Monday, 30 April 2018

Steel Knotts and Hallin Fell

Hallin Fell and Ullswater

Sunday, 29 April 2018
Ascent:        555 metres
Distance:     6 kilometres
Time:          1 hour 50 minutes

Steel Knotts       433m             35mins
Hallin Fell         398m      1hr   7mins

On the way back from Liverpool, Gregor had decided that he would like to run the newly opened Ullswater Way, a 20-mile trail around the lake with over 850 metres of ascent. We left Preston after a lazy breakfast and drove to Pooley Bridge via Penrith. He began an anti-clockwise run from Pooley Bridge and I drove down to Howtown to climb two of the Wainwright hills: Steel Knotts and Hallin Fell. I parked by the Howtown Hotel where Gregor would finish his run. It was cloudy so I decided to climb Steel Knotts first, hoping to get sunnier views of Ullswater from Hallin Fell later. There is a metalled road alongside the Fusedale Beck so I followed it until a signpost to Hallin Hause, which took me to the start of the steep path that climbs up the southern ridge of Steel Knotts.

Conditions were perfect for walking, cool with excellent visibility. I passed an older couple who were keen walkers but handicapped by living in London and this was their first foray of the year. We shared yarns about Lakeland days for a few minutes before I continued for the final kilometre to the summit. I took photos for a couple from Penrith who described themselves as weekend walkers who had begun to tick off the Wainwrights. After helping them identify the Lakeland hills from St Sunday's Crag and Plaice Fell to Blencathra, they pointed out a bungalow with a bright red roof in Martindale. It had been built by the Earl of Lonsdale as a shooting lodge but was now a holiday cottage. He had hosted a visit from Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1910, transporting his party to the modest shooting lodge in a yellow Rolls Royce. Although Martindale was a fine deer estate, the gamekeepers were directed to stalk all the rabbits into the valley for the Kaiser to unleash his weaponry with little chance of escape for the warren of rabbits. It probably encouraged him to do the same a few years later as he started the Great War.

I descended down a path to the splendid St Peter's Church nestling in a hollow at Hallin Hause. It is the starting point for the walk up Hallin Fell and was mobbed by Sunday visitors. I continued up the steep grassy slope to Hallin Fell, surprised at how easy the walking seemed after recent days on the Scottish hills. At the massive square-shaped summit there was time to kill so I found some shelter from the cold northerly breeze, ate an orange and perused the map. The views were exceptional, Wainwright had described Ullswater as "that loveliest of lakes, curving gracefully into the far distance."

On leaving the cairn there was a path to the north that eventually terminates at some crags but the viewpoint confirmed Wainwright's observation.  I climbed back and followed the lip of the crags until finding a path back to Hallin Hause. Despite several conversations and diversions, I was down in less than two hours and it was half an hour before Gregor appeared still running easily and then going for an extra mile to reach his marathon training schedule.

Thereafter we retreated to the excellent Howtown Tearoom behind the hotel for some soup and sandwiches before the drive home. It was still early afternoon and the M74 was relatively free of traffic.

Hallin Fell from Steel Knotts south ridge
Martindale with The Nab from Steel Knotts
Summit of Steel Knotts, Loadpott Hill behind
Hallin Fell and St Peter's church at the Hause
Beda Fell and Plaice Fell in Boredale
Ullswater to the north from Hallin Fell
Howtown from Hallin Fell

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