STEEL KNOTTS, BEDA FELL & HALLIN FELL
from MARTINDALE NEW CHURCH

 


Summary

Date - 1st July 2014 Distance - 7.25 miles
Ascent -
2500ft
Map - OL5 Start point - Martindale Church (NY 43574 19184)

 

Summits Achieved

Name Height (ft) Height (m) Grid Ref
Pikeawassa on Steel Knotts 1417 432 NY 4403 1811
Beda Head on Beda Fell 1670 509 NY 4289 1716
Hallin Fell 1273 388 NY 4330 1981

 

Preface

Little Eric was sitting in front of the laptop, tapping away, with a gleeful smile on his face.

"What are you looking at?", asked Tetley, looking up from the book he was reading.

"The pictures from the walk on the south side of Bannisdale, that marked my completion of the Wainwright Outlyer challenge. It was so good of Uncle Eric to agree to do those tops, as he could have suggested some of the others he still has to climb."

"We were all so pleased for you", said Shaun, as he came into the room carrying the flasks, accompanied by Grizzly with the cakes. "When we finished that challenge you had only done about half, and I did not really expect that Dad would repeat them all."

"Neither did I, but I am so grateful that he did. I am still adamant though that I do not expect Dad to repeat all those summits for the Birkett and Wainwright challenges"

Just then Allen came in with Southey. "Well pal the way we have been ticking off summits lately, you never know. Already the Central and Northern Fells are done, and there is only one walk to do for you to complete Book 6 North Western Fells."

"And Dad has now identified the walks needed in Book 2 Far Eastern Fells, which you may well get done this year", added Southey. "Indeed that is what we have come to tell you all."

"Yes", interrupted Allen, "but let's have tea first!"

During these exchanges Shaun and Tetley had got the mugs and plates. Shaun had filled the mugs with steaming tea, and now passed them round.

"Thanks", said Southey, who then asked, "what's the cake today?"

"Little Eric has made mincemeat slice, while I have done sultana scones. There is strawberry jam for the scones too", replied Grizzly.

We all helped ourselves, and soon there were murmurs of satisfaction, Allen voicing our thoughts by saying, "just scrumptious!"

"So then", enthused Little Eric, "what's the plan."

"Dad has decided that we are to walk on Tuesday, and continue the quest for you to complete Book 2. So we are going to Martindale above the east side of Ullswater, with the intention of revisiting Steel Knotts, Beda Fell and Hallin Fell."

"It will be good, especially if we get a decent day as the views over Ullswater and the surrounding fells are terrific", said Tetley. "It is over eight years since we last climbed them too, so it will be enjoyable to explore them again."

"I am very excited", added Southey, "as it will all be new to me."

" Roll on Tuesday", cried Little Eric raising his mug in salute.

 

The Walk

To the start is quite a long drive, so we made sure we were up and ready with the picnic prepared and packed in Allen's rucksack, to which end we all lent a paw.

Dad made an early start, and soon we were heading north on the M6.

"Which way do we go?", asked Southey.

"Well, it is to junction 40 on the M6, then west on the A66, as we have done so many times", replied Tetley. "But then after a mile we turn left by Rheged towards Ullswater."

When we got on to this road, Southey suddenly said, "what is that large house on the right?"

"Dalemain", replied Allen. "We have walked through the grounds on previous walks. The owners have a huge estate, that extends to quite a number of the fells included in Book 2 of Wainwright."

At a junction Dad then went left, beside the lake, soon coming to the village of Pooley Bridge. Anticipating Southey's question Tetley said, "we go on to a crossroads and turn right down the east side of the lake. It is very narrow in places, as you will see, which is one reason for Dad setting off early, in the hope that we will not meet too much traffic."

After few miles, we reached the hamlet of Howtown, where looking right Southey said, "there is a pier onto the lake."

"It is one of the stopping places for the passenger boats that ply Ullswater", replied Allen.

