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I hadn't been to this Place in quite a while.

I hadn't been to this Place in quite a while.

Postby trailmasher » Sun Oct 18, 2020 2:55 pm

Wainwrights included on this walk: Place Fell

Hewitts included on this walk: Place Fell

Date walked: 08/10/2020

Time taken: 4.54

Distance: 15.51 km

Ascent: 854m

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Place Fell-High Dodd-Sleet Fell route.gpx Open full screen  NB: Walkhighlands is not responsible for the accuracy of gpx files in users posts

E and I last walked on Place Fell in April of 2018 when a rogue fall of overnight snow coloured the fell tops in a sparkling white blanket leaving the lower slopes and valley bottoms to get on with spring, but today we have the splendour of autumn colours to grace those same valley bottoms and lower fells sides. It’s also warmer, blue skies with the sun shining down on the rapidly changing summer to autumn scene with brown bracken now making the slopes look much better than the swathes of green and the trees leaves now turning to their various shades of brown, gold, and yellows, give it another week or so and the woodlands will be a sight to behold.

As has becoming our practice now, we used the King George V Playing Fields car park as you can’t beat a day out on the fells for a measly £3 and although we arrived quite early there was already quite a few cars parked up. A sunny day but a chill in the air accompanied with a breeze encouraged us to don coats for the start and with the west side of Place Fell being in shade for most of the way up there wasn’t much chance of them coming off until we met the sun higher on the fell.

It rained hard during the night so some wet underfoot conditions are to be expected on Place Fell and though the days forecast is quite good some rain was to be expected during the afternoon, so, how far we will actually walk is weather determined as we have also planned to take in High Dodd and Sleet Fell, two hills that I haven’t been on for some 4 years. The first and only time that I introduced E to the old quarryman’s route up the west face most of it was covered in snow, but on this second introduction and once that we find ourselves in the higher reaches of the path she will find it running with water, a point that I conveniently forgot to mention to her, but once that we’re up there...

We left the car park via the path that runs along the side of the playing fields and through the church grounds to leave by its main gate, cross the road and walked down the lane to Side Farm but before we had arrived at the trees I took a photo of Birks clad in its brown bracken and trees in various shades of autumn.

ImageThe north face of Birks

Just fifteen minutes after leaving the car park we was climbing the short bank behind Side Farm to gain the ‘terrace’ the higher path that runs all the way to Silver Bay and the shoreline path and would also take us to the start of the climb up the old path. From just behind the farm we had a fantastic view towards the Hartsop fells...

ImageA view south towards the Hartsop Dodds

whilst over to the south tucked in behind the Patterdale Hotel we had a clear view of Arnison Crag and Birks.

ImageBirks and Arnison Crag

A good few metres more and we stopped to take in the view of Glenridding and the Ullswater Steamer moored up on the lake. This most delectable of views gave us free reign to take in Greenside Mine with Raise high up on the skyline with the village encompassed by Birkhouse Moor, Sheffield Pike and Glenridding Dodd.

ImageBirkhouse Moor - Raise - Sheffield Pike - Glenridding Dodd

The ‘terrace’ path is well graded and rises at an easy gradient and apart from stopping at regular intervals to take in the views across Ullswater it wasn’t too long before we arrived at the start of the climb up the west face.

ImageThe old quarryman's path to Place Fell quarries

The start is more like a track than just a path but as height is gained it does narrow down and get progressively rougher and steeper but apart from squeezing through the junipers that are well up the fellside and last night’s rain running down it – again higher up the path – this path affords no difficulties at all.

ImageThe path runs through the juniper trees

Despite working steadily along the path we didn’t raise our temperatures one bit as it was quite cold in the shade, a cold that was helped by the autumnal feel of the breeze blowing off Ullswater. Even so we just had to keep lingering to allow us to enjoy the beautiful views that slowly but surely opened up around us.
As usual E was in front leaving me behind to take the photos that she will enjoy later on in the comfort of home and I couldn’t help but smile as I heard a few yelps as she made her way up what was now a decent water run with not much chance of taking a swerve to one side due to the junipers and very rough terrain made up of large rocks and scree on either side. Martin was quite a way behind me as he was videoing the scenery on his new phone.

ImageEastern Fells behind Glenridding

ImageAutumn colours

We left the rough path and most of the water behind at about the 400 metre contour to now walk up a more gentle slope over grass that had wet patches but was much better than clambering through the mini cascades on the rocky part of it.

