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A Roman Road to Loadpot Hill + unusual harvesting.

A Roman Road to Loadpot Hill + unusual harvesting.


Postby trailmasher » Mon Nov 07, 2016 9:46 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Arthur's Pike, Bonscale Pike, Loadpot Hill

Hewitts included on this walk: Loadpot Hill

Date walked: 24/10/2016

Time taken: 3.34

Distance: 15.28 km

Ascent: 565m

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Loadpot Hill-Bonscale Pike-Arthur's Pike.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts


It was cool and cloudy as we parked up at Roehead that is just a short drive along a narrow tarmac road heading southeast from the junction on the road to Howtown. There is plenty of room for parking along one side of the road just prior to accessing the fells by a gate across the wide track that leads to all sorts of directions and combinations of walks. By the time that we had got dressed for the occasion the clouds were beginning to clear exposing plenty of blue sky.
1 - Arthur's Pike from Roehead.JPG
Arthur's Pike from Roehead.

There were quite a few more cars parked along with a mini-bus that had brought a group of youngsters of varying ages who were practicing the art of fell running by running part way up a track that heads off up the steep and lower slopes of Ridding Brow and then on to Heughscar Hill. We had a chat with one of the supervisors who was more than happy to see a good turnout and be able to pass on his skills to new ones entering in the sport/pastime.

A wide and well stoned up track climbed gently uphill in an almost southerly direction and bearing slightly east passing along the dead bracken covered base of Heughscar Hill to our left and the similar bracken covered slopes of the open fell running down to Elder Beck. There were quite a few people about walking off in different directions, a lot of them looking like local dog walkers and the odd ones looking a tad confused with the abundance of paths and tracks around here. We continued along the track until reaching a trackside cairn where we turned off true south towards 'The Cockpit', a circle of standing stones of unknown antiquity. Its 'modern' name came about by the clue in the name, as in 18th/19th century that is exactly what it was used for 'cockfighting' due to its quite isolated location.
4 - The Cockpit with Heughscar Hill behind.JPG
The Cockpit mid-morning with Heughscar Hill behind.

28 - The Cockpit.JPG
The Cockpit mid-afternoon.

Although the sun is shining it is not warm enough to shed a layer as we left the circle of stones and began to follow the green lane for a short while that soon reduced to a narrow path through the grass, a mere remnant of its former glory as a well constructed road that carried troops and provisions into the heart of the northern 'badlands' that they were trying to control. We were now walking through the rough moor grass and small patches of heather whilst looking down on seas of golden brown bracken, a patch of Ullswater and a view of the mountains to our left completed the so far excellent view from this low position. Over to our right there are the wide open fells of Tarn Moor and Askham Fell, whilst in front to the north we had a good view of Heughscar Hill brown with bracken and a topping of pine trees.
Ahead and to our right the tip of Arthur's Pike is in view and will be visible along with Bonscale Pike as we climb steadily up along the course of the Roman Road of High Street. The narrow path widens out to a narrow road width…
6 - The Roman road with the Pennines - Penrith and Heughscar Hill behind.JPG
The Roman road with the Pennines - Penrith and Heughscar Hill behind.

that now continues all the way along its length over Brown Rigg, up to Wartches, Lord's Seat, and then from Lambert Lad continues south to climb the steep side of Loadpot Hill. From Lambert Lad the original road turned to the southwest to skirt the steeper slopes of Loadpot Hill.
7 - The road passes over Brown Rigg between Aik Beck and Nesgillhow Beck.JPG
The road passes over Brown Rigg between Aik Beck and Nesgillhow Beck.

8 - Boundary stone just below Wartches with Loadpot Hill summit to the left.JPG
Boundary stone just below Wartches with Loadpot Hill summit to the left.

The 'road' makes for an easy ascent all the way up to the base of Loadpot Hill that could be seen covered in cloud as we climbed ever higher. The road is wet in places and needs a detour or two to miss the worst of it but all in all it's not too bad, a bit of a plod on a day that's just lost its sunshine and blue skies. There is just a grey blanket of cloud above us just now…
10 - The flat dome of Loadpot Hill lies ahead.JPG
The flat dome of Loadpot Hill.

with only the sight of the fells to our right giving us a glimpse of colour other than the light brown of the tufty fell grass that stretches for miles on these fells.
9 - Looking west across Swarth Beck to Great and Little Mell Fells with Blencathra behind under cloud.JPG
Looking west across Swarth Beck to Great and Little Mell Fells with Blencathra behind under cloud.

