1st June 2008

An early start for a walk from Martindale to Angle Tarn


Walk Overview
Time 06.30 to 11.00
Duration 4 he 30 min
Distance 8.1 mile
Ascent 2130 ft
Walking with On my own
Martindale Old Church - Dale Head - Bannerdale - Heck Crag (below) - Brock Crags - Angle Tarn - Angletarn Pikes - Heckbeck Head - Beda Fell - Martindale Old Church
Fells visited
Directory places visited

Starting Point Information Centre
Roadside, Martindale old church

This literally is a case of parking alongside the road outside the church, and although I've parked here on several occasions, I usually feel a little guilty about leaving the car here and helping to clutter such a peaceful place up with even more vehicles.


Route Map

Winter Crag farm and Christy Bridge seen from the front of Martindale Old Church.

I had an early start this morning, to try to beat the forecasted rain which was due to reach this part of the country by late morning. For once the forecast was spot on, and in stark contrast to yesterdays sunny walk on the Langdales, I never saw the sun at all today. A shame really because the early morning sunshine would have been lovely through here.

Despite the lack us sunshine it was fantastic walking through the valley this morning. Saying it was peaceful just doesn't do it justice, and to state the obvious, I had the place to myself; apart from the birds that is. They were out in full force and were treating me to an exclusive performance of their "dawn chorus", with the only interruptions to the musical acrobatics being the occasional sound of a Lamb calling for its mother, and a couple of wrong notes from a nearby Pheasant, who are renowned for being distinctly inharmonious anyway.

Looking back through the valley to Hallin Fell.

The road through the valley takes you past quite a few old farm buildings; all adding to the feel of the place, which I have to say is definitely un-touristy Lakeland at its best. Thank goodness there isn't room for a car park at the end of the valley or we may have ended up with another Wasdale Head or Seathwaite.

Rising steeply at the end of the valley is The Nab, where access from this direction has been denied to the general public. A strip of land no more than a couple of hundred yards long was not included as open access, resulting in few options for those wishing to 'get to the top'. The easiest and most obvious one is to do an out and back from Rest Dodd, alternatively you could risk wet feet crossing the area where Heck Beck joins Bannerdale Beck, then there's the Ramps Gill side of the fell, which isn't the easiest place to get in or out of.

It was the lesser of two evils here. Had the Deer been too close then I'm sure they'd have ran off, but they were just a bit too far off to see properly.

And some more. I stopped counting at eighty.

The aptly named Dale Head farm.

From Dale Head farm you have a couple of options to get you out of the valley. The most prominent one is the path (out of shot on the right) which takes you up to Bedafell Knott and then onto Boredale Hause. The more interesting but less frequented alternative is to continue following this wall which runs below Heck Crag and up to the lowest point on the skyline.

This photo shows the route a bit better, and although the path itself may become overgrown with Bracken, the wall would continue to act as a navigation aid for those who value a little reassurance.

The view back down to Bannerdale.

And again, taken higher up the route.
Although the angle of the fell might make the route look rather steep and perhaps a little tricky in places, the narrow path isn't too bad at all and makes for an enjoyable ascent.

The unexpected first sighting of Angle Tarn from the route I'd taken today would offer a delightful surprise to anyone new to the area. It was almost a shame that I knew the Tarn was here. Rather like knowing what you're getting for Christmas. I was really pleased with the gift, but struggled to pretend that I didn't know what I was getting.

As a short de-tour to make the walk a little longer I headed across to Brock Crags, where I got a view to The Knott, High Street, Hayeswater and Gray Crag.

Brockcrags Tarn; normally a rather boggy place to walk through, but not today though, in fact some of the smaller tarns had dried up altogether.

Brothers Water, seen from Brock Crags summit cairn.

I can't remember how many times I've been to Angle Tarn over the years; dozens I should think, but this is the first time I've walked around this side of the tarn. There's always somewhere new to go!


The bog between the two tops of Angle Tarn Pikes didn't quite live up to its notorious reputation today. Dare I say that some rain in the Lake District would be a good thing. (only at night of course)

Glenridding and Ullswater seen behind Boredale Hause.

Hang on a second, that doesn't look right. Then I noticed the yellow digger at the bottom of the path.

Looking back along Beda Fell's ridge.

Before too long the Bracken seen in this picture will be about five feet tall, full of midges and generally making what should be an easy walk into an awkward attempt to keep your footing.

I know it was still only mid morning when I got back to the car, but I can confirm that enjoying four and a half hours of absolute solitude and escape from an otherwise overcrowded and cluttered world really can do wonders for your wellbeing. Not that there's much wrong with it anyway, but I'm sure you know what I mean.

Doubly strange today was that of all the obscure places; I knew the first people I saw. As I was sorting myself out at the car, John Patterson and Jo Hall arrived to start their walk. Stranger still because the last time I saw John was also on the fells. On the previous occasion it was when we bumped into each other between Fairfield and Grisedale Tarn earlier this year.
This was definitely a case of the early bird getting the walk, because it started to rain as I was driving towards Pooley Bridge, so the early start had paid off after all.

David Hall -
Lake District Walks