Loadpot Hill Wild Camp

12th - 13th June 2021

David took to wild camping the Lakeland fells between the lock downs last year and has enjoyed a host of camps on some of his favourite summits, his only regret being that he'd wished he started sooner. You may not know it but before I got serious about my fell walking I too did my fair share of wild camping.

David's last wild camp was back in September last year where he spent the night on Thornthwaite Crag, then came the lock downs and Winter followed by a wetter than average Spring. David emailed me a couple of weeks ago about camping out on Haycock which I jumped at the chance, that was before my boss asked would I cover this Saturday which I kind'a had no option not too.

Before I emailed David back to inform him I couldn't make it I stopped, because the plan was to meet mid afternoon which meant we could meet up after I finished work at 12:30pm. David replied with this walk, a wild camp on Loadpot Hill from Askham, why not start from Pooley Bridge or Row Head? Given our late arrival parking would be virtually impossible. From Askham we would head west for The Cockpit before picking up the footpath for Arthur's Pike, Bonscale Fell and Loadpot Hill. We'd given ourselves more than enough time to reach Loadpot Hill which meant we could take our time and enjoy the late afternoon sunshine.

Wainwright Guide Book Two
The Far Eastern Fells

Loadpot Hill

There is the appearance of desolation, but no place is desolate that harbours so much life; in addition to the inevitable sheep, hardy fell ponies roam and graze at will.


Ascent: 2,880 Feet - 878 Metres
Wainwrights: 4, Arthur's Pike - Bonscale Pike - Loadpot Hill - Wether Hill
Visiting: 3, Askham Fell - Barton Fell - Heughscar Hill
Weather: Day 1, Warm Dry & Sunny. Windy. Highs of 18°C Lows of 9°C - Day 2, Winds Continuing, Turning Brighter. Highs of 22°C Lows of 9°C
Parking: Car Park, Askham Swimming Pool
Area: Far Eastern
Total Miles: 15.9
Walking With: David Hall
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Total Walk Time: 8 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Askham – Askham Fell - The Cockpit - Barton Fell - Arthur’s Pike – Swarth Beck - Boncale Pike – Loadpot Hill CAMP – Wether hill – Gowk Hill - Fusedale - Mellguards – Path Below Bonscale Pike – The Cockpit - Heughscar Hill – Askham

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA10 2PN
Grid Reference: NY 512 223
Notes: A medium sized car park belonging to Askham Outdoor Swimming Pool found prior to entering the village on the left (if approaching from Celleron or Tirril) An honesty box can be found close to the entrance.


Map and Photo Gallery


Askham Village 14:30pm 18°C
Accounting for traffic I added an extra half hour to our meeting time and arranged to meet David at Askham village swimming pool at 14:30pm. I arrived spot on after not encountering much traffic which couldn't be said about how busy the car park was finding one parking space left which was wedged between two trees. I managed to tuck my car into the space and greeted David while still wearing my work trousers and shirt "think you need to change Paul" David smirked which I did using the car door as a screen. It was a lovely warm afternoon and with plenty of time on our hands the plan was to eat a late lunch here at the car park before setting off so I tucked into one of three cold flavoured rice which I'd placed into clear sandwich packs to minimise space.

With lunch out the way David disappeared for a few minutes before returning with "Paul there's a chap leaving, go and grab his space" so I manoeuvered out between the trees and waited, and waited, and waited for the guy to move his car. David had already asked was he leaving to which he replied yes...what he didn't say was when as he crossed the car park and took up conversation with his mates, belting we thought. Eventually the chap left and I reversed my car neatly up against a wooden fence and started to check my gear for the last time, if I haven't packed it its tough I guess. With our cars locked we shouldered packs and started to head through the village. I knew something wasn't right with the way my pack sat against my back but I don't mention anything for now.

A distant view of what was Lowther Castle.
We left the village behind catching up and dreaming of village life and what it would take to own one of the idyllic cottages or luxury barn conversions. I don't think even a lottery win would tempt the owner from selling up. Askham really is as quaint as village life gets in Cumbria.

Passing the woods at Riggingleys Top.
Where just beyond sits the summit of Heughscar Hill which we'll be visiting during our return tomorrow.

Barton Fell comes into view.
We passed over Askham Fell while making our way towards The Cockpit stone circle but we eventually had to stop to adjust my pack which meant emptying it and re-packing it. It was only when David saw how much food I'd packed did he laugh and say "blimey Paul where only staying the one night" David did have a point and no wonder the straps of my pack were cutting into my shoulders - it looked like I had the contents of a big shop bulging out from the top of my pack.

