Walk Date – 6th February 2017
Distance – 3.3 miles
Weather – A sunny start then cloudy and very windy
I am lured out by the forecast of a morning of sunshine before the cloud blanket returns some time after noon, so I’ve opted for a short stroll around Hallin Fell, all the while hoping that the cloud will stick to the timetable. I’m starting out on the terrace path above Ullswater, which has lovely views along the lake, the surface of which is presently being ruffled by the strong wind.
Roadside parking above Howtown – Waternook – Geordie’s Crag – Kailpot Crag – path above Hallinhag Wood – Swine Stacks – Hallin Fell – The Hause – Howtown
From the terrace path I’m looking towards the Pooley Bridge end of the water, the village is situated below the pudding shaped Dunmallard Hill at the far end.
Over on my right are Arthur’s Pike, to the left, and Bonscale Pike to the right.
A little further along the very wet and muddy path I arrive at Geordie’s Crag, part of which, just below me on the path, is beginning to catch some sun. Across the water Little Mell Fell is just visible between the two tree clad hills of Birk Crag and Knotts.
The path heads towards Geordie’s Crag, still with its patch of sun, and to the right of the tree is Gowbarrow Fell where I was walking a week ago.
Standing on Geordie’s Crag for this view along Ullswater.
The path became rockier and slippier from Geordie’s Crag so a bit of extra care was needed along here. I didn’t fancy a morning dip in Ullswater in February.
I know it doesn’t look it but the guide line on the camera assured me that the shot was level. I’m looking across at the whole of Gowbarrow Fell. It stands at 1578′ so its not very high, but it does have quite a spread to it with lots of paths hithering and thithering across it so there is plenty of exploring to be done on it.
This is the rocky spur known as Kailpot Crag and where you can get very close to the water’s edge so I had a potter around for a few minutes while I decided what to do next. I could carry on through the gate over there and continue my lakeside walk over to Sandwick but I’ve spotted a path behind me which I haven’t been on before and I’m tempted to see where it leads.
Still pottering around and trying to make up my mind. Looking back along the shoreline path and noticing that a bank of cloud has drifted over and is pushing the blue sky over to the east. This has arrived way too early, its nowhere near noon yet and already my sunny morning walk is under threat. Dark mutterings under my breath ensue!
Here’s the path which I’m thinking about following. It might not be so obvious when the bracken is up, which is probably why I haven’t noticed it before, so I decided to give it a go and see where it takes me. I hadn’t planned on climbing up to the summit of Hallin Fell but I’ve walked the lakeshore path before and I haven’t walked this one. The uphill path gets my vote so off I go.
The beginning of the path is quite gentle but then it begins to climb quite steeply so while I have a flattish bit to stand on I turn around for this view back down to Kailpot Crag and across the water to Gowbarrow Fell.
I spotted one of the Ullswater steamers coming my way as I was huffing and puffing my way up the very steep route so what better excuse do I need to stop and get my breath back? A little group of walkers on the lakeshore path below also got their cameras out and were busy clicking away.
A quick close up of ‘The Lady of the Lake’ before she disappeared behind the trees on her way to the Howtown jetty back around Geordie’s Crag.
After more slithering and sliding, and a lot more huffing and puffing, the path turns to the right and the climb continues with an easier gradient. The sky is now uniformly whitish-grey and the sun is nowhere to be seen.
A look back along the route so far. The path was very muddy in places but it didn’t present too many problems.
The path stretches up ahead of me, wending its way through the dead bracken, so I’m still climbing and wondering where its leading to. I know it won’t be the summit because that’s over to my left.
Much higher up now so time for another look back along the water. The houses of Pooley Bridge are visible at the far end alongside Dunmallard Hill and over on the right there’s a fresh fall of snow on Cross Fell which, at 2930′, is the highest point on the Pennines.
From the same spot I turn around for a look ahead. There is now a very strong wind coming directly at me which is a sure sign that I’m not too far from the top of something or other, and that when I reach the crest there in front of me, there isn’t going to be anything by way of shelter from it.
