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The al­lure of Wether­lam

Wether­lam is a hill over­look­ing the Great East Road about mid­way be­tween the Shire and Riven­dell in Eri­ador, a re­gion of Mid­dle Earth. It is home to the ru­ins of The Tower of Amon Sûl, built in the first days of the north-king­dom of… Hang on, that’s Weather­top from Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings nov­els. Wether­lam in the Lake Dis­trict is nowhere near as in­ter­est­ing, is it?

Well, at first glance, pos­si­bly not. Its sum­mit is of the bluntly-domed rather than the sharply-pointed va­ri­ety, and the whole hill is a sprawl of lumpen fell­side, rather than a dis­tinct shape. But be­yond the ob­vi­ous there’s much more to this moun­tain.

The most com­mon ap­proaches start from Con­is­ton to the south, Lit­tle Lang­dale to the north, and Til­berth­waite to the east. This lat­ter jour­ney takes you through wooded hill­side amongst some of the high­est trees in Eng­land. On all sides, Wether­lam’s slopes are pot-marked by the scars of its in­dus­trial her­itage. Quar­ry­ing and cop­per-min­ing ac­tiv­i­ties have left their marks, but these tend to be in small, iso­lated pock­ets and, de­spite the sig­nif­i­cant ex­ploita­tion, have done lit­tle to de­tract from the over­all charm.

De­spite Wether­lam’s rounded pro­file, there are still edges to be found. Steel Edge and Wether­lam Edge both pro­vide airy as­cents from the east, the snaking ridge­line that tra­verses Wet Side Edge, Swirl How and Prison Band from the north and west pro­vide plenty of crag-top el­e­va­tion, and there’s some easy grade off-path scram­bling to be found on the walk in from Con­is­ton.

And once you ar­rive at the sum­mit, the lack of sharp­ness is ir­rel­e­vant as the ex­tent of the vista is re­vealed. The top of Wether­lam is ide­ally placed for an ex­pan­sive panorama of the sur­round­ing fells in the south­ern half of the park, while the views over to­wards the Lang­dales and the fells sur­round­ing those val­leys are amongst the finest in the Lakes.

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