Walking the Wainwrights in 30 Walks Walk 12 - Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts & Place Fell

2nd May 2016

A weather window had presented itself during the afternoon after a morning of heavy showers and if the forecasters had got this one right it wasn't to be missed, because of this I had chosen this walk which is the shortest within the campaign collecting just three Wainwright summits starting from Martindale New Church.

The first summit of the day is Hallin Fell, a steep but steady yomp starting from the carpark opposite the church, I did a very similar route to this one around November time and if my memory serves me right I was up and down within forty minutes which is always a good start when like today, I'm starting late. Once Hallin Fell is collected it's a quick run down as views open out over Steel Knotts (Pikawassa) but in order to reach its summit the steep ascent on Birkie Knott will have to be gained, an ascent that I had forgot just how steep it actually was.

However, from the summit of Birkie Knott it's a nice easy stroll to reach Steel Knotts from which I'll descend into Martindale with views of Martindale Old Church and Beda Fell. After a quick look around the Church Yard I'll strike out into the valley of Boredale gaining height steadily onto Boredale Hause before taking on the steep and steady path to collect my last summit of the day in Place Fell before I begin my gradual descent back into Boredale around the flank of High Dodd while being blessed with late afternoon sun, and not to mention a rather heavy hailstone shower.

Wainwright Guide Book One
The Far Eastern Fells

-Place Fell

On a first visit to Patterdale, Place Fell should be an early objective , for no other viewpoint gives such an appreciation of the design of this lovely corner of Lakeland.


Ascent: 3,087 Feet - 942 Meters
Wainwrights: 3, Hallin Fell - Steel Fell (Pikawassa) - Place Fell
Weather: Mostly Sunny, Some Rain and Hail Showers, Gust Across The Summits. Highs of 11°C Lows of 11°C
Parking Parking spaces opposite Martindale New Church
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 9.9
Walking With: On My Own
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours - 45 Minutes
Route: Martindale New Church - Hallin Fell - Birkie Knott - Steel Fell (Pikawassa) - Martindale - Matindale Old Church - Boredale Valley - Boredale Hause - Steel Edge - Place Fell - Low Moss - Garth Head Farm - The Hause - Martindale New Church

Map and Photo Gallery


Beda Fell, Winter Crag and Place Fell from the start of my Hallin Fell ascent 12:05pm 11°C

I found it incredible to think that not just one hour ago the cloud hung around the tops of the tree tops while driving through prolonged and heavy downpours during my journey to reach Lakeland this morning, sure enough however the rain stopped and the skies cleared which was exactly how it was forecasted. Despite today being a Bank Holiday the roads were quiet and I was able to park opposite Martindale New Church easily which had laid heavy on my mind during the drive up, I'm guessing that the forecast had put most people off but just look how nice the afternoon is starting out.

There were a few people on route to Hallin Fell that I could see whilst kitting up which was kinda rushed as I wanted to get boot onto fell as soon as possible, if only to avoid the rain showers that were forecasted for late afternoon, within what felt like minutes the car was locked and I was ascending my first summit gaining height quite quickly opting to take the path on the east side of the fell if only to avoid the numbers I could see up ahead, as it turns out it's also a very scenic route too.

Ullswater and Bonscale Pike from Hallin Fell.

Ullswater from Hallin Fell obelisk.
After a steep start my path levelled out enabling me to get my breath back before the final push towards the summit, the two people who I had observed from the car park had also just reached the summit while using a different path which caused me to think just how quick my pace was. It's quite busy at the summit with walkers and non walkers all taking advantage of the wonderful views. There's a fresh breeze blowing yet the warmth from the afternoon sun is causing me to feel sweaty so off comes my jacket which gets tucked under the lid of my pack before I start to make my descent back to Martindale new Church.

Fantastic views into Boredale with Beda Fell on the left and Place Fell on the right.
I shall be over there soon but first...

The Martindale Valley with Steel Knotts (Pikawassa) and Beda Fell while ahead, the micro valleys of Ramps Gill and Bannerdale
That's Birkie Knott (foreground) forming Steel Knotts (Pikawassa) along the ridge, it's been quite some time since I last ascended Birkie Knott so I use my descent time to view the path which ascends right through the middle of the crags to the left of the scree, it looks a steep one too.

Beda Fell and Winter Crag with The Nab in the distance.

Passing Martindale New Church.
All the parking spaces had been taken up opposite the Church by now and the Church car park was starting to get quite busy too.