ImageHart Side and Glencoyne Head behind Glenridding Dodd

ImageSoutheast towards the Helvellyn group

It was now but an easy climbing amble south along the mostly grassy path and a walk along a short ‘ridge’ to gain the 542 metre high summit of The Knight from where the views are truly a sight to behold and is the first of our four Birkett’s that are planned for today, the others being Place Fell, High Dodd and Sleet Fell. Place Fell is enormous with rambling undulating ground and plenty of rocky knolls scattered around with the large flat area of past quarrying activities in contrast to the rough terrain that surrounds it. Apart from the crags and knolls the fell is covered in a variety of fauna, grasses, moss’s, bracken and heather to name a few and this is one of the only times that I had not seen deer somewhere on the fell although when walking back along the shoreline path and looking up we did see a stag and two does way above us on the skyline so they must have been keeping out of the way whilst we were up there. Also there was a noticeable absence of people about with us only seeing one more couple, fell runners, near the summit who we passed the time of day with as they returned from High Dodd.

It was on The Knight where we had our first break tucked in behind some rocks sheltered from the cold wind.

ImageUllswater and the Pennines from The Knight

Makes one wonder what it was like here back in the day.

ImageSite of the old quarries on Place Fell

ImageA short ridge walk on The Knight

From The Knight it’s around 120 metres of a climb mostly on grass again although wet and fairly steep in a couple of places until the lovely rocky summit of Place Fell was reached in a little under a half hour.

ImagePlace Fell summit

It felt really strange to have the place to ourselves, almost eerie in a way with no sound or sight of man, woman nor beast. Have the stay vacationers really gone home??

As is the usual case from this beautifully positioned fell the views are epic and far reaching in all directions and I can’t help but treat and drink in the views as though it was the first time that I had ever seen them from here, such is the nature of the place. The views stretch beyond Hartsop to the Kentmere Pikes and Hart Crag, the Pennines on the skyline to the north and the Eden Valley stretching out in front of them to reach towards the Mell Fells, Hallin Fell, and the Far Eastern Fells from Arthur’s Pike to High Street and of course a great swathe of the Eastern Fells across Ullswater lying far below us. There may be a cold wind but these are views that would bring a warmth of well being to anyone.

ImageNortheast from Place Fell top

ImageEastern Fells from Place Fell

ImageGrisedale and Glenridding

A body could spend hours looking at these views picking out the individual fells and mountains but as the weather is holding up so well we had decided to move on with our original plan and head off towards High Dodd and Sleet Fell so we back tracked a few metres and then took the path running northeast that drops around 200 metres over ground of mixed conditions with sections of the path really well worn out and rough on some of the steeper sections and a bit of care descending was needed in some places as the ground was quite wet and slippery.

The plan was to have our next break by the old sheepfold on Low Moss that was a tumbledown set of walls last time that I passed it but today it looked almost brand new as the owners of Dalemain Estates had put their hands in their pockets and had it restored, though unfortunately it was overgrown with rushes inside it and therefore not suitable as a place to dine.

ImageHigh Dodd and Low Moss sheepfold

ImageLow Moss Sheepfold info board

Looking across to Blencathra we could see the clouds building up and this much nearer one seemingly hovering over Place Fell.

ImageCloud feature over Place Fell

After a look around the fold we set off for High Dodd and its rock studded summit at 501 metres.

ImageHigh Dodd

High Dodd is an easy hill to climb, all grass and gentle slopes.

ImageMidway up High Dodd

Just below the summit at the 492 point there is a convenient place to take a break in the shape of a small bowl caused by some long ago dug out quarry workings that was maybe an exploratory dig to check out the possibility of there being suitable material that was worthwhile taking out, well, this is where we took advantage of said bowl to refuel whilst enjoying the views towards Place Fell in the southwest and others further around to the southeast. Although we didn’t see any deer on any of the fells around us we did hear the bellowing of stags as they strutted their stuff somewhere in the distance and we could just imagine some sex raged stag squaring up for battle in defence of his harem who wouldn’t bat a long eyelash if he lost and some other stud took his place.

ImagePlace Fell behind Low Moss

Once suitably refreshed we gained the grass and rock scattered summit with some great views all around with Ullswater stretching out to the north towards the Pennines.

