the short hilly sections are left behind and J’s muscles begins to feel the benefit of the long stretches of flatter walking. It has taken up to this point for them to fully settle though. Behind us we have a limited view of Haweswater and above it the group of hills, which include Pinnacle How and Four Stones Hill, above Burnbanks which provide some good low level walking when the cloud descends.
As can be seen the track is wide and easy to follow and as dry as the proverbial today. Ahead of us is High Kop but instead of carrying on …..
….. we head over to the one which overlooks Measand Beck and Fordingdale Bottom just to have a change of view. Approaching it we have a better view of Measand End and Lad Crags but the murky haze only provides us with the silhouette of Selside Pike and Branstree beyond them.
A view of Long Grain across Measand Beck as we cross over.
Haweswater is sparkly enough though and provides a bit of brightness in the haze. The path we are now on is the one which comes up alongside Measand Beck, and its waterfalls, from Haweswater,
From the path we can look down into Fordingdale Bottom where Measand Beck is meandering gently along before it begins its rough ride down the rocky gill just below the tree line.
Looking upstream its clear that Measand Beck has already had a rough ride down from its source below High Raise. We sat for a while just here to enjoy the view and get the coffee and Mars Bar out. A group of sheep gradually wandered towards us so we waited to see how close they would come since they all were looking at us very inquisitively. Perhaps they don’t get many visitors up here! Anyway, as they always do they got within about thirty feet, decided we weren’t worth bothering with and wandered off well below us.
We return to our original path having crossed over from our viewing point via the path on the right, from where I take a look back at Low Kop. One solo male walker appeared on another track off the the left of the shot but we were too far away from each other for any greetings to be exchanged so a wave to each other had to suffice.
A steady tramp over the moorland eventually leads us up to High Kop where we located this upright stone. Obviously deliberately placed here, who knows how long ago, but we couldn’t decide why. It might be a boundary marker, but there were no traces of initials to give us any clues, or maybe its an an old waymarker placed, approximately, on the summit as a guide for anyone passing this way.
I took a short diversion from the path for this view of High Raise across Keasgill Sike and the deeply gouged slopes of Red Crag.
Back on the path and the post indicates the route over to Keasgill Head, its usually a very wet crossing but dry and firm all the way today. Its no great distance and the Helvellyn range is already in sight. If your only objective is to get to Wether Hill then there is a path heading over to the right a little further along which will take you straight to it. However, I like the drama of the view from Keasgill Head so we keep straight on until we come to it, which is at the point where it meets up with the path coming down from High Raise. It was just as well we did or …..
….. we wouldn’t have met up with Ruth, Jenny and Henry who had just descended from Red Crag. Turned out that Jenny is a regular viewer of this site and recognised me as I was looking at the view across from us. I persuaded J to join them for a group photo and told them I would include it in the walk report, so here it is girls. Apologies to Ruth though for taking the shot just as she looked down at Henry. Henry was busy checking out the grass before having a good old stretch out on it to be too bothered about having his photo taken. J is still in his windproof, although he did turn out in shorts today, I removed my windproof a while back so I’m down to short sleeves, but Ruth and Jenny are down to bare arms and legs. Oh, how nice to be young and hardy! They were a couple of very cheerful and friendly lasses and it was lovely to meet you both, hope you both enjoyed the rest of your walk as much as we did ours.
I took a couple of views from Keasgill Head although the haze prevents seeing them to full advantage. Immediately below is The Nab behind which are Angletarn Pikes. On the left skyline are Hart Crag and Fairfield, followed by Deepdale Hause, Saint Sunday Crag and the Helvellyn fells.
A few patches of snow still linger on the Helvellyn range.
A little further along and I take a look across Beda Fell to Place Fell across the middle foreground.
A couple of glimpses of Ullswater on either side of Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts as we make progress along the ridge. Blencathra is over on the extreme left but appears as nothing more than a blue-grey smudge in the distance.