Views over Ullswater towards Little Mell Fell, Blencathra, Bannerdale Crags, Souther Fell and Bowscale Fell.
Re-packing my pack made a huge difference and I felt 'back in the race again' We continued following the footpath bound for The Cockpit stone circle which was passed without stopping such our eagerness to get boot onto fell.

Fantastic views as we head towards Barton Fell with Ullswater glistening in the early evening sunshine.
It was the type of heat which when accompanied by a breeze do you get unexpectedly sun burned which wasn't the best look for both my arms and neck which had been peeling for the last week after my adventures in Lakeland at the beginning of the month. Up ahead Barton Fell then Arthur's Pike awaits and by the looks of it we may get the summits to ourselves.

Ullswater from Arthur's Pike summit 16:45pm
We stopped to chat and while doing so we were overtaken by a family who stopped to take photos from the cairn on Barton Fell which kind'a got me and David guessing did they think they where at Arthur's Pike summit? Oh well we'll never know. We arrived at Arthur's Pike and found a group of young lads sheltering from the wind in a hollow below the summit cairn...come to think of it, the breeze had now turned a tad gustier and with more height gained, the temperature started to drop too.

Bonscale Pike (right) as we head towards Swarth Beck (below)
We left Arthur's Pike behind and took in the slight descent towards Swarth Beck. Away from the exposure of the ridge we were back in the hot sunshine and were looking forward to a planned stop at Swarth Beck from which we would top up our water bottles.

Ruined sheep fold, Swarth Beck with Arthur's Pike seen right.
We arrived at the ruined sheep fold and de-shouldered packs. We were both carrying full 1.5ltr bottles with spare 1ltr bottles in our packs. The first impression of Swarth Beck as a water source wasn't the best finding moss and slime covered rock but we found not one, but two fast flowing water falls a little down stream where I tested the water for clarity using a clear bottle, it was as clear and as fresh tasting as anything you'll find behind a fridge door so we drank as much as we could from our 1.5 ltr bottles then topped them up again with the contents of Swarth Beck.

Swinburn's Park, Little Mell Fell and Great Mell Fell seen over Ullswater from Bonscale Pike 17:23pm
Feeling refreshed we shouldered and began the short trod towards Bonscale Pike summit reaching it a little before 17:30pm. We had the summit to ourselves and as we took in the views we must have been thinking the same thing.

Exposed along the edge of the ridge meant we were back in the winds firing line which was OK to stand in but the longer we stood still the cooler it became which was when a possibility of a plan B was mentioned "if it's this windy here how strong is it going to be up on Loadpot Hill?"

Hallin Fell and Gowbarrow Fell seen beyond Howtown Wyke.
The boat below going around in circles captures my attention.
Heading for Loadpot Hill.
We left Bonscale Pike and with it, the views of a sparkling Ullswater for now at least. The area below Bonscale Pike did offer an alternative plan B camping spot but if we were to stick to the route we both knew we'd have to find a sheltered area on Loadpot Hill or continue over Wether Hill and onto Red Crag where we knew a stone wall would also offer shelter from the wind.

It was decision time and our first decision was to find shelter when we reached Loadpot Hill summit. David spotted the large grass depression aptly named Loadpot Hole (seen in left of photo) on Loadpot Hill northern shoulder "worth a recce" asked David "aye lets have a look" I replied.

Two mountain bikers rode towards Loadpot Hill summit before one stopped right next to the depression "reckon their looking for a rough camp" I asked "can't be, not on bikes, surely not" David replied.

The mountain bikers left in the direction of Arthur's Pike and we continued to follow the line of the ridge then once we had crested the small hill (seen right) we followed a path which linked back with the Roman Road and made the short detour towards the deep depression "ahh bugger" Although it would offer great protection from the wind and would also offer a fantastic view of tonights sunset the depression just wasn't flat enough to pitch two tents.

The Northern Fells from Loadpot Hill summit 18:15pm
With laden packs we climbed the steep grassy slope and sighted the Trig point while coming out with the same words at exactly the same time "that's odd, where's the wind gone" It was true the higher we had climbed the less we felt the wind, don't get me wrong the grass did sway a little in the wind but it was copeable so we started to look for a place to pitch the tents.

Home for the night, Loadpot Hill summit.
It didn't take long to find the perfect place to pitch the tents right besides a subsidiary cairn where flat ground was in abundance, not only that, three large rocks lay at the side of the cairn (behind the blue tent) which would double as chairs, not like we hadn't brought our own mind.

...I think we can cope with this view for a few hours.

Views over Wether Hill towards Red Crag, High Raise, Rampsgill Head, Rest Dodd, The Nab and Gowk Hill.
With the tents pitched and with plenty of time on our hands before we had something to eat we decided to have a walk around the summit first in an anti-clockwise direction.