Soon the road became unfenced, and climbed steeply in a series of sweeping sharp bends, then levelling off, where on the right Dad parked. "Phew", breathed Southey, "that last bit was quite exciting."

The rough parking is below the slopes of Hallin Fell, which we would climb this afternoon . Just two other cars there when we arrived, but later we were not surprised to find it full. Opposite stands St Peter's Church, and Dad could not resist grabbing the camera and snapping this shot of the Herdwick ewe and her lamb sitting by the wall.

"Hmph!", exclaimed Allen, "we have not even set off and there is a picture of sheep. But I do not mind as they are Herdwicks, our favourite."

"It is informative in another way too, with the sign pointing to the Old Church of St Martin, being the route we have to take", added Shaun.

The day was to be dry with plenty of sunshine and hot for walking by the afternoon. We got settled in the rucksack, then soon ready Dad shouldered it and strode off down the road.

Pointing right Tetley, called out, "look Little Eric, Southey, that's Beda Fell, our second top today."

At a bend, stands the Old Church of St Martin. It is referred to as such to avoid confusion with the newer St Peter's Church, across from which we had parked.

The date of the establishment of a place of worship on the site of St Martin’s is unknown but it predates the mention in the de Lancaster Charter of 1220. Established as a chapel, it was served by monks in its early days. The parish of Martindale was founded in 1633 and Richard Birkett became the church’s first resident priest. He served until his death on Christmas Day 1699, after a ministry of almost 67 years. He lies buried in the churchyard.

The present building was probably erected at the end of the 16th century, replacing the chapel, the last reference to which occurs in a document of 13 April 1541. In 1714 the church floor was flagged as the congregation were no longer prepared to endure the damp earth floor. The church has undergone a series of restorations, the last of which was in 1882 when the roof was replaced and the singers and musicians gallery was taken down and new window frames installed. Of interest is the tiny bell in the open cote that is over 500 years old. The churchyard contains a yew tree that is estimated to be 1300 years old, documents in the church state the men of Martindale, who were famous as bowmen, used the tree and others in the district to replenish their arms. These days the church is only open for Evensong the last Sunday of the month from May to August at 5.00pm.

"What and idyllic setting", said Southey.

Now we do not know if it was the fact that we went to look at the church, and in so doing passed the sign and start of the path for Steel Knotts, but once again Dad took the wrong one by the wall, rather than that immediately climbing the fell. The bracken was high and crowded in on either side as we walked along.

The path did climb a bit, but we were then further distracted by the view that opened up to the right.

"Is that pointed fell The Nab?", queried Little Eric.

"Correct", replied Shaun. "It is situated wholly within the Martindale Deer Forest and is home to the oldest herd of native red deer in England. Walkers are asked to intrude as little as possible, and whilst the 'keep out' notices that were present in Wainwright's day have gone, they are asked to only approach the summit by way of the ridge from Rest Dodd. This was indeed the way that we have reached the summit on each occasion." Then he added, "the valley running up to it is called Howe Grain."

We continued on, and after a while Shaun said, "I am sure that we have taken the wrong path again, Dad."

"You're right", Dad replied, "when will I ever learn!"

"Next time?", replied Grizzly.

"Yes probably, but there is no need to come here again!"

We reached a stile in a wall and went a little way on, before Dad said, "we have to climb directly up the fell to get back on course." This done he then said, "now we must go left by this fence."

Well that was easier said than done as the bracken was shoulder height, but nevertheless Dad forced his way through coming back to the wall where he climbed the awkward hurdle right in the fence, and then on up again by the wall to finally gain the correct path.

"Oh Dad, that was hard going", said Southey sympathetically, "But at least we can make proper progress now to the first summit."

Steel Knotts was now in front, and we took a path climbing half right up the final ascent.

Climbing on, Dad was stopped, by Grizzly, whispering, "look at that so cute Herdwick lamb with its ewe. You have got to take a picture for the story, whatever Allen says."

