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  • Battling Beda Fell and Pushing up Place Fell

    The walk of Sunday 30th July.

    Ever since our ill-fated stay at the rather run down Patterdale Hotel, way back in 2010 (I think), I had seen the mighty, imposing and wide Place Fell through the coveting eyes of a peakbagger! Years later, on a walk just a few months ago I was once again enraptured by the sight of this gerthy fell and its sprawling, man made path as seen from Angletarn Pikes. This truly did look like a pathway to heaven, in no way did it look anything less than arduous…I was hooked. When the message came through from Karl, I was delighted to see that our next destination was to be Place Fell…with Beda Fell thrown in as well for good measure – two more Wainwrights.

    Beda Fell looms ahead of us.
    Beda Fell looms ahead of us.
    Oldest or smallest: St Martin's church.
    Oldest or smallest: St Martin’s church.

    As usual, the four of us: Lynn, Sue, Karl and myself, arrived at the walk’s start place at around 09:50 and as we were in the eastern section of the lakes, the views of the immediate local were phenomenal. It’s no overstatement to say that I love this particular area. I’d done my research – and even had my map with me and as such was duly prepared for a bit of a slog up Beda Fell. But what I had failed to take notice of was just how many false summits the fell had. This was easily on a par with Whernside from Chapel le Dale. Small rise after small rise took the energy from my legs and I certainly did struggle with this sub 2,000′ fell. Once again, the neighbouring giants watching over us were the notorious ones: Helvellyn flanked by both its killer ‘Edges’ – Striding and Swirral and Catstyecam served once again as a poignant landmark. This was familiar territory. We even had time to stop and take a few snaps of the smallest church in the Lake District, the old one at Saint Martins.

    Boredale Hause
    Boredale Hause with Place Fell on the right

    At the head of the valley was the sumptuous Boredale Hause. It was almost a shame to walk past this verdant spectacle, the ever present grass looking especially lush in spite of thus far, the rain holding off. The last time we were in this valley the sun was pounding down on us, today felt refreshingly more like ‘walking weather’, even cool when we took time out for our breaks. At the summit of Beda Fell, we took some time out in a small sheltered spot and gazed at the distant views across the mighty Ullswater and over to Gowbarrow – not the biggest of all fells, at a mere 1,578′ but somehow it grabbed our attention and for all the time it was in my sight, wouldn’t let go. The climb up over Beda had been tough but punctuated with a few easier stretches whereby horizontal progress was gained over vertical. To be honest, I felt like we were higher up than the paltry 1,670′ that we had ascended.  It’s fair to say that I was chomping at the bit to get going and head over to our next quarry – Place Fell.

    Progress was a lot quicker than I had imagined. We practically flew over Beda Head and then down into Boredale Hause and over the other side of the valley into the area known as Redgate Head, via the path, the completely man-made, inorganic, engineered path which I had first set eyes on a few months ago. Some paths start off extremely easy then become more arduous, this one never even flirted with ease! From the off; this had the gradient of a domestic staircase and it never really improved. By way of contrast, it never really got any worse, which was a blessing. Fortunately for me, there were plenty of spots at which I could take a few minutes breather. I watched as Karl disappeared into the distance and waited as Sue and Lynne caught up to me…then also disappeared. The weather tried to inspire motivate me…this had scant effect. Ultimately a man who was in the area and appeared to want to tell me all about his wanderings in the Lake District, somehow instilled in me the drive to tackle the last one/third of the mountain. I caught up to my co-walkers who were having thirty minutes…had one of my caffeine energy gels and within minutes was first to the trig point atop Place Fell. Ha, that lulled them into a false sense of security!

    The weather phenomenon which hit me was very similar to what I experienced a few years ago when I first completed Whernside from Ribblehead and stepped through the slim opening to touch the trig point, like stepping into an arctic tundra combined with a gale force wind. In today’s case it was a warm wind, but a severe wind all the same. There would be no summit photos today. To be honest the very top reaches of Place Fell offered no greater views of the surrounding scenery than what I had observed on the way up, but there’s still something compelling about the mere act of touching the trig point – when there is one. We made our progress after just a few short seconds, that wind was something to leave behind!

    And so began another of Karl’s descents which has one wondering ‘just where the hell are we going, ‘that doesn’t look like the start?’ None of Karl’s walks ever seem to make me feel like we are heading in the right direction to the car…but we do end up there! The rain now decided to fully saturate us, I thought that as we were less than a mile away from the car then there would be no point in getting all the waterproof gear on…Karl and Sue thought otherwise and rustled on the rest of the walk.

    As it’s taken me so long to post this walk report (there is now a queue forming) I have forgotten how long the walk took. I figure we must have ascended around two and a half thousand feet and walked for around seven and a half miles. I hope to visit Place Fell again, even to ascend by that same challenging but thoroughly enjoyable stairway to the sky!