Hallin Fell, Steel Knotts and Fusedale

14th March 2020

While we are on the cusp of Spring it's hard to ignore how this Winter has had an affect on, not just my fell walking but pretty much everyone I know where usually by mid March I would be looking forward to Spring and not bewildered having not climbed the likes of Bow Fell with a crisp frost underfoot and a low sun set against a cloudless Winter sky, while the most frustrating thing is what sunshine we have had has been reserved for midweek only for the forecast to change to rain and low cloud come weekend, the trend seemed to continue week after week creating further frustration.

Now that I've got that of my chest Rod came up with this belter of a route which accommodated the forecast which was set for a grey day and showers but we weren't going to let a bit of rain put us off, after all we're used to it by now. We started the walk from Martindale New Church before walking around the base of Hallin Fell in an anti-clockwise direction before heading directly for the summit via the steep path which over looked Sandwick Bay just to the right of Swine Slacks before returning to Martindale New Church ready for the steep haul onto Birkie Knott and Steel Knotts thereafter - by which time the rain had settled in for the day, we had altered our plan of including Gawk Fell in favour of heading back through Fusedale once Brownthwiate Crag was reached at which point the driving wind and rain had claimed the walk but at least Fusedale re-ignited the remainder of the day it being my first visit to the valley.

Wainwright Guide Book Two
The Far Eastern Fells

-Steel Knotts

Steel Knotts may well claim to have the sharpest summit in Lakeland, for the rock tor (Pikeawassa) that crowns the top is so acute that only the very agile walkers will be able to stand upon it,


Ascent: 1,905 Feet - 581 Metres
Wainwrights: 2, Hallin Fell - Steel Knotts (Pikeawassa)
Visiting: Brownthwaite Crag
Weather: Showers Turning Heavier Throughout The Day. Windy Across The Summits. Highs of 8°C Lows of 5.3°C Summit Winds 22.3mph
Parking: Car Park, Martindale New Church
Area: Far Eastern
Miles: 6.3
Walking With: David Hall and Rod Hepplewhite
Ordnance Survey: OL5
Time Taken: 4 Hours 30 Minutes
Route: Martindale New Church - Waternook - Hallinhag Wood - Hallin Fell - Martindale New Church - Birkie Knott - Steel Knotts (Pikawassa) - Brownthwaite Crag - Groove Gill - Fusedale - The Coombs - Martindale New Church

Parking Details and Map
Nearest Post Code: CA10 2NF
Grid Reference: NY 435 619
Notes: There are actually two car parks at Martindale New Church one of which is next to the Church itself and on the opposite side to the car park there is off road parking for around half a dozen well parked cars. Parking is free at both sites.


Map and Photo Gallery


Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike seen beyond Howtown 08:30am
We had arranged to meet at 08:15am for a 08:30am start and found parking no trouble at Martindale New Church. Myself and Rod were first to arrive soon followed by David. It had started to rain lightly during kit up which quickly progressed into vertical 'Lakeland rain' which I tried to shelter from under the cover of my tailgate but it was no use, sooner or later we were going to get wet so, no better time than the present I guess. Having confirmed the route we set off from the top of the Hause and soon picked up the path which descended towards Waternook Accommodation leaving fantastic views over Howtown Wyke and Ullswater, even on a dreary morning such as today.

Passing Waternook Accommodation.
Once Waternook was reached (out of shot on the other side of the wall) the path levelled and we were able to take in the views over a rather grey Ullswater.

Ullswater, Bonscale Fell and Arthur's Pike from Waternook.
Did someone turn the lights off? A cracking view nontheless.

Heading North towards the base of Geordie's Crag.

Looking back on Bonscale Pike and Arthur's Pike prior to reaching Hallinhag Wood.
It probably took us much longer to reach this point of the path after stopping numerous times to put the world to rights and given recent climates it's a wonder how we made around at all but, this is a place where for a while, we can forget about life's troubles.

Passing through Hallinhag Wood.
With Kalipot Bay to the right.

Winter Crag and Beda Fell from the ascent of Hallin Fell (West flank)
Towards the far end of Hallinhag Wood we reached a gate and a wall which rose steeply along Hallin Fell west flank. We followed the wall for a short while before arriving at a second gate which we passed through from where views opened out into Boredale and the Martindale valleys which as you can see were sadly limited due to the low cloud.

The view over Sandwick towards Sleet Fell and Low Birk Fell from the ascent of Hallin Fell (West flank)

Hallin Fell Obelisk.
Ascending Hallin Fell from the Hause can be steep in parts but it was nothing compared to the ascent from the west where walking poles at times came to shoulder height such the steepness of the fell side, however, the ground soon levels and through the grassy outcrops the Obelisk came into view and the summit was reached. Finding we were the only people at the summit was a rarity which we would have savoured had it not been for the cloud, wind and rain.

Views into Martindale with Winter Crag and Beda Fell.
Peer through the murk and you might just be able to make out The Nab in the distance.

Cloud topped Hallin Fell from Lanty Tarn.

Staying with the same company next week I shall be leaving my place of work in Manchester for Preston which will make my commute much more easier than the one I've struggled with for the last 7 years. My team had bought me leaving gifts one of which was a huge chocolate gateau which I was told I must take home so I cut three slices for todays walk which we enjoyed as we passed the cars once Hallin Fell had been descended.

Steel Fell (Pikeawassa) summit.
The rain had been on and off for the best part of the morning but after leaving Lanty Tarn for the ascent of Birkie Knott/Steel Fell the rain fell constantly and once Birkie Knott was gained we were left exposed to the wind which shattered conversation instantly. One by one we strode out towards the summit, heads down shielding ourselves from the elements and once Steel Fell was reached we stood with our backs to the wind and rain to take our summit photos.

Looking back on Steel Fell (Pikeawassa) from Brownthwaite Crag.
We descended into a cross wind and one by one continued towards Brownthwaite Crag by which point the wind and rain was taking the enjoyment out of the walk, we were soaked through to the core and for me, Fusedale couldn't come soon enough, in fact I think I could I speak for all three of us. It was at the col linking Steel Knotts with Brownthwaite Crag did Rod suggest we don't continue to Gawk Hill and instead swoop around towards the ruined Peat Hut at the head of Fusedale which we unanimously agreed on.

Heading towards the Peat Hut, Fusedale Head.
With Gawk Hill seen right.

Looking back on Brownthwaite Crag and Steel Fell (Pikeawassa) from the ruined Peat Hut.
By the time we reached the ruined Peat Hut the rain had let off for a few moments and teasingly right over our heads the grey skies parted revealing Wether Hill with blue skies directly above but it was momentarily, and soon the cloud dropped and with it, more rain came.

Descending into Fusedale.
We navigated the saturated ground around Fusedale Head before starting our descent and soon we were feeling less exposed to the wind and conversation soon sprung back.

Fusedale from Fusedale Beck.

We had descended in much lighter moods despite the wind, rain and now mud which blighted the valley floor as we passed Cote Farm to our right. We crossed Fusedale Beck via a wooden footbridge then joined the concrete road before swooping below Steel End bound for Martindale New Church where we passed two gents one of whom was holding a large map in one hand.

With Lanty Tarn reached we descended the muddy hill alongside Martindale New Church back into a packed car park where folk were either returning from Hallin Fell or just about to set off for their ascent. We looked like three drown't rats but in good spirits having enjoyed a much needed walk in an area of Lakeland we hadn't been back to in some years while agreeing the next time we see each other it'll be under drier, and possibly warmer circumstances.


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