Watch Hill (Setmurthy Common)

A relatively easy walk over the Outlying Fells close to the town of Cockermouth.

On Location: 11th April 2022

Parking: A layby at the junction of the Higham road on the Embleton road out of Cockermouth has room for several cars. GR: NY1363 3124

Summary: I had to make a delivery over to Cockermouth in the morning so I made a plan to add a walk to the day out. The forecast looked OK so I plotted a route to take in the 2 Outlying Fells of Watch Hill and Setmurthy Common. Not one for just doing “there and back” walks if I can help it I included a little diversion into Setmurthy Plantation. I wanted to check out the curious Oval Plantation which shows on old maps of the area. NOTE: Whilst there is a marked bridleway to follow on the ascent it does not extend to the summits of Watch Hill or Setmurthy Common. Nor is this Open Access land. Therefore I will state that some of this route (and that shown in the versions of the Pictorial Guides) is possibly on private land so you venture there at your own risk.

Route map: click on the arrow to play the route. GPX route available by clicking in the Plotaroute.com link at the bottom right.

Cockermouth Embleton road, Watch Hill, Watch hill car park
Parking can be done at the layby at the junction of the Higham road where it meets the Embleton/Cockermouth road.
Watch Hill Outlying fell, Setmurthy Common, Outlying fells
Today’s target, Watch Hill with the big patch of flowering gorse and Setmurthy Common beyond.
Watch Hill lambs, Setmurthy Common, Outlying Fells,
Lambing time. Impressive view to the south and the bigger fells.
Watch Hill gatepost, Setmurthy Common, Outlying fell, Wainwright fell
A simple route following the bridleway through several gates. Near the top is a lone Hawthorn tree and an old gatepost.
Benchmark Watch Hill, Setmurthy Common, Outlying fell,
Close inspection will find this old benchmark (680′) not noted in either versions the Outlying Fells Pictorial Guide.
Watch Hill old quarry, Setmurthy Common, Outlying Fell
Over to the right is this small abandoned quarry. One of several near the top of the fell. Apparently worked in the 19th century, most likely extracting stone for boundary walls.
Watch Hill summit, Setmurthy Common, Outlying fell, Wainwright fell
Another small quarry almost at the top of Watch Hill. The Wainwright summit at 770′ is the highest point of the grassy rise in the photo. The true summit is approx 40m further on.
Watch hill ridge and furrow, Setmurthy Common, Outlying Fell, Cockermouth
Headed east towards Setmurthy Common it is worth noting the distinctive Ridge and Furrow lines that cross the top of the ridge.
Setmurthy Common, Setmurthy Plantation, Watch Hill, Outlying Fell, Wainwright
Setmurthy Common summit ahead in the corner of the tree line.
Setmurthy Common summit, Wainwright summit of Setmurthy Common,
Setmurthy Common “Wainwright” summit is the high ground over the fence. We are now in Setmurthy Plantation where the true summit of the fell is.
Setmurthy Plantation, Setmurthy Common, Wainwright Outlying fell,
Apparently the true summit of the fell is 80m along this path and on the right. The forestry is dense and finding the exact location of the summit proved difficult. Returning to the stile near the fence we turned right into the woods, followed a decent path down to the forest track. We then turned left and followed this track which had recently been improved to take felling trucks.
Oval plantation, Setmurthy palntation, Watch hill, Outlying fell
Oval Plantation has recently been felled and this has revealed the wall which would have surrounded the wood. The wall is in a state of disrepair. I understand that at one time there was a racecourse on the common and wondered if Oval Plantation would have had some connection. More research is needed.
Easter decorations Watch Hill, Setmurthy plantation, Outlying fell
In the plantation is a tree which has been decorated with an Easter theme. Maybe a childrens egg hunt- it was the right time of year.
Path through Setmurthy Plantation near Watch Hill, Outlying Fell
Headed west through the forest.
Sethmurhty plantation, Watch Hill, woodland path, Outlying fell
Down through the trees on a good path to the gate.
Watch Hill woodland, Setmurthy Plantation, Outlying fell, Lake District,
Looking back to the wood after we passed through the gate.
Watch Hill bridleway, Setmurthy Common, Outlying fell
Now ascending gently on the well defined bridleway to rejoin our outward route.
Cockermouth from Watch Hill, Wainwright Outlying fell, Setmurthy Common
A bit more atmosphere in the sky now at the lone hawthorn. Looking down on Cockermouth.
Watch Hill benchmark, Wainwright Outlying Fell, ordnance survey mark
Back at the penultimate gate we took time to find the benchmark mentioned in the revised version of the Outlying Fells guide. This one is measured at 294′.
Watch Hill and Setmurthy Common, Outlying Fell, Wainwright fells,
A weather front is moving in and just as we return to the car it begins to rain hard. We timed it just right.

And that was our afternoon out on these two Outlying Fells. Nothing challenging, boring for some but pleasant enough and it beats sitting at home watching TV.

For those that enjoy a bit of video, the walk is also on my YouTube channel:

Thanks for watching and reading.

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