Leaving the tents for a wander was going to become a regular thing, we didn't just do this once but at least half a dozen times in different directions taking in the different views right up until it was too dark to see anything but the twinkling of lights from far away villages.

Arriving back at the Trig point from the first outing.
When I noticed how long the shadows were becoming just like the one seen here.

Sometime between 20:00pm and 20:30pm
We settled down to eat which gave David another laugh at how much food I'd brought with me, no wonder my pack is so bloody heavy I laughed back. I ate another pack of cold rice this time chicken flavour and for afters I tucked into a John West tuna snack pot and washed it down with long gulps of water we had bottled back at Swarth Beck.

The chap seen on the bike was the same chap who passed us as we walked towards The Cockpit stone circle earlier who was on his way back towards Helton, we thought he would be the last person we would see until tomorrow but we were soon to be proved wrong.

It was a approaching 21:10pm when I spotted two fell runners approaching towards the Trig point. As it turned out it was their first time here and were looking for Wether Hill so we pointed them in the right direction remarking afterwards we hoped that they moved fast because there was less than an hours daylight left, we were proved right when just five minutes later they topped out on Wether Hill, their descent back to Howtown where they had started was unknown but was likely to be via the Fusedale valley.

This is the life.
After we had eaten we decided to go for another short walk only this time to take in the views towards the south which were prominently hazy hence why the photos didn't make it to the website.

Sunset from Loadpot Hill 20:57pm
We both guessed at exactly which point the sun would set. My guess was between Skiddaw and Blease Fell while David guessed over Blease Fell...we were both way off.


A lot can happen in twenty minutes 21:18pm
We decided to have another wander only this time we trekked a pathless true north. As as I wandered the hummocky ground I noticed a low bank of haze spreading west from the direction of Penrith, not only that the sky was starting to fill with low cloud too.

What a site though.
We stopped as stomachs dropped at what was unfolding above our heads. Thick grey cloud was moving in and moving in fast but for what it was worth, it only made the sunset more dramatic.

Streaks of light.
Stretching from Ullswater to Penrith.

Despite the cloud arriving.
It remained clear directly overhead, for now at least.

Dramatic skies.
We arrived back at the Trig point where we sat for a few moments watching the sunset fade into a fiery afterglow. Note how the sunlight is catching a tiny spec of the Solway Firth in the centre of the photo.

Loadpot Hill sunset.
David returned to the tents to collect our chairs which we set up in front of the trig point to capture what remained of the sunset and just as it did on Fleetwith Pike a couple of weeks ago the sun sank into a thick wall of haze leaving any remnants of light confined to the clouds above. Most would have turned in for the night but not us, we sat there waiting until every chink of light was gone and replaced by cloud. The sound of Lap Wings directly above still dominated as more and more cloud cover arrived when we both agreed that although we hadn't had the perfect sunset it was damn close. By 22:45pm we were still stood by the Trig at which point it was light enough to see without our head torches despite the fading light. We decIded to walk towards the western shoulder where we stood in silence surrounded by the sound of a gathering wind and Lap Wings who were preparing for their days end (which sounds an awful lot like a five year old opening presents on Christmas day) By now David was very much enjoying naming towns, villages, farms and passes whose lights flickered on in the distance.

It was a truly wonderful sight watching those lights come on one by one, a view that no camera can do justice. We returned to the tents and sat for a few minutes before heading out again to take in the view south towards Shap and the M6 motorway whose drivers had no idea that we could see their headlights from over ten miles away. We returned to the Trig point for one last time which was when David spotted what must have been the lights of Threlkeld twinkling in the darkness the site of which was powerful beyond words. Tiredness had caught up with me but I reckon David could have stood in the cold of the night for another hour at least. I had seen a side of David I had never seen before who stood in silence while watching those lights flicker on one by one.

Loadpot Hill Summit, Sunday Morning 03:00am
We finally retired for the night sometime around 23:00pm but before we hit the hay we had agreed to get up between 02:00am - 03:00am to explore the summit only this time in what can only be described as complete darkness "whoever wakes up first gets the other one up" I climbed into my sleeping bag and despite feeling tired sleep didn't come easy for the first hour amd the last thing I remember was listening to the wind while nodding off then I must have gone out for the count...this coming from a guy who's such a light sleeper I have to go around the house at night unplugging chargers which I think make a humming noise but no one else can hear. I drifted in and out of deep sleep often being woke by the sound of a sudden gust which caused the taut skin of our tents to ripple.

