Stats: 14.3 miles and 1,800 feet of ascent
Start Point: There’s room for half-a-dozen cars on the west bank of Askham Bridge NY518239
Nothing on the hill. Askham has a good shop. Lowther Castle and Gardens are nearby, as is the Bird of Prey Centre if you fancy a diverse range of entertainments.
This is in the North-east corner of the Lakes and most of it faces away from Lakeland but there’s a lovely prospect over Martindale as you near the summit. It’s a long but steady pull on grass onto Loadpot Hill and you don’t keep the height for long. But the wild, swoopy, single-track descent to Heltondale makes it all worthwhile. Pick a dry spell to get the freest-running conditions.
1. Go up the road from the bridge. Turn right into Askham Hall for a short bridleway section. This settles you into the off-road vibe and warms your legs up before they submit to the big haul.
2. At the road, double back sharply. At the crossroads, turn right and start climbing.
3. Bear right at a narrow fork and keep going on steadily rising terrain.
4. Moor Divock (which sounds more like a Cumbrian insult than a place-name) is a six-pointed star of radiating bridleways so take care to pick the right exit. You want to descend briefly on a stony track over a stream and then set off up the grassy ridge.
5. Where it threatens to get steep, bear right and scribe an anti-clockwise loop around the summit of Loadpot Hill.
6. At the ruin marked “chimney” NY457178, roll down the ridge to a small tarn, not marked on OS maps, at the top of Howe Grain.
7. Double back on an initially sketchy track that gains confidence as it goes. Look out for the shaggy fell ponies grazing this wild expanse. They will likely be your only companions. The route is a delight, twisting down the broad tongue between Cawdale and Heltondale.
8. When you reach tarmac, snake north to Helton but don’t overlook the delightful coda to the route down the short bridleway to cross the River Lowther by the footbridge at Tom Winder’s Loom.
9. From the road at Whale, head north, back to Askham.