ImageNorth from High Dodd summit

ImageBack towards Place Fell

Looking east over Boredale we could see over Beda Fell to Steel Knotts with the High Street route of the old Roman Road on the skyline. More to the southeast we could see The Nab with Rest Dodd and The Knott stacked up one behind the other whilst west of course there are the fells and mountains behind Glenridding. As we started our descent off High Dodd we could see Sleet Fell stretched out before us showing another large and undulating top of grass. Just below us there was a patch of Boredale’s pastures and similar in the jaws of Martindale between Hallin Fell and Steel Knotts with a small group of trees just about hiding the church below Hallin Fell.

ImageSleet Fell with Hallin Fell behind

The way down High Dodd’s northeast face is quite steep and awkward in places but again no untoward difficulties apart from a bit of slippery ground, again due to the overnight rain. Both High Dodd and Sleet Fell are large fells linked to Place Fell by the area of Low Moss and to each other by low undulating humps and bumps with a good grassy path allowing easy passage between the two of them with the growth of the bracken line fortunately stopping just short of the top of the ridge of Sleet Fell.

ImageDescending High Dodd to Sleet Fell

ImageDescending High Dodd

ImageLower northeast slopes of High Dodd

Sleet Fell is another easy walk along its long ridge and there are two cairns with the south one being the highest set at 375 metres and despite being made up of a decent pile of stones it otherwise offers nothing that can’t be seen from everywhere else.

ImageSleet Fell

The next photo was taken from the cairn just mentioned.

ImageGowbarrow Fell

The north cairn is sited right at the end of the fell, just at the point where the path heads off downhill and at 370 metres slightly lower than the south one. The large currick on Hallin Fell is plain to see as are the surrounding fells.

ImageThe north cairn on Sleet Fell

A few photos later we were ready for the walk down to the Ullswater shoreline and noticed that the clouds were now beginning to build up so maybe we shall get back to the car before any rain starts to fall. We have quite a way to go yet with a long drop off and walk along the shoreline path that is itself not as level as some people might think as there are three quite high sections to climb up and down and for someone with tired legs it could be a problem if needing to get back in a hurry.

ImageLoadpot Hill - Bonscale and Arthur's Pikes behind Martindale Church

ImageHigh Street behind Pikeawassa and Beda Fell

The path on the north face of Sleet Fell is steep and narrow only made hazardous, again, by the overnight rain and the dying bracken clutching at, and getting tangled in our boot laces at times, with one or two zigzags easing the strain now and again. It took us around 20 minutes to descend Sleet Fell to pick up the path just west of Sandwick that we were to follow all the way to Silver Bay where we would then climb up between Silver Crag and Birk Fell. But before that and the extra climbing on the shoreline path we made our way along the good path/track to the bridge over Scalehow Beck and just below Scalehow Force Waterfalls. The walk along this high level path/track is by no means boring as there is plenty to see to keep one occupied.

The next photo was taken from the site of the Lowther Barn Tea Room that also hails a Bunk Barn although as of today I have never yet seen it open. A lot of money has been spent on it to get it like it is and as it’s on the route of the Ullswater Way I can’t understand why it hasn’t been popular with walkers.

ImageBleaberry Knott and The Knight

ImageNorth along Ullswater taken from Roscombe Rigg

As was forecast the clouds were rolling in fast and it wasn’t to be much longer before we had to don our waterproofs.

ImageGrey skies above Ullswater

We continued walking until we reached the top of the last of the climbs on this path where we stopped below Kilbert How for a quick drink and chocolate bar before taking the last leg and climb up between Silver Crag and Birk Fell where we then walked along the ‘terrace’ again after taking the next two photos.

ImageView north to Great Mell Fell

ImageView south

Part way along this path and when we arrived at NY397174 we turned off to the right along a thin trod that wound its way through wet bracken until we arrived at the lower path that traces the wall all the way back to Side Farm. Along this path we came across one of those works of ‘art’ that keep turning up and this one was dedicated to artists that had been inspired by Ullswater. A nice enough structure but I think that a bit more brass could have been spent on the topping off of it

ImageThe Artists' Seat

ImageArtist' Seat Info Board

Just a little further on and not far from the farm I spotted this moss covered barn roof.

ImageSouth end of Ullswater

And just before I put the camera away Grisedale was lit up by some beautiful rays of light.

ImageLight rays in Grisedale

It’s always a joy to walk around on Place Fell and today was no exception especially as it was so quiet, and the addition of the other two fells made it even more worthwhile doing this circular walk and at £3, well worth the money. Three happy walkers leaving the fells behind to drive back to the ‘home bar’ where each one of us would have an input as the walk was re-created and salient points discussed.
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