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Pooley Bridge - Windermere 2 days / 19miles (31km)

OS Route Map → Map GPX Route file →

Date: 30 Aug 2018
Start: Pooley Bridge. Finish: Windermere station.
Maps: Explorer OL5 & OL7: English Lakes NE & SE.

Day 1Loadpot Hill & High Street10.5miles / 2973 feet (16.9km / 906m)
Day 2Ill Bell ridge & Dubbs Reservoir8.6miles / 1016 feet (13.8km / 309m)
Ill Bell ridge from High Street pitch

A linear 2-day north-south hike of the far eastern fells of the Lake District, joining the line of the roman road at Moor Divock near Pooley Bridge as far as High Street and traversing the Ill Bell ridge to the Garburn Pass and Dubbs Reservoir.

We have walked various circuits of all these fells before, but our new public transport regime allowed an obvious natural traverse from Pooley Bridge to Windermere station.

The first day was overcast and grey for the very long and gradual approach to Loadpot Hill and the northernmost summits, but the tops were clear with interest in the dramatic cloud patterns. The second day was in glorious sunshine for the more mountainous scenery of the Ill Bell ridge, surprisingly cold for late August at dawn but becoming very warm by afternoon.

Day 1 - Loadpot Hill & High Street

We took the lane south-eastwards from Pooley Bridge to the boundary of access land where it becomes a track ascending onto the expanse of Moor Divock, an area with many paths and peppered with historical sites. Turning right at the first main intersection, another track led us to the quite busy area of The Cockpit stone circle where a group of people were seated on the stones. Turning right again on another major track to seek the course of the roman road, we were anticipating a prominent path but it's actually the weakest path we saw in this area and easily missed, just a fairly worn grassy line departing the track and gradually ascending the moorland south-westwards.

A long time later we arrived at the trig point on Loadpot Hill giving a grey cloudscape and dark mountain view westwards and a somewhat brighter prospect eastwards to Cross Fell. Across the next dip is the undistinguished top of Wether Hill to the left of the path.

View west from the roman road
View west from the roman road (30 Aug 2018__12:26:51)
View east from Loadpot Hill to Cross Fell
View east from Loadpot Hill to Cross Fell (30 Aug 2018__13:10:06)

Descending from Wether Hill, we took a left fork in the path that descends to Keasgill Head and climbs to join the ridge wall. A while later there is a gate and waymark on the west side of the wall that we don't remember from years ago leading onto a path over the slight rise of Raven Howe. This later returns to the east side and climbs the slopes of High Raise but bypasses the summit, the first rocky one encountered. The sun was breaking through intermittently to brighten the mountain scene.

At the next col the rightmost of several onward lines climbs quickly to Rampsgill Head with its fine view of the valley to the north. Next is the excellent path around the rim of Twopenny Crag to the Straits of Riggindale and an easy ascent alongside the wall to the trig point on High Street.

Rest Dodd from Raven Howe
Rest Dodd from Raven Howe (30 Aug 2018__15:17:41)
The Nab & Beda Head from Raven Howe
The Nab & Beda Head from Raven Howe (30 Aug 2018__15:18:07)
High Raise
High Raise (30 Aug 2018__15:52:08)
View south-west from High Raise
View south-west from High Raise (30 Aug 2018__15:54:42)
Rampsgill valley from Rampsgill Head
Rampsgill valley from Rampsgill Head (30 Aug 2018__16:23:24)
Long Stile and Harter Fell from Rampsgill Head
Long Stile and Harter Fell from Rampsgill Head (30 Aug 2018__16:31:27)
Kidsty Pike & Riggindale
Kidsty Pike & Riggindale (30 Aug 2018__16:31:59)
Approach to High Street
Approach to High Street (30 Aug 2018__16:37:24)

Just one small family group remained at the usually busy trig point on High Street. We have camped here before but in mid winter, this time we continued down to the broad grassy area above Gavel Crag to distance ourselves from the paths and made a good pitch with a view of the onward ridge and Windermere to the south. To the east was Harter Fell and closer at hand the columnar cairn of Thornthwaite Crag.

Pitch on High Street
Pitch on High Street (30 Aug 2018__18:30:10)
Pitch on High Street
Pitch on High Street (30 Aug 2018__18:31:06)

Day 2 - Ill Bell ridge & Dubbs Reservoir

The extensive cloud cover disappeared overnight to bring a clear dawn with quite a chill in the air and a cold breeze. The early low-angled light can bring curious colour effects, at first enhancing the red and giving an orangey glow to the view of the Ill bell ridge from the pitch and later imparting a strong yellowish hue to the slopes. Another classic backpacking morning.

We set off on the excellent and all-too-short path around the edge of the steep slope to join the main highway heading for the ridge with a view of Kentmere reservoir below.

Early light on the Ill Bell ridge
Early light on the Ill Bell ridge (31 Aug 2018__07:06:42)
Yellowish light on Ill Bell & Kentmere reservoir
Yellowish light on Ill Bell & Kentmere reservoir (31 Aug 2018__07:10:07)
View west from path above Gavel Crag
View west from path above Gavel Crag (31 Aug 2018__07:15:47)
Hall Cove from Froswick
Hall Cove from Froswick (31 Aug 2018__07:55:39)
Froswick from Ill Bell
Froswick from Ill Bell (31 Aug 2018__08:41:44)
View west from Ill Bell
View west from Ill Bell (31 Aug 2018__08:47:06)
Lingmell End from Ill Bell
Lingmell End from Ill Bell (31 Aug 2018__08:47:53)
Ill Bell cairn
Ill Bell cairn (31 Aug 2018__08:49:27)
View south from Ill Bell
View south from Ill Bell (31 Aug 2018__08:53:55)

From the summit of Yoke we descended east along side a fence to visit Rainsborrow Tarn, a pool perched on the edge of the final drop to the valley that we last saw 14 years ago covered in ice. The traverse back to the ridge path alongside the broken wall is more scrappy and awkward than we remember but rejoins the main path at a gate.

At the Garburn Pass we picked up the track of the Garburn Road and forked left at the bifurcation onto Dubbs Road. At the Garburn Road disused quarry spoil heaps, now much softened by colonising plants, the sunlight was glinting brightly through the branches of a fine old tree and we used this as an experiment for trying some camera settings: we quite like the result, another pleasing photo acquired by chance.

Rainsborrow Tarn
Rainsborrow Tarn (31 Aug 2018__10:00:16)
Old tree & old quarry spoil
Old tree & old quarry spoil (31 Aug 2018__11:49:09)

The Dubbs track reaches the road at Moor Howe where we picked up the lane heading south to the main road and the only technical difficulty of the walk: crossing the A591 to reach the pavement for the short walk into Windermere (seriously). Shortly before this point there was a permitted path to access Orrest Head and its famed views, in hindsight we should have taken that instead. Anyway we arrived in plenty of time to buy food and drink before our booked train.