Steel Knotts

Walk date – 13th February 2023

Distance – 2.5 miles

Weather – sunny, no wind, very hazy as the air flow was southerly today


Today we were out on the fells again after the usual mix of circumstance and glum weather conspired against us over the past couple of weeks. In an attempt to get back into the hill walking groove again we opted for a short morning walk over Steel Knotts, a fell of modest height with a bit of steepness to it and which offers some good long distance views. Having said that today’s very hazy conditions resulted in those long distance views being non-existent, more or less. However, the sunny conditions and the absence of even the slightest breeze more than made up for the lack of views and the view of the executive officer was that it was the best day’s weather we’ve had so far this year. There weren’t many people around at the start of our walk and we met no-one while we were on Steel Knotts but when we arrived back at the hause the place was buzzing with cars and walkers, all of whom were heading for a walk up Hallin Fell so we gave that one a miss today.


St Peter’s Church, Martindale – Lanty Tarn – Cotehow – Brownthwaite Crag – Steel Knotts – Birkie Knott – St Peter’s Church, Martindale

The view from the car park alongside St Peter’s church across to the northern spur of Beda Fell with Place Fell right behind it. The summit of Place Fell is over towards the left of the shot and over on the right is its subsidiary top, High Dodd. That patch of cloud around the summit area never really completely disappeared while we were out.

We walked up from the car park towards the church and then left the main path just about at this point and veered off to the right heading towards …..

….. Lanty Tarn which seems to have dried out completely now. Will it ever be a tarn again? From here the path begins to rise steeply over Cotehow. No problems today, the bare earth path was firm and dry and getting a firm foothold on it makes the climb much simpler. Its a different matter altogether after a rainy spell which we haven’t had lately, we’ve had grey skies and strong winds mostly, with an occasional brighter day here and there.

Once we were over Cotehow we made a shortish diversion, through a double metal gate off to the right of the path, to take a look along Martindale. Along the way is the above view of Hallin Fell. Nobody walking up there at the moment.

A new bench has been installed since we last made this diversion on 13th February 2016. Exactly seven years later, to the day, and by complete coincidence here we are again. Lanty Tarn also had water in it when we did that walk.

From the bench area- below us are the dwellings of Doe Green and the road from the hause leading over to Sandwick.

Looking across Martindale for this view of Beda Fell. Had to chop off the Winter Crag end of the fell otherwise the shot would have been so small as to not be worth the effort. Beda occupies all the middle ground between us and Place Fell.

Returning from our diversion and beginning to climb the western flanks of Steel Knotts. The cone shaped and very indistinct fell in the centre of the shot is The Nab.

The view back to Winter Crag farm whose dogs barked incessantly, mercifully by this point the noise had faded to a great extent but we could still hear them. J reckoned they were letting the farmer know they were hungry, I just wanted them to quieten down. This is getting to be warm work now with the sun not only on us but also directly in our eyes making it difficult to see where we were going. Gloves get taken off and jackets are unzipped.

The rocky top of Steel Knotts from the gate in the wall.

Climbing towards the col at this point from where we have a view into Bannerdale between The Nab, on the left, and the lower slopes of Beda Fell to the right. The pointed top of Heck Crag on the right skyline indicates the beginning of the extensive sweep of crags starting at the head of Bannerdale and continuing on over to Rampsgill Head towards the left of the shot. Rest Dodd, which could be thought of as marking a mid-point between the sweep of crags, can just be seen behind The Nab.

Up at the col now between Brownthwaite Crag and Steel Knotts. On reaching the col I walked on a little way to take a shot. In my absence J took the opportunity to plonk himself on a handy stone and get the Mars Bar out! They’re only the mini Mars Bars anyway so it wasn’t a long stop and we were soon on our way and climbing the short distance up Brownthwaite Crag.

Gowk Hill and a distant Wether Hill from the top of Brownthwaite Crag.

