Thursday, 21 August 2014

Hallin Fell & Steel Knotts

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Route: St. Peter's Church, Hallin Fell, The Coombs, Birkie Knott, Steel Knotts, Pikeawassa, Brownthwaite Crag, Groove Gill, Fusedale, Howtown, The Coombs, St. Peter's Church

Date: 21/08/2014
From: Martindale

Parking: Car park opposite St. Peter's Church
Start Point: St. Peter's Church
Region: Far Eastern Fells

Route length: 5.3 miles (8.5 km)
Time taken: 02:16
Average speed: 2.3 mph
Ascent: 554m
Descent: 558m

Wainwrights on this walk:
Hallin Fell (388m), Steel Knotts (Pikeawassa) (432m)

Additional summits: Brownthwaite Crag (444m)

A somewhat questionable day weather-wise greeted us as we arrived in Martindale. We had intended to do a walk from Buttermere, conquering Grasmoor and some of its satellites but it was obvious in the approaching days that the weather wasn't going to be on our side this time. So it was that we set our sights for the some lowlier fells in the on the eastern side, namely Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts.

We'd arrived nice and earlier to greet the very best of the weather i.e. it wasn't actually raining when we arrived. The plan, remaining flexible for the day, was the climb Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts and then make a weather based decision on Beda Fell and Place Fell, the fells confining Boredale.

After lashing some kit together, we set off up Hallin Fell, a small fell that holds similar status to Rannerdale Knotts or Latrigg; great views for tremendously little effort. In fact, thanks to it's height and location next to a large parking area, a number of well-used paths lead to the summit, the difficulty lying in actually choosing which one to take. In the end, we decided to take the wide, obvious one that leads straight up to the top.
The path leading up Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts is the fell in the middle ground
As eluded to in many guides, it's an easy climb and before long, we were stood on the summit savouring the views. A very tall cairn (marked rather importantly as an 'obelisk' on the map) commands an extensive view to the north east, along the length of Ullswater to Pooley Bridge. To the west stands the high ground leading to Helvellyn, though our view was tempered by some impending drizzle.
A rain lashed Beda Fell
The view up Martindale to The Nab
The fells of Martindale
Great Meldrum, one of the Birkett fells
Arthur's Pike
The view along Ullswater towards Pooley Bridge
Summit obelisk
We returned to the car having completed a circular route around the summit and back down the other side. All in all, it took no more than half an hour to visit, no wonder it's a popular fell for families.

Heading down off Hallin Fell
St. Peter's Church
Instead of heading down the hill to Steel End, we opted to head straight across The Coombs and climb up Birkie Knott, a small outcrop that presents a fairly stiff climb. By now the drizzle had become full blown rain so it was away with the expensive camera and out with the waterproof one.
Birkie Knott behind St, Peter's Church
Hallin Fell
Birkie Knott
View between Hallin Fell and Swarth Fell
After a tiring climb, we reached the ridge of Steel Knotts, a long, narrow stretch of high ground that runs like a crescent moon from Howtown to Gowk Hill. Despite the rain lashing down, the fell's modest height meant we were out of the clouds and still able to enjoy some of the views, particularly the valleys of Fusedale and Martindale.
View along the ridge to Hallin Fell
Heading along the top of Steel Knotts
Fusedale
It wasn't long before we reached the summit of Steel Knotts, an entertaining eruption of rock called Pikeawassa. I have no idea why it bears this name though 'pike' is an old various of peak. 'Awassa' however, is a city in Ethiopia, an unlikely source for a small rock on a small mountain in England.
Pikeawassa - the summit
Either way, to conquer Steel Knotts is to conquer Pikeawassa which we duly did. I even have the photos to prove it. We walked on, heading for a decision. It was certainly looking as if the weather was no closer to improving so instead of continuing the day with a climb of Beda Fell and Place Fell, we came to the joint decision to call it a day and head back to the car. It's around this point that I'll admit to one of my less-inspired moments, namely slipping and falling off the top of a drystone wall, bashing my face on it in the process. The result? A reasonably nasty looking cut and some damaged pride. Just goes to show it can happen anywhere, any time.
Proof we made it all the way to the top (even the last little bit)
Bannerdale
The result of my misdemeanours
We had to reach the small top of Brownthwaite Crag before crossing the headwaters of Fusedale Beck, a small feeder of Ullswater, before we could begin our descent into Fusedale. The weather abated slightly for a time, enough to get some more pictures of Steel Knotts and Fusedale as well as the delightful Groove Gill which meets Fusedale Beck part way along its length.
Steel Knotts from Brownthwaite Crag
Steel Knotts above Fusedale
Fusedale
This respite didn't last long however, and before long it was raining again. Really raining. Despite the secluded beauty of Fusedale, this made for a fairly miserable yomp. Still, it was good be out and the prospect of some dry clothes at the car spurred us on.

We had to round Steel End, the northern footing of Steel Knotts, before a slow climb up The Coobs to the car park at the church. The church here, St. Peter's, is the newer of two churches in Martindale, having been built as recently as 1880. The old church, St martin's, is thought to date from 1220.
Following the path around Steel End towards The Coombs
With the walk completed we had the delicate task of trying to remove boots and wet clothes while out in the rain and trying to avoid getting the interior of the car too wet. A task easier said than done. In typical Lake District fashion, we weren't far along the road leaving Martindale when the sun burst out from behind some clouds, illuminating all around. Unfortunately, it didn't hang around and some further swift moving rain clouds returned the gloom.

A fun day out then, despite the weather and falling off a wall. As is fairly customary around these parts, we saw very few people out and about. I guess that's for two reasons. Firstly, this isn't a very popular area of the National Park for some reason, even though it is stunning. Secondly (and probably the key reason), it rained all day and those that are wise probably stayed at home instead of throwing themselves off walls. But where's the fun in that?