20 Place Fell


from Patterdale

distance: 11km/7 miles time: 4½ hours ascent: 550m/1800ft grade: energetic

MAPS (Harvey Superwalker) Central (Ordnance Survey) OL5 North–eastern area

PARK Across the road from Patterdale Hotel find a modestly proportioned pay and display car park GR 397159. The regular Stagecoach shuttle buses from either Ambleside, Keswick or Penrith turning at the entrance, a possible hazard for motorists, an valuable contribution to sustainable travel for walkers.

By fell and shore

To many Ullswater is the most scenic of all the lakes. It has the air of a mighty fjord snaking in a succession of reaches, from no one point is there a holistic view. At each of its turns comes a wholly new perspective to adore. Place Fell rises solidly to the east of the water-head community of Patterdale. Its high rugged sides and its eastward curving shore the basis of the upper two reaches of the lake. Passengers on the lake-long steamer cruises may gaze most intently at the high fells to the west, notably St Sunday Crag on their upstream journey. But travelling in either direction from Glenridding Pier to Sandwick Bay all eyes will inevitably alight placidly upon Place Fell’s colourful mural slopes. Place Fell is far more than a pleasing façade, it is a wonderful ‘place’ to walk. The prospects from its summit majestic, the outlooks from its roller-coaster shoreline path absolute heaven, from which description you rightly may determine this a very special fellwalking experience.

Setting forth

Regain the main road and walk left (south) from the Patterdale Hotel, the road bottlenecks in passing the curiously tapered White Lion Inn, obviously built on jealously limited circumstances. The footway leads to a tight meander of the enchantingly named Goldrill Beck, the stream-name refers to marsh marigold, to this day the valley pastures can glow with their rich yellow raiment. Turn left into the no through road crossing Goldrill Bridge to the rather exclusive community of houses known as Rooking.

Keep left then go right at the gate signed ‘Boredale Hause and Angle Tarn’ and bear up right rising now with a bridleway following up by the wall climbing on with truly lovely views growing with every step initially framed by larch then as the path steps up through the bracken banks Arnison Crag draws the eye across the valley and higher the backing St Sunday Crag and left the majestic fells at the head of the valley surrounding Dovedale and the Kirkstone Pass with Red Screes and Brotherswater. Pitching has helped secure the path which is here part of the perennially popular Coast to Coast Walk, keep to the higher path where it forks. Reach the open bowl of Boredale Hause, a proverbial Piccadilly Circus of paths of all complexions, purposes and destinations. Both William Wordsworth and Alfred Wainwright fell into the trap of listening to the name Boredale, and assuming it referred to pigs. Hence they preferred the erroneous spelling, Boardale. They were completely wrong. The Norse for swine was ‘grise’ as in Grisedale, and the British was ‘moch’ as in Glenderamakin; in this instance the name prosaically meant ‘the valley with a storehouse’. Boredale lies in the almost permanent shadow of Place Fell, tucked into a secretive fold of the Far Eastern Fells, between Place Fell and Beda Head.

Pass the ruins of the so-called Chapel in the Hause to take your leave of the main trail by veering uphill left, north. Climb on a clear grass path onto the south ridge of Place Fell. Higher up wash-out has gullied the path leaving a sorry sight and some wobbly moments for the ankles. Elsewhere when pre-emptive repair has been possible such unsightly travails have been avoided, let’s hope this can be patched up in the not to distant future too. During this ascent find any excuse you can to spot and look back towards the fells encircling Kirkstone, it is a stunningly uplifting scene.

Passing pools the path makes one final leap onto the high headland surmounted by a stone-built Ordnance Survey column (see above). At 657m/2,156ft Place Fell offers a superb all-round panorama, with the Helvellyn range pre-eminent. Also disclosed the full length of Grisedale, eyes trained on the massive slope of St Sunday Crag and the wild upper corrie galleries of Nethermost and Dollwaggon Pikes. Eastwards the skyline ridges embracing the land-locked Martindale valley system contrast as much as anything because the dales and ridges run north to south.

Leave the summit, with some regret, it’s not a place to hasten from, better idle than chase. The obvious path trends down by a large pool in a north-easterly direction with the foot of Ullswater and the backing Cross Fell range pan the Eden valley ahead. The path drifts down the lovely grassy slopes to a cairn, then descends more purposefully to the depression at Low Moss, after passing a ruined fold take the left-hand path down the shallow valley to squeeze between a ruined roofless workshop and slate spoil. The ensuing turf path leads on invitingly, keep left at the next fork drawing closer into the fold of the Scalehow Beck valley. Believe it or not Scalehow Force is a Victorian folly. The original owner of the scenically sited house that now forms the home of the Ullswater Outward Bound Mountain School, sought to enhance his view successfully gun-powdering the beck to create a picturesque waterfall! The path comes upon its own picturesque prospect that of Sandwick Bay. A tautological name as taken literally is spells ‘the sandy-bay bay’; it is curious that the Norse term ‘wick’ does not mean ‘bay’ in the town-name Keswick, there it meant ‘cheese farm’. All goes to show what a minefield place-names can be in an area like this. Place Fell itself meant ‘the fell-top with open level space’.

The path leads unerringly down to a junction with a lower track beside the open-wooded enclosure wall. Cut back left with this bridleway crossing a footbridge spanning Scalehow Beck. This is one of the most popular paths in the district for all its remoteness from a motor-road. Walkers using the lake cruise from Glenridding Pier to deport them at jetty at Howtown Wyke and walk back beneath Hallin Fell and Sandwick onto this section of pathway. The path descends and then makes a roller-coaster trip coping with tree roots and small outcropping never quite sure whether it should be up or down, but seldom making it to lake-level.

The path has a sylvan canopy framing many a photographic opportunity across Ullswater to Sheffield Pike and Glencoyne. The path curves round Silver Bay above the point to follow along by the enclosure wall adjacent to the wood-fringed Blowick meadows, where Blowick meant ‘dark bay’. The path becoming a track leading by the camping ground into the yard at Side Farm. Bear right via gates following the access lane over grids and once more crossing Goldrill Beck to re-gain the valley road at the George Starkley Hut, with the parish church of St Patrick, hence the valley name Patterdale to the right.

After-walk refreshment

Tearoom at Side Farm (adjacent the camp site reception) and the White Lion Inn, together with several welcoming hostelries in nearby Glenridding.

If you would like a downloadable PDF of this walk CLICK HERE
Mark Richards

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