“ Mountain in Lake District, Height 388m/1,271 feet „
I have been a keen walker since I was four years old, when my parents put me in a pair of Save the Elephant wellies and took me marsh hopping in the Yorkshire Dales. To this day, I would say that there is nothing I get a greater kick from than being outdoors, mountain climbing, horizon chasing, stream jumping and downhill running. In the development of this is a passion, Hallin Fell is a Lakeland fell that occupies a special place in my affections. It is what I would describe as having been my first real mountain.
Hallin Fell is one of that group of summits that could be described as a mountain more in heart than in height. Poised midway down the eastern shore of Ullswater and classed as one of the far Eastern fells, its huge summit cairn stands at a relatively inconsequential height of only 388m (1,271 feet). A rocky topped little gnome among giants, you might expect it to disappear into obscurity with all that Lakeland has to offer. But anyone who was to bypass Hallin in favour of greater heights would be missing quite a treat.
There are two methods of access to the foot of Hallin Fell, by car or by Lakeland style public transport. There is a small amount of parking at Hallin Hawes, either in the layby at the mountain's feet or outside the new church, but drivers should be aware that there is only one road on this side of Ullswater, and that it is thin, winding and lined by paint scratching dry stone walls. There is also a hair raising zigzag road that leads from the lake shore up to the beginning of the track. For nervous drivers, or for those wishing to make a day of it, the Howtown jetty of the Ullswater steamer service is only around a half mile walk from Hawes. Anyone willing to add a little extra climbing to their day can leave the car in Patterdale and take the steamer across the lake - a brilliant experience in itself.
Given Hallin's limited height the variety of routes up the hill is limited - effectively there is one track running from opposite the church and branching into several tracks which subsequently reunite at the top. The ground itself is easy and well walked, with no technical stages, but do not underestimate the climb: all tracks are short, sweet, and steep, and although you may not be climbing for long (depending on fitness) the backs of your legs will definitely know you are exercising!
Navigation is straightforward as all paths lead to the summit, but do stick to the path: the far side of Hallin falling away to Ullswater is steep and craggy, and there are still rocky outcrops even on the more benign western face. Also bear in mind that once you get to the top, Hallin's relatively exposed position means that the wind is often very strong, and so walkers should be careful on the uneven ground.
Once you have braved the steep gradient and swallowed your disappointment at the multiple false summits, you will find yourself at the summit cairn (one of the largest in the Lake District). Here is where you receive your reward. Standing alone as it does at the end of the Steel Knotts ridge, Hallin commands a panaromic view in all directions. To your back lies the long, smooth ridge of Highstreet, with the fan of Martindale, Bannerdale and Boredale each trimmed by red brackened ridges: at your feet, the deep blue stripe of Ullswater spreading away in both directions: to your front, a view to some of Lakeland's highest mountains, Blencathra, Dollywagon and the two ridged summit of Helvellyn.
Given the isolated position of Hallin (it is divided from all other summits by a considerable up and down) and the lack of car parks in the area, it is admittedly hard to include in other walks. There is a good track leading around the fell for those visiting on the steamer, or it can be climbed as an extra before taking the walk back to Patterdale.
The good points
The key good point of Hallin is of course the view - described by Wainright as one of the best in the lakes. It is also very good as a mountain for children or inexperienced walkers. It gives an idea of how to deal with steep ascents when climbing higher peaks, and is suitably lofty that you get a real feeling of achievement when you get to the top.
A few bad points
There are only two bad points to Hallin, one of which has led to the other. It is one of the more popular mountains in the lakes and so is often busy (this being mountain busy - so maybe twenty to thirty people at a time!) The summer crowds have resulted in erosion of wide sweeping tracks right up the fell, and the many boots have cut deep steps into parts of the mountain. It's not what you would describe as a fascinating climb, as you would find on some of the larger mountains - the effort is made for the scenery rather than for the ground itself.
At the risk of sounding preachy, I'm going to add this note to all of my walking reviews. Mountain weather and mountain ground are both unpredictable: however easy your planned walk, do not go out without a good map and compass and serviceable waterproofs. Walking and the outdoors are incredible, but they are also very powerful - make sure you treat them with respect!
I would definitely recommend that everyone braves the crowds and climbs Hallin Fell. It's a wonderful miniature mountain, despite its tiny size, and one that highly deserves your attention. If you are like me, then you will walk up with your eyes on your feet, ignoring everything around you, take the pain of the climb: and when you reach the summit, only then will you look up and let the view take your breath away.