Views over Howtown towards Bonscale Pike, Ullswater and in the distance, Dunmallard Hill.
Aye, I was right...it's a steep ascent but there is a good path to follow which winds its way by singular track towards Birkie Fell summit.

Stopping to look back over Martindale New Church and Hallin Fell.

Looking back along the ridge towards Birkie Fell with distant views of Ullswater.
I was pleased to have the steep ascent of Birkie Fell now behind me, now I could enjoy the fine grassy ridge towards the summit of Steel Knotts (Pikeawassa) under a warm sun although it was noted just how brisk those cold summit winds felt, not cold enough just yet for me to add the jacket back on but the thought of it was never far away.

Views over the Fusedale Valley towards Bonscale Pike and Ullswater.

Steel Knotts summit (Pikeawassa)

The name Pikeawassa is given to the Rock Tor which crowns Steel Fell summit, there is no summit cairn and if you really want to climb to the top of Steel Knotts you have to climb the Rock Tor! A simple tap from my walking pole would suffice today.

Well, that's two summits collected in just over the hour mark, it's time to relax and take in the Martindale Valley via a path that I don't recall using before which descends steadily from the summit all the way towards Martindale Old Church.

Views towards The Nab, Headbeck Head and the Bannerdale Valley

A close up of The Nab with Rest Dodd in the background.
My Wainwright campaign up until now has had no real shape or form due to the forecast since I started back in January, usually I would plan ahead with a walk for this date and a walk for that and so on, hopefully with drier weather on the way I should now be able to plan ahead. (If) I had my way however, I would love to finish the project while collecting The Nab and Rest Dodd along with thirteen other Wainwright summits during one mammoth walk taking in the eastern, and far eastern fells but it's looking like by the time I get there the nights will have started to draw in and the days would get colder, with this I have chosen to do the walk during summer instead as I pause and think...I wonder what shape I'll be in by the time I reach those two summits during that long day!

Distant views towards Ramps Gill, The Nab and Rampgill Head.

Descending into Martindale.
The cold summit winds were (for now) a distant memory and I could enjoy my descent in calm sunshine as views opened up over the Martindale Valley. The building you see in the centre of the photo is Martindale Old Church which is where the path ends or starts depending on your direction of travel. Ahead Gowbarrow Fell is in shade and so too is Hallin Fell as a rain shower threatens over head, it wasn't the first and certainly not the last, I press on.

Martindale Old Church.
A Church has existed on this site since 1220 although the present building was built sometime during the late sixteenth century. Inside the Alter is almost certainly Roman and the church bell is thought to be around 500 years old, but for me, it's around the back the back of the Church which draws most interest.

The Birkett tomb seen with the ancient Yew Tree.

Richard Birkett was the first Priest at St Martins who's Tomb lies beneath a ancient Yew Tree estimated to be 1,300 years old, I'll be the first to admit that even on a summers day the area around the back of the church can feel 'a bit creepy'

Never mind that, if only trees could talk eh.

Crossing Howgrain Beck.
A young couple who I had seen while at the summit of Hallin Fell were making their way towards the old Church as I was leaving and 'afternoons' were passed, I hadn't noticed back then but I didn't realise the young girl was pregnant but seemed more than happy still on her feet, good on yer young un. Further ahead I pass the white cottage you can see through the trees where a young man is tinkering with a four wheel drive buggy before I make my way down towards the bridge which spans Howgrain Beck, from here it's a short climb via roadway around the base of Winter Crag which will lead me into the Boredale Valley.

The Boredale Valley.
I'm not too sure what to make of that rain up ahead.

Boredale Head from Boredale Beck.

The rain I had just witnessed contained itself within the valley but this wasn't the case for the second wave of showers that approached once I arrived at Garth Heads Farm where I was forced to add the jacket and even the camera bag came out to stop my camera taking a soaking, all of which was reminiscent of my last visit to Boredale when I also took a soaking.

Do you ever feel that some places are attached to certain weathers? Lets hope this isn't the case today.

Boredale Head incorparating Hause Crag.

A trio of Mountain Bikers had passed me sometime earlier who in actual fact frightened the life out of me as they just hurtled past from no-where. It's a long walk through the valley where at times I had the sun on my back and others, I was reaching for the hood of my jacket, up ahead the Mountain Bikers have slowed down and are now pushing their bikes up the steep gully close to Hause Crag.

They'd best hurry up or I'll soon be on their tails...bloody creeping up on me like that!

Fantastic mid afternoon views back along the Boredale Valley.