"Paul you up?" "yeah" I replied in my sleepy state. "You need to come out here it's brilliant" I was zipped up to the chin with one arm in and one arm out my sleeping bag while sleeping on my stomach. I struggled to make my way out my sleeping bag then added my boots leaving the laces untied because I was just too sleepy to do anything about it. David was sat on one of the large rocks at the side of the cairn looking like he was about to set off on a fell walk while I looked like something the cat had dragged in "morning" as I poked my head through the tent. The cold hit me first so I added my beanie which I'd left at the side of the tents entrance. We agreed to leave our head torches turned on inside our tents then had another wander about the summit only this time it was much windier with spots of rain in the air. It was too dark to see what was happening above our heads but we both figured the cloud had lowered during the night and we only hoped those spots of rain we could feel stayed that way, the last thing we wanted was for it to start lashing it down. After about twenty minutes we decided to retire again and agreed whoever woke first would wake the other for our sunrise exit.

Breaking camp - 05:04am
"Paul you up" "yeah" I quickly replied. I'd only been up for about 45 seconds and in that time my eyes were just about adjusting to the daylight I could see through the tents fabric. I poked my head through the tent again followed by the second "morning" this morning. I seemed to have slept better the second quarter of the night and it seemed to take ages for me to come around "how did you sleep David" I asked "on and off" David smiled. We both knew what was coming next, it was time to break camp but I just couldn't take my eyes of the spectacular cloud movement over Wether Hill and Red Crag.

The cloud was sporadic to say the least and when it broke more followed minutes later. We quickly broke camp by deflating our air mattresses, rolling up our camping mats, folding clothing then finally we folded our tents into squares ready to be packed into their respective packs which we had to do as a team due the building wind.

Leave no trace.
Within forty minutes of being woken by David both tents were down and packs were shouldered ready for the 10 mile walk back to Askham via Wether Hill, the Fusedale valley and Heughscar Hill.

Beda Fell, Gavel Pike on St Sunday and Place Fell from Wether Hill summit.
With our camping spot behind us we descended Loadpot Hill and joined the grassy highway towards Wether Hill both remarking that the slight pull onto the summit felt harder than it should have "that's because my knees are still asleep" I laughed but I wasn't joking, they were still back on Loadpot Hill in the land of nod.

Sunrise over Gowk Hill at the head of Fusedale.
We agreed to eat breakfast once we found a sheltered spot which we found just above the ruined building at the head of Fusedale right at the same time the sun rose above Loadpot Hill behind us, the light show over the next few minutes was just fantastic.

The Nab, Heck Crag and Bannerdale from our Breakfast spot.
Good grief it doesn't get any better than this.

Gowk Hill at 06:15am with the ruined building directly below.
By now the light was incredible, another moment when the camera didn't do our view justice.

Sun light breaches the ridge between Loadpot Hill and Wether Hill.
We weren't expecting any sunshine at all so when this happened it was like an extension of what we missed during last mights sunset.

Spectacular light over Brownthwaite Crag.
The original route would have seen us summit Steel Knotts (Pikeawassa) only last night from the summit of Loadpot Hill we spotted a tent (or tents) that had been pitched at the summit so we decided to give it a miss and head through the Fusedale valley instead.

Looking back through the Fusedale valley.
Towards Gowk Hill, Brownthwaite Crag and Steel Fell (Pikeawassa)

At the end of the Fusedale Valley.
We crossed Fusedale Beck for the second time (first being half way down the valley) at the Clapper Bridge then headed towards Mellgaurds seen up ahead.

Hallin Fell seen over Howtown Wyke.
After passing Mellgaurds we joined the footpath below Bonscale Pike (now part of the Ullswater Way)

Looking back on Ullswater from above Barton Park.
By now it was approaching 08:30am and we agreed not to stop and fill our bottles at the bottom of Swarthbeck Gill and instead continued to rise above Ullswater and had a quick pit stop above Barton Park.

Hallin Fell close up.
There's still quite alot of cloud hanging over Helvellyn beyond but there's still plenty of time for it to lift.

Arthur's Pike and Ullswater from Heughscar Hill.
Eight miles in and we were fighting the humidity of the morning as we strode past the stone circle as fell runner after fell runner ran passed one of whom asked how our night was and before we could answer he was gone. Despite the early hour the temperature was rising already into the late teens and the straps of my pack were starting to dig into my shoulders again. Joining the grassy trod onto Heughscar Hill we were attacked by flying ants, the chap looking on from the summit must have wondered who was beating us up.

The summit came and we could look back on ground covered which by now lay partly in shade except for Loadpot Hill which was lit up beautifully in bright morning sunshine. We chatted as we walked back to Askham before getting onto the highlights of the walk. For David it had to be that hour after the sunset when all around us the lights started to appear one by one, I agreed it was one of my highlights too but so too was spending a fantastic night on the fell feeling completely at one with my surroundings.


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