Hills: Hallin Fell
Wainwright number: 70
When: Sunday 30 April
Who: me, Stuart and the mountaineering minion
Weather: Clear, but cold and seriously windy
Bog factor: Nonexistent
Hangover factor: Surprisingly low
Post walk watering hole: The Howtown Hotel
Post walk drink: A local ale (can’t remember what, but quite nice) later Malbec
One that got away: Steel Knotts
Mishaps: None really on the day, but read on..
After my walk the day before – the somewhat hangover-fuelled blast up Glenridding Dodd which saw me claiming discretion over valour and not going on to do Sheffield Pike, therefore almost but not quite being the fastest walk ever (that was either Binsey or Little Mell Fell, both done in well under an hour and both in rotten weather) – it is fair to say that the afternoon and evening were rather restrained. After I had conked out in the hotel room and then had a swim and some Kendal Mint Cake liqueur, we had a nice leisurely meal in the hotel restaurant and had, of all things, an early night in anticipation of a walk the following day. The forecast was for clear conditions but for it to be pretty windy, so staying low seemed a good idea.
For once the forecast was right. We were out of bed early and at breakfast early too, then at the Ullswater Steamers pier well before the first ferry over to Howtown. A notice informed us that the Aira Force pier was inaccessible due to high winds but the Howtown ferry was running. The plan was to get the boat over and walk up Hallin Fell, which we had ages ago dubbed ‘Boat Hill’ and decided to do via the steamer rather than just park at the Hause – not least because I hate hairpin bends on roads but also because doing it this way makes a short walk into a bit more of an adventure. We’ve been meaning to do this for ages but not got round to it on our various trips to the Lakes so given we were actually staying in Glenridding this time there seemed to be no excuse.
The crossing was firstly choppy and secondly freezing and we quickly retreated to the lower deck until shortly before the pier at Howtown. We pulled in to the small jetty and then followed the zigzags up the road having missed the path which contours round the base of the hill – we would use this for our return route. The wind was pretty strong and we were pretty glad we had taken the decision not to go high up. Once we got to the church at The Hause we pulled off the road onto the wide grassy path that heads pretty much straight up the hill.
There isn’t really much to say about the ascent: unlike the steep slidy gravel on Glenridding Dodd the path ascends at a reasonably congenial angle for the most part – it is steep in parts but not that steep and the terrain underfoot is easy, close cropped grass. For whatever reason we were making somewhat heavy weather of it though – no hangovers but out of sorts for no particularly good reason. However, the main reason we wanted to do this hill – other than the boat trip – was the reportedly excellent views. About 20 minutes of plodding from the Hause saw us popping out at the summit which has one of the biggest summit cairns I’d ever seem – and panoramic views all round. Whilst the views did not disappoint, it was seriously windy and the attempts at a windswept summit selfie were so poor we resorted to asking another couple to take our photo.
Given the wind, it was also pretty cold so the summit pictures had to be taken quite fast and we beat a fairly quick retreat down the slopes back to the Hause. We’d considered going on to do Steel Knotts, and had plenty of time had we decided to do so but the wind was a bit off putting and the weather looked as though it might turn. We therefore decided to leave it and a quick descent down the path that avoids the road (much nicer) saw us back in Howtown before too long and enjoying some local ales in the Howtown Hotel before getting the ferry back to Glenridding.
All in all a very enjoyable short day with some cracking views and the Howtown Hotel would be nice to go back to sometime. And the mishap? Nothing to do with the walk… however the train back the following day was even worse than the one on the Friday night and getting to the bar in order to get anything alcoholic was literally impossible. Now that’s a mishap and a half!!