Cold Place

View from the pipeline path by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerIt was just about freezing when I left home and a bit colder when I got to the Lake District, fortunately it had been fairly dry for a few days so there were not too many icy stretches on the Kirkstone Pass road. I drove through the hamlet of Hartsop to the open space past the houses that gets used as a car park. It was clear and sunny but bitterly cold with a biting breeze and my hands got cold as I got ready to walk. I walked a short distance back through the first couple of houses where a signpost pointed out the footpath turning right.

The concrete and tarmac track leads upto houses tucked away in the top corner of the hamlet with its view of Brotherswater surrounded by Dodds that is as good as any mountain scene. This footpath takes you above the houses with the broad valley below and good views of the full length of the eastern fells. There is a narrow footpath behind the last of the houses and after you go through a kissing gate a wider rough path leads to a footbridge across the rugged Angletarn Beck. This is where you join the main path, you probably wouldn't realise there is a water pipeline here if if weren't for the Men at Work signs and the manhole covers at regular intervals.

View from Place Fell by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerThe good path seems much easier than the tarmac walk along the valley that I have done before and the hills across the valley are well lit in the early morning sun. The easy path heads towards Patterdale where a less inviting track branches up to the right past some more roadworks. There is a wickedly cold breeze and it was only when I started to climb upwards that my hands began to warm up but from then they stayed warm all day. St Sunday Crag dominates the view - it is impressively big and the subsidiary summit of Gavel Pike is obvious from this direction.

The good track crosses the lower slopes of Angletarn Pikes as the view changes to the golden Arnison Crag rising to Birks surrounded by the ridge from St. Sunday Crag to Helvellyn; Gavel Fell and Catstycam look like pointed bookends. The track ends suddenly at a ruined building but what happened to to pipeline, there is no clue to its route across to Boredale Hause and the footpath is just about visible. You couldn't go wrong heading for Place Fell today and the path is even more obvious once you reach another ruin at Boredale Hause. Sheltered from the wind a pair of gloves had to come off and my jacket zip was unfastened as I got warm.

View from Place Fell summit by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerThe ascent of Place Fell is obvious, a deep eroded path up a grassy slope, Helvellyn and the other hills look very rugged in the sunshine. There is a final rough climb to the summit ridge where a sudden cold blast of wind hurt my forehead. My gloves went back on, zip got fastened up and I had a fleece hat over my ears with a neck gaiter up to my nose and I still needed my jacket hood over my head, that wind felt as cold as any I have experienced. The wide plateau rises gently until the final rocky crown of the summit appears in front of you with its splendidly placed triangulation column.

There is a fairly easy descent to the sheepfold at Low Moss, you know where you are on Place Fell when you get there. The obvious path bears right and a more obvious right turn takes you down a grooved path, the groove is actually too deep to be a path and you walk by the side of it. As I was descending I had been looking across the valley for a way to ascend Beda fell, I have had problems in the past with getting access to the ridge. The path bears right again, I can see a ford across the stream but I found a marked footpath, I crossed a stile and found the smallest footbridge I can remember.

Footbridge near Garth Head by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerThis place in the valley is called Garth Head and a signposted path to Martindale goes straight uphill across the small road following a walled drove track up to start of the Beda Fell ridge. A metal bench is provided to admire the view of Ullswater either side of Hallin Fell but that breeze is too cold to hang around. Straight away there is a grassy ascent towards Winter Crag, you can scramble up to the top of the rocky viewpoint or take an easier route around the side. Beda Fell is not as benign as it looks from Place Fell, there are steep sides and a steep ascent to the cairn at Allen Crag.

The going is less steep as you reach the summit plateau, you have to be vigilant as paths take you either side of a grassy rise. Something told me I should investigate this grassy rise and I found the summit cairn at the top of it. You then have a long undulating ridge which can be wet in places when the ground isn't as frozen as it was. There is a final climb to Bedafell Knott and after descending to a depression you will find a cairn where the Patterdale to Martindale path goes from right to left. There is another climb to another cairn, the shadows had become very long and the low sun in my eyes told me it would be setting in a short while.

Beda Fell summit by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerThe path is now less strenuous and less obvious, The Nab was almost not drab looking and Loadpot Hill almost looked interesting. The path undulates over grassy hummocks until you can see a striking rocky outcrop, there are many trodden paths across the grass but really you just make a beeline for the outcrop when the ground is frozen. The outcrop is the higher summit of Angletarn Pikes, there is an easy way around the rocks to the small summit cairn. There is a more direct grassy path down the face of the outcrop and across the frozen bog towards the south pike. The best way up is as direct as possible onto the top of the southern summit, here you have the best view of Angle Tarn.

You can descend directly towards Angle Tarn but it is best to avoid the worst of the slippery boulders and walk across frozen ground to a path that you can see on the far side of the tarn. When I got close to the tarn I made a beeline towards a wall over swampy ground that wasn't completely frozen. I found the gap in the wall where you cross a small stream and I found the faint footpath leading to Brock Crags. After following the path and losing it and just heading upwards I eventually got near to a summit but I was not on familiar ground. After an extended look at the map I decided I was at the summit of Cat Crag; Brock Crags isn't a very big hill but I would have expected to be able to find it in good visibility.

View of Angle Tarn from Cat Crag by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerI have my eye on the time, I had planned to visit Brock Crags for a known descent but I can see a faint path going towards Angletarn Beck so I made my way down to it in the fading light. There seems to be a wall going all the way down the side of the beck so it must be a viable descent mustn't it? There is some evidence of a path by the side of the wall beside the beck, the rough path become steep and rugged especially where the vertical cliffs of Fall Crag meet the beck. There are a couple of narrow squeezes and places where my long legs came in useful as the gradient gets increasingly steeper.

Once I got past the cliffs the path got steeper and looser, then I got to the trees and the gradient was even steeper, it was an interesting obstacle course over rock steps and loose stones. At the most difficult obstacle I had to hang on to a tree as I stretched my legs to find a foothold. The problem with walking down beside mountain streams is that you can get to an impossible place and so it was; fortunately a path materialised going through the trees away from largest of the waterfalls.

Angletarn Beck by Andy Wallace Andy FellwalkerI don't normally put warnings on my routes but this is a very strenuous descent and shouldn't be attempted by people with a nervous disposition. I finally got down to a real path near the footbridge over the beck that I had crossed earlier, I got back to the car just before it got dark.

Andy Wallace 17th December 2005

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