Soon now the climb was accomplished, and we approached the rocky summit of Steel Knotts that is called Pikeawassa. Wainwright states that this rocky crown is 'the sharpest summit in Lakeland'. The Dictionary of Lake District Place-Names, by Diane Whaley, suggests the the name possibly comes from 'the summit of Wassa, Wat's Hill'.

A dramatic view with Ullswater stretching away beyond. The highest point to the right provided a perfect place for us settle in a vertical manner for our picture! We looked around taking in the view, Little Eric saying, "the high ridge to the east contains Loadpot Hill and Wether Hill, which we climbed just over a week ago, Southey."

We would have liked to linger, but there was still a lot to do. So settled again in the rucksack, Dad reversed the final ascent to regain the proper main path, pausing to take yet another picture of a Herdwick ewe and lamb. "Aww the lambs have such cute faces, with the white markings", said Grizzly. "I reckon that they are rather like a fingerprint, being different for each lamb."

"OK, so that's three sheep pictures in this story, but no more", stated Allen, firmly.

On the proper path, Dad now made a swift descent to regain the road by St Martin's Church. "We go left crossing the bridge over Howegrain Beck by Winter Crag Farm, and then take the bridleway right that rises to the ridge of Beda Fell", instructed Shaun.

At the ridge called Howesteadbrow there was a seat. "Good place to have our lunch after we have been to the summit", remarked Allen.

"Quite", agreed Dad.

The path was clear all the way climbing first over the rocky serrated crest of Winter Crag. To our right was this superb view of Boredale, with Place Fell rising above the far side of the valley, which has the two habitations. Boredale Head distant left, and far right Nettleslack.

Beyond Winter Crag the terrain was more grassy, with a clear path through bracken, followed by the final steep ascent to the first cairn and then on to the summit cairn at Beda Head.

"Yippee!", cried Little Eric, "that's another summit ticked off."

"Come on", cried Southey, "picture time!"

We now had to return by the same route, and looking beyond the end of Beda Fell, across the dip through which runs Howegrain Beck and the road to Sandwick, Allen said, "look Little Eric, Southey, that's Hallin Fell, today's final summit."

The impressive tower cairn at the summit can just about be made out, but more of that later.

"Right lads, get settled again, so we can we on our way", said Dad.

"Too true", agreed Allen, whose thoughts had turned to lunch at the seat at Howesteadbrow.

Just a little way down on the Boredale side, stood this small shelter, extending out from a rocky outcrop.

We had hardly then gone much further, when our attention was drawn to the view ahead of Ullswater. "Just wonderful!", exclaimed Southey.

Grizzly added, "the rounded tree clothed hill at the end of the lake is the Wainwright Outlyer, Dunmallard Hill."

Wainwright says 'the summit Beda Head, is frankly a rather uninteresting mound amongst the grassy slopes, whereas the rocky top of Winter Crag is much more exciting and attractive.' Here it is bathed in sunlight, and showing the path through the bracken, mentioned earlier.

Well soon this path and that over the crag had been traversed, and we were all pleased to see that no one was sitting on the seat. We jumped out and got settled beside Dad, with the view ahead to Hallin Fell. Allen slipped his rucksack off, and passed round the sandwiches, followed by cake. We had brought orange squash instead of tea to drink, as it was a hot day.

"Nice to have a break", remarked Southey.

"Yes it is pal", replied Grizzly.

"We have been here before", Tetley then remarked. "It was back in August 2006. That day we walked from Patterdale, climbing Angletarn Pikes, then over Beda Fell, to here where we had lunch. Then it was down into Boredale and up on to Place Fell."

"I remember" replied Dad. "It was a bit hard going in the heat on the climb to Place Fell. We have also been here earlier in November 2003, when we climbed Beda Fell for the first time. Just Shaun and you Tetley were walking then."

"Oh yes, we descended, to Boredale, but then did the path from Sandwick round the lower slopes of Place Fell", agreed Tetley.