There was a few drops in the air which for now didn't look like they would materialise into anything which was great news as by now I had expected to be walking through showers which still may arrive so I'm grasping every view while I can.

The Gully was reached soon forming the head of the valley together with Hause Crag were for the first time during the last few hours I was able to take respite from the wind. I had the choice to take the path to the left of the Gully or just climb straight up the centre which is what I opted for, a stream flows beneath me which was negotiated by keeping to the larger boulders, there was wet tyre tracks across the rock left behind moments eailer by the Mountain Bikers who had long gone by the time I arrived at the top of the Gully.

Boredale Hause was under shade and its exposure was reflected by the strong cross winds, the strongest I had experienced all day. A narrow grassy path ascends steadily, then steeply to join up with the main path towards Steel Edge, while on the path I miss groups of walkers descending and feel quite pleased in that I have missed out on that steep first hundred yards of path which starts at the ruins of the Old Chapel, which isn't to say that my own path wasn't steep which soon lead me out at the start of the steep zig zags below Steel Edge.

Distant views over Boredale Hause towards Brothers Water, Hartsop above How, High Hartsop Dodd and Middle Dodd, Red Screes and Caudale Moor.

In this photo, Arnison Crag, Birks, St Sunday Crag, Hart Crag and Dove Crag.
Come on sun, spread your light over this way!

Place Fell summit is just ahead.
The rock step at the top of Steel Edge was negotiated and I was soon walking towards my last summit of Place Fell which looked like I may have to myself as I contemplate a late lunch somewhere out of the summit winds.

Place Fell summit Trig Point.
The skies had darkened and drops of rain were hustling around in the air, despite this I starting to feel hungry as I find myself a perch out of the wind hoping that the sun will eventually come back out, because when the sun does shine on Place Fell...

It transforms into a different place.

I had my camera ready by my side ready for those split second moments as the sun cast its light across the wild grasses, those moments did come but they didn't last long, the weather at the summit started to deteriorate rapidly as the skies darkened and looked ever more threatening, perhaps those forecasted showers are about to arrive.

Lunch is packed away right about the same time a large group of walkers top out on Round How, Place Fell secondry summit, just ahead I may get time to explore Place Fell Tarn seen in the foreground before descending Hart Crag for Low Moss before the showers do arrive.

Place Fell Tarn.

That isn't a shower...
...Thats the end of the world approaching!

Darkening views towards Wether Hil and Red Crag.

The whole Helvellyn group was consumed by a hail storm, Catstye Cam was the last to be seen before the hail advanced on my position, thankfully I had seen it coming which gave me time to prepare, by the time the hail arrived I was descending towards Low Moss while being battered by hail which for a moment, turned the fell side into a sea of white.

The hail came from behind but I was prepared having my baseball cap and my hood for protection, the hail battered at me but I was like a pig in muck, I've never smiled so much while being pelted by hail, I was in my own little heaven during that shower

High Dodd.
From Low Moss I could see a group of walkers heading towards the Knight and also three walkers stood at the summit of High Dodd which I flanked right whilst descending back into Boredale.

Hallin Fell with Bonscale Pike beyond after the showers.
Hail came and went and so too did the rain showers but I could see that these were all that was left behind from the hail storm, soon the sun cleared through the cloud leaving the fell side in an array of wonderful colour and even the birds came back out to sing, a truly wonderful moment captured after the shower had passed.

Descending into Boredale with views over Hallin Fell, Winter Crag, Steel Knotts (Pikeawassa) Loadpot Hill, Bonscale Pike and Wether Hill.

The Boredale Valley lit up in late afternoon sun.

The Boredale Valley.

It seemed surreal that after the showers had passed the sun would come back out in full strength but that it did. I was still wearing the same layers I had added back at Low Moss and despite feeling a little over heated I chose to keep them on in favour of stopping. Once within the Boredale Valley the little Clapper Bridge which spans Boredale Beck was crossed before heading towards Garths Head Farm from where I took this photo looking back into the Boredale Valley.

Under the afternoon sun I retrace my steps around the base of Winter Crag then continuing to cross Howgrain Beck once more before the steep ascent back to Hause where my car is parked which looked a lot less empty than that of four hours earlier. Due to the storm approaching while back at Place Fell summit I didn't have enough time to finish my lunch which I do whilst sat on a rock overlooking the roofs of the cars whilst listening to the Ravens of Martindale New Church squawk in the Pine Trees nearby, all the while reminiscing on one of the best spur of the moment afternoon walks I've enjoyed in a long time.


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