Beda Fell and The Nab

Outline of Route
St Martin's Church, Martindale - Beda Head - Angle Tarn - Rest Dodd - The Nab - St Martin's Church, Martindale (Grid ref. NY 434184)
Total Distance 8.4 miles, Total Ascent 2400 feet, Equivalent Distance 13.2 miles

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Escape Routes

  1. None that I've tried. A path from Angle Tarn below Heck Crag to Dale Head is recommended by Wainwright.

Details of Route
Parking by the old church of St Martin's (photo) is free and usually adequate. Head up the road to Winter Crag farm and turn right up the footpath behind it. The footpath is easy to follow and reaches the crest of Howstead Brow by a seat, where there is a fine view across the lake to Gowbarrow (photo). Now head south over the rugged Winter Crag, taking care as there are steep drops from it, and on up towards Beda Head. See the views down into the valleys and along Ullswater (photo) before you get to the top as they are lost by then. The path continues southwest to Bedafell Knott. To the right of the path just after leaving Beda Head a tiny stone shelter has been built (photo). Continuing towards Bedafell Knott it is worth looking across to The Nab to pick out the Stalkers' Path crossing the fellside just below the summit (photo). It can be difficult to find when descending The Nab and a preview will stand you in good stead. The path continues towards Angletarn Pikes (photo) but becomes very indistinct around Heckbeck Head. At this point you should be heading south towards Angle Tarn and the path that skirts its eastern edge. This area between Bedafell Knott and Angle Tarn can be very difficult to navigate, especially in hill fog, and should only be attempted by the most competent navigators in poor visibility. Even the most cynical will be glad of a GPS in such conditions.

It is usually with some relief that one first glimpses Angle Tarn, confirming that one is where one thought or at least nearby. There's a wonderful view towards Helvellyn from the path by the tarn (photo). Continue along the path, now going southeast, to Satura Crag which you can't actually see without leaving the path. Just here you come to a rather broken-down wall with a rickety gate. Prepare to leave the main path which leads to The Knott, and travel east towards Rest Dodd. There is an indistinct path which leads to a gate in the wall on the northern slopes of Rest Dodd. Head up to the summit from this path when you see your best opportunity. This (photo) shows the wall from higher up the fell.

From the summit there is a good view of The Nab, your next destination (photo). The boggy plateau between here and The Nab needs a bit of care but can be can be crossed on the eastern side without getting one's feet wet. Head north-northeast down the steep fellside to a gap in the wall on the eastern side of the plateau. This (photo) of Rest Dodd from The Nab shows the wall (rather indistinctly) as it skirts the fell between the two gates. Follow the path to the summit of The Nab deviating from it where ground conditions dictate.

North of the summit of The Nab there is a precipitous and dangerous crag, Nab End. The path you have followed does continue in that direction and I suspect one can bypass the crag on its eastern side but there is a well trodden stalkers' path cut into the western slope. The difficulty is in finding it. About thirty yards to the west of the summit is a noticeable boulder fortuitously (probably) positioned at the top of this path. From the boulder the path heads first southeast down the fellside (towards Caudale Moor on the horizon). Some hundred yards down it turns sharply right then gradually traverses the fellside (photo) round underneath Nab End to a gate in the wall. Continue down the crest of the slope to find a gate in the lower wall. Once though this one can join the track from "The Bungalow" and on to the main road. There is a view of The Nab from theis track (photo).

Here one may find a notice indicating one has been on private land (and advertising the benefits of "The Bungalow" as a holiday cottage). In times gone by The Nab and its surrounding private land (a deer park) have been heavily fenced and with dire warnings for tresspassers. This is no longer the case and I believe walkers are nowadays tolerated except perhaps in the stalking season. Those who wish to ensure they do not end up in the venison stew can check with Dalemain Estates who administer the property, at their offices in Pooley Bridge. Once on the main road it is a simple walk back to our starting-point by the church.

Rev. 6 December 2011

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