It was one of those truly idyllic Lakeland days – bright blue sky, gentle breeze, and clear views over miles of mountains and fells, every ridge, bit of scree, solitary rock and trees sharply delineated.
We set off early in the morning from the new church at Martindale, following the lane down to the dale’s old church. Then up the path that climbs below Branthwaite Crag. An easy ascent, though the bracken was a tad higher than the last time we went this way about a year ago. But still a very clear path and easy walking.
Terrific views here over Martindale and back towards Ullswater. Near the head of the valley is the red-roofed bungalow where Kaiser Bill stayed, not long before the outbreak of the Great War. Odd to think of him walking these same old tracks.
The Nab, the heart of the Martindale Deer Forest guards the head of the dale – all forbidden territory until the passing of the CRoW Act.
Then more steeply uphill to the long ridge that carries the course of the High Street Roman road, just south of Wether Hill.
As we climbed towards the latter, we saw some hints of the agger, though – as I’ve said before – this is very much a “course of” kind of antiquity.
Wether Hill may be a Wainwright, but its a very broad and plateau-y kind of summit. But there are excellent views over the northern Lakes, and right across the Eden valley to the Pennines – the mighty Cross Fell dominating the skyline.
A very easy stroll then to the top of Loadpot Hill which, rather like its neighbour, is a broad summit marked only by a pile of stones and an Ordnance Survey trig point. On the way up we passed the ruins of Lowther House, once a shooting box for the estate of the same name.
There was a lovely feeling of space on these wide uplands.
To descend we walked back towards Wether Hill until just past the start of Groove Gill, a beck and series of small waterfalls. The start of the path is hard to find as it goes down towards Fusedale, but it becomes more distinctive lower down. Aim about fifty yards south of Groove Gill and you should see it as you lose height. It’s very steep but an easy descent.
The path into Fusedale crosses a gorgeous old stone clam bridge, hard by a pool with a little waterfall. A good place for a tea-break and dipping weary feet in cool water.
By now a few more fellwalkers were making their way up the dale – we hadn’t seen many earlier. We like to always start to walk early in the day.
Fusedale is a grand and wild place, under the rocks of Pikeawassa, with snapshot views of Ullswater. A place to linger on a good day. A place of peace in this hectic world. Then around the top of Steel End and back to the start.
This remains one of the quieter corners of Lakeland. Pick a good day for views and seek it out.