Climbing up the steeper north slope of Loadpot Hill is a wet and slippery journey but it soon eased off on the summit approach until when the OS trig column was first spotted the ground is fairly level.
12 - Loadpot Hill trig column and the north western mountains.JPG
Loadpot Hill trig column and the north western mountains.

Ahead of us and looking north the sky is still grey as we looked towards Wether Hill and High Street but east, south, and west the sky is once again blue with the dark patches of the clouds moving across the sunlit fell sides. The mountains to the west are plain to see although the higher ones are under a bank of cloud, but the views are nothing to complain about, maybe a little hazy but we could see everything from the two Mells, Gowbarrow, Sheffield Pike with the Dodd's behind, and right around to the Helvellyn Range. It's such a good view point that despite the cold breeze we decided to have a break and enjoy the panorama around us.
13 - A view towards Ullswater with Hallin Fell centre.JPG
A view towards Ullswater with Hallin Fell centre.

Once our break was over and suitably chilled by the breeze it was time to set off and warm up again and this we did by heading off north across pathless ground to cross the line of the old Roman Road of High Street, behind Brock Crag and picked up the end of a path that starts just north of the marked on the map Stone Circle of which we could see nothing at all, either on the way up or just now.
14 - Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike from above Brock Crag.JPG
Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike from above Brock Crag.

We followed the clear path over White Knotts and Swarth Fell to arrive at Bonscale Pike with its couple of tall square shaped hillside cairns plus the summit cairn.
23 - The view southwest along Ullswater.JPG
The view southwest along Ullswater.

The views southwest to the mountains and the restricted but lovely view of Ullswater are a sight to behold. The clouds were overhead once again but the sun was shining over the mountains and green valley of Martindale and the hamlet of Howtown, beautiful.
18 - Martindale fells from Bonscale Pike.JPG
Martindale fells from Bonscale Pike.

19 - Hallin Fell and Ullswater in autumn.JPG
Hallin Fell and Ullswater in autumn.

20 - Northwest view across Ullswater.JPG
Northwest view across Ullswater.

21 - Indian scout or Elizabeth.JPG
Indian scout or Elizabeth.

A man could linger all day with these views but eventually he has to move on, and move on we did, leaving the views behind to head off to the southeast to the peaceful sheepfold at Swarth Beck, one of my favourite stops for a break. It's a bit of a wet and boggy entrance to the beck crossing but once at the sheepfold all is well. Good seating arrangements, no views, but a peaceful and sheltered place to sit whilst listening to the passage of water flowing over the stones of the beck.
24 - Sheepfold at Swarth Beck.JPG
Sheepfold at Swarth Beck.

Leaving here we took the well made path that runs up and across the fellside in a north easterly direction towards Arthur's Pike. Once again its easy going along the well graded path come track to arrive at the large cairn of stones…
25 - Arthur's Pike.JPG
Arthur's Pike.

with the views similar as before but with more of the northern aspect now opened up before us. It was at the summit that we met a fell runner whom we had a fair long chat with. He told us that he was in training for the 70 year olds version of the Bob Graham Round, was sussing out the route before he did it for real, and had already run 43 miles that day, what a man, and it just goes to show that age has no barriers for the get up and go.

Ullswater points the way to Pooley Bridge tucked in at the end of the lake surrounded by the autumn leaved trees and green fields. Dunmallard Hill is just to the left of the village and is the site of an old settlement with some local historians strongly suggesting that it was once occupied by the Romans.
26 - The view north from Arthur's Pike.JPG
The view north from Arthur's Pike.

As the Roman Road of High Street passed by this way they probably have a good case to argue as this and Heughscar Hill are the last two high points before reaching Penrith that can just about be seen in the distance.
27 - Looking across Barton Fell towards Heughscar Hill and the Pennines.JPG
Looking across Barton Fell towards Heughscar Hill and the Pennines.