"What I remember too about the descent from here, was that I walked across a very green patch. It looked just perfect ground, but was in fact so slippy, that I ended up on my back", laughed Dad. "Thankfully I did not do myself any damage."

The reminiscing over it was time to pack up and return down the path to Winter Crag Farm. It makes a pretty picture with its lawns and garden above Howegrain Beck.

"We just follow the road past the Old Church and on to the parking area", said Shaun.

On the way we passed this wall post box, dating from the time of Queen Victoria, the flowers in the garden behind adding to the scene.

"Just before the parking is where the path ascends left up Hallin Fell", instructed Shaun.

Of the ascents this was the shortest. However by now the temperature was very warm, and this perhaps combined with the fact that Dad had not long had lunch, made it in fact the hardest of the climbs resulting in the need for a few stops to catch his breath.

At one such stop, Dad remarked, "this reminds me of the day we first climbed Mellbreak from Mosedale. It was hot like this and I seemed to have to stop every few yards."

"That was nine years ago now Dad", replied Tetley. "It was the last of five fells that day, as by then we had already climbed Burnbank Fell, Blake Fell, Gavel Fell and Hen Comb. Over nine miles in all by the time we got down to Loweswater"

Dad now climbed on and finally the path swung right, and there it was the beautiful summit cairn, with Ullswater stretching away beyond.

As far as describing this we can do no better than to quote Wainwright. He says - 'The man who built the summit-cairn on Hallin Fell did more than indicate the highest point: he erected for himself a permanent memorial. This 12-foot obelisk, a landmark for miles around, is a massive structure of squared and prepared stone. Built into the cairn is a plaque bearing various initials and the date 1864.'

We were quickly out of the rucksack and sat at the foot of the cairn to have our final picture taken today.

This had about been done and we were settled again in Dad's rucksack, when a couple arrived at the summit. The gentleman said hello, but then Dad got talking to his wife, it being us that started the conversation.

Dad explained about us, saying "they are called STAG after the initial letters of their names and have done all the 214 Wainwrights and the Birketts too."

Hearing this she was full of admiration and shook our paws!

She then told Dad that they live in Edinburgh and since she had retired, they had resolved to do the Wainwrights, having at this time about 35 or so to go. They had done all the Munros, in the past, which impressed us and Dad. I suppose the nearest thing to that for us is the Birketts, although of rather lower altitude. It was a very nice conversation, which ended when she saw that her husband had finished taking photographs.

After they had set off down, Dad took a few more shots including this of Ullswater looking towards Glenridding.

"That's it", said Dad, "just the matter of returning down to the car."

As he did he caught up with the couple from Edinburgh, and talked on with them until reaching the road. Now they were bound for Steel Knotts, and us just the few yards left to the car.

But before doing so Dad took this picture of St Peter's Church. Construction of St Peter’s began in 1880, the main financial backing for the building coming from Anthony Parkin of Sharrow Bay and W.H. Parkin of Ravencragg who were both local residents. The architect was J.B. Cory and the builder was Edward Peel of Patterdale who utilised the stone from the surrounding fells to construct the church in the Early English Style. The church which was consecrated on January 6, 1882 and consists of nave, chancel with vestry, bell tower and an entrance porch facing south-west.

"Thanks Dad", cried Little Eric "that has got this area completed for me, and on behalf of us all we have had a really great day."

"You're welcome Lads."

So I guess refreshment beckons?", said Tetley.

"Sure thing, and it seems sensible to go to Greystone House at Stainton."

First though we had to renegotiate the narrow road by the lake. It was unsurprisingly a bit busier, but all went well, even if getting past the minibus towing the canoe trailer was a bit of a tight squeeze!

At Greystone House a lovely young lady called Jane looked after Dad. He had pot of tea with extra hot water, that washed down a delicious piece of chocolate caramel shortbread and a piece of lovely lemon cake. In short just Dad's sort of cafe!

Then all that remained was the quick run down M6 and so home.

This now leaves our pal Little Eric with just three walks to finish Book 2.

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