A few shots while we were on Brownthwaite Crag. Looking across Bannerdale here and above the line of humps and bumps to the right are Fairfield and Cofa Pike, and to the right of them is Saint Sunday Crag. Heck Crag is over on the left …..

….. The Nab with Rest Dodd peeking out behind it …..

….. looking across Martindale, Beda Fell and Place Fell with the Skiddaw group and Blencathra on the skyline. Looked like there was a bit of an inversion going on along the Vale of Keswick, it’ll need a zoom in to see it though …..

….. Steel Knotts behind which a line of thick haze was obscuring the northern Pennines …..

….. looking along Fusedale for a view of Bonscale Pike and Ullswater. The line of thick haze I’ve just mentioned is more obvious in this shot.

….. a shot from over the wall down into Fusedale. The sunny conditions highlighted something I had not noticed when I took the shot. In the bottom right corner of the shot, above the path running alongside Fusedale Beck, is a series of what looks like pathways leading up to a couple of indentations in the hillside. With the low sun casting long shadows its difficult to tell how deep these indentations are. Evidence of spoil heaps can also be seen. I haven’t been able to find any information about any mining having taken place around Fusedale so maybe these are only prospecting trenches …..

….. another view along Bannerdale from Brownthwaite Crag …..

….. and a view over to Steel Knotts showing some of the descent route back to the col and the stile in the wall. The wall can either be crossed at the stile or further along the path to the left of the wall. The stile crossing has steps as you approach it from this side of the wall but those on the other side were missing so have probably broken off at some point. It made for an awkward crossing especially for me and my little legs as its quite a tall wall, even J had difficulty and he’s a lot taller than I am. Anyway we managed it and carried on along the path on that side.

A look up at the rocky summit of Steel Knotts as we begin the climb. Its not as bad as it looks.

A hazy look back towards Gowk Hill and Brownthwaite Crag from just below the summit.

View along Martindale towards The Nab from the summit area …..

….. the mass of crags below the summit of Beda Fell …..

….. and the summit itself, known as Pikeawassa …..

….. Saint Sunday Crag and Place Fell (still with that patch of cloud) on the skyline beyond the crags on Beda …..

….. and in the distance still some sort of inversion cloud around the Vale of Keswick.

J had the anemometer with him today so we took a couple of readings, with apologies for the blur on this one, today’s wind speed in mph, it wasn’t even enough to ruffle our hair …..

….. and the temperature in °C, no wonder the gloves were off and jackets were unzipped.

We spent about ten minutes up on the summit just enjoying the sunny and wind free weather before starting back down again.  On the right of the shot is Birkie Knott but we diverted from the path over to it at the large outcrop to the left of the main path to begin the steep descent down its western slopes.

A lovely view of Ullswater on the way over.

The Birkie Knott path is very steep in places and badly eroded so care is needed for most of its length. At least it wasn’t thick with slithery mud today given that we’ve had a few dry days recently.

St Peter’s church and Hallin Fell below us as we continue to descend, there is no respite from the steepness until those paths leading to the church are reached.

Another lovely view of Ullswater taken after five attempts because the shutter button on the camera kept refusing to click down. I hope its not about to refuse permanently.

A shot taken looking straight down the path to show the steepness of the path. Most of it is now worn down into deep grooves as more feet trample over it, something for Fix the Fells to consider perhaps?

Back at St Peter’s church where all the parking spaces are filled and there are folks everywhere. Yes, its a sunny day but its most unusual for a Monday in February to see so many people around, even more puzzling was the fact that the majority were of working age, no school age children around as its not half term yet, and no obvious senior citizens (except the two of us of course). Anyway, whatever the reason for the crowds, we’ve come to the end of today’s walk, having passed on going up Hallin Fell accompanied by everyone else, so its back to the car, plonk our gear into the boot and make our way back home. Not a long walk and long distance views would have been nice to have but the sunshine and lack of any breath of wind more than made up for that. Let’s hope a few more days like that are on the cards so we can get out a bit more often.