All we have to do now is follow the path northeast as it passes over Long Crag and White Knott, cross Aik Beck by the ford and follow the wide track back to the Cockpit to then re-trace our steps back to the car. As we had been descending from Arthur's Pike we could see a few machines moving around on Heughscar Hill and the fells below us and wondered what on earth they could be doing. Upon leaving the stone circle we could now see that there were three tractors all geared up for haymaking with each one having a different machine for that job.

But what were they doing here? They were harvesting bracken.

A shaker/turner…
29 - Harvesting bracken.JPG
Harvesting bracken.

a baler…
30 - Baling and stacking harvested bracken.JPG
Baling and stacking harvested bracken.

31 - Baling cut bracken for use as animal bedding.JPG
Baling cut bracken for use as animal bedding.

and twin forks for moving the bales to a stacking area…
32 - Moving bales of bracken.JPG
Moving bales of bracken.

each tractor had its own job to do.

Upon stopping and asking one of the tractor drivers he explained that they cut the bracken down and left it for two weeks to dry out during which time the usually poisonous and invasive plant lost its ability to cause any harm to livestock. After the two weeks they came back and did what we could see them doing now. Shaking, baling, and moving the round bales to a stacking area on to the lower slopes of Heughscar Hill. The bracken is then used for bedding for the animals and they use it because it's cheaper than straw, it's free. I don't know whether this is a new activity on the fells but for all the autumns that I have been on them I have never seen this before. Fair play to whoever thought of this one, a great and economical way for the farmers of providing bedding for their livestock.

Another decent walk made better by the views to the west as without those it would have seemed like an interminable and endless plod over weary looking and bland ground, especially so with nothing but a blanket of grey cloud in front of us. The sun came and went over us but remained in the west and back to the north with a cool breeze taking us right to the top of Loadpot Hill. It was only when descending and the sun once more kindly showed itself above us that it got any warmer and it was comfortable enough to ease off the pace a bit. The going was mostly dry underfoot the wettest part being on the approach to and climbing Loadpot Hill.

I may be being a bit harsh in my earlier description of the walk, one that I have done a few times before so it can't really be as bad as I have depicted, but on this particular day that's what it felt like. Sorry Loadpot.

It is a handy walk for a short day on the fells and one that is easily achieved without much effort with Wether Hill only a mile or so further on if one has the energy or wants to bag another quick Wainwright whilst up there.
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trailmasher
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Re: A Roman Road to Loadpot Hill + unusual harvesting.

Postby ChrisW » Tue Nov 08, 2016 6:49 am

I would have loved to hike this route with you TM, right up my street this one. I love the rolling hills and though they can sometimes lack in photo opportunities that's not the case here :clap: :clap:

Heather harvesting for bedding used to be a very common thing (in Wales in particular) though I'm not sure if it still is. When bedding straw was more expensive it was a bit of a 'go to' source for less affluent farmers. I remember a number of farmers in NW Wales went back to it in a big way in the 90's for cost reasons.

I've just looked up a book I read a hundred years ago titled "Sunrise to Sunset" by Adrian Bell about farming in the Lake District in the 1940's, in it he speaks of families cutting bracken for bedding and transporting it in horse drawn hay carts ....man that has dragged back some long forgotten memories :lol: :lol:

Thanks for rekindling the dark forgotten corners of the grey matter mate :clap: :clap:
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ChrisW
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Re: A Roman Road to Loadpot Hill + unusual harvesting.

Postby trailmasher » Thu Nov 10, 2016 11:55 am

ChrisW wrote:I've just looked up a book I read a hundred years ago
man that has dragged back some long forgotten memories :lol: :lol:
Thanks for rekindling the dark forgotten corners of the grey matter mate


Hey Chris you're holding your age well mate, what a memory and still looking good :lol: :lol: :lol:

titled "Sunrise to Sunset" by Adrian Bell about farming in the Lake District.


Thank you for the book title :) and info on bracken harvesting :D just the sort of book that I like to read 8) also many thanks for your comments :clap: :D
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trailmasher
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