Wether Hill

Published 13 September 2017

Wether Hill, seen from Loadpot Hill

Wether Hill, looking amazing.

For the first of three days spent in the Patterdale area, I set off from Pooley Bridge and headed to the Far Eastern fells for a walk that would take in Arthur’s Pike, Bonscale Pike, Loadpot Hill, and finally, Wether Hill.

The weather was grim and getting worse. I was beginning to get just a little tired of that being the situation.

Get off the fells, I shouted at myself! There’s got to be better ways to spend an afternoon than being battered by the wind, and being bashed by the rain!
Head to the lower ground! It’s nice down there! Hardly any rain or anything! Go! Now! Leave this madness behind!

I had to confess that I made a rather convincing argument, and I decided to abandon my original plans (which were – it must be said – rather vague but mostly consisted of wandering around fell tops) and head off the hills.

Standing next to the trig point on Loadpot Hill I dragged out my map, safely enclosed in a case to keep the weather out. Staring at it for a few minutes revealed that there were a couple of paths I could take that would take me near the shore of Ullswater.

Waterlogged path on Loadpot Hill

Path or stream?

There was just one problem. None of the paths were near where I was, and to get to them I’d need to follow the ridge for a mile or so. With a sigh, I resigned myself to suffering the weather for just a bit longer.

On the plus side (if you could describe any of this as having a plus side), my path to safety would take me past another fell; the appropriately named (if you ignore the spelling) Wether Hill. I wouldn’t even have to take any detours to bag it. It was right on the path I would be following.

I should have been ecstatic. Even in such grim conditions I could get one last Wainwright before being able to get dry. But I couldn’t bring myself to look at the silver lining. I was cold. I was wet. I was rather fed up. And now I was being forced to do a fell I didn’t really want to do any more.

With I sigh, I set off. And if I’d thought the weather was bad before, boy had I seen nothing. The wind seemed to double in speed as I walked, making the rain feel like stones making huge craters in my skin when it hit my face.

Head down as far as I could put it, I forced my way forward, barely paying any attention to whereas I was going. I just… needed… to… keep… going… forward… It was probably took only about twenty minutes but it felt like hours until I got to Wether Hill’s flat and rather indistinctive summit.

Now I am all about treating fell summits with the respect they deserve. I like to reach it, and spend time there admiring the scenery and taking in the view. I like to see what else I can see, and check out the landscape. See if it’s a rocky fell or a grassy one. Is there lots of scree? Are there many cairns? But I have little recollection of the top of Wether Hill. I couldn’t remember anything of it.

Cairn surrounded by water on Wether Hill

Want to get get? Wether Hill was the place to be!

Out of a sense of duty more than anything else, I hovered around for a few seconds, desperately attempting to take a photograph to capture my achievement without the camera lens being covered in rain. I dutifully stood next to the cairn, stared at the ground and wondered how quickly I could reasonably set off again. And then I decided that was enough and it was time to end this madness once and for all.

There were two paths off the hill that I could take. One would take me down to Martindale and allow me to pick up the path to a potential fifth Wainwright, Steel Knotts, if I could actually motivate myself to do it. The other would take me directly down to Howtown via Fusedale.

This I knew. What I didn’t know is where either of them went from. To find out would require me to get my map out of the safety of its case, and refold it to show the right bit of page. And if I did that, either the heavy rain would turn the map into a soggy mass of papier mache, or the wind would tearing it from my hands and whisk it off into the distance.

From studying the map earlier, I knew one of them set off downhill from near Wether Hill’s summit, and to get to the other, you needed to follow the ridge a little further. I couldn’t for the life of me remember which of the two paths went from where, but all things given, just finding either of them would do me. As it happened, I didn’t even manage that. I spent a few minutes wandering around, failing to find any clues, before deciding enough was enough and that the best thing to do was just head down the hill a bit, then walk along the side of it until I hit the path.

Heading downhill was a revelation. It didn’t take much descent for the weather to drastically change. The driving rain became a light shower, before disappearing completely. There was even a bit of sun. Every now and then I would look back at the top of Wether Hill and see it was still shrouded in dark cloud and rain. Then i’d turn around and see myself heading towards a gorgeous dale twinkling in the sun.

Cairn surrounded by water on Wether Hill

Want to get get? Wether Hill was the place to be!

With the rain no longer falling on me, I pulled the map out of my bag, discovered that I was on the Fusedale path. My sanity restored, I began to think about what I would do next.

I’d originally planned to pick up a high level path to Angle Tarn, and then walk down to Patterdale where I was booked in at the YHA. But now I needed to come up with a new plan, and as I walked it occurred to me that there was an option that was far easier than walking. At the foot of Fusedale lay the hamlet of Howtown. It’s a hamlet that has a pier where the Ullswater Steamer stops. I could get there, leap on a boat to Glenridding, and walk the rest of the way to Patterdale.

In some ways it felt a bit like a cop out. On the other hand, I’d battled through some awful weather conditions, and in many respects I probably should have headed downhill much earlier. Now I just wanted to dry off, head to the pub for a beer and relax.

And I did just that. Although at the back of my mind was another thought. I had another two days of walking planned in the area. What would the weather be like? I could only hope that the weather would be just a bit better.

You can see all of my photographs from my three days in Patterdale over on flickr.

Ullswater seen from Fusedale

Ullswater, providing a wonderful end to Fusefale

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