Martindale Surprise - Photo Gallery
The surprise is that I was supposed to be in Mardale. I had planned a walk from Mardale Head but in trying a different route to Haweswater I drove through Pooley Bridge and took a wrong turning. I reached Howtown before I realised my mistake and I couldn't be bothered turning back, I'd much rather be walking that driving on yet another warm and sunny spring day.
I parked opposite St. Peter's Church, Martindale at the foot of the popular path up Hallin Fell. Walking behind the church you soon reach the foot of Steel Knotts and a faint path is visible leading off the right following a natural line of ascent through rocky outcrops until you reach the ridge. The pleasant undulating ridge ends at the rocky crown of Pikeawassa, a splendid name for a splendid little summit.
Some loss of height is required as you follow the wall towards Gowk Hill, the path bypasses this non-Wainwright hill but on a pleasant sunny day it deserved to be visited although apart from its own unique view it is very unremarkable. Down the eastern side of the fell, which would normally be very wet, through a hole in the wall to pick up an obvious path slanting up the opposite fellside. The path reached the ridge, if you could call a wide flat depression a ridge, between Wether Hill and Red Crag.
There are no navigation problems here, following the path of the old Roman Road southwards. The large peat hags are the only points of interest on this long, easy (not boring, honest!) walk to High Raise. Apart from the lack of detail there is a tremendous feeling of peace and solitude and the views to south and west, although hazy, provide a good test in naming all of the many fells that you can see.
Finally some rocks at the summit of High Raise, easily bypassed if you keep to the wide path. There is an easy walk over to Kidsty Pike, with its tremendous view of the steep sided Riggindale and an even easier walk to Rampsgill Head with impressive views of its own valley. Down to the crossroads at the Straits of Riggindale and turn right, following the wall until a small diversion up a grassy slope leads to the summit of The Knott.
There is a steep path beside the wall that goes in a straight line almost to the top of Rest Dodd, across the swampy depression that separates The Knott from Rest Dodd. Navigation is easy, the ground is nowhere near as wet as usual and an obvious path takes you to the summit of Rest Dodd, where for the first time today there was a hint of a chill in the breeze. From the large cairn you have to bypass what looks like a dried out tarn to a smaller cairn to find the faint path downwards, making sure not to miss the turn to the left, if you reach the wall you have missed the turning.
After a steep grassy descent there is a short section of rough, rocky path before you meet the main Patterdale to High Street path, turn right for Angle Tarn. For a small amount of extra effort the visit to the summit of Brock Crags is good value for the views to south and west, especially the unique view of Brothers Water. There is a vague path over grass to Angle Tarn, I came across a couple of frogs on the path which gives an idea of how wet the place usually is.
The vague path eventually rejoins the main path, recently paved over the worst of the eroded boggy sections. Behind the main path is a smaller path on an easy gradient slanting up to the the Beda Fell path bypassing the Angletarn Pikes. To get to the pikes you have to cross a very wet plateau and make sure you bypass a serious peat bog that must have been a tarn at one time. There is an easy scramble up to the pike nearest to Angle Tarn, and the view of the tarn is well worth the effort, then cross a flat grassy area to scramble up the higher but less impressively cairned pike.
There is an straightforward walk down towards Boredale Hause but you don't have to lose all of your height to join the obvious path on Place Fell. The erosion of the path gives an indication of its popularity and there were plenty of people still around. The summit of Place Fell is hidden on this ascent, each of the false summits making me believe that my complaining calf muscles would soon be satisfied. Eventually the summit, and one of the most elegantly positioned Ordnance Survey columns, perched on top of one rock outcrop with the summit cairn perched on top of its twin.
Then it is downhill all of the way, at least today with bypassing Sleet Fell, a pleasant finish to the walk but it feels much further than you might expect, I was beginning to feel a bit dehydrated by this stage and there is no water on this side of the fell.
Well, a glorious day for an ad hoc route, nine Wainwright summits visited today, not that I was counting or anything.
Andy Wallace 5th April 2003