A fairly straightforward afternoon taking in 5 Wainwrights whilst trying to beat some dismal Lake District weather. The Met Office suggested possible afternoon brightness in the north east Lakes, so this was an opportunity to make first ascents of Arthurs Pike, Bonscale Pike & mini mighty Pikewassa (Steel Knotts). There was nowt to be gained by leaving early so after a lie-in we drove through low cloud, wind & rain with only the optimistic forecast preventing us from turning back. Once parked there was a little reluctance in leaving the car due mainly to the high winds. Both Loadpot & Wether Hill were in grey cloud but off we set hoping there might at least be some views on the lower Wainwrights. I’d downloaded a great route for this walk from the Walking Englishman site which was spot on.
- Distance = 8.1 miles (13.04 km)
- Duration = 5 hrs 20 mins, (start 12.26pm, finish 5.46pm)
- Total Ascent = 2,730ft (832m), max height Loadpot Hill 2,201ft
- Start/Finish = Layby opposite St Peters Church, Martindale (below Hallin Fell)
- Date = Sunday 15th March 2014, cloudy, grey, high winds but dry
- Click on my Route Map below to zoom in/out
The layby outside St Peters Church, Martindale just below Hallin Fell. Have done two previous walks from this pleasant spot via Place Fell & Beda Fell. It also features a ‘Martin’ in the name which is always a good thing.
Route Summary – in 4 stages
- Martindale to Bonscale Pike; (1 hour 20 mins)
- Bonscale to Arthurs Pike; (25 mins)
- Arthurs to Loadpot & Wether Hill (40 mins + 40 mins)
- Descent over Steel Knotts (Pikewassa) & down to Martindale; (1 hr 50mins)
Route Detail & Pics from Sunday 15th March 2014 (photos a bit dark initially)
Stage 1 – Martindale to Bonscale Pike; (1 hour 20 mins) – The walk starts initially south east past the side of the church straight up & over the hill swinging quickly north east to pick up a level path that skirts Howtown. We broke off the path to start heading straight up towards Bonscale Pike which was still invitingly clear. Views improved with every step and even though everywhere was covered in low cloud we were just glad to be out. The route zig zags right to gain the shoulder of the high ridge at it’s lowest point.
Having gained the main shoulder we quickly discovered how sheltered it had been on the way up. Now it was heads down & everything zipped up for the grassy trudge to the top.
Photos usually dont do justice to extreme wind, so to illustrate how bad it was up here please see the one below of me trying to take one of the pic’s above 🙂
Th e wind was being funnelled up and over the shoulder of the ridge so the closer you got the more incredible the force. Trying to take pictures any nearer were impossible without a tripod and a 2 ton anchor. Views were limited by the greyness however an interesting feature up here is the 2 stone towers just a few feet north of the summit cairn.
Stage 2 – Bonscale Pike to Arthur’s Pike; (only 25 mins) – We followed a path heading north west straight for Arthur’s Pike but then had to quickly divert back south east to circumvent a stream cutting deeply through the grassy shoulder. (It could therefore be a bit quicker to head east from the top). Either way it’s then a grassy featureless trudge to the cairn on Arthur’s Pike which is located a little off the shoulder edge. To get better views of Ullswater we dropped down to a couple of lower cairns.
Stage 3 – Arthur’s Pike to Loadpot & Wether Hills (via Roman Road, 40 mins + 40 mins) We’d been wondering if the next stage might be a little rough as there’s not much shelter up on the higher flat ground of Loadpot & Wether Hill. Fortunately retracing our steps back up over Arthur’s Pike we found the wind effects lessening as we walked away from the funnelled shoulder. Encouragingly Loadpot also looked cloud free for the first time today. We soon found the path running south along the old Roman Road (High Street) and up to the trig point on Loadpot Hill. The weather was improving just in time 🙂
Due to the lack of shelter we didn’t hang about on Loadpot so set off south through the flat brown grassy terrain arriving on Wether Hill at 3.55pm. My phone crashed for some reason and wouldn’t restart until a battery change so there were no photos for a while. This was ok as Wether Hill is remarkable for being erm unremarkable. Actually there was one remarkable thing as the weather on Wether hill was distinctly improving. Seemed like the Met Office were right and we had good views west to the Helvellyn range.
Stage 4 – Descent from Wether Hill over Pikewassa back to Martindale; (1 hour 50mins) We continued on southwards over and past Wether Hill keeping to the high ground eventually to meet a wall. Here it was time to turn right and start the descent back to the car over Steel Knotts. There had been a big temptation to angle down the grassy slopes of Wether Hill before this point however by trusting the downloaded route we discovered the path following the wall to be mostly excellent. We were soon closing in on lowly but lovely looking Pikewassa (it just sounds so much better than Steel Knotts).
Leaving the main ridge & turning north west to Pikewassa – 4.10pm
Back at the car for 5.50pm after a short drop down to the church. Lowly Pikewassa was fun, not far from the road, good viewpoint, nice shape. Enjoyed it. This was a day we could so easily have have saved some fuel money and stayed in Hexham, however by placing our trust in the Met Office over other less optimistic forecasts the day was saved. It was also a day where trying to do something more spectacular would have been less spectacular – if that makes sense. At the end of the day it was a good day. And that’s a lot mentions of the word day.
- The Walking Englishman gives 3-5 hours for this walk, we did it leisurely over 5 hours
- Can do clockwise or anti clockwise, depends on the breeze, nice finishing on Pikewassa
- Main ridge is wide and featureless so needs careful navigation in cloud
- Mid March & only my second Lakes trip this year, at least the blog is back after 8 laptopless weeks
- Alans farts are less dangerous in high funnelled wind conditions