I reach the crest and continue along for a short way for this view along Ullswater and its surrounding fells. Below me, nestling amongst the green fields, are the houses of the little hamlet of Sandwick with Sandwick Bay, to the right, below the wall and the trees. I’m standing above the point marked on the map as Swine Stacks.
Turning the camera to my left for this shot of Place Fell and its assorted subsidiary peaks. Over on the right of it is Low Birk Fell rising up to Birk Fell. To the left of that is the pointed top of The Knight, and to the left of that is the summit of Place Fell which looks to have a slight dusting of snow. I’m almost being blown over as I stand here so I retrace my steps to the shelter of the gully behind me.
Back below the crest and this little gully offered a little bit of shelter from the wind. However, the path I need is out in the open beyond these rocks so I will have to put my head above the parapet eventually. My jacket hood gets pulled over my head and drawn up tight, gloves put back on and off I go.
Before hitting the top I make a short diversion for this view along Boredale with Beda Fell on the left, Place Fell on the right and the little rounded bump which is the north top of Angletarn Pikes on the centre skyline, I’m smack in the teeth of the roaring wind here so I have to kneel down and steady myself against a rock to take the shot because standing to take the shot just wasn’t an option.
Over to the left is this view along Martindale with Steel Knotts on the left and Beda Fell now on the right. Behind and to the left of Beda Fell is The Nab. I decided it was time I got out of this wind so I made my way back to the path for the final few yards to the summit.
I didn’t bother clambering over the rocks, I just followed the path off to the right and after just a short distance joined the main ascent path coming up from the Hause.
There was no shelter up here but with my back to the wind I managed to steady myself long enough to take a shot of the beacon and the view along Ullswater from the summit area.
Below me is the path I’ll use to make my descent and I’ll probably have a quick nip over to the little cairn too.
A few steps to the southeast gives me another view of Martindale. The building towards the bottom left is St Peter’s Church at the foot of Steel Knotts. Above Steel Knotts are Loadpot Hill and Wether Hill with a lot less snow than their neighbour, Rampsgill Head, towards the centre of the shot.
Turning my back to the wind for a view of the beacon with Little Mell Fell, the high point on the right of the skyline. In the height of summer you wouldn’t be able to move for people up here because its such a popular little walk, today there isn’t a soul to be seen anywhere.
I had a very brief respite from the wind as I dropped down into the little gully between the beacon and the lower cairn but I’m back in it now. How all the photos have stayed blur free whilst I was being battered by the wind is remarkable because it was impossible to hold the camera steady, so the anti-wobble gizmo on the camera certainly did its job well today.
Given the strength of the wind I decided not to go any further down to the lower cairns, the thought of being hurled headlong into Ullswater didn’t seem all that appealing somehow.
I’m on the descent now, down one of the many paths which criss-cross Hallin Fell, and the wind is still trying to shove me sideways as it roars down from the Martindale direction.
I make another short diversion to this cairn for this view across to Howtown and the steamer jetty below.
Martindale stretches out before me as I continue to descend towards St Peter’s Church. The red Royal Mail van in front of it has just been delivering the morning’s post to the houses at the foot of Hallin Fell. Two cars are parked beside the church but their occupants aren’t on their way up to meet me, so maybe they’ve gone up Steel Knotts where they will no doubt be getting a similar sort of battering to the one I’ve been experiencing. Now that I’m lower down the wind isn’t quite so bad and I’m being sheltered to some extent by the bulk of Beda Fell.
I’m almost back where I started so today’s walk comes to an end. My little red car is parked down there by itself on the grass below the hairpins so I haven’t much further to go. I’m windblown and battered and feeling like I’ve gone a few rounds with a heavyweight boxer but, apart from the cloud arriving earlier than it was supposed to and the strong wind, I’ve had a good walk and walked a route new to me. I still haven’t seen anyone at all while I’ve been out so where the occupants of the three cars parked just above me are is anybody’s guess. What doesn’t need any guesswork is the first thing I’ll do when I get home which is to make myself a mug of hot coffee. Now why didn’t I think to have a flask of it waiting for me in the car?