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Looking towards Hallin Fell
Another Place, The Lake hotel
Another Place, The Lake
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HALLIN FELL

The Lake District has plenty of fells to tackle, but sometimes, big isn’t always the most beautiful. Hallin Fell is a case in point: at just 388m, it’s one of the smallest hills in the national park, and yet (in my opinion) offers the very grandest of views. So if you’re a first-time fell-walker, or your time is short but you still want to experience a taste of the fells, I reckon there aren’t many hikes that can measure up to Hallin Fell in the scenery stakes.

Dog walker on the Hallin Fell walking trail

Distance: 1.5 miles

Duration: 1.5 hours

Ascent: 347m (1138ft)

Best of all, it’s really easy – conquerable in less than half-an-hour – and navigable in pretty much all weathers (although, as always in the fells, it’s worth taking an OS map, proper waterproofs, good sturdy high-sided boots and plenty of snacks and water).

Hallin Fell is located on the east side of Ullswater, near the little hamlets of Howtown and Martindale. This side of the lake is much quieter than the busy west side; if you want to drive, there is a narrow road that runs along it, but a much better idea is to drive to Pooley Bridge, leave your car there, and catch a ride aboard the Ullswater Steamers.

There is a small car-park very near the ferry jetty. There are several boats an hour in summer, but just a few a day in winter; make sure you check the time of the next boat at https://www.ullswater-steamers.co.uk to avoid having to wait too long. You can buy a Walker’s fare as far as Howtown (adult £7.05, child £4.25), but if you want to explore the rest of the lake too, the All Piers Pass (adult £13 to 15.95, child £7.80 to £9.60) is better value.

It’s a journey of only fifteen minutes or so from Pooley Bridge to the jetty at Howtown. As you travel south, look out for the summit of Helvellyn on the horizon on your right, and see if you can spot Another Place along the lakeshore. It’s also worth asking about your vessel; some of the steamers are historic monuments (one, the Lady of the Lake, was launched in 1877 and supposedly the world’s oldest working passenger boat).

Herdwick sheep
Walker on top of Hallin Fell

At the jetty, cross over the bridge and follow wooden signs to Sandwick. You’ll pass through a couple of swing gates; keep following the signs to Patterdale/Sandwick. You’ll follow a drystone wall on your right, then begin to climb up to the base of the fell. Go through a gate and bear left along the base of the fell (the trail runs roughly parallel to the roadside so it’s fairly hard to get lost). Gradually, the path climbs up the side of the fell, offering views back towards the jetty and the lake.

After a while, you’ll reach a fork in the path. Take the right-hand (uphill) fork, following another drystone wall. From here, it’s a straight climb of about 20 to 30 minutes, all the way to the top of the fell at 388m. Take your time, and build in a few breathers along the way; you’ll have super views back over the quiet valleys of Martindale and Boredale.

Eventually, after a bit of puff, you’ll reach the top of the fell. There are several humps around the summit; the official peak is marked by a stone trig point. Wherever you choose to sit, you’ll be treated to a panoramic view across Ullswater, stretching all the way north to Pooley Bridge and west to Glenridding and Patterdale. Keep your eyes peeled out for the little outline of the Ullswater Steamers cutting across the lake; they look improbably tiny. From here you’ll also get a grandstand view of Helvellyn and its distinctive arête ridges, Striding and Swirral Edge.

Compared to many Lakeland fells, you’re really not very high up, but you’ll feel as though you’re on top of the world – Hallin Fell really does pack a scenic punch that’s way out of proportion to its size.

Once you’ve enjoyed the views, retrace your steps back down the fell the same way you came. At the bottom, you can make a brief detour to see the pretty 19th century church of St Peter’s in Martindale, just off the main road, before heading back down to Howtown for lunch at the endearingly old-fashioned, ivy-covered Howtown Hotel (www.howtown-hotel.co.uk). Then it’s a return trip on the Ullswater Steamers to Pooley Bridge, or if you have time (and an All Piers Pass), a longer cruise all the way around the lake.

Congratulations – you’re now officially a fell walker.

Oliver Berry is a writer, photographer and filmmaker, specialising in travel, nature and the great outdoors. He has travelled to more than seventy countries and five continents, and his work has been published by some of the world’s leading media organisations, including Lonely Planet, the BBC, Immediate Media, John Brown Media, The Guardian and The Telegraph. He is also the author of Lonely Planet’s guide to the Lake District. You can follow his latest adventures at www.oliverberry.com.