The summit cairn on Wether Hill and the track stretching along in the distance over to Loadpot Hill. Up ahead of us Ruth, Jenny and Henry are temporarily hidden in the dip between the two tops.
J at the summit of Wether Hill, he’s got his legs out but the windproof is still on. It is only a single layer of fabric though so he’s unlikely to be overheating. He’d have probably taken it off by now if we were climbing anything steep because its really warm now despite the lively wind.
The tiny specks on the path below us are Ruth, Jenny and Henry who are now well on their way to Loadpot.
Meanwhile I stop to take a couple more photos of the views across from us from slightly different aspects than the previous ones as we descend Wether Hill.
The remains of the former grouse shooting hut, or should that be lodge since it was once the property of the Earl of Lonsdale, often referred to as ‘the Yellow Earl’ thanks to his liking for that particular colour, and who probably wouldn’t have been seen dead in anything so ordinary as a hut. In its day this would have been well kitted out for lunch during a day’s grouse shooting, and the well-heeled ladies and gentlemen of the day would have no doubt enjoyed a good lunch and the warmth of a roaring fire. A section of the chimney could be seen a few years ago but even that has gone now and the whole things looks to have been transformed into a wind shelter.
I imagined the grouse shooters of those days being transported up here by horse and carriage when I looked back at the ‘Lodge” and Wether Hill from the gradual climb up to Loadpot …..
….. where I have to hang on to my hat in the gusty wind. I’m also trying to get the camera lens cap into my back pocket in case I drop it and the wind whisks it away. I didn’t manage it, thanks to the makers of the pants I’m wearing who seem to have forgotten that female walkers also need plenty of pockets in their walking trousers. Only in my very, very ancient trousers are there enough pockets, my more recent purchases have very skimped storage space in them which will hold a couple of tissues each at best, and you can forget all about outside pockets altogether, they just don’t seem to be provided any more. Of course the less material they use for pockets means more material towards the next pair of pants and so on. It goes without saying that the less you get the more you pay, just as you do with chocolate bars, bags of crisps and all the rest of it. Oh, I’d better not get wittering on about any of that or I’ll be here all day. Pants manufacturers please note – female walkers need deep pockets just as much as men do.
We spotted Ruth, Jenny and Henry heading away from Loadpot in a different direction to the one we took and as we left I took a look back at the trig column and the layers of hazy fells to the west. The southerly wind and the warmth of the high pressure system over us at the moment are great to have but they don’t half mess us the scenery. Ne’er mind, there’ll be plenty of clear and cooler days ahead I expect.
From the trig column we head off eastwards, gradually dropping down off Loadpot and making our way down to the farm again. We met two elderly gents a little way back slowly making their way up and we paused to pass the time of day. One of them was red in the face and looked grateful for the chance to stop and he might have continued chatting a while longer if the other one hadn’t started walking again. We weren’t overheating though because the wind was now blowing straight at us. Not a cold wind at all just a nuisance one and it kept doing its best to remove my hat. It succeeded on one occasion but I felt it going and managed to grab hold of the brim before it went flying back up to the trig column. If you peer hard enough you might be able to make out the North Pennines in the hazy distance.
A look over my right shoulder at The Hause and Low Kop, part of our outward route this morning.
Moorahill Farm comes into view and …..
….. as we cross the fields another look over my shoulder at our outward route over Hause End, The Hause and Low Kop.
Looking across Towtop Kirk to the little clutch of fells above Burnbanks and Haweswater.
A few minutes later and we are back at the car at Moorahill Farm. A couple of other cars have parked since we arrived this morning so perhaps they belong to the two gents who we met as they were hauling themselves up Loadpot Hill. So, that brings the walk and the Bank Holiday weekend to a close and everyone will get back to their normal routine tomorrow. Now its time to nip back home and have a cuppa. As we crossed over the M6, just before reaching home, I saw the heavy stream of cars, caravans and camper vans heading southwards and was thankful that in another five minutes one of us would be filling the kettle and we’d both be looking forward to a relaxing brew.