Dunmallard Hill and Maiden Castle.

Start. Pooley Bridge.

Route. Pooley Bridge - Dunmallard Hill - A592 - Soulby - Waterfoot Farm - Maiden Castle - Rumney's Plantation - Salmond's Plantation - Duke of Portlands Boat House - A592 - B5320 - Pooley Bridge.

Notes. With sylvan slopes rising to around the 800ft contour Dunmallard Hill (hill of slaughter) to the west of Pooley Bridge is far from a monster, but it's steep, adorning the summit the remains of an Iron Age Hill Fort, just visible a banking and ditch amidst the undergrowth. The inhabitants once enjoyed stunning views from this easily defended structure, not today, the views are zilch, obscured by trees, unlike the second fort on the days itinerary, Maiden Castle. Within easy walking distance of Dunmallard Hill, this stands on the hillside commanding stunning views over the surrounding countryside, believed to have been a defended settlement dating from the first millennia BC (somewhere between1000BC to 1BC). Come take a walk back in time, to an age when the Lakeland's valleys were afforested and boggy, inhabited by Bear, Wolf and Wild Boar, the lakes were major highways and people lived behind high wooden stockades rising from extensive earth works.

I parked at Pooley Bridge in the appropriately named Dunmallard Hill car park next to the River Eamont, a gate allowed access to the hill, a finger-post invited me to Dacre, off my route but that was the direction I was heading. Through mixed woodland I wandered, blue bells and wood garlic with it's distinct aroma blanketed the forest floor, bracken was just uncurling its leaves, mosses and lichen clung to fallen trees. On reaching a gate on my right I turned left, on a narrow path I ascended the hill, a quick wander round the hill fort followed before descending to the gate I'd just snubbed. Through fields I rambled yellow arrows guided me, I crossed the tarmac of the A592 following an ancient bridleway to the narrow lane leading through Soulby, with tarmac under foot I rambled on, just over half a mile of road walking carried me to the entrance to Waterfoot Farm and caravan site.

I paused here, checked the map, and GPS, a finger-post invited me to Pooley Bridge, I declined, according to the map my route was to the west through farm land, it wasn't until I turned to re-trace my steps did I noticed a small stile well obscured by the hedge row. Back on track, now guided by green arrows I wandered on, three fields and a bog later I ascended to Maiden Castle. from the ground the remains of this hill fort are a bit disappointing, it wasn't until I graced the ridge opposite did I get to appreciate it. Despondent I descended the hill, re-joining the path where I left it, on I wandered to reach a barn and stile, I crossed said stile before turning left. A faint path carried me south before swinging east to follow the edge of a pine plantation, the next stile marked the start of my descent, but first I ascended to the top of the hill, the best place to view Maiden Castle. Once back on track the path wound it's way through a tract of delightful woodland, alive with blue bells and young fox gloves yet to blossom, depositing me in cow pastures on the edge of the main road, then onwards passing a rather smart boat house where I joined a narrow path that was to guide me back to Pooley Bridge.

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Ascending Dunmallard Hill.

Ramsons (Wood Garlic) carpets the forest floor.

Looking to the remains of the Iron Age Hill Fort that adorns the summit of Dunmallard Hill.

This is all that remains of an oval fort, the seven foot earth wall would of been topped with a wooden stockade.

Looking to the sylvan slopes of Dunmallard Hill.

Nearing Soulby striding out over the green surface of a little used bridleway.

Approaching Maiden Castle looking north across the Eden Valley.

Dunmallard Hill as seen from the large patch of boggy ground mentioned earlier.

Welcome to Maiden Castle, not the hill across the valley, this slight ripple on the hill side where I'm standing.

Maiden Castle may only be a couple of shallow ditches and low mounds but it commands wonderful views across the surrounding country side.

Outstanding views across the vast expanse of the Eden Valley, on the skyline Cross Fell and the Northern Pennines.

Nearing Rumney's Plantation looking over the Ullswater Valley.

Looking to Place Fell and the High Street massif over Ullswater.

Somebody's favourite place, "so I obliged".....

.....and enjoyed views over Ullswater.

The hill opposite provides the best views of Maiden Castle.

Rising above the tree tops in Rumney's Plantation, Place Fell.

Heughscar Hill over Ullswater.

Descending with a glimpse of Ullswater through the trees.

Free of the trees to be gifted with views to the afforested Dunmallard Hill with Heughscar Hill across Ullswater.

The Duke of Portland Boat House, a delightful place to spend a holiday, depending on the depth of your pockets.

Stunning views over Ullswater, taking centre stage Hallin Fell backed by Place Fell.

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