Fusedale is a valley in the Far Eastern Fells above Howtown on the eastern shore of Ullswater. Away from the tourist through routes it tends to be a quiet area which, given the paucity of car parking, is probably a good thing. The fells here are generally grassy with outcrops of rock, or mosses, as you will discover on this engaging walk.
Starting the walk at Martindale Hause, near the church of St Peter, the climbing soon starts. However, whilst the going is steep, the amusingly named Pikeawassa is soon climbed and the views over Ullswater and the valleys of Martindale open up. Following a wide grassy ridge south you pass over Brownthwaite Crag and Gowk Hill. Then another climb on a terraced path onto the Roman Road of High Street. Turning to the north Wether Hill and Loadpot Hill are an easy walk over grass and moss rich upland. Many paths cover this remote area so a close eye on the map and compass is needed. Arthur's Pike is reached after an easy, if most damp part, of the walk. It is situated to the north of Swarth Beck which drains this area. Bonscale Pike can be seen to the south west across the deep ravine carved by the beck. It's two well built towers are visible on the steep north west side. A direct line between the two is impractical, heading a little further upstream it may be crossed easily at ruins marked on the OS 25K map as "Sheepfold". Bonscale Pike's towers are impressive given their height and the precarious position on the edge of crags. Skirting these crags and traversing well below the towers you get a fantastic outlook as you descend steep grass slopes to Mellguards above Howtown. From there it is an easy if slightly uphill walk back to the Hause.
Parking in and around Howtown is severely limited. There is an informal parking spot on the zigzags climbing to Martindale Hause, and a couple more at the top on The Hause. The Ullswater Steamer service may also be used but beware of the timings so you don't miss the last boat.
This walk takes you to the top of the following hills: Wether Hill, Wether Hill, Steel Knotts, Loadpot Hill, Gowk Hill, Brownthwaite Crag, Bonscale Pike, and Arthur's Pike; and includes 5 Wainwrights, 2 Nuttalls, 7 Birketts, and 1 Hewitt.
Walk height profile
note that gradients are usually grossly exaggerated
From the Hause at the top of the zigzags take the bridleway on the right hand side of the Church of St Peter, Martindale. Bear right around the grassy knoll behind the church. The reedy muddy puddle behind is Lanty Tarn. Bear left onto the bridleway, then within 50m (55 yards) turn right on a faint path which crosses the last of the puddle and climbs through the crags. The aim point is the short northern ridge of Birkie Knott.
The path is steep with foot pockets kicked into the grass. Reaching the ridgeline turn right to continue climbing steeply upwards onto Birkie Knott.
Once on the top the way to Steel Knotts summit, Pikeawassa, is reasonable clear. Bear left heading south east the path through the grass and bracken still faint but followable around small grassy knolls. Bear right on joining the path coming up from Steel End.
Pikeawassa is the spiky outcrop of rock, there is no cairn.
Continue over Pikeawassa and follow the ridgeline path roughly SSE descending steeply. In 300m (330 yards), as the ground levels cross the wall at a stone stile near a corner, the tread stones are a little narrow and awkward.
Keep on the ridgeline near the wall, the first bump is un-named, but the second is Brownthwaite Crag. Continue SSE for about 1.0km (0.6 miles) then leave the path near the wall and strike out across the grass towards Gowk Hill ahead.
The summit of this little fell lies behind the small crag ahead so skirt the outcrop on the right.
A single white stone marks the summit of Gowk Hill.
Turn left to drop down eastwards to the depression at the bottom of the visible groove on the fellside opposite which goes from bottom left to top right. Cross the broken down wall in the depression and join the path up the groove.
Above the top of the groove the path crosses the head of Mere Beck and then bears upwards. Do not cross the wall. At the top, reaching the wide, clear path of High Street, turn left. With higher ground to your right, follow the path along the moorland of Wether Hill heading NNE. Where the path splits take the left fork.
Wether Hill has two potential summit bumps. The first you pass below, and is of a similar height. It is a Nuttal.
The Wainwright summit of Wether Hill is the northern most top, and lies just to the right of the cairn beside the path.
From the cairn on Wether Hill continue along High Street and bear slightly left, northwards. Keeping to the major track descend into the depression before the long climb to Loadpot Hill visible ahead. On the way as the path becomes boggy. Skirt peat hags on the left hand side. A small tarn lies on the saddle.
Soon you start climbing again. Keep ahead at the crossroads amongst the remains of Lowther House, which was an old shooting lodge. Not much remains now just a few bits of stone from the chimney column.
Follow the path to the trig point on Loadpot Hill.
From the trig point on Loadpot Hill bear slightly right on the wide path to meander generally NNE. At the edge of the plateau Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike are clearly in view. Arthur's Pike being the furthest with a couple of paths heading for it.
As the path splits, keep ahead remaining on target to Arthur's Pike. Nearing the summit plateau keep left. A number of small rocky knotts are scattered over the top; the summit is a cairn on the NNW most outcrop. Bear left off the wide path to cross the plateau and hence to the cairn.
With Ullswater laid out below you the views are very fine.
From the summit of Arthur's Pike turn to the south west and Bonscale Pike. A direct line is not possible, but a faint path heads that way from the cairn. Follow the path which soon swings left, and then right. to meander closer to Swarthbeck Gill aiming for a crossing point well upstream.
A good crossing point is the sheepfold, but it is not discovered until quite close.
Cross the beck and take a direct line up the fellside, a path materialises in 10m (11 yards) or so. Take a mid-line amongst paths going off left and right. Cresting a grassy bank the summit cairn is directly across a dip. It is an odd summit as higher ground is close by.
Bonscale Tower lies to the right, north east, of the summit cairn. A great deal of care is required if you approach either of the towers as the ground is steep and a slip will be felt for a considerable distance.
Descending from the summit of Bonscale Pike, skirt the crags on which the towers stand well to the right - the north west. A faint path follows through the grass and is lost amongst the reeds and grasses. Swing left around, a shallow groove may be found that eases the way, to end up on a wide shelf below the towers. A path traverses below the crags and descends gradually. Reaching another groove drop down more steeply and before the bottom bear left following the path continuing the gently descending traverse.
A large cairn marks a junction of paths, bear right to descend more steeply again. Mellguards can be see below to the left, and the jetty at Howtown comes into view. Beware the path gets very steep and at one point is washed out making the descent awkward with a slip rather too easy.
Having survived the steep grass, and joined the track at the bottom above the wall, turn left to Mellguards.
At Mellguards turn right to go through the gate and between buildings into the yard. Exit via the driveway and then almost immediately bear left in front of the cattle grid to go through a gate and onto the bridleway.
Cross Fusedale Beck at the slate bridge. Cross the concrete roadway and take the bridleway opposite signposted "Martindale Hause 1/4 mile".
Follow the path which becomes squeezed between Steel End to your left and a wall to your right. It soon becomes a good track above The Coombs and continue back to Lanty's Tarn where you turn right to the church and the parking area.
If you like this walk then why not try one of our other nearby walks:
|Beda Fell from Martindale||same start point|
|Hallin Fell||30m (33 yards) away|
|Steel Knotts - Pikeawassa||30m (33 yards) away|
|Aira Force and Gowbarrow Fell||3.6km (2.2 miles) away|
|A short walk to Hart Side from Park Brow||4.0km (2.5 miles) away|
|Little Mell Fell||4.5km (2.8 miles) away|
Unless otherwise stated the text in this walk is the copyright of Hug Solutions Ltd trading as The Hug and the photographs are the copyright of Elizabeth Oldham. Hill data is derived from Database of British and Irish hills which is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. Maps contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2011 and paths © OpenStreetMap Contributors,CC-